Monday, January 26, 2009

For The Love of Beets: Beet Salad with Feta, Quinoa and Walnuts

(Pic from Salt and Pepper, a random blog that had a great picture. Check out her salad!)

We got this recipe with one one of our CSA boxes 2 years ago, and we still have it a couple times a month. The first time we made it, it was supposed to be a lunch with my good friend who is a vegetarian. As things go, it ended up being dinner and she brought her boyfriend. In an attempt to make this a meal for many, we quickly made some quinoa (we like red or black better then white) and stirred it all in together. Oh my! It has been a hit with anyone who has had it. I'll include the recipe, but I don't measure the sauce ingredients anymore. I put a lot more in to make up for the added grain. Give it a try!


1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (preferably whole-grain or coarse-grain)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb onions (one medium), quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch small whole beets, scrubbed and trimmed to leave 1 inch of stem
2 oz crumbled feta (about 1/3 cup)
1/8 cup pine nuts (1 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped (we use walnuts)

Roast, steam or boil beets ahead of time. Or use canned. We freeze them when we get a lot during the summer.

Make quinoa according to package directions. (I saved the directions off the first box we bought, and then bough bulk after that).

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add 1 tablespoon oil, whisking until combined well.

Cook onions with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add onions to dressing, then add beets and cheese, stirring gently to combine. Serve sprinkled with nuts.

Menu Plan Monday: Friends week

We got a lot of dinner invites this week. Love it! However, we are starting this week with my husband's family, to eat healthier. Calorie counting for them, and since I am nursing a little one still, exercise, drinking water and avoiding sugar and white flour for me. So eating at other's houses is difficult. We already don't eat pork, and it is so not fun to ask for exceptions being made for yourself when invited somewhere. So pray things go well and we can take care of these bodies HaShem gave us!

Sunday: Dinner with friends
Monday: Stir fry w/ peanut sauce*, super firm tofu and rice
Tuesday: Dinner with friends
Wednesday: Beet Salad (roasted beets w/ carmalized onions, walnuts, quinoa and feta)
Thursday: Family Night
Friday: Dinner with friends
Shabbat Oneg: Not entirely sure yet

* Found this very informal recipe when looking for a stir fry sauce without soy sauce. I don't remember where it came from: mix peanut butter (or any nut/seed butter) with some fresh minced ginger, minced garlic, a bit of honey, some apple cider or rice vinegar, and salt. NUM!

Don't forget to check out all the other menu plans on I'm an Organizing Junkie. Looks like she is having a neat give away this week!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Appropriate Bathroom Decor

I like the idea of having a few decorations here and there, but I am really picky and have a style that even I can't pinpoint. In fact, the colors in our bathroom were inspired by a gift that was meant as a gag.

The Pregnancy Resource Center I interned with before we were married threw me a surprise bridal shower. But we hadn't registered anywhere and apparently they had been trying to get out of me our colors. Like I said, I have a style in my head that I can't even figure out. So one of the wonderful ladies got fed up with me and bought one set towels (bath, hand, washcloth) in the brightest colors she could find. Orange, turquoise and yellow I think. I loved them! We registered for a full set of them, plus bright green.

All that to say, I thought these recycled toilet paper/button flowers (at Plum Pudding) were great decor for a bathroom! So I made one big flower, and one plain button flower and put them in a Oaxacan black clay vase we brought back from our honeymoon to Puerta Vallarta. I wouldn't mind making some more, they were very fun.

Here are a few other trinkets and items in our bathroom. All are from Mexico. Why do I love these colors?! My personality totally doesn't match, but my bright turquoise front-room does :0) Sorry, the flash is kinda washing everything out.

A gift from an American woman while on a 2 1/2 month mission trip in Mexico. She was used to very high class living, and was amazingly brave to spend a week with us smack dab in village life. It was even the week where our bathroom was out of service and we had to use an outhouse that we shared with 100+ kids. Amazingly brave. She was a blessing to us in many ways.

A little box bought by my mom when she came to visit me while I was on that misson trip. She gave it to me for Christmas the next year. I love boxes, don't know why.

A nativity scene from my mom.

My Favorite and I bought these from a lady in Puerta Vallarta on our honeymoon. If I remember right, she was selling them for her brother-in-law and had tables and tables of these tiny paintings under the bridge by the river. They were being sold for too little money and some were quite detailed.

I forget how much I love these little reminders of our time down there, and how pleasing they all are to me. I like my bathroom, as far as liking bathrooms goes!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Handmade Alphabet

I have wanted to make these frozen juice lid magnets for so long. I got the idea, I don't know where actually. My head? But we don't buy frozen juice concentrate, so I asked my dad to save his. Turns out they don't buy it often anymore either, but thanks to the SGD Syndrome (Second Generation Depression Syndrome, coined by My Favorite :0) my dad has, he happened to have a whole bag of them in the garage. So off I went!

Each magnet is a magazine cutout of the letter. I love cutting pictures or scraps out of magazines, for some reason it is incredibly relaxing to me. My Favorite just laughs when he sees me sitting amidst a pile of magazines and a cloud of paper scraps. Anyhow, I was hoping that these would be prettier and more fun then the plastic version. I also was thinking that these magnets would be harder to swallow if a little Kitten, or Teeny, happened to pull them off. Which at this point would be more a danger for the 2 1/2 year old then the one who can't even crawl yet. As far as being fun, I don't think Teeny cares one way or the other. But I had a blast making them!

Here is a close up of one. Sorry about the bad lighting, my camera was being interesting:

And here is the back. I am very visual, so I like to see all sides of things.
If you study the first picture a little, you will notice the lineup is missing the J T X and Z. Some letters are harder to find then you would think! I could just print them out, but it was fun trying to find letters big enough and interesting enough. Well, those four I would just take if I found them big enough!

Supplies used:
  • Frozen Juice Lids
  • Magnet strips
  • Letters cut from magazines
  • Black paint
  • Yes! Paste (for cutouts, great stuff)
  • Modge Podge to cover (this wasn't necessarily the best choice, but they look very handmade :0)
Since she doesn't seem that interested in them as something to play with, I was happy that we found an impromptu game to play. Since she just learned all her letters and their sounds with the lovely Leapfrog DVD, as she was standing next to the fridge the other dayI asked her to find the letter that makes the "ull" sound. She happily found the "L." Then I asked for the letter that makes the "bu" sound. "Where it is? Where it is? Oh, here Mama" and she handed me the "B." We only did 4 letters, but I was proud of her.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Amazing Leapfrog Letter Factory

A says Ahh, A says Ahh every letter makes a sound... A says ahh!

If you've been reading long, you know we are planning to homeschool our children. Both of us are gradated (like that? I truly did not mean to spell it wrong, but think it wouldn't be right to change it. Too ironic) public school kids, public school college students, but we want something different for our kids. Wanting to be purposeful with learning, but not rigid at 2 yrs, I asked My Favorite what he wanted from this year. Teeny has most of her shapes (including "ocagone") down as well as her colors. His biggest thing was the alphabet. Sounds great!

Teeny has known the letters in her name for a while. But just the capital letters and not the sounds. We started using Before Five In A Row curriculum this last fall and although it does not officially go through letters, Homeschool Share has a go along for each book to help you incorporate it. So going into December, Teeny knew the capital (because I forgot about lower case) A, B, C, O, R, S, W and Y. But not the sounds.

Then my mother-in-law asked me to give her ideas for Christmas and I remembered my neice likeing Leapfrog's The Letter Factory. So come Christmas, we got the DVD and have been watching it since.

2 weeks into it and honestly, she knew all the letters, lower case and capitol, and all the sounds. I am not joking. Read the reviews, it isn't just her, although I'm sure she is a genious *smile* If you have anyone in your life trying to learn their letters, here is my recommendation. We have since ordered the 5 pack with all the other Leap DVDs. We shall see if they live up to the first one!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To Do: Jan 13

Sometimes I just need to see that I did something more then wash dishes:
  1. Processed block of cheese (shredded for freezer)
  2. Paid comcast bill (before bill went into the pit that is our desk!)
  3. Prepared letter activity: D dragon w/ potato stamp
  4. "Exercised" with Teeny and Principessa (Italian for "princess," our 4 yr old niece)
  5. Let Teeny rinse breakfast dishes
  6. Prepared calendar through April
  7. Read a few chapters out of a real book
Today was the first time Teeny had ever asked to help with dishes, at least since she could actually reach the sink. So yeah, that is part of the daily washing dishes, but I was excited to remember she is so capable of doing things!

Okay, I got a lot done today actually! See why I write it out? It's a lot more fun to do after I finish, rather then before.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm feeling a bit nervous about doing this. Not the meal planning part, but putting a link on the site! I don't get a chance to post all that often... but I'm going to do it so maybe I'll be better about planning. Hopefully putting the plan up Monday afternoon is not too late.

I started meal planning 2 summers ago when we started getting a CSA from a local farm. I had to or it would just rot in our fridge! This summer, being pregnant and then with Kitten being a newborn, well, you know how it goes. So we are back at it.

I plan a month at a time, but don't shop a month at a time. Maybe someday. I just sat down to plan January because I have been stuck at my MILs house for a good portion of the last few weeks due to weather disasters. Makes for a fast month, in a way.

Here is this week:

Monday: Bean Soup (home canned) over rice w/ canned nectarines
Tuesday: Family Night Makeup*
Wednesday: Lasagna (frozen, home made by my mom)
Thursday: Family Night*
Friday: Beef Stew
Shabatt**: Beef Stew

*Family Night: Every Thursday we have Family Night, where we are either eating at my parent's house or my wonderful in-law's house. I try to go early and help the Grandma's make dinner, but it is nice to have one night a week where I am not soley responsible for dinner.

**Shabbat: We observe the Sabbath (Hebrew "Shabbat") from sundown Friday to sundown Sat. During that time, there are two meals I need to prepare for, before sundown on Friday: dinner on Friday and Oneg on Saturday. Oneg means delight, and while every minute of Shabbat is a delight, our congregation (and maybe others?) call the meal we share after service "Oneg." I'm still getting better at making things for this and have found it works nice to make a big pot of soup or something Friday for dinner and to take to service. We don't eat much food yet, even if we are a 4 person family.

Please check out for hundreds, literally, more meal plans!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Puzzle re-tried

Almost forgot! I only got her to do one, but thought I'd risk trying the recycled box puzzles again. But this time I put her in front of the computer where I brought the picture of the completed puzzle up, so she could see what I wanted her to do. I hadn't had time to print them yet. It worked!

Here's what she did:
Took one look at the picture.
Picks up top piece, "This goes hee-ya" (here) and puts it on the ground.
Picks up bottom piece, "This goes hee-ya" and puts it below the top piece, with a bit of space between them
(Picks up the final piece) "Hee-ya!" and puts it on top of the bit of space!

There wasn't enough room for that third piece, so it wasn't exactly together, but I could see that she totally got it! Good work Teeny!

Activity Success!

Today has gone much better then expected. Teeny Tiny woke up before we went to bed, drenched in sweat. My Favorite helped her change her clothes and cuddled with her while I changed the sheets. She fell right to sleep, but woke up around 7:00 am which was too early, especially because she felt sick. She didn't argue when I told her to go back to sleep.

When she woke up smiling at 8, we cuddled on the couch and read books. Kitten (our 5 mth old daughter :0) joined us when she woke up, although all she wanted was to eat the books. Just like her big sister did!

Teeny had seen the basket of activities and kept wanting to try them, so we set up in the front room after sending her Cow (2 yr old ACD pup) outside. I don't have a work rug that is used in Montessori work, but like the idea, so used a blanket. It was not a good choice, as it moved around too easily when Teeny did.

First I got out the Toy Outline matching I had put together. I didn't have a drawstring bag, but put the items in a huge pillowcase. Not the best, but it worked for today.

She loved it! It was really easy for her, but she was proud of matching them all up. The first time I just had her grab something out and match it to the card. We did that twice. Then I laid out a card and she had to find that item in the bag without looking. Not a problem at all. So this might actually be too easy, but we'll play with it again since it is new.

She wanted to play with the car, for about 30 seconds, before she came looking for something else. So I got out the Hard/Soft Sorting. I had put only 3 of each in a basket, but ended up using everything from the pillowcase too. Reading Chasing Cheerios helped me remember to watch her face as she sorted, and it was actually fun to see her thinking.
It took her only a few seconds to figure it out, then she grabbed item after item putting them in the right bowl. "Hard. Soft. Hard, right?" That's how she does everything. "I like chockit, right?" So cute!

On to the next activity! I had pulled 5 sets of matching Dora cards out of Teeny's Dora game (she doesn't even know who Dora is yet) and showed her how to lay them out and then match them. Again, really easy for her. But that is good to know.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Activities to do

Tomorrow I am going to try out some of my Chasing Cheerios inspiration. Check out the site, because a lot of her ideas came from other Mama Blogs. Plus, it is a neat site.

Here is what I have gathered. Not sure how many days it will take, or if we'll do them all in 4 1/2 minutes, but hey, I did something!

Hard/Soft Sorting
Toy Outline Matching
Dora Matching (okay, not from the site, but Teeny was given a set for Christmas and now is the time to use it!)

Puzzle failure

I've seen these recycled box puzzles around the blogesphere, and was reminded of them again while reading Chasing Cheerios. So I made 3 of them, using different shapes in each.I will have to try it out on a different day though. I was so excited about them, that I tried yesterday when Teeny and I were both out of sorts with a cold. They might be to difficult for her anyway, but I'll give her another chance when she feels better. And I actually took these pics to print out a small version so she can see what she is trying to make. I thought that might make it possible.

Have a cup of Chock-it

Its been a great while since I've posted, and I have no idea if i'll get around to posting more, but here's a beautiful girl drinking some hot chock-it that she poured herself. I was quite pleased with how well she did pouring from the little tea pot. I actually spilled more my first time then she did. Pouring is going well, knowing when to be finished pouring is not! And she liked trying to get the marshmallows into her mouth while drinking, so a bib with pocket is required.

One of my new favorite sites is Chasing Cheerios, I have spent 3 days reading through the archives of Toddler Activities, Montessori and such. I hadn't thought of having her pour liquids herself, which is so silly, until I read this the other day. I love sites like this because they remind me that Teeny Tiny can do so much more then I give her credit for, or opportunity to try. And, sometimes, it gives me an ounce more patience while having her do new things. Instead of taking it personally which is really lame, but what my first reaction is.