Looking Closer

I was chatting away with my mom on the phone while standing on my back deck and saw what is pictured above literally right under my feet.  I took a second look and giggled to myself.  I almost missed it.  Do you see the cute little face?

There seems to be a flood of needs that surround me each day.   I try to keep my head up as best I can when loving and serving my family.  Often I find myself rushed and stressed with a half a dozen things in the air that I am juggling.  I can think of a day recently when our littlest, who is two, was just being super busy and needed constant supervision.  I was busy as well in the kitchen, and it seemed that she just kept getting under my feet and I couldn’t move without bumping into her.  Of course I tried to let it slide for a bit, but then my need for personal space (wink) nudged me to tell her to go find something to play with.  She continued to stay in the kitchen with me and continued to be super busy.  Heaven sent me a still moment and I was able to take in what she was busy doing.  She was copying me, opening and shutting cabinets, getting out lids, etc.  She loves to be a helper.  She wasn’t just being restless like she often is, she was trying to be like me.  I almost missed it.

Liza & Henry

One of the great things about our kids’ project-based charter school is that when kids get an idea and want to go with it, often times they are able to.  Kalen has a friend named Millie in his 2nd grade class.  The two of them came across a couple of characters and a cute dialogue that they thought they might want to act out.  After many days practicing their lines with Millie’s mom and their teacher’s permission, they were able to perform for their class.  Drumroll please….  Introducing the budding actor Kalen, as Henry, and his friend, Millie, as Liza.  Enjoy!

(I apologize if it gets a little shaky, I was shushing and trying to keep our two year old still on my hip!)

Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kalen and I made some tasty vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies yesterday.  We figured it would be a nice way to rev up for Valentine’s Day.  I found the recipe in the Vegan Bake Sale cookbook by Carla Kelly.  Here’s the recipe:

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1/4 cup vegan shortening ( I used Earth Balance)

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1/2 cup almond milk (I used soy milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

optional: 1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts and/or 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

How to:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, and flax seeds until well combined, thick and smooth.  This will not get light and fluffy.

3.  Add the milk and extracts.  Mix well to combine.  It may look a bit curdled at this point, which is okay; just continue.

4.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the chopped nuts and mix everything together until a soft, yet dense dough is formed.

5.  With dampened hands, scoop the dough into tablespoon-size balls, flatten between your hands to form disks 2 inches in diameter, and place 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets, then using the tines of a fork, gently press a crosshatch (crisscross) pattern into the top of each cookie.

6.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the undersides are just lightly browned and the cookies are puffy.

7.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then let cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Vegan Banana Bread

Madelyn and I made this delicious banana bread from You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan cookbook by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty.  It is out of this world!  Do you have any bananas that are turning?  Please try it!  Everyone in my family loves it.

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup raw sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup soy milk

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup nuts of choice, chopped roughly

*I added raisins and cranberries

How to:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly oil a 9 by 3-inch loaf pan and set aside.

1.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

2.  In another bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and salt.  Stir in the soy milk, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add the bananas to the mixture and mix well.

3.  Add the banana mixture and nuts to the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly.

4.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean.

* I doubled the recipe.  It made one big loaf and four small loaves.

 

Current Stack and Honest Confession

Honest confession here, when our oldest son was tiny I would avoid the public library like the plague.  Yep, I couldn’t stand to think of him in the children’s area surrounded by the germs that were just waiting to pounce on him.  Julian exposed, the horror!  With more children, of course, I loosened up and totally fell in love with the whole system (germs and all) and we became loyal members of our library.  Now, our family makes several trips weekly to our local libraries.  We live in a city with a plethora of them.

Sometimes during my library experience, I feel like I am trying to gather chickens for the coop while searching for wonderful literature.  Someone needs to go potty, someone needs help finding a chapter book, someone is screaming, and oh, I have to now check out 87 books for the Morrison clan.  Hooray for self check out (not a total fan really).  I have some incredibly thoughtful friends that actually look for books online through the library’s filing system to find the books they want before they even step foot into the library.  I am not one of those.  However, I have somehow come to a point where I can manage my library loot and children well enough to even look for books for myself.

Here’s my current stack of inspiring and fun books:

 

I wanted to share one of our best library helpers, the library elf.  If you don’t know about it or use it, you’ll truly benefit from checking it out and using it.  It has saved us from many a library fines and isn’t a hassle at all!

Happy reading!