From playdough to pasta

July 11, 2012 § 13 Comments

Little m and I have a little time each day when it’s just us. With J at work, and O down for his nap, we sneak off to her room to hang before her quiet time. During one of these times, she wanted to play with playdough. I opened up this cool tool her auntie Jenn passed us. You squeeze the playdough through different dies to make noodles. So simple and so fun. To little m’s delight, we made noodles of all different shapes, widths, and colors, carefully chopped them, and put them on plastic plates to serve at our restaurant, which m named “Bun Mee.”

While we were playing, the wheels in my head were churning. Why make fake noodles, when we can be making dinner! Let’s put this effort to good use and make some real pasta! I found a demo on youtube for making homemade pasta, and m and I watched it together, fascinated. When J came home, I explained what we wanted to do. He got onto eBay and secured us a pasta machine of our very own.

Little m is hilarious – she remembers so many details from the youtube video. We made our first linguine noodles, and both of us had a grand old time. The only issue for us was having to take turns using the machine.

Cranking the dough through the pasta machine, changing the settings to make the dough thinner and thinner, and passing the dough through the cutter, are all fabulous 4-year-old activities.

We also made some green pasta noodles, using our garden’s spinach, kale, and chard, chopped super-fine and added to the dough. Thumbs way up.

It has been so fun watching little m learn and enjoy things like making pasta. She loves making real and meaningful contributions to our household. It’s super cool to see.

Blogging award and summerfruit crisp!

July 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

Lately, it has been more difficult to find pockets of time to create things – I haven’t sewn or knit in awhile. And it’s a bit harder to be creative when I am folding the laundry or changing a diaper. But the one place where I can let out my creative energy has been the kitchen! Who knew? I was never big into cooking. During my teaching years, I hardly cooked at all. J made our dinners, and if he wasn’t home, I’d survive on buttered popcorn and cereal. Now that I’m home with my two littles, I have mostly taken over dinner duty, and actually enjoy (sometimes) making food. As with other things in my life that are homemade, I enjoy the process, but what I really love is seeing what I can do myself.

My friend Lauren’s beautiful vegan food blog One Happy Table has been an inspiration in this whole process. Her ideas, photos, and recipes have caused me to start jotting down new dinners I want to try. Seriously, you have to check it out. I mean, who knew you could make your own ravioli? YOU CAN!

She also nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award. I’m honored!

Anyway, a small pile of beautiful ripe white nectarines from a recent fruit-picking trip seemed the perfect opportunity to try out Lauren’s Easy Summerfruit Crisp.

Simple. Fast. Fruit + cupboard ingredients. Definitely a win! I did it with regular butter. Love.

Feeding our garbage to the wormies!

January 30, 2012 § 3 Comments

I posted recently about trying to find “green shapes” in my life – things that are wins on many fronts (example: biking is good for the earth, good for health, good for the soul – a green triangle). One green shape we put into place last month was that we set up a worm bin.

After seeing a worm bin in action at the little m’s rocking co-op preschool, I was inspired enough to actually have a worm bin. It was surprisingly pleasant – not smelly and gross like I had expected.

We did some research on then J began. He drilled a bunch of holes in a Rubbermaid bin we already owned, and sat it inside another.

Holes drilled around sides and top with 1/8" drill bit.

Into the bin went some great kitchen scraps – carrot peels, apple cores, some greens, along with some shredded cardboard and newspaper.

We purchased a pound of red wrigglers (you cannot use regular garden earthworms – they aren’t garbage dwellers) and loaded them into their new habitat.

Red worms purchased from Sloat Garden Center. That's J's hand holding them. I can't do it.

Our worms had a few troubles at first – we had some that didn’t make it. One of m’s preschool teachers gave me some ideas about what could be going on and loaned me a book called Worms Eat My Garbage. The worms needed more damp newspaper to balance things out.

Now, the worms are thriving. They are growing bigger and multiplying! We love that some of our food scraps will go back into the garden, building our soil. Happy worms, happy us, happy earth, happy plants…a win, win, win, win – a green rectangle!  WOO HOO!

Another win for the whole process is that the little m loves when we open up the bin and check on the worms. I hope my little ones continue to have that excitement and wonder over the amazing things in life. Things like worms eating garbage.

Simplicity in food

January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

My good friend Jackie introduced me to a book called Simplicity Parenting. I have been reading it slowly and soaking in some wonderful ideas that really make sense to me at this moment in my life. The chapter I am currently reading is dealing with the importance of regular rhythms for kids. Regular schedules and activities become anchors for kids who have so much going on in their lives. I think this is even true for me – I like routines and rhythms in my life.

One area I want to inject good rhythm into is food. The author suggests having a regular menu plan according to the days of the week (i.e. Tuesday is rice day, Wednesday is soup day, etc.). I LOVE this idea. Since the end of last year, I’ve been attempting to plan out the week’s dinners ahead of time to avoid the dreaded standing in front of the fridge thinking, “WHAT can we EAT!?” Coming up with meals on the fly was stressing me out, and also leading to some food waste. Having a plan has been super-freeing! So I’m excited to simplify even further by having a category for each day. Hopefully it builds in a good and predictable rhythm for our family.

An app called Zenbe stores my grocery list, which I update as I plan the week's menu.

I’m thinking something like this (examples in parentheses):

  • Monday: soup/stew (chicken soup, beef barley soup, chili)
  • Tuesday: vegetarian night (bean and cheese burritos, quesadillas, falafels)
  • Wednesday: rice+ (roast chicken, stir fry, chicken a la king, ma po tofu)
  • Thursday: leftovers and sandwiches
  • Friday: rice+
  • Saturday: pasta (chicken and sun-dried tomatoes, pesto)
  • Sunday: Meal with our house church

I think I’ll do it for awhile and see how it goes. Perhaps if it works well, I will menu plan lunch as well (currently I scrounge around). The author brings up that if you have a regular rhythm, it also makes breaking out of rhythms really exciting.  “I know tonight is soup night, but we’re going out for dinner!”

On the eve of my little boy’s first birthday…

September 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Our family has been going through so many transitions lately. Little m started preschool, and today just got her first haircut. And the little o has been eating up a storm, and was holding onto a little chair and walking today (he looked like a little old grandpa with a walker). I’m just amazed at how fast they are growing up. I feel like I blinked and then they were grown. The days can be so crazy and exhausting sometimes, but the years sure are flying by.

Turned a corner!

January 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

The O is now almost four months.  SWEET!  Some time ago, he turned a corner – started sleeping through the night more often, is generally happy to be awake and lying around, started taking these incredible naps.  PHEW!  So while we still have rough days, we have emerged from the fog and are finding our rhythm.

At times, (like this very moment), I have some space.  It has been great getting back into a bit of crafting.  Recently, I found this post on how to fuse plastic grocery bags together to make a waterproof material.  Here’s my first sewing project using the fused plastic:

I put diapering stuff in it and slip it into my backpack.  I love how people post tutorials to help others learn.  Let me know if you try any fused plastic projects.

Living above my grandma

December 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

Little m with her mom, her mom's mom, and her mom's mom's mom. 5/2008

After graduating from college, I moved to San Francisco with two dear friends. At the time, I was working towards my teaching credential at SF State. Since then I have lived in this same place, above my grandma. I appreciate living near her more and more. It was really exciting for all of us when little m was born in 2008. Then, my Pau-Pau also became a Tai-Pau.

Now, she lets me store my big, impossible-to-lug-up-the-stairs-with-two-kids double stroller in her flat. On non-rainy days, we will tromp down the front stairs, and let ourselves in. I call out, “Tai-pau?” And m copies me, “Tai-pau?” She will greet us with a big smile. We announce that we have come for the stroller. Sometimes she will sit and hold the O while I act as a spotter for the m as she climbs into her side of the stroller. (She is a big girl, and her favorite phrase as of late is, “No, I do it!”) Tai-pau will tell O, “Good boy” and smile at him, and he will do his best to coo at her and let her know he loves her, too. I strap the boy in, and then Tai-pau will say, “See you later” to which m replies, “Bye-bye!”

I once went down to get some milk from my grandma without m. When I came back upstairs, m was very upset with me, and demanded I take her to see Tai-Pau. So we went back down, and I explained what happened. My grandma was clearly pleased. Awhile back she offered m a banana when we came to visit. The next time we went down, m said, “I want a banana!” Now she gets one almost every time we visit.

Newborn O with two of his Bok-Bok and his Tai-Pau. 9/2010

Little m also loves visiting with her Bok-Bok and Bok-Gung, my other grandparents.  Bok-Bok (my grandma) always brings her little treats – breadsticks, crackers, and once a pair of beaded slippers (which she calls her shiny shoes).  A year ago at the family Thanksgiving meal, when m was a slower walker, she found her Bok-Bok’s golden-colored slippers and put them on.  She proceeded to carefully walk around in them, making the whole family crack up!

When I remember, I am thankful. I realize it is unique for my kids to grow up around three of their great grandparents, all four of their grandparents, lots of grand-aunties and grand-uncles (gruncles? New word?), aunties, uncles, cousins, and friends. Feeling rich with relationships this season.

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