Banana bread

October 29, 2009 at 2:16 pm (Cooking) (, )

Last week I posted about my mishaps getting usable sunflower seeds from the flowers we grew.  I ended up with about a cup of extra extra toasted, semi-crushed sunflowers seeds.  I considered baking bread, but I had a couple loaves of store-bought, and I wasn’t 100% sure what they would do in a yeast bread.  Could I just add them in, or would they replace just a bit of the flour?

Instead, I went with what I know- a quick bread.  The choice was also steered by remembering I had some banana puree in the freezer. 

It’s hard to go wrong with quick breads and muffins.  One can get away with lots of substitutions in a quick bread, so they are perfect recipes to play with.  Playing with a quick bread recipe means adding nutrition and using up good food that doesn’t have another obvious purpose.  I’ve added in the past: browned apples, leftover thawed blueberries, and the twelve raisins and two almonds sitting in a bowl that were originally served as oatmeal toppings.  You can even add leftover oatmeal itself.

In my double batch of banana bread, I added all the toasted sunflower seeds I had, and substituted most of the white flour in the Betty Crocker recipe with wheat flour, gluten, wheat germ, and wheat bran.  One of my boys asked, “Are these chocolate chips in here?”  That was how toasted the sunflowers were!  Brown, but not burnt.  Was it a disservice to his nutritional education that I let him believe they were chocolate?  Either way, yum.


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more about time

October 29, 2009 at 1:44 pm (Family, Parenthood) ()

Last week I shared what I don’t do with my time.

What’s more important is how I do spend it.

A key to leading a purposeful life is to choose where the time goes, rather than let it slip through your fingers.  Easier said than done.

Back in my corporate days, in order to increase efficiency, our director ordered a time audit of the operators on the manufacturing floor.  They were observed for a week or so, and every single movement they did was recorded.  As you might guess, they found it just a wee bit insulting that management thought a group of strangers could tell them how to do their job faster.  I cringe at the thought of any time audit results on my Mama Days.  Just how much time did I waste this morning, running back to the house for an extra coat, then my coffee cup, and finally my wedding ring I took off while cutting out biscuits?  My aunt thinks pretty much everybody in our family has undiagnosed ADD.  Some days I agree, others not.  How could I not be frazzled taking care of three kids, two of which are twins that still need constant fighting break-ups, and one of which is two years old and often doesn’t sleep through the night?

But, doesn’t it sound interesting to know?- where does the time go?  Many nights I wonder what I did all day. 

So, I’m going to find out.  In a slightly less detailed scale than the corporate time audit.  I’ve been recording every time I switch activities this week.  It seems a little obsessive, maybe.  I’ll admit a propensity to do more record keeping than most would care to.  But I think it’s fun.  And all those money management people are always advocating that one starts by figuring out where every dollar goes.  This is the same concept, with time.  The end goal is to ensure that I’m spending time on the activities that are important to me and my family.

I don’t mean to suggest that every minute of the day needs to be productive.  This little activity is meant to make sure I have enough time to relax, to play.  Knowing that when I do, it’s right where I’m supposed to be.

I’ll post the results this weekend.  I haven’t done any tallying yet, but I can already tell you- I need to do some rearranging.  To fit with what actually matters.

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Things kids say 1.0

October 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm (PJ) ()

TKS (Things kids say) will be a regular feature on my blog.  I won’t be stating this again, but let me just say here at the first installment that I’m well aware my kids aren’t the only ones messing up their words and saying quirky things about dating and God, as evidenced by all the forwards I get.

Setting the scene: Parker and I “reading” an animal board book with Greta.  He loves animals, but books with only pictures and no words aren’t what he typically wants read as a 5 year old when baby sister isn’t present.  So I’m “spicing it up” by inserting whatever random animal facts I can think of.

Mama: Do you know what a mama sheep is called?

Parker: No.

Mama:  Ewe.

Parker (quizzically):  Parker?  [As in, “Pretty sure that’s a weird name for a mama sheep, Mama, but that’s what you just said, didn’t you?”]

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Flowers of the Sun

October 22, 2009 at 7:41 am (Cooking) ()

Please note, this is not in any way a how to manual for anything to do with sunflowers.  What transpired here is a bastardization of actually advisable instructions readily available via your favorite search engine.

  1. Grow sunflowers.  (I had nothing to do with this, but the other 80% of our family did.  I’m told it’s quite easy.)our sunflower
  2. Let them get really tall.                                                                                    way taller than the boys
  3. Send a couple to school for the boys’ teacher.  Worry that she won’t like them and that they will be in trouble for bringing them on the bus.
  4. Chop down the flowers.  Let them dry a few days outside.
  5. Make a total mess of the deck removing all the seeds from the flowers.  They are remarkably fleshy.
  6. Pay boys $1 to clean up the deck.
  7. Soak half the seeds, still in the hulls, in salt water overnight.
  8. Roast at 200 degrees F, for about two hours.  Store in an airtight container, as they will not be eaten anytime soon.
  9. Soak the second batch overnight.
  10. Roast at 350 degrees F for twenty minutes, because two hours was just too long to justify the oven being on merely for sunflower purposes.
  11. Decide second batch isn’t done; is still damp.  Leave on the counter.
  12. Rotate the two 9×13 pans around the counters wherever space is available for a few days.  Maybe a week.  Throw randomly in the oven a few times it’s warm.  Forget they’re in the oven as it’s preheating to 425 degrees for something else.  At least once, maybe twice.
  13. Decide something must be done.  Use them or ditch them.
  14. Take all the seeds/hulls in batches, place in a Ziploc sandwich baggie, and crush with rolling pin.  It would be advisable to use a bigger Ziploc, but I had run out.  One child will help, briefly, before deciding “it’s too hard”.
  15. Put crushedness into a juice pitcher with water, and skim hulls off the top.  Into another pitcher.
  16. Determine pitcher isn’t big enough, and fetch the big mixing bowl from the garage.  Continue skimming hulls.  Fill both pitchers with hulls.
  17. Decide rolling pin crushing didn’t get out all the seeds.  Get out food processor, and run the hulls through in batches.
  18. Repeat skimming procedure with the twice-crushed hulls/seeds.  In another bowl, so as not to contaminate the only once-crushed hulls/seeds.  In case the twice-crushed don’t work.  Like any part of this is working.
  19. Obtain about one cup of crushed sunflower seeds.  Stick in the fridge.
  20. Clean the two pitchers, two mixing bowls, and the food processor.  Think about how all the water used in rinsing and skimming, repeat repeat, and then washing kitchen equipment, probably totally negates the benefits of extracting these seeds.
  21. Clog the disposal with the hulls stuck to everything, even though 90% go into the compost container.
  22. Unclog the disposal, hoping to complete task before husband comes home.  Know he will not be happy I thought I could send even a cup of sunflower seed hulls down it.
  23. Wonder what I’m going to do with my “bounty”.  Bread, muffins?  I’ll let you know.

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A boy’s bunk = diary of a five old (if it was written by his mama, that is)

October 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm (AJ) ()

On Sunday I was invited to take a tour.  The proprietor offered me a free ticket, and said he’d put my name on “the list” for a private viewing, so I went.  On up to Auden’s bunk.

Here is my tour guide.

Top bunk tour guide 

Like any good tourist, I brought my camera.  Like any friend of a tourist, you may not find the recitation of the trip as exciting as I did.  But something about Auden’s bunk is so HIM; I just have to document it.

Do you remember back when you weren’t big enough to fill a whole twin bed?  And the rest of the space could be used as storage?  I have vague recollections I kept precious treasures in my bed, but not to this extent.  Until I took this tour, I knew he had a lot of stuff of up there, but I hadn’t appreciated its organization or just how much there was.

Auden shares a room with his twin.  His bunk is the only space that is his, and his alone.  When we got them bunk beds a few years ago, I decided not to allow for any top bunk/bottom bunk squabbling.  I assigned Auden to the top bunk, Parker to the lower, and set up the bed with their pillows and blankets while they were out.  [btw, highly recommend on the bunk beds spacewise and fortwise]

I knew Auden would have a greater need for his own space.  With Parker, wherever he is, that’s his space.  To Parker at least.  Simple.  A squirmy, cuddling extrovert, he makes friends at every park, and thinks the whole world is his oyster.  When you’re an introvert with a twin like this, you need the top bunk.

The first thing you will notice is Auden loves spiders,




and Star Wars.

 Sticker collection

 SW ships

Auden began by highlighting his “collection”.  While it appears to me everything in the bunk is a collection, the collection known simply as “my collection” is the shells. 

"My collection" 

You might be wondering about the motor oil box.

 Makeshift cupboard 

I’d been thinking about adding some type of shelf or cupboard.  After seeing the bed storage, you’ll see why.  One day a certain two year old sister had practiced her ladder skills one too many times for Auden’s taste, and this quickie box idea was born.  It utilized green knobs I replaced on a hand-me-down dresser.  They were a bit ugly on the dresser, but I think any knob works on a cardboard box, don’t you?  They’re attached with some scrounged washers and handmade cardboard spacers.  Try creating your own cardboard furniture sometime.  It’s really kind of fun.  Someday I may devise an actual shelf made of wood.

After shells, Auden steered my attention to a small shelf that came with the bed.  A short history of the bunk bed- My dad made the bed for my two younger sisters.  After traveling with the youngest to college, it made  its way to our house for two brothers.  I think the shelf was an add-on request for nighttime reading. 

Auden uses it for that, and more.  The left side contains “maps”, which is what Auden and Parker call any instruction book or brochure.  They’ve referred to their LEGO maps for years, and I haven’t had the heart to correct it.  It’s accurate in a way, isn’t it?  On the right, a collection of Spiderman tales.

Then with a Bionicle box neatly separating, we have a few matchbox cars and marbles,


and some shiny rocks.


Notice under the rocks, yet more storage.  He demonstrated a procedure to place his beloved Star Wars LEGO book under his shelf and pillow.  It involved his “computer”, and pressing the computer’s “button”, which is also visible in the rock picture- the bolt in the corner.

Finally, no child’s bed should be without stuffies.


For their first few years, the boys had no interest at all in stuffed animals.  I chalked it up to a boy thing, and continued to long for a girl.  Lo and behold, around 3 1/2 years, they both attached to bunnies we’d had in the house since they were infants.  Since then, Parker’s dropped the bunny, which is nice, because Auden has two.  A side benefit of twinship is that when you’re given two things, and only one twin likes them, he has a replacement for when his own breaks or gets lost.  Wood the cat and the Husky dog (Go Huskies!) occupy the top affection spot now.

And there you have it.  Being the mama of this five year old is a great place to be.

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24 Hours- I’m OK and you’re OK

October 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm (Running) (, , )

I will admit it. When I left work to stay home with the kids, I thought I could do it better. Better than my husband did, better than my mother, better than quite a few mamas I know (although I know a lot of great mamas- at least as good as them).  I had high aspirations.  My kids would be happier, because I’d consistently help them work through their difficulties, and they would in turn be so emotionally fulfilled by this guidance and my attention that all fighting would cease.  Our bottom line would improve, even though I wasn’t working, because I’d frugally shop for healthy foods and make meals from scratch.  And save even more by making other items to our exact style and size specifications- clothing, curtains, laundry soap.  Our home would be clean, organized, and inviting.  Hahahaha.

Here’s what I’ve realized.  And it’s not earth-shattering.  Everybody has the same amount of time each day.  Nobody has enough.  And no one can do it all.  Not that lady with the perfect smart well-adjusted kids and perfect style that suits just them.  Not the woman that is well-spoken and up on current events, so much so I don’t dare try to talk to her, as my world has recently gotten smaller, not bigger.

But everybody’s cutting corners somewhere.

Some people are better at hiding where than others.

I know a woman who cuts a giant corner off her own sleep.  Women who all but cut out cooking.  Others cut a social life, spending time with their kids, or having any kids at all.  *Some people don’t spend any time on the internet.*  Shock.

I’ve been taking joy in finding people’s corners.  I know, I know, it’s not healthy.  But some people just seem so perfect.  It’s those people I quietly jealousize, and then they say, “I haven’t taken any pictures of Susan since last Christmas.”  Or, “We never really go to the park.”  And I think, “Oh, she isn’t perfect.”  EVERYBODY has a corner.  They have to.

What any person spends their time on demonstrates their value system.  Whether they are intentional about it or not.  It’s easy to let time go to waste, watching tv.  Or my time waster- googling random inconsequential things.

I, it’s become obvious, take corners with the care of my house.  I really do want a house where a friend can stop by, and not have to trip over toys to come into the kitchen for a cup of coffee.  And I wouldn’t have to cringe if the friend heads to the bathroom, because she may step on cat litter and find mildew in the bowl.  But this house I do not have.

Right now it’s the corner I’m taking.  A giant big dirty disgusting corner.  That and plently other little ones.  It’s less important to me than my kids, or my sleep, or my food.  To me.  And that’s ok.  Your own corner, whatever it is, is ok too.

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