Monday, November 30, 2009

This Is My Thanksgiving Post


For Thanksgiving, we did what we always do (since Tornado was about 2, I think) - honorarily adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. This year, our turkey's name is Mello. $25, which gets us this photograph and certificate, plus membership to Farm Sanctuary.

Thanksgiving is...not really my favorite holiday. Don't get me wrong; I'm all about celebrating anything when the time comes. But I just hate that it's all about the poor little turkeys (and it makes me think of the Native Americans getting their land taken away and everyone who got killed on both sides back then...). I don't really understand why we have a holiday based primarily on eating an animal that suffered. A very smart animal with a good personality. Am I the Grinch who stole Thanksgiving?

Okay, but it's really about getting together with family and having a day set aside to feel thankful for everything, right? I'll try to play along. I really do like the "feeling thankful" aspect. We should really do that more often. And I won't even post the "videos" because I already did that on facebook, but if you want to see how most commercial turkeys are treated, you can see it here. Other than that, please understand my negativity (like I said, it's just not the best for me personally; some people don't believe in celebrating Halloween, Valentine's Day stinks for single know, it's kind of like that for me), and I really do hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving Day.

I did, in fact, have one pretty, little pilgrim at her preschool Thanksgiving program. She very sweetly smiled on stage and every once in awhile she would sing a few words of the song - just when she would look at me, and I would mouth the words animatedly so she would sing, too. She and I ate lunch together after the program with the other kids and parents.

And one brave Indian boy. He did fabulous at his school's program. Papaw, Sissy, and I got to watch him and eat with him afterward. Googie came at the end and about started crying because she missed it.

We stayed put for Thanksgiving dinner this year, and it was just the five of us.

Tofurky is a joke of sorts that gets tossed around at Thanksgiving time. Well, we are one of those families that eats it and loves it. You know what I love as much, maybe even more than the Tofurky itself? The Cranberry-Apple Potato Dumplings that come with it. So good (but there are only 8 of them in the box). I did a lot of prep work for our meal the night before, and at one point I said to Ryan, "...I accidentally ate one of the dumplings." The box even comes with "Jurky Wishsticks" in case you just can't live without that tradition.

You know what I am most thankful for? No, not pumpkin pie, although I seriously LOVE pumpkin pie (I was in PANIC mode when I realized I only had one organic 365 brand crust in the freezer, and I had to MAKE another pie crust from scratch.). I love it so very much. I don't know why I don't make it all year round.
Like every night.
I am thankful for God's mercy and love. I am thankful for all of the many blessings He has given me (and really, there are so many...I don't deserve, and most of the time I feel whiny inside about what I don't have). I don't write that very often. I mostly always think it goes without saying how I feel about my relationship with the Lord. I don't speak enough about it, I think, because I don't want to sound trite or phony. I err by not saying it enough.

What is Tornado thankful for this Thanksgiving? "Googie" was his automatic reply. (That's my Mom.) Don't feel bad if he left you out; he didn't say my name either.

Oh! I'm also very thankful for my warming drawer. Such a non-necessity, but it's such a nice thing to have when I'm making big meals. I love it.

I loved, loved having the kids at home all week from school. I loved, loved that I didn't have to get up every morning in our panicked rush. (I can't wait for a snow day!) We got to snuggle in bed and do little projects together. We made crayons one day in preparation of making leaf rubbings. I have made these before, years ago as gifts. Lots easier when you have 3 eager kids helping. They really participated with this, and I guess it's a good fine motor activity, eh? (And uses up all our nubby and broken crayons.) Sissy loved it most of all, I'd say. Look how serious she was about it. I told her I was proud of what a great job she was doing and pointed out that she was making such a neat pile with her wrappers.

And then Dash asked, "Do you like my crazy pile?"

It just looks pretty.

One of our crayons has a big finger print in it because after I took them out of the oven, and they had cooled for a bit, Dash wanted desperately to touch them. I said, "You can touch it VERY lightly, but it's not completely hard yet. Don't push down on it." Well, of course, he pressed his finger down into that crayon as far as it would go. Of course, he did.
On Thanksgiving Day, while I was busy cooking, Ryan took the kids outside to gather leaves, then they worked on their big leaf rubbing sign, using our new heart shaped crayons.
The kids enjoyed making the sign so much, they made another one. This time they watercolored over the crayon rubbings like they did over at Filth Wizardry (fun blog, by the way).
Sissy, posing with their sign

Our noon meal consisting of rolls, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans almondine, Lemony Roasted Brussel Sprouts with garlic, Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes with cranberries, apples, and walnuts, and Holiday Rice (Thanks Tofu Mom, for the brussel sprouts and rice recipes!). And of course, the Tofurky roast surrounded in roasted potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions.

I took a picture of Ryan's plate...because I was so impressed at the sheer volume. My plate wasn't that full.

He even went back for seconds.

He's going to LOVE that I documented this. :) Then he had a big piece of pie. Ryan always likes to have dessert or something sweet immediately after a meal. I like to save a little something for later.

The bad thing about consuming all of this food is that we immediately had to clean up and drive 3 hours to see my brother and all of the rest of my family. Ryan said he needed 5 minutes to lie down. I gave him 5 minutes, then it was rush, rush, rush. That's okay, though. Spending time with my family is much better than a nap any day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Favorite Smoothie and Playing in the Leaves

We drink a lot of smoothies around here. The kids like some of them more than others. The favorite lately is banana (we use several for one batch), So Delicious Coconut Milk beverage, coconut oil (read about health benefits), and frozen pineapple. They drink it faster than any smoothie. If there are leftovers, I make popsicles, which are eaten up quickly, too.
When we were looking to build a house, we went into it thinking, "How can we make life easier for ourselves?" One of our biggest requirements was NO YARD. This is against what most people want, but we did not want to spend our weekends mowing or with the added pressure of watering and keeping out weeds. Plus, fire ants are horrible in Arkansas, and they seem to be worse in grass. At least, we don't seem to have a fire ant problem at our new house like we did at our old house. Our 1.25 acres is wooded, and although Ryan does weed-eat a little bit during the summer (including weed whacking 4 wheeler trails through the woods for the boys), it's pretty low maintenance. So...when the leaves fall, we don't even have to worry about raking. In fact, we LOVE the extra ground cover. There are still some areas that are a little too exposed to mud from the building process. I think I might ask my neighbor for all of his pine needles next time I see him raking them up.
Ryan surprised the kids by raking up a huge pile of leaves for them to play in the other day. They were THRILLED. The pile is still sort of there, and I think they keep adding to it because every day they play in it at some point.
Miss Prissiness loved the idea of the leaf pile. She kept running full speed toward the pile, yell, "Cannonball!" just like the boys do, then would very gently lower herself into the edge of the pile. She just couldn't bring herself to fully embrace it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lots of Raw

Ever since I saw this "Trix" cereal that shannonmarie from Rawdorable made, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I decided to make it last week, even though I didn't have all of the ingredients I needed. (It stinks not having a Whole Foods in my town.) I did my best to make as many colors as I could. I was missing golden raisins (which I think would have been key here), rose water, and dragon fruit, and I was also making them in kind of a hurry because it was getting late. I could have ground up the nuts a little better. I dehydrated them for a little bit. I made a tiny bowl for my supper (that's all I needed - it was very tasty but filling), adding a little...

homemade almond milk. I had high hopes for doing away with so many Silk cartons, etc. in our lives...but the kids weren't big fans. I will keep trying to get them used to it. I could definitely see using only homemade almond milk with cereal, cooking, and in smoothies, etc. Would make a great shake with some bananas, etc. It was SO easy to make. Just soaked my almonds overnight, blended them with water, strained the pulp, then blended it again with some vanilla and agave nectar. I tried blending some also with soaked dates to see if that made it any tastier for the kids. Sissy did drink a cup, saying, "Yummy!"
The next day, I made pancakes using the leftover almond pulp. I added Bob's Red Mill garbanzo and fava blean flour (bean pancakes, anyone?), flaxseed meal, and a little whole wheat flour because I didn't know how it would turn out without any...baking powder, dash of salt, almond milk, dried cranberries, pineapple chunks, and blueberries. Obviously, they aren't as fluffy as "normal pancakes," but the kids and I didn't hesitate in chowing down a couple apiece.
Our new favorite thing...homemade vegan parmesan cheese. I used to buy yummy Parma whenever I was somewhere that had it...but the ingredients are simply walnuts, nutritional yeast, and salt, and that's what we used in ours. Just ground it all up in my mini-food processor.
We used liberal amounts with our brown rice pasta, sauce, and broccoli. This is what Dash said,

"It's so good an elephant would eat it!"