Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Toasty Salad Sandwich

if i could devote an entire blog to just sandwiches...sigh........
well, you get the idea.

i have stated in the past that i am unequivocally in love with and adore sandwiches.

this, pictured at top, is my favorite sandwich that uses up leftover salad toppings. we usually have a "build your own salad night" at our house 2-3 times a month, and there are ALWAYS some toppings leftover.
my favorite way to use up said toppings is smushed between two exquisitely toasted bread slices. Salad toppings can vary and change the sandwich dramatically. Any salad theme would work (greek salad toppings, taco salad toppings, cobb salad, ceasar salad....)

Toasty Salad Sandwich
2 slices multi-grain or whole wheat bread (or, my fav, ezekial 4:9 bread)
sliced cheese (try munster, sharp cheddar, or pepperjack)
salad veggie toppings ; pictured above: summer squash, green pepper, roasted red pepper, apple chunks, thinly sliced pears. (also try: avocado, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms...your options are hardly limited)
sunflower seeds (or other small toppings like dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and crispy rice noodles)
regular or low fat cream cheese (or, better yet, goat cheese)
good quality dijon mustard

with sliced cheese on one piece, toast bread until lightly browned in a toaster oven. once removed, slather a frugal amount of cream cheese (or goat cheese if you have it) on the slice of bread without the cheese. spread mustard on the melted cheese side and sprinkle with sunflower seeds (this is to give the seeds something to adhere to or they will all topple out as you take bites). place veggies on the cream cheese side and top with the mustard and cheese slice of bread.

i am thinking grilled chocolate, banana, and peanut butter sandwich for tomorrow. if i don't immediately gobble up the sandwich, and can bear to take a picture before consumption, i will gladly post the recipe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marinated Grilled Tempeh in Pita with Sprouts, Tomatoes and Vegan Chili Spread

Tempeh is a mild tasting soybean product, with a slight nutty crunch and texture. Here it works perfectly grilled and snuggled inside a warmed pita.

Marinated Grilled Tempeh in Pita with Sprouts, Tomatoes and Vegan Chili Spread

1 package tempeh (try Lightlife Organic 3 grain)
1 pita

for marinade:
1 lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste
1 small clove garlic, minced
fresh ground pepper to taste
teeny splash of olive oil (you can omit for lower fat version)

sliced tomato
alfalfa sprouts

for Vegan Chili Spread:
Vegenaise (or regular organic mayonnaise)
Chili Sauce ( try Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce)

For marinated tempeh, zest and juice one lime and mix well with other ingredients. Slice Tempeh into thick strips and place in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over and let sit in refrigerator for 1-3 hours, turning occasionally. Heat grill (I used my indoor George Foreman grill) and cook until sear marks appear and tempeh is heated through. Keep warm.

For Vegan Chili Spread mix 2 tbs Vegenaise with 1/8 teaspoon Chili Sauce (or more if you like a lot of heat).

Warm pita bread (in the picture above I did not cut mine or open the pockets--I served it gyro style) and spread with a little bit of Vegan Chili Spread (you will have some spread left over to put on other sandwiches or smear on crackers or dip veggies in later). Top with cooked tempeh, sliced tomatoes, and sprouts (or you can add any of your favorite veggies). Makes about 3 pita-wiches.

I served mine with a fresh fruit salad and some homemade iced peppermint tea.

The What and Why

***links have been fixed. let me know if any other links don't work and i will get on it!!***

Many have asked what I am using this year for homeschooling, and I thought best to go ahead and just post all my "what and why".

Preschool (Cohen, my 3 yr old):
What: Rod and Staff ABC series and Toddler Activity Books, and a bazillion manipulatives (anticipate my ultimate Preschool post in a few days/weeks--it may even be a week long event!)

Why: Rod and Staff still ranks high on my list of fav publishers. Pros: a simple biblical approach, uncluttered and easy to follow teacher manuals, and are uber inexpensive. I have used their preschool books with my older two and loved them as did my children. Also try their Math, which is very simple to follow, and their Grammar which is, in my opinion, VERY thorough (will have to supplement with a writing curriculum). Cons: (for grades above Preschool) colorless, redundant at times, my children HATED the phonics, but were both reading by age 6, so...it worked, but your children may hate it.

What: RightStart (level E) and BJU (grade 2, 3rd edition)

RightStart--I was sold on Rightstart from the moment I researched it. Pros: different and ingenious approach to teaching math concepts, uses hands on manipulatives and games, easy and short lessons. I only wish I had known about this sooner so I could have started it early on with my daughter, who really struggles with math. Cons: some of the lessons lack a little in organization, colorless and a teeny bit bland, price (most kits cost well above $150-- BUT once you buy the manipulatives and games, using it with your younger children will only cost between $9-$20), some days there is a lot of teacher prep.
BJU (3rd editions)-- BJU is my fallback in a lot subjects if I do not find what I am looking for after many tedious hours researching. Pros: flashy, lots of color, teacher manuals are organized VERY well with color and are spiral bound --which I prefer, thorough and slightly challenging without being overwhelming, my children loved the stories and workbooks. Cons: you need all the components sold online if you plan on teaching from the workbook as scripted, quite a few lessons are not homeschool convenient (lessons use a lot of "put 12 students in one line, and 4 students in another line" examples when teaching a concept).

Ashton-- The Chronicles of Narnia and Guide, Black Ships Before Troy and Guide, The Twenty-One Balloons and Guide, Prudence and the Millers and Guide, and Beorn the Proud.
Keaton-- Rod and Staff Reading grade 2,

Why: no real rhyme or reason for my choices for Ashton, except I thought she would like them and I liked them...and she needed some lessons in Prudence and the Millers. Keaton's is going to be Rod and Staff because their Reading is straight from the bible and he needed to build some biblical knowledge. And the R&S workbooks include vocabulary and phonetic skills that he needed to work on (and I can combine his Reading and Bible conveniently this way).

What: Ashton-- Christian Studies by Memoria Press.
Why: I love the use of the Golden Children's Bible and the studies seem to be very thorough so far.

What: Prima Latina by Memoria Press
Why: Latin is huge for me. I have a 6 year plan for studying Latin and we decided to start off with Prima Latina because I had heard many good things about it. It has been easy to teach so far (I have no background in Latin AT ALL).

What: A Reason for Spelling (level B and D)
Why: Pros--my children like the tie-in story, different activities to tie in the spelling words, teacher manual is easy to follow, once you get the groove it is easy to teach with minimal to no prep work, no complaints from the children. Cons-- lacking color, some exercises are not easily implemented in a homeschool environment.

What: A History Odyssey, Level 1

Why: This is our second year using this curriculum. It is a 3 year course (for us, since we study it twice a week) and uses Story of the World and The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History. Pros: has done most of the organizing of lessons for you, maps and map work included, the use of Story of the World and The Usborne book (which are WONDERFUL!). Cons: some lessons are out of order with the Story of the World and may lead to some confusion, would not purchase anything else that they say are recommended (not worth the $$ spent). I would not recommend this curriculum, instead I would get the Story of the World and the Study Guide that goes with it. We are using A History Odyssey because I spent the money on it and am too stubborn to purchase anything else.

What: Apologia Zoology III- Land Animals
Why: because I had to...this is what our Co-Op is using. I am not sold on it yet (at least for younger grades) but it may grow on me.

What: Draw to Learn: The Book of Proverbs
Why: Pros-- my children love to draw, the reading is simple and short, my children whine when we DON'T DO IT. We completed Draw to Learn: The Life of Jesus last year and LOVED it. Cons: not flashy, sometimes the drawing assignments seem redundant and too simplistic.

What: Montessori R&D: Language Arts and BJU Grammar 4 (2nd edition)

Why: I love the Montessori approach. It is hands on and uses manipulatives and cards to teach basic concepts. I really had to search high and low to find this curriculum and am still working my way through it to decide if it works for our home. Pros: uses cards, games, and manipulatives to teach the basic parts of speech and sentence structure, affordable teacher manual. Cons: website does not list materials needed to complete each lesson, materials can be VERY pricey or you have to make them yourself, lesson layouts were not organized the way that I thought they should be (but that is just nit-picky-ness). BJU was my fallback for Ashton. I couldn't find what I wanted for her, and she finished her 3rd grade Grammar early so I had to purchase something early. The Montessori Language Arts is actually compatible with 6-9 year olds, so I may end up shelving the BJU for Grammar and only use its writing assignments.

What: A Child's Treasury of Poems and Poetry for Young People: Seasonal Poetry
Why: My children have memorized 4 poems per year for every year that I have homeschooled. I try to make them seasonal and they have 3-4 months to learn and constantly recite them. Keaton started out with simple haiku, but will this year graduate to a few more lines. I will list the poems they are learning:

To Autumn by John Keats
Velvet Shoes by Elinore Wylie
What is Pink by Christina Georgina Rossetti
The Wind by Christina Georgina Rossetti

Bed In Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dust of Snow by Robert Frost
Depression Before Spring by Wallace Stevens
The Owl by unknown (old folk poem)

Well, that's it! Enjoy your school year as much as I hope we will.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

in which the day met me

i spent the day to myself, at home, this very day. alone. what a glorious word to type. just saying it. ALONE. that word is something that a wife, a mother of 4, and homeschooler RARELY knows exists.
this was my time, spent doing what I like.

i sweat myself silly, toiling in the garden, getting dirt under my nails, and ingesting the ripe cabbage smells of late summer gardening.

i turned the AC as high as it would go, curled up with a blanket and book, and read for hours.

i ignored toys and laundry that were strewn about in rooms and under tables and chairs.

i didn't pull my chair up to the table to eat, deciding instead leave the chair askewed and placed one foot up on the seat of the chair, letting my knee curl up to my chin. and the other foot i let dangle above the floor in a willy-nilly erratic sort of way. there was no one to see. no one to tell me to show more propriety whilst dining.

i took a bath. a really long bath. and not because i needed one. but just because.

i changed out of my pajamas and got into a clean pair of pajamas, at 2 in the afternoon.

i did not look at school books or my calendar, or wash my dishes, or answer emails and texts.

i read some more.

i let myself get distracted watching butterflies court and twirl among the leaves of our fig tree.
i closed my eyes and tried to hear their love making. it sounded similar to the little pit-pat-pat that the rain gives just before a big ole downpour.

my family is due to return any minute. i missed them, in a way that any mother would. they are a constant part of my life, ever present. their little souls, even with the nasty bits that come with raising little children (and i hear even the grown ones), i missed. my head and body needed this rest today, though. a little windex clean for the brain does a mommy good.

ahhh, here they are. their tiny faces greeting me.....
and so, with that, i resume my former life. rested and content.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

simple pleasure

Ah, Sun-flower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done:

Where the Youth pined away with desire,

And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow
Arise from the their graves, and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.


we grew mammoth sunflowers this year, hung and dried them in our faithful school room, and today, under the sun - with sweat bees tickling our skin - we plucked the seeds from their clutching heads. hot work, but oh the bounty.
our plan is to bag them and sell them for 25cents this fall, that is if i can convince the littles to not nibble them all away...

Monday, August 2, 2010

where have i BEEN?

or did anyone notice?......

yeah, so, 6 months. 6 months we had no personal internet service at home. in that time, my husband and i built and concreted and steel rodded (and any other structurally sound additive you can think of) our already awesome relationship. it was so good for us on so many levels. but that would be a different blog, for a different time (i once promised no "emotional fluff" on this blog, and i think that personal diatribes on family philosophy and dynamics count as "fluff" --- not that there is anything wrong with that, in any sort, i just wanted to only do a nifty tricks and recipe blog and not too much personal life....junk).

let's just jump right back in, shall we?

two easy homeschool projects:

1. when studying julius or augustus caesar (or anything in ancient rome) , my curriculum suggested sewing a toga with a purple trim. to save time and energy, i went out to the back yard and picked some vines and made "laurel crowns". two minutes and some clear packing tape later:

*lesson learned long ago..."you don't always have to follow the project in the book, especially when kids really don't care either way, and as long as they can make or wear or play with SOMETHING!"

2. when studying the human body, try making these easy brain models. my curriculum suggested cutting a tennis ball in half and hot gluing items onto it (have you ever TRIED cutting a tennis ball....?). i had some styrofoam balls, which are much easier to cut, some quick drying gray paint, some yarn of two different colors, and some paper clips. voile! model brains.

step 1. cut styrofoam ball in half
step 2. coat top off each half with gray paint (or just one half if using for one child)
step 3. while the paint dries, cut 3, 12 inch strands of yarn to braid into one piece for each child (this will become the brain stem). i chose an off white yarn.
step 4. tie strands together at the top with a knot and braid the strands together. knot the end.
step 5. once paint is dry, pull one knotted end of the "brain stem" through one of the loops in the paper clip and shove the paperclip into the bottom of your brain along one edge, far enough to where the loop will hold the "stem" in place against the styrofoam. you might want to put it in at an angle so that the top part of the paper clip doesn't poke through the top of the ball.
step 6. cut one extreamly long piece of pale greenish yarn (about 1 yard long) for each brain.
step 7. on a paper plate, pour white school glue out in a large puddle and have the child soak the long strand of yarn from top to bottom.
step 8. have the child swirl the yarn all around the top of the ball. these will be the wrinkles on the brain. press the yarn firmly and let dry.

this project holds up really well over time, for when you need to review the different parts of the brain several weeks or months later.

posts to look forward to:
my curriculum picks for 2010-2011
yummy recipes
and a week long view of our daily homeschool routine


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