Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vegan/Vegetarian Bean Burgers

I searched high and low for years to find a Vegan, or vegetarian - since I do eat dairy and eggs, bean burger recipe. I found LOTS that I did not like, at all, and I found a few that I liked well enough. The problem was that I never found one that I LOVED, and I never found one that the hubby liked well enough to eat without complaint, or actually ASK FOR come dinnertime. So, I took the few that I liked and mushed them together, made some changes here and there, tweaked a few things and came up with this recipe. The coloring is great, it's not some weird fluorescent yellowish green with specks of bright red and whole peas in it. (My family would NEVER eat something that looked so... Vegan.) It doesn't have any obscure ingredients that cost and arm and a leg and that you have to go to a specialty store for. The recipe is cheap and makes approx 18-22 patties, and they freeze really really well. My family loves them, and my omnivore friends admit that they taste pretty dang good. Are they greasy, fatty Angus beef burgers? Well, no. But if you want your BBQ burger to be animal free, look no further!

1 can Black Beans (15 oz. can), drained and rinsed
1 can Kidney Beans (15 oz. can), drained and rinsed
2-1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I do half breadcrumbs and half crushed Goldfish crackers)
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1-1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds, chopped (I like to add nuts as well; any combination of walnuts, almonds, pecans, pepitas, etc. All of the chopped nuts/seeds needs to equal approx 1.5 cups)
1/2 cup finely pulsed carrot 
1-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Egg Replacer (follow directions for your product), or real eggs if you're not Vegan
2 cups Flour (I prefer almond, but any will do.) 
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
oil for frying burger patties, or for wiping on BBQ grill to prevent sticking.

Process the beans quickly (pulse) in a food processor so that they become a thick lumpy paste.
Process your bread/crackers for the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Mix the egg replacer and water. Set aside.
Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl.
Mix well. 
Add water as needed. Depending on your geographic location you'll need more or less. I use almost a whole cup. Add water, mix. Add water, mix. Little by little until you've got the consistency of kneaded ground beef.
Form into baseball sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. 
Put 6 on each cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand, or the bottom of a plate, to make a patty.
Freeze at this point or fry/grill the amount of patties that you want. Cook for 5-10 minutes per side until browned to your liking and warm throughout.

To Freeze
Slide the cookie sheets into the freezer for about 15-30 minutes or until they are no longer sticky to the touch.
Transfer patties from the cookie sheet into a Tupperware type container, or a freezer bag, separating each patty with a piece of wax paper for easy removal when the time comes to cook.
You can fit 8-12 patties per gallon sized freezer bag depending on how big each patty is.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Our teeny tiny laundry room makeover

In our house our laundry "room" is more like a laundry "closet" right smack dab in our dinning room. I try to keep the doors to the washer and dryer closed because all the cleaning products and extra boxes of Kleenex on the top shelf, along with the fact that our dryer door is glass so you can see our clean laundry sitting right there, waiting to be folded -- it's all a perfect combination for making my kitchen and dining room look cluttered and messy even when they're not. I would often get frustrated while in there because there was zero organization, the dingy yellow overhead light bummed me out, and because I'm in there at least once a day starting a load, or switching over a load, or taking a load out to be folded and that's a LOT of time spent in one room that you hate the way it looks and operates. Solution? Laundry closet room makeover!!

This is what my laundry room looked like before the makeover. This is how it looked every day since the day we moved in and unpacked. It drove me b-a-n-a-n-a-s every time I was in there doing the laundry. I'd just stare up at the detergents and look over at the 345 (give or take) plastic shopping bags, and I'd have to stand all funny, straddling the vinegar bottles, to put clothes into the washing machine. I started day-dreaming about how I could make it prettier and more organized and more compact - everything in it's place, and if it doesn't have a place at least there is somewhere to hide it until I make a place for it.

I mentioned my desire to makeover the laundry room to Jeff, half expecting him to put the kibosh on it until more pressing home improvements took place, but instead he said okay because we weren't going to have the money for large home improvements this tax return, he thought we might as well do a little something. This project became my little something.

Truth be told, I did the planning, the designing, the hemming and hawing and the eventual pointing at the things I wanted at Lowe's and IKEA - Jeff did all the actual work. He put it all together and made my vision become a reality. Thankfully he liked my vision, because had he veto'ed it I would have been a sad panda.

Without further ado, here is my newly finished laundry room!!  :)

Seriously? I didn't even take the diapers out of the dryer first. And, whoops! You can't see the flower in that photo...

See the doors? It's seriously a little laundry nook. When they're closed you'd never suspect how pretty it is on the inside.

Over the dryer. I plan to throw mismatched children's socks in that basket.

My homemade detergent looks SO MUCH BETTER in that canister, than in the busted Tupperware that I used to keep in it. That basket will catch the loose change I find in Jeff's pockets and inevitable toys I'll soon find in the kids' pockets.

We still plan on putting a rolling tower of shelves or drawers in between the machines, but I haven't found one I like enough yet. Maybe we'll just build one this summer. We want to put a drying bar up for the few things we own that can't be dried in the dryer, but it'll be up at the top, in between the cabinets, out of sight when not in use.

That's my big laundry room reveal! I'm still so excited about it, I smile and take it in every time I open the double doors. It took about a quart and a half of paint (Olympic ONE brand, Yucca color), the tulip photo is from Lowe's and I found it by accident. I was bored and flipping through the framed art while Jeff was looking at something else, but it really pulled together all the ideas/colors I wanted to put into the room. The cabinets, knobs, and detergent canister were from IKEA. The shelves and baskets were also from Lowe's, and the silly framed word print I printed myself, on my home computer, using a free font that I found on Pinterest (Dynasty is the font's name), I put it in an old frame we had in the garage.

This little project packs a big punch of happy and I encourage you to do it if you've been feeling like you need to spruce up an area of your home but don't have a lot of time or money to do it. Laundry rooms, man... who knew?!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Princess Phenomenon

Bean has been my wild and crazy, free-spirited, smarty pants little sprite since she came into our lives. She marches to the beat of her own drum, she likes what she likes and will not be swayed any other direction, she never ceases to amaze me. Girlfriend has loved Thomas the Tank Engine since before she was 2 (her 2nd birthday party was Thomas themed) and still looooooves him. From what fellow mom-friends tell me, it's pretty impressive for a 3.5 year old to still like something 2 years after she first became interested. She loves nature and science and math (so far, anyway... and I can only hope that she continues to 'get' it, because her momma and math do NOT get along, I don't want the same fate for her), she loves to read, and will listen to you read stories to her literally all day if you've got the time, and patience, to do it. I've never tried to guide her likes and interests, but rather let her decide what she likes and then try to foster her growth accordingly, in a way that celebrates her interest in whateveritisshelikesinthatmoment. There have been a few people over the years who've tried to suggest to her that she should like Minnie Mouse or Disney princesses or Angelina Ballerina, but she would just say, "no thanks" and continue playing with her trains or schooling me on the name of different dinosaurs.

Imagine my surprise when, about 6 months ago, she suddenly started asking to roll down the Disney princess aisle in Target. Imagine my surprise when she started asking for ALL THE DOLLS every chance she got. And then, Frozen came out in the movie theaters.

 It really is a great Disney movie.

It was all over before I knew what hit me. I know that she is just one of the hundreds of thousands of kids who have been sucked into the Frozen trance, and I admit I like the movie and soundtrack too. Each time she'd see the trailer for it she'd stop dead in her tracks and watch the screen, completely entranced. My mom and I decided to take her to the theater to see it - she was SO excited at the thought! She bounced up and down, excitedly talking about seeing the movie, and begging Jeff and I to take her to the store to buy Baby Anna so she could take her with to the theater. After asking her about 25 times if she was SURE she wanted to spend her Christmas money on another baby doll, and her assuring us that YES, she NEEDED to buy Baby Anna so she could see herself in her movie, we took her to the store and she bought her newest Disney baby. My mom and I took Bean, and Baby Anna, to see Frozen the next day and her mind was blown.

Since that day at the theater I don't think there's been a day that Bean hasn't sung, "Let it Go" or "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?" while wearing her Princess Anna costume gown and tiara that she bought - again, with her own money - from Toys R Us. The quality of the costume is terribly cheap and it's falling apart after being worn every day for about a month now, but she HAS TO WEAR IT every day. I think Frozen, and her obsession with it, has also ramped up her love for all things Disney Princess. If she sees anything with a Disney princess on it while we're out running errands she has to stop and look. She likes all the individual princesses, but she LOOOOVES Aurora, from Sleeping Beauty. She is legit obsessed. Why Aurora? I've asked her the same question, finding it strange since she's never seen Sleeping Beauty... She answered me as if I should have known; "Her hair is golden, and her dress is pink." Duh, Mom.

I don't know why little girls suddenly become OMGOBSESSED with Princesses, but the peeps at Disney know what they're doing while marketing to them. I don't think there is a store that we frequent that doesn't have something with a Disney Princess adorning the packaging. Seriously, we were at Sears looking at tools (for Jeff) and shoes (for me and Bean) and as we turned down one aisle of shoes, Bean spotted the one singular open shoe box sitting in a pile of unorganized children's shoes on clearance with not only lights (!!!) but also Disney Princesses, but most importantly - AURORA!!! Omgosh!!! I started to give her the disclaimer, "Babe there is only ONE pair of these shoes, I didn't see them on any of the other shelves. They might not be in your size." She pulled the box off the shelf and whatdoyouknow.... they were her size. Girlfriend couldn't be more excited!

I have to talk her into taking these off at bedtime. No, you can't sleep in your sneakers. LOL
Thankfully, for her, she did need another pair of sneakers and thankfully, for us, they were on clearance for $9.99.  A few days later the fam went to Lowe's to buy some paint (to makeover our laundry room) and since Lowe's is a hardware store you may not think that you would find Disney Princess stuff. If you thought that, you'd be wrong. We left Lowe's with some really great green paint, and a new Disney Princess projector nightlight. Aurora? Yes. She's included in the group of princesses. And that night at bedtime, Bean couldn't believe her eyes - there were princesses on her ceiling.

 Stock photo, but you get the idea...

Three days later and she's still trying to figure out how the princesses got inside that light, because, "Princesses live in castles not in lights!" Again... Duh!

Don't start to fret, we do not buy her ALL THE PRINCESS THINGS even though it sure felt like we did this past weekend. Rest assured, this is not a case of the body snatchers, Bean-Girl still loves Thomas the Train and never tires of his DVDs, but I fear that it won't be much longer and she'll be gifting her trains to her brother to make room for Princess castles or some such nonsense. ;)

 Sweet Bean, loving her Valentine's Day goodies.

(Disclaimer: I say "fear" and "nonsense" to make a joke. I don't mind that she likes princesses and am not discouraging her from liking them... I just find it funny/amazing/strange that about 6 months ago some switch flipped in her mind and she suddenly became obsessed.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Let's talk about sleep, baby. Let's talk about you and me...

Wait... is that song not about sleep? My mistake. Sleep is 75% of what I think about these days.

I've mentioned before that Bug is not a great sleeper. He's getting better, thank all the things that are holy, but he's still not sleeping through the night. But, ok. I'm accepting that that is just who he is. It sucks sometimes, but I've had nearly 8 months of it, and he is who he is. I expect it when I lay down at night; I expect him to wake up the minute I fall asleep, and then I expect him to wake up every 3 hours after that. I don't like it, but I EXPECT it.

What I don't expect is for Bean to be sleeping terribly all of a sudden. Around Christmas she started waking up at 7 instead of 8:30. It was a sudden change that I assumed was due to her excitement about Christmas and Santa, I assumed her wake up schedule would go back to normal after the holidays. I was wrong. It doesn't matter what time she goes to bed, she's up for the day between 6:45-7:15. I know that that isn't that early, but when you already have one crappy sleeper, you want your other kid to keep getting up at 8:30 because you're tired, and want your sleep. News flash: when you're a mom it doesn't matter what you want, or that you're tired... these sweet love muffins you brought into the world now make all the rules and you just have to rely on coffee to keep you going. But her early wake ups aren't the worst part. The worst part is a new development. One that I'm smart enough to not assume is just some short lived phase. Whenever I assume the best, reality smacks me in the face and I'm stuck with a new, crappy, normal. So, I'm trying to reverse psychology this new development and hope that it doesn't become the new normal by accepting that it is. Got that? That sentence was confusing to type. But my brain is confusing lately, so... try to keep up with my nonsense. I'm sure by now the suspense is killing you, What is this new terrible sleep development?! you're shouting at your computer... You're on the edge of your seat... Here it comes, get your best mommy-advice ready because I need some magic ju-ju to help... The new development is nightmares. She doesn't call them nightmares, but she says she has bad dreams, ones that make her afraid of the dark (even though there is a nightlight in her room), ones that make her yell out in her sleep - usually just nonsensical words, but sometimes full sentences and sometimes just cries, ones that make her "not want to be left all awone", ones that bring her into our bed at 1am, nestled in between Jeff and I, where she tosses and turns and lays sideways and upside down and folded in half at her waist, and neither she or I are getting enough sleep. (Jeff sleeps fine, because apparently Dads have magic sleeping powers.) I always assumed (I really should stop ASSuming things) that kids slept great despite their wonky sleeping positions/movements, but every time she kicks or jabs me awake at night I open my eyes and her eyes are open too. She isn't getting solid hours of sleep, she's only getting 30-45 min catnaps in between thrashing around and head butting me. Even though it would start a bad habit, IF she came into our bed and just slept I'd let her do it indefinitely, but she's not. I'm not sure what to do... do I walk her back to her room and have to sit/lay in there for an hour or more until she falls back asleep? Do I invite her into our bed, wait for her to fall asleep and try to carry her back to her room? Do I sleep on the floor next to my bed? I don't know why she's having the bad dreams in the first place, but that's the issue that I really wish I could fix. I wish she'd just have sweet dreams and sleep peacefully in her bed like she's done for the last 3.5 years. When I ask her what she dreams about it's always about a kitty or doggies. She doesn't talk about them being hurt in her dreams, or hurting her, or fighting amongst themselves, so I don't know what it is about the dream that is waking her up but she's visibly upset each time. We have her go potty when she wakes up and she always pees a lot, so perhaps it's the urge to pee that's actually waking her up, but she still insists that it was the bad dream.

All I know is that if I don't get some sleep soon I'm gonna snap. I'm talking shaved head, umbrella wielding, crazy faced Britney Spears type of "snap"... not some funny anecdote type of "snap". I can't keep getting up with Bug 2-4 times a night but then only getting 20-40 minute spurts of sleep, while I'm being physically assaulted I'm in my own bed by Bean, in between his nighttime feedings.

Send help. Send positive sleep ju-ju my way. Send coffee. Send the Sandman. Something. Anything.

napping narcolepsy-style because she's not getting enough sleep at night.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updates on The Bug... since it's been awhile, again...

I can't believe Bug will be 8 months old in just a couple days. I mean, he's HUGE, so I suppose it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that he's getting older fast -- but it honestly doesn't seem like almost 8 months since he was born. I know every mother says that, but it's true.

Recent(ish) changes in him:

He army crawls like nobody's business. If he wants to get at something across the room he'll be there in a matter of seconds. He spins, on his tummy, in circles to change direction - if he wants to that is. If he's heading toward something he's not supposed to touch and I try to verbally correct him he completely ignores me. Keeps on keepin' on, refuses to even look in my direction, and keeps army crawling at the speed of light. He still rolls across the room to get around, but not as much. Army crawling has become his preferred mode of transportation. He gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth super fast. He's totally gearing up to crawl - for realsies - and then they'll be no stopping him. We're still able to keep him contained to the living room, but I doubt that'll work for much longer. In the last couple days he'll crawl up to the edge of the living room where the carpet meets the wood floor and he just stops and looks. He reaches out and touches the hard floor, and stares down the hall or into the kitchen, but he doesn't venture out onto the wood floor yet. He is unsure, and for that I'm thankful. Right now I have to pick up the living room floor about 6 times a day to (try to) keep him from eating things he's not supposed to. You know, the teeny tiny toys that Bean leaves laying around. Also backyard debris that the dogs drag in. And just picking up the living room that many times a day is time consuming and kinda stressful. (Especially when he manages to find the one piece of string on the floor that you missed and you don't realize until he's actively choking on it.) But once he figures out that the wood floor isn't something to be scared of, and he is running crawling amok through the whole house I'm going to be a crazy person trying to keep the floor picked up/swept/vacuumed/mopped. Now that I'm thinking about it, I suppose we need to put the child proof locks on the cabinets with chemicals inside asap. We never had to worry about these things when Bean was little. Yes, we did child-proof everything back then, but she NEVER got into things that she wasn't supposed to. You'd tell her no once, or "ah-ah!" at her once, and she'd never go near that thing again. Bug already ignores our warnings and returns to the areas/items we remove him from repeatedly. I'm talking 15+ times a day. He knows he's not supposed to be there, or touch that, but he doesn't care. He wants to do it, and he laughs at our attempts to stop him.

Hmm, what else? Food. Bean haaaaaaaaaaaated purees. I found this out after I painstakingly made 5 big batches of organic pureed baby food, froze it in ice cube trays, popped out the cubes of food and stored them all in the freezer in gallon freezer bags ready to be used 2-3 cubes at a time. I was so proud of myself and my efforts to feed her the best foods. She completely refused to eat ANY purees. It didn't matter the veggie or fruit. She didn't want them. So, instead she ate small bites of soft "real" food. Peas, steamed veggies chopped up into tiny cubes, fruit galore, Cheerios, scrambled eggs, etc. With Bug if there is ANY texture he gags and spits like he's about to swallow a giant jaw-breaker whole. Relax, Child! That tiny piece of banana/black bean/scrambled eggs/carrot, the one that's about 1/4 the size of a pencil eraser isn't going to choke you!!! Just gnaw it up and swallow it! You'll be fine! I promise. But, no. Instead it's a production of loud gagging, throwing his head back, drool EVERYWHERE, red watery eyes, coughing until he finally gets the offending piece of food out of his mouth. Now, we feed him pureed baby food 2-3 meals a day. I'm still buying store bought baby food until I have a good list of things he actually likes and then I'll go buy the foods to make my own purees. I'm not going to be stuck with gallon freezer bags full of pureed peaches/sweet potatoes/green beans in my freezer for months again. He definitely prefers savory vegetables to sweet fruits. Which is foreign to me. I have SUCH a sweet tooth that I can't imagine snubbing sweets. He likes what he likes, though. Some days he only eats 2oz of purees, and then some days (like yesterday) he eats 3.5oz each time! I couldn't believe he ate 7oz of baby food yesterday. I'm not sure what the "norm" is since I can't compare it to what Bean used to eat, but I guess it's good that he's eating his veggies (and some hidden fruit) without complaint.

**Side note/rant because UGH. Yesterday was the first day Bug got to try any grains. (We don't do baby cereals since they have no nutritional benefit.) The puree was "Organic Butternut Squash, Harvest Apple, and Mixed Grains." I know he loves butternut squash, so I was excited/hopeful that he'd eat the apples without complaint since they'd be hidden by the squash. He happily ate the entire 3.5oz container. I was shocked. After I cleaned him up and threw away the empty I started to wonder what the "mixed grains" were, so I went to the pantry to read the ingredient list.... "organic oat flour.... brown rice flour.... TUNA OIL (for added DHA)" UH.................WHAT?! As a vegetarian I was/am so squicked out!! Why on Earth would I have thought to check for animal products in a baby food that says Butternut Squash, Apples, and mixed grains?! I don't search out baby food that has "added DHA" since Bug is fed primarily breastmilk, which has plenty of DHA. I don't supplement with formula (which usually has added DHA to compete with breastmilk), I don't give vitamins with DHA in them -- again, because I don't need to! He's a breastmilk baby. It's not something I'm concerned with. I felt like such an idiot for not checking, but like I said WHY WOULD I HAVE THOUGHT TO CHECK FOR ANIMAL OIL IN A VEGGIE/FRUIT BABY PUREE?! First time mom Me, back with Bean, would have read every ingredient list before putting it in the shopping cart, but second time mom Me thought I had it under control. Blech! I'll be reading all the labels from now on... Side note part 2: I know he'll be fine after ingesting some fish oil, it just goes against my ethical code to eat animals/feed them to my children. I'll let them make that choice on their own when they're older. Side note part 3: He gas and poo has never smelled so disgusting. I don't know if the fish oil is to blame or the grains, but SO GROSS!! It's totally like man farts/poo, not baby gas/poo. This is the worst part about starting to feed your breastfed baby solid foods.

Ok, moving on... Sleep: For now, Bug seems to be sleeping better. He's no longer waking up 5-10 times a night. Now it's 1-3 times a night. I can't figure out any rhyme or reason as to why he wakes up 3 times some nights and only once other nights. I imagine tummy gas or teething or alllllllmost crawling are the culprits, but I wish I could better anticipate the nights. The nights he only wakes up once I feel almost human again the next day. And, because I'm out of practice, the nights that he wakes up 3x I feel like a zombie the next day. I'm not complaining, just making observations. I'll take 3x a night over 5-10 ANY day!!!

Speaking of teething, Bug has 6 teeth. Four up on top, and two on the bottom. (!!!) At this age Bean had 2 teeth. Bug may be slower at doing some things (like crawling) but he's not messing around when it comes to growing and popping out teeth! You'd think with 6 teeth he'd be better about eating solid food.... ;)

His preferred form of communication is yelling. Both happy squeal-type of yelling, and angry/sad-type of yell-crying. When he's happy talk-yelling you can't help but smile and laugh. He just sounds SO happy! But when he's upset watch out. He doesn't have any sad baby-cry left in him. His cries are all yell-crying now. Yell-growling, Yell-complaining, Yell-crying. He's such a happy baby 95% of the time, but he knows how to throw a tantrum when he's tired, hungry, hurt - or just pissed that his sister dared to take something away from him.

Bug is such a joy to have in our lives. He makes me laugh and smile every day. He makes me smack my forehead in disbelief at his antics at least once a day. He's a huge tank-sized baby, but he's healthy and happy and we couldn't ask for any more. But we're totally in for it with him. I imagine my next blog post will be one where I'm hastily typing out an S.O.S. because he will have taken over the house by then. haha!