Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tricks, Trunks, and Treats


 Clearly we have some "splainin'" to do.  The annual Trunk or Treat brought us all to the church parking lot for fun and games.  Lucy, Ricky, Merlin, a "very scary" sleleton, and a baby Pac-Man ghost all came too.

 Even the Elders got to cut loose a little

He doesn't have the hair, but he actually does a pretty good imitation of Ricky Ricardo.

 The Marturello's spooky trunk decorated by Dean, supervised by Ben.

 "Oh Lucy", "Waaaah" 
Ethel and Fred, we missed you, you know who you are.

 Spooky Treats

How could I deny her the one thing that made her so happy.  She really should have been a baby vampire because of her fangs.  We hope everyone had a Spooktacular Night.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Wheels

Yup, we did it.  Meet the newest addition. I recently had a conversation with a dear friend about eating your words.  I'm not sure Dean or I ever saw this coming.  It's like we're officially parents now, or something.  Seating for eight, and still room to breathe.  I keep telling Dean we only have to make it last 10 years and then he can get whatever car he wants.

Field Trip

 I got to spend a day at the farm with A-man last week.  It was surprisingly cold for these parts, but by early afternoon all the kids had their jackets off.  This top photo is my favorite.  I think it shows true joy.  It's what makes Alan, Alan.  His ability to enjoy every moment completely.  Other kids were worried about sand in their socks, or bouncing too high, or that it was too cold, but all Alan saw was a chance to jump.  It's what gets him in trouble with his teachers at school and church and *sigh* here at home, but on his field trip he could totally be himself....until it was time to move on and he was asked to put his shoes on, four times, couldn't find them so kept jumping, got hollered at, put on his shoes, and gave one final jump for good measure.

We had a great time!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green

I recently completed a 10 day clean eating challenge hosted by a new friend of mine.  I went in knowing I had lots to learn, but overall feeling like I'm a pretty clean eater.  HAHAHA!!  Boy was I mistaken.  As part of the challenge we were assigned to watch Hungry For Change   It was clear I was not as clean as I thought.

Some items that I removed from the fridge were...ranch dressing, ketchup, BBQ sauce, syrup, and pretty much anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Microwave popcorn, most of our breakfast cereal, and granola bars were also on the hit list but I think the Fam clued in to what I was doing because the almost full boxes disappeared rather quickly once they started seeing me throwing things out.  

All I can say after this eye opening experience is that we're on the path and we are making changes, I may still keep a bag of chocolate chips in the freezer, but they're super dark chocolate.  My flour and rice stores haven't been entirely converted to wheat and brown, but we're getting there, and I'm on the hunt for local meat, eggs, and milk.  It's a process. I have started making green smoothies every morning and I do think more about where our food comes from 
and why we are eating, I'm confident we'll get there. 

What are some of your clean eating successes and challenges?

Boiled or Roasted?

We're officially Southerners...apparently that's what happens to you when you eat your first boiled peanuts.  Remember, we're living in the Peanut Capital of the World, so we knew this Southern delicacy would be unavoidable.

 It has the consistency of a boiled potato.  "The peanut really isn't a nut", as we've been reminded over and over this weekend, "but an important part of the legume family".

A bit hesitant

Remember the old KIX commercial where they make Mikey try them first?...That's not what happened here, but he really did like them a lot.  I think this momma still prefers hers roasted, but it was worth a try.  How do you prefer your peanuts?

# 36

Happy Birthday To You!!  It's always great when you get to celebrate, but Dean did it with flair this year claiming not just his special day, but an entire weekend he called "The Birthday Beach Weekend".

 He did all his favorite things...catch critters for the kids,

dabble in photography, visit the ocean,

and eat yummy seafood!

He's officially declared #36 "The Year of Dean".  
We can't wait to see what he does with it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Festivities

One thing I was sure we would be missing out on in leaving Ogden and Polk Elementary behind was the annual Fall Festival.  Imagine our joy when we learned our new school, Highlands Elementary, has it's own Fall Festival.   Of course we put it on the calendar.  For me it meant one less meal to prepare that week and for the kids a chance to cut loose and see friends "out of uniform".

The Methodists sponsor it every year (yes, we're at a public school) so we brought home our fair share of crucifix erasers, bookmarks, sand art, etc... but it also means the cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, balloons, bounce houses  and carnival games are free. A fair trade, I'd say.  

We loved it! It made us a little less homesick for some of the activities we left behind.  The boys have already made plans to practice their BB gun skills for next year's carnival.  Yes, you heard that right, BB guns and crucifixes heavily dominated this Fall Festival, we are in Alabama, after all.

Ludwig Von Who?

Ben has been taking piano lessons for a while now. He was recently assigned "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth.  His teacher made a really big deal out of it and Ben was really curious about it during the next week.  I busted out Dean's "Intro to Classical Music" CD's from college and we took a musical journey discussing composers, symphonies, movements, etc.  Some of his questions/statements have been...

"What's an Ode?"
"What does B E E T H O V E N spell?"
"Was Joy a person and why did they need an Ode"
"You mean this guy got PAID to write music?"
"Mom, Sadie looks like that guy we've been talking about with crazy hair that wrote the Ode." (after a particularly windy car ride)

So when his teacher asked him what song he'd like to play next I listened carefully to see if my week of  classical influence had paid off.

He requested the theme to "Starwars".

To her credit, his piano teacher found it and totally made his day.  I was even able to find a You-Tube video of John Williams conducting The Boston Pops playing Starwars, which we watched, over, and over, and over.....

Presenting the musical stylings of "Ben thoven" as he's requested to be called for the purposes of this post.

Maybe somewhere down the road our week of classical immersion will pay off,  but for now, I'll remember he's seven and John Williams is just as cool as Beethoven ever was.

Crusty No-knead Bread

A few years ago my mom made some amazing bread, like artisan good.  So good that me and my sister in law requested the recipe on the spot.  It's so easy, the only thing hard about this recipe is owning the pot to cook it in.  You see, it requires an oven proof lid.  For Christmas the next year we both got our dutch ovens and commenced with the bread making.

Step 1. Mix 3 C flour, 1/2 tsp. yeast, 1tsp. salt, and 1 1/2 C water in a large bowl.  I use a wooden spoon and only stir it around until everything is moist.  Cover and set aside for 12 hrs or overnight.
(This is what the recipe says but I usually forget the night before and then throw it in a bowl around 8ish in the morning. It's still ready to bake around 4 in the afternoon.)

You're half way to bread bliss at this point and you've hardly done anything.

Step 2. Remember to put your pot (with lid) in the oven to pre-heat. Set your oven temp to 400 degrees and immediately put your pot with it's lid, inside.  Heat the pot for 30 minutes.

Step 3. Time to check on your dough.  It should be moist and sticky with lots of little bubbles on top.  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and dump out your dough.  Fold it over onto itself a few times.   Use flour liberally to keep it from being too sticky.  The folding will create a "rounded ball".

-put a clean dish towel on the counter, dust with flour and place shaped dough on top.

-Sprinkle dough with flour and cover dough folding over corners of the towel.  Remove pan from oven and remove lid, slide hand under towel, uncover dough and flip/dump dough into the hot pan.

-Replace lid, put in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking for 15 minutes, depending on how brown you want your crust.  Remove bread and place on cooling rack.

-Resist cutting for at least 20 minutes or it will be doughy.

I've tried tweaking the recipe using wheat flour, but it hasn't quite turned out.  For now we'll indulge with white flour a few times a month.  

My boys always ask for the "yummy, good, bread"  and I know yours will too.