Monday, October 31, 2016

Pimiteoui Trail with my mom

I had good intentions of getting lots of schoolwork done with the kids today, but the weather was so nice, and the trails beckon louder than the books at this time of year.  After a half day of school work, I decided to let my mom decide.  We called to invite her to hike the Pimiteoui Trail. If she said yes, we would go.  If she said no, we would finish school.  She almost always says no to unplanned activities, but to my surprise, she actually said yes!

Illinois River Bluff Trail

Noah and I hiked the Illinois River Bluff Trail with my friend Gladys and some others from Camp Wokanda to Robinson Park.  It was led by a naturalist, so we learned some things along the way.

 It was a chilly fall day, but we warmed right up when we climbed the first bluff.
Lunch break at Robinson Park

Fake bacon and a BLT!

Since I gave up meat several months ago, I have missed BLTs.  I found a recipe for making fake bacon out of rice paper and had to try it.  It was like an edible science experiment! 
 This is rice paper. It feels like a thin plastic frisbee. You would never think it's edible.
Start by dipping two rice papers into water and fusing them together.  Then coat them with the marinade (which includes, soy sauce, oil, nutritional yeast, pepper, paprika, liquid smoke, maple syrup) and cut them into strips.
 Bake them for a few minutes, until they get crisp.
 Bacon!  No, it doesn't taste exactly like pig bacon, but it's good enough.  Way healthier for humans and pigs.
BLT.  It was satisfying.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Unconventional breakfast

Breakfast for Noah and me. Leftover baked potato sliced up with yesterday's leftover roasted vegetables.

I also threw in the last of my butternut squash (cheese sauce) I made last week and some fresh spinach.  Vegan parm and some pepper, and it's breakfast!  Noah loved it. Sarah wouldn't try it. She's more of a traditional eater, not interested in anything she considers weird or yucky.  Noah eats outside the box. He also eats inside the box. He has even been known to eat the box.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My birthday hike

As usual, all I wanted from my family for my birthday was to go hiking together with good attitudes.  This year we went to Mathiesson State Park.  It's only about an hour and a half away, but we've never been there before.  It was a beautiful place, and the weather was perfect!

 We had our picnic at this interesting place.
 Good hiking fuel.

 Mike at the bottom of a waterfall.
The next day, Gladys King, Noah, and I hiked the River Bluff Trail from Camp Wokanda to Robinson Park in Mossville.  I love fall hikes!

Why can't we just bud?

Sarah is at that age where she's pondering periods a lot.  Today, out of nowhere, she said, "I wish we could reproduce by budding instead of having periods. A tiny head would sprout on top of your shoulder and grow until a little clone of yourself got big enough to drop off and be your baby. Do all animals have periods?"  I've never thought about it before and didn't know.  She googled it and found that most mammals reabsorb the endometrium rather than shedding it. She wants to know why we can't just reabsorb.  I don't know.  I'd like to be a reabsorber myself.

In completely unrelated news...Noah came into the kitchen and spotted the spinach I just bought last night.  He excitedly squawked, "Oooooh, we have spinach!" then was immediately embarrassed and said, "I'm not good at being a kid. Kids should not get excited about spinach."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Birthday party/shirt retirement ceremony

My mom and dad had us all over for a joint birthday celebration for my brother's and my birthdays. 
 My mom made all the food, and it was all good.
 She even made a whole separate vegan dish for me!
 The cousins played Parcheesi.
 The men watched Saturday Night Live skits making fun of the presidential debates.
 This crew (minus Sarah) played baseball in the cul-de-sac.
Then we had a sad ceremony to retire one of our favorite shirts.  I remember my mom wearing it when I was a kid, and then she gave it to me, and I've worn it for probably 15 years.  I loved how it fit and how soft and comfortable it was, but it was getting very threadbare, and there was a hole in it, so we had to say goodbye.

 We ripped it up and cut it into dust rags.  We each kept some and said we'd think of each other whenever we dust (which, for my part, is hardly ever).

Feeding squirrels

Mike went with me to Idlewood Park yesterday to feed squirrels.  It was a perfect fall day, and the squirrels were plentiful.  I brought a blanket, a camera, and a bag of nuts.

 This one was the bravest.  He got pretty close to us.

 I love watching them bury the nut and then cover it up. 

The biggest nut of all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The robin

It was quiet time, and I was sitting on my bed.  Suddenly there was a loud thud against my window.  I looked outside and saw a robin lying on the ground.  I went out to assess the damage.  I talked softly to him as I approached and he didn't recoil as I examined his wings, legs, head, and chest.  Nothing seemed broken, but he was panting and his eyes were glazed over.

I picked him up and held him close, and he slumped against me.  I prayed over him and sang hymns to him for about ten minutes, and then he started to perk up gradually.  First he squatted on his feet in my hand.  Then he turned to look right at me, and his eyes cleared.  He fluffed his feathers a bit and closed his beak.  The whole time, I continued to sing and pray and talk softly to him.  I told him that God created him, knows him, and cares about him.  I blessed him to have strength, health, and a full life.  He was completely relaxed, just sitting in my hand, looking at me.
Finally, after about another ten minutes, he stood up tall, pooped in my hand, chirped his thanks, and flew away.  I felt the strength of his legs pushing off against my hand and the breeze as he flapped his wings.  He stopped briefly in our tree and then took off into the sky.  I praised God for healing the bird and for allowing me to have such an amazing experience!

By then, quiet time was over, and it was time to get back to work.  Sometimes I prepare ahead for our literature lesson, but today I hadn't, so as I was reading this poem to my kids, it was the first time I'd read it, and it was right after the amazing bird experience:
It was like a direct message from God, telling me that I'm not living in vain.  I often get discouraged and feel like I'm making no positive difference in the world.  I teach my kids something and they've forgotten it the next day.  I spend hours making food that's gone in fifteen minutes.  I clean something and it's almost immediately dirtied again. It's easy to fall into the trap of believing the lie that nothing I do matters.  But God showed me today very clearly that it does.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lunchtime with my people

The kids and I were working together making lunch.  Noah and I were assembling a big salad, and Sarah was making pasta.  Noah seized the opportunity to expound on all the reasons why it would be a great idea for us to get him a cell phone for his 15th birthday.  After laying out several reasons, he concluded, "So you'd be killing three birds with one stone!"  I pointed out that I don't like killing animals, and he amended his statement to: "Ok, well,'d be...saving three birds with"

Sarah butted in to rinse out the strainer before draining the pasta.  She was singing a song about about salmonella and saying she didn't want to get salmonella from any dust that might be in the strainer.  Noah said, "Why are you always singing songs about salmonella and ebola?"

I wonder if I'll miss all this bustling around and bantering in the kitchen someday when they're gone?  I think I will.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Another muffin fail

Noah had basketball tryouts this morning, and he's going on a camping trip this afternoon, so I thought I would make him a good breakfast to start him off well.  I decided on this gem from the famous Forks Over Knives Cookbook, so it would be healthy and failproof (recipe at the end of this post).

My first snag was that when I pulled the applesauce out of the fridge, I noticed it was moldy.  Had to throw that away.  :(  I didn't have any more applesauce, but I had plenty of apples, so I made my own applesauce.  Unplanned and time-consuming, but tasty and successful.  Back to the recipe.  After I added the applesauce, the batter was coming together like bread dough instead of muffin batter.  Clearly missing some liquid.  I'm not a rookie; I know I must go back and carefully check the recipe to make sure I got all the liquid and measured it correctly.  Almond milk, check. Vinegar, yep. Applesauce, just did it. Maple syrup, yep, I remember measuring that and thinking that was an expensive ingredient.  Vanilla...nope, forgot that.  But I doubt 1 1/2 tsp of liquid is going to fix this dry batter.  I add the vanilla.  Still dry bread dough.  

I'm surprised that the Forks Over Knives people would mess up a recipe so badly, but I clearly need to fix it.  I add more almond milk and applesauce.  It's still pretty thick, but I'm going with it. If I don't get them in the oven soon, they won't be ready before Noah has to leave.  I put them in the oven, set the timer, start cleaning up, and notice....1/2 cup of maple syrup carefully measured, still sitting there in the measuring cup.  Well, there's the problem. These muffins are going to be disgusting.

Whole Wheat Berry Muffins

Servings: muffins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with silicone liners or have ready a nonstick or silicone muffin pan.
  2. In a large measuring cup use a fork to vigorously mix together the plant-based milk, flaxseed, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, until it appears foamy. Set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (optional). Make a well in the enter of the mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Add the applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla, and stir together the wet ingredients in the well. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the berries.
  4. Fill each muffin cup three-quarters of the way to the top and bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  5. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove.
Recipe Notes

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pukey feet

Shadow puked directly in the doorway of Noah's room early this morning.  It was one of those that is much easier to clean up after it dries and hardens, so I went in to warn Noah not to step in it.  When he came out of his room later, he stepped in it.  He took his socks off and threw them in the laundry.  The next time he went into his room, he stepped in the pile again.  This time he washed his feet in the bathtub.  Just now, I heard a yell of disgust and frustration followed by the bathtub running again.  Then he was kicking around the clean laundry on the floor.  I told him to keep his pukey feet out of the clean laundry, and he said, "I just washed them!  They're cleaner than Jesus' feet!"  I said, "Did you use soap?" and he said, "  I used frankincense and myrrh."

Saturday, October 8, 2016


There is one towel rack in our tiny bathroom, and we all share the two towels that it holds.  So if someone takes a shower before you, you're getting wet towels to dry off with after your shower.  If more than one person takes a shower before you, the towels will be saturated by the time you get to them. Sometimes they have toothpaste stains on them or other grossness. It's a relatively minor annoyance, so we just put up with it.
A couple weeks ago, I decided to buy myself two towels that I would hide for my exclusive use.  They're soft, fluffy, purple, clean, and dry every time I use them.  I keep them on my closet door, so I have to remember to take them to the bathroom with me before I get in the shower, but it's so wonderful.  The whole situation makes me disproportionately happy.