Monday, May 9, 2016

Whole 30 and Paleo Recipes

Food is my jam. It's a good thing and a bad thing. I'm thinking about food a lot. I'm thinking about the 3 meals I'm cooking each day to feed our growing family and snacks in between. I'm a real foodie and most everything in my kitchen needs to be cooked. So I have to plan. And that's okay with me because I love a good plan!

We've been eating some new to us foods and recipes. Some have been good and some bad. I like Pinterest for finding new recipes, though they can be real flops. But I guess that's just like any recipe. Here are some recipes we've been trying.

Suppers:

Verdict: We liked these. They didn't brown up like tenders in the deep fryer do but they were still delicous!

Verdict: We all liked this. I wasn't sure how Daniel or the girls would like this but it was really tasty and I didn't even miss the gobs of cheese you usually find in lasagna. The "noodles" are made out of cauliflower, so that's a little bit of a process but it wasn't as challenging as I thought it would be.

Verdict: First, let me say we are NOT cabbage people. We joined a local CSA from a local farm and got a cabbage. I didn't know what to do with it. I asked my friends on Facebook what they do with it, then found a recipe on Pinterest. Oh my goodness, it was delicious! Both Daniel and I were SO skeptical but wow. I made some of the Whole 30 ranch dressing and drizzled it on my helping, yum! Nyla even gobbled this up for dinner last night and lunch today. The key is not to overcook the cabbage. I like a little bit of a crunch left in it and I did it. I also added cut up kielbasa. I added it a couple minutes after I added the cabbage so it could heat through. And it was all so tasty. I think I'll definitely be making it again.

Verdict: This was just okay. It had good flavor but I don't think it was a flavor that just wowed us. We all have different taste buds but this just didn't do it for us.



Sides:

This is such a weird name!
Verdict: Yummy! I've made these at least 3 times in the last 3 months and they never disappoint. Here's some advice: don't overcrowd the pan with a bunch of potatoes. They need room for the oven heat to circulate around them and cook them. They won't all be crispy but more like a baked potato. If you're able to cut the pieces and have some flop out, they'll crisp up more. But they are great!

Vegetables vegetables and more vegetables!
I roast mine in the oven. 400 degrees F. My favorites are brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. Roast about 30-40 minutes. Before putting them in the oven drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yum-o!
I also love green beans. I use my cast iron skillet almost daily and I always cook my green beans in it. First, start with bacon. 4-6 pieces, cut up and placed in the hot pan (medium heat). Cook until almost crispy then place the green beans in the pan, as many as you want. I've used frozen and fresh, either are fine. I stir them frequently for approximately 8-10 minutes. I do drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. No water is needed. They are divine this way!


Breakfast:

I'll be honest, breakfast has been tricky for me. I love sweet stuff for breakfast and that just isn't doable on the Paleo diet. Now. we only have sweet stuff (i.e. pancakes, waffles, etc) occasionally. Yes, there are recipes out there for Paleo pancakes, etc, and I've made them and we like them. But we don't need them everyday, so I do try and limit that. 
I eat a lot of eggs. I'm talking tons. I eat at least 2 every morning, fried and a little runny. That yolk just tastes so buttery to me. Mmmm! The girls eat theirs scrambled. I think I usually scramble 6 or 7 each morning and between the 3 of them they can put them away. We always do a fruit with our breakfast. They could live on fruit alone so there's always plenty around. I also like bacon in the morning with my eggs. I mean it's bacon. Need I say more?


Lunch:

Lunch tends to be leftovers in our home. That's just easiest and convenient for us. We'll have sandwiches occasionally but I try and limit their gluten intake. I've noticed if they have too much in their diet they get a little crazy but Nyla gets bags under her eyes and looks worn out. I think gluten is her enemy more than it is for the other girls. But it's a theory and I'm testing it out for her.


And there you have it. I know it's not much but I get a lot of recipes from my cookbooks, too. I try and have my paleo cookbooks handy at all times and I'm finding the authors have come up with great substitutions for my favorite foods. They've done all the hard work for me!



Favorite Cookbooks:




The Pioneer Woman: Dinnertime (not technically paleo but I've made a few adjustments to the recipes I've tried to make them paleo for us)








Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It's Been Awhile...Hello!

Hello out there. Is anyone still out there?

I popped in for a quick update. I'd love to say I'll be back soon or Daniel will but only time will tell.

So, here goes!

I've been on food journey for quite a few months. In September, while on vacation at the beach, I read an eye-opening book, The Whole 30. On October 1st I began the Whole 30 journey. I completed another round right after Christmas. What sprung this on? My health. I wasn't feeling top notch, had some tummy issues and just didn't like my relationship with food. I still don't like my relationship with food but some days it's not such a burden. I do pray it's something I don't pass onto my girls, though. After the 30-day experiment (that's what it was to me in October) I realized it was truly life changing. I had way more energy, a few inflammation issues I have struggled with for a decade or more were gone and I just over all felt like a better version of myself. And I lost 17 pounds in 30 days. All by eating real food and exercising a little. Amazing! I went through the 30 day program again in late December into January and lost 12 pounds. I still struggle with food but I'm much more conscious of what I'm preparing and eating. We tend to not have contraband food in our home quite as much. I control it, since I do the shopping, so it stays in the store where it belongs. On my food journey, I did learn that I don't tolerate dairy very well, gluten or large amounts of sugar. I don't have allergies to it but my tummy and my head appreciate when I stay away from those food items. I try to stay away from those items as much as possible. It's still a daily struggle but I feel like I'm getting the hang of it.




Nyla started an art class back in August through a local homeschool enrichment program and she has absolutely thrived! The picture below is all the pictures she drew from August-December. It's been so amazing to seen her confidence bloom through that class. She had a great second semester and is looking forward to taking the class again this coming Fall. 




Homeschooling is what I expected to be and not at the same time. How that's possible, I don't know but it's how I feel. I'm finding myself enjoying the process. We love the unhurried mornings, the spur-of-the-moment playdates with our friends/neighbors and quick field trips to our local zoo. There is a huge learning curve with homeschooling but I feel like it's right where we need to be. I'm not patient enough or smart enough but I do feel like this is where God wants our family. Our vision is to instill truth, beauty and goodness into the lives of girls, to create an active learning environment and help them feel loved and inspired. In my mind, homeschooling is the right fit for these conditions. It's right for our family. 




The big sisters, Nyla and Naomi, are best friends. I'm so thankful for that. Nyla loves "doing school" and having lots of free time to pursue her interests, like art and crafting. She's beginning to read and is gobbling up books. We take weekly trips to the library and come home with a huge box of books. Naomi is beginning the process of reading. Even at 4.5 years old she still struggles to recognize all the letters in the alphabet but All About Reading is helping with that tremendously. She loves the program and the zebra puppet (we are using the Pre-Reading with her) and having her little school time. She won't officially be in Kindergarten until the Fall of 2017 so we have lots of time, but she's shown an interest and I'm going with it. She also loves to draw but her real passion is books. She could sit all day on the couch or the floor and read read read. She wants to flip through books constantly and have me read just as many. She really enjoys playing outside and jumping on the trampoline. She always finds the biggest sticks or logs outside and carries them around. She never walks anywhere (always running, jumping, prancing, or walking on her tiptoes) and she has a great big imagination. She is a funny girl who has us laughing constantly.


The picture below is one of the many examples of their love of books. Today we sat on the floor for an hour in a row and read a bunch of books. And then continued to read on and off throughout the day. We don't watch TV or movies so reading is a favorite in our home!



And since we're chatting about reading, here's my stack from February. I bought this stack of Ruth's books when she was having a bundle sale. The Unstuffed book is just a little sneak peak. The actual book just released a couple weeks ago and I've yet to get my hands on it. But I will. There's so much wisdom in her books about spending less and getting rid of clutter. They are books I'll come back to time and time again. 

Nyla and Naomi got big haircuts a couple months ago. Nyla's makes her look so grown up. They are just like their mama loving big haircuts!



Here's Natalie. She's so big. She is 20 months old today and she's everywhere. She thinks she's as big as her sisters and does keep up with them pretty well. She eats anything I put in front of her, loves to jump on the trampoline, she's also and avid book lover and is the happiest girl. In 2013 I really felt like someone was missing from our family. Not a boy, just someone else. And she's definitely been the missing piece. She is so content and does so well with our ever-changing days. We can tote her anywhere and she's ready for the ride. I'm thankful for such an easy 3rd child since we're out and about frequently these days.



And there's our big update!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Love Languages

A good rule of thumb: When you think you're doing a pretty good job at this parenting thing, that's when you are getting ready to learn something new or, in this case, re-learn something old. Such was the case with us Monday evening.

At bedtime, Ginny likes to ask our two big girls three questions: 1) What made you happy today? 2) What made you sad? 3) What did you learn? We could tell Nyla was feeling off Monday, just not the typical 5-year old she usually is. After some poking and prodding, Ginny was able to get a tearful Nyla to admit that she did not get enough hugs and kisses from Mommy. (Not what you want your child to tell you.) Nyla also tearfully told me that she wanted Mommy and Daddy to draw her pictures. You see, Nyla loves to draw. I mean, she enjoys it so much. I have at least a dozen pictures in my cubicle at work that she has drawn for me. And here she is, crying that we haven't drawn her any pictures.

We are proponents of the book The Five Love Languages. It's a great read and great way to find out how you feel loved and express love. For instance, my top 2 love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. Ginny is quality time and acts of service. Nyla, we determined, was receiving gifts and probably acts of service. You see where I'm going with this, right? Her "love tank" was empty, because she didn't get any gifts! Here she was, drawing pictures for us, and we were ignoring that as a sign that she needs to get gifts, too! Thanking her for them and telling her how pretty they are weren't enough. Needless to say, Ginny and I felt terrible. I held Nyla at bedtime and told her that I was sorry for not drawing for her, because she draws many pretty pictures for us.

So naturally, I drew her a picture that night - a picture of Madeline (from the books) and three toys. I wrote a note telling Nyla I loved her and asking her what toy she thought Madeline should pick. As you can see from the picture, my drawing (and love) was well-received.

Yesterday, she was back to being our sweet, happy Nyla. Nyla, Naomi, and I sat down at the table last night and learned how to draw birds, a sailbot, a rocket, a bat, and an elephant. (Thanks, Pinterest!) The lesson here is to always, always, always be mindful of how your child (or spouse or family or friends) loves and feels loved.

-D

Monday, November 9, 2015

Homeschool Digest #1

Nyla is reading!

Naomi is continuing to learn her letters. Letting her just play with them seems to help her.

Hello out there, it's been forever since we've blogged! I have tons of ideas rolling around in my head but alas I'm busy and never sit down to blog. 

This is our first official year of homeschooling and things are going about as I expected. It's taken us some time to get adjusted to sitting down and "doing" school. I expect things to continue to evolve and change every few weeks. Thankfully, I feel equipped to handle the changes that come our way. Since the girls are constantly growing and changing I have to be ready to embrace our changing days. And with a toddler underfoot, things are always interesting! 

As we find our groove the most important subjects I want covered daily are Bible/character study, math, reading and writing. I feel accomplished when we get those items done. We have numerous reading times throughout the day. We are not a TV watching family so reading and crafting just come natural to us. 

Speaking of crafts, I'm not overly crafty but the girls sure do enjoying hands-on activities each day. Thank goodness for Pinterest in finding EASY crafts. I like the type of crafts that I can just look at the picture and figure it out myself. I don't want to make time for reading a detailed instruction guide on how to do a 10 minute craft. We do more in-depth crafts occasionally but I want simple. We try and color once a week, but also use scissors, glue, watercolors and oil pastels. I always have googly eyes, construction paper and other crafty items on hand for the girls to choose. 

Busy girl toddler keeps things interesting. She's been walking about 3 weeks.



Naomi in her eagle mask.
   

Nyla in her eagle mask.

We enjoy staying home most days but we take a field trip every 2 to 3 weeks or so, more when the weather is nice. A few weeks ago we visited Priddy Farms pumpkin patch. We were there a couple hours and had a great time.

Field trip to Priddy Farms.


It's fun to watch our girls develop into their own person with each passing month. Naomi (our #2 girl) NEVER walks anywhere. She likes to dash, jump, twirl, tip toe, run, skip, prance, etc everywhere. I'm not sure she knows how to just walk. :) 
She enjoys flipping through books constantly. She has a BIG imagination and is constantly talking and figuring out life. She is full of questions, funny answers and sayings. This girl LOVES life! I hope she keeps that wonder of it all.
My ultimate book lover, Naomi!

Little Miss Muffet and spider craft with a proud Naomi. 

Nyla (our #1 girl) really enjoys writing. She's been able to write her name since she was 3 years old. She just figured it out on her own. I made letters and books available but she learned letter recognition pretty much on her own. She's VERY independent and wants to figure things out on her own. But she's not stubborn and will ask for help if she needs it, thankfully. She is constantly coloring and drawing pictures for people. I think Daniel comes home and always has something she's drawn him that day. She's taking an art class in a local homeschool enrichment program and she's really enjoying it. She comes home each Tuesday and draws for me what she learned in art that morning. She says she'll be able to bring her portfolio home before Christmas. I sure hope so because I'm ready to see what she's learned.

Nyla loves to write!

Natalie (our #3) girl is a budding toddler. She's been walking about 3 weeks and she is EVERYWHERE! She practically got up one day and walked across rooms, like she's known what she's doing all along. She enjoys playing outside with her sisters, she's saying a dozen or so words, enjoys flipping through books, stealing the big girls toys, coloring (I'm going to have to watch her and walls, I do believe), helping the girls with their puzzles and carrying her lovey around. Thankfully, she's an excellent sleeper (except when teething), a great eater and a fun girl. She is constantly smiling and we can tell her wheels are always turning in her little mind. She is such a ham and walks around just giggling about nothing, at least it's nothing to us. She's been the missing piece in our little family.

We're raising another bookworm!

Natalie enjoys writing on our chalkboard in the kitchen, just like her big sisters.

After our corn maze field trip with one of our homeschool groups, we checked out a local pumpkin patch.

So, that's a wrap up of the last few months. I hope to update more than every 4 months. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Suburbia [Board Game Review]

Remember the computer game SimCity? Remember trying to build up your city and become a megalopolis? Or, if you're like me, remember building up your city only to unleash disaster after disaster on it? What if there were a board game that captured the city-building of SimCity? What if you could build a city and interact with the cities of other players? Good news, board game geeks, there is a game like that, and it is called Suburbia - a wonderful game released in 2012 by Ted Alspach and Bezier Games.

Suburbia is a game for 1-4 players (with 2 solo variants available) and should take roughly 90 minutes to play. In terms of complexity, this is definitely a step above games like Acquire and Ticket to Ride. I would not recommend starting an inexperienced strategy gamer with Suburbia. It is a game that you need to build up to before giving it a go.

At its core, Suburbia is a tile placement game, with each tile being a hexagon representing a building or landmark for your city/suburb. On the right, you see your starting suburb, and you purchase additional tiles to add to the suburb. The catch? All tiles interact with each other in different ways. At the top of the purple board are numbers representing reputation (i.e. do people want to move to your suburb?) and income. Different tiles will increase or decrease reputation and income, and the interaction of the tiles in your suburb (and in some cases, your opponents' suburbs) can affect your reputation and income even more. For instance, for obvious reasons, building a landfill next to houses decreases your reputation; or building a farm in your town increases your income as other players build restaurants in their suburbs. As you progress more into the game, the tiles become more expensive and more complex in terms of interaction. On your turn, you purchase a tile, place it in your suburb, and resolve all effects of that tile, the tiles adjacent to it, the tiles in your suburb, and the tiles in the other players' suburbs. Then you collect your income and add/subtract your population based on your reputation. As always, this is not meant to replace the rule book (as you know by now), so be sure to read through it a couple of times before you play. I should also mention that at the beginning of the game, end-game bonus discs are revealed, and one is selected in secret. These goals award bonus population at the end of the game if you have the most/least _____. For instance, you can earn bonus points for having the worst reputation. That one is my favorite, because it means I get to make the worst suburb possible. Once the bonus points are added in, the person with the most points (i.e. population) is the winner.

So what do I think? I feel like a broken record, but this is another game that we enjoy. Each game will be different because you do not use every tile, so there is variability in what tiles appear. There are 20 goals as well, so there will be many different combinations of goals. Plus, it really does feel like you are building up your suburb. The tiles interact thematically as you would expect. Building parks cost money but improves the look (and reputation) of your city. Too many factories and no one wants to live there. We're really that this one is part of our collection. It's not a game for newbies, but if you're a serious gamer, you should definitely get Suburbia.

-D