Saturday, March 31, 2018

Meal Planning Moment

Rereading my old blogs, I got inspired to continue my meal planning tradition of sitting for a moment with my recipe box and pulling out 5-7 main dishes to cook over the next week.

Many years ago I made a recipe card for even the simple dinners we eat, not that I needed to follow the recipe for it, but more as a physical note of the meal.  Once a week, usually Saturday morning while everyone is sleeping or doing their own thing, I sit with my recipe box (and my calendar for the next week) and pull out the cards of the dishes I want to make and keep those cards out, either on the counter or in a cabinet, but somewhere I can flip through them.  I fill up the grocery list on the productivity app my family shares, and by Sunday night I usually have all the ingredients I'll need for the week.  Having that list of meals plus their ingredients on hand makes getting dinner on the table easier.  I tried assigning a meal to a certain day of the week, but I prefer to just cook what I have time for as each day comes.  Some days I'll have more time than others, so I just cook the meal that seems to fit in best at the time.  It saves so much time.

When I'm done with the cards for that week, I file them in the back of their category leaving me with the cards of dishes not recently prepared.  Yes, I do try new recipes, and if there's one that will make the cut into our rotation then I file into my box!

The calendar sits with me so that I get a realistic view of who will be home for dinnertime and which kids need hefty pre-game meals.  

These are just the main dishes; don't be alarmed at the lack of veggies!  I usually make either an Arabic style salad or roast some vegetables, or both.  

This week we travel Friday, so I'm not going to have as full of a list.
~ Zesty BBQ chicken (crock pot or Instant Pot) for lunches
~ Meatloaf      (won't be needed)
~Homemade Lasagna
~ Chicken Shawerma

Nope, we're not vegetarian.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Paper Towel Swap Out

I quit using paper towels for a while back in 2007.  I kept a stash of cleaning cloths in the kitchen in a handy spot for everyone to reach.   I showed the kids to use those cloths to wipe up spills and to wipe off countertops.  It worked really well, but somehow over the past few years I've gotten back to using some paper towels.  Once you start using some, you use more.. and more!  So, I got some ideas from people trying to adapt a zero waste lifestyle and got a little solution set up for myself.  

I borrowed some pinking shears from a neighbor, picked 5 old white undershirts from my husband's closet that he's been wanting to get rid of, and cut those suckers up into squares.  They're not exact, but they are roughly 8"-10" square.  I got over 60 squares!  

I keep most of them stashed in a drawer in the kitchen and told everyone to go ahead and use them whenever they'd want a paper towel.  They're small and easy to use.  If they cleaned up something super gross then I rinse it out in the sink.  If they're just kinda dirty then I toss them directly into a bucket I have stashed inside a cabinet.  This bucket is a white dishpan I bought from Fred Meyer years ago.  It doesn't have any cleaning solution in it or anything, it's just sitting there collecting the dirty rags.  About once a week, or more often, I run the contents of that bucket in the laundry.  It's been very convenient especially since there are well over 60 of those rags.

With some of the rags, I created a jar of homemade disinfecting solution that I stuffed about 20 of those little rags in.  I found that recipe from another blogger. 

Below is a picture of the cleaning solution jar. I used a quart jar which fits the liquid to cloth ration perfectly.

The rest of the cut up squares are in a handy drawer, and I've gotten all members of the household to grab these instead of paper towels (which are no longer found in the kitchen).

It's been over a month since I've adapted this and I feel so good about the reduced waste.  Small steps!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lacrosse Season 2016 Beginning

It's funny to think that the last time I was actively posting we didn't even know what lacrosse was, and now we are like the poster family for the sport!  So in the spring of 2014 Musa started playing lacrosse for the team as a 7th grader.  We all quickly loved the sport, attended the games, and even formed nice friendships with the team families.  8th grade was another fun season, and now in 9th grade, it continues.  Musa is on the JV team as a defender (the position he's played since 7th grade).  He's really into the sport.  He learned it so quickly and improved his skills quite rapidly as well.  It's so fun to watch him play.  They play 5 days a week.  Here are a few pictures of him in action this year.  Pictures are taken by some team moms with amazing skills!!!  He's number 17.

Quite unfortunately, there are not ANY team moms on Heba's team to spoil us with such professional quality action shots!  Heba started playing last year as a 7th grader and is enjoying it even more this year in 8th grade.  They practice 3 nights a week and have weekend games.  She's been playing on the offense this year as Attack and has scored a few goals!  Therefore.... I have only a couple of 'homemade' shots of her, and obviously, she's the one wearing the hijab :D

And last but not least, our youngest monkey Aisha has started her lacrosse journey this year as a 1st grader!  She's had a couple of weeks of practice and they're hoping to line up a couple of games for this age group. She LOVES it even though it's girls' lacrosse and not boys' lacrosse.  She got so used to playing with Musa the past two years that she was hoping to play on his team when she got to first grade :D How cute.  I'm going to wait for a better picture of her than the one I have right now.  Hopefully I'll remember to post it.

Thanks for reading this far!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Planting

Assalamu alaikom

Coming out of winter always takes me some extra getting used to.  While most people around me are so excited for the longer days with more sunshine, I get a touch of anxiety adjusting to that feeling that I have to be more productive and have to deal with heat, sun, longer work hours.  I realize that's totally a personal perception, but I get those feelings especially in late February and early March when the time moves forward an hour.  It happens so fast here in Seattle that the days go from being from 8am-4:15pm to being from 6:30am-7:00pm.  I'd be happy to get rid of Daylight Saving Time! That would definitely help ease that seasonal adjustment; plus, sunsets after 9pm are just too late!

Now that it's April, I'm on board with spring and have started my garden.  My level of gardening varies year to year, but when I have a  younger school aged kid I like to give them a lot of exposure, and this year my youngest is 7 years old which is great for involvement AND learning!  This year we are planting from seed, from store-bought starts, and we're putting in flowers and herbs in addition to veggies.  
below: lavender with snapdragon flowers in back
 oregano and rosemary sharing a pot with snapdragons
 mint from last year

My friend scored some lemon balm from a community facebook page for free, and she kindly shared a bunch with me after I told her I wanted lemon balm to repel mosquitoes on our deck.  I potted some of those transplants: 
The pot on the right is lemon balm. Spearmint on the left

in the center is lemon balm. looks dinky but will be rockin in a few weeks insha'Allah

I went ahead and clipped my tulips to make a bouquet for inside (plus, I'm ready to use the pots for the herbs without those tulips shadowing over the little starts)
And finally, here's a look at the Mammoth sunflower seeds we're starting indoors in hopes of repeating our 8 foot tall sunflower from two years ago!

I'll post about my actual vegetable garden another time!

"And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees - of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe." (Qur'an, 6:99)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

meal plan

Assalamu alaikom.  I know it's been ages since I've posted anything, but I'm just going to jump in and start posting stuff.

With lacrosse season in full swing I've been better at meal planning.  By full swing I mean that Musa plays 5 days a week, Heba plays 4 days a week, and Aisha play 2 days a week.  Lots of extra driving around on top of regular errands and homeschooling classes.

Normally I pull out my recipe box on Sunday (or Saturday) morning and plan what I need from the grocery store for the week in addition to the regular items that always rotate on our grocery lists.  I pretty much sort the meals in my mind as to which days would be better to prepare each one depending on how my 'at home' time looks.  About my recipe box: a few years ago I wrote down even the meals I prepare by memory so that when I meal plan I can pull that card out and keep it on the counter for the week.  It's not always used as a recipe card, but more like a name card.

We're on spring break this week!  This week's plan:

Meatloaf  (some kids put the sliced meatloaf in burger buns); Mixed veggies that were already cooked like sauteed cabbage, roasted brussels sprouts.

Roast chicken with potatoes and garlic;  (roasted at 450 degrees.. wow!)

Grilled chicken skewers

Mejaddara (lentils cooked in rice)

Sloppy Joes

Friday: invited out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

sample day

Every once in a while I get questions about what a typical day might look like for us as homeschoolers.  Since I'm sitting on the couch watching my two homeschoolers doing a yoga DVD, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share what we did today.

I have a 9 year old and a 5 year old right now at home. The 9 year old got up,  got dressed, ate breakfast, and was starting her math lesson by 7:45 this morning. (she usually starts at 8)  Math takes about an hour. While she worked independently, I had my own breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, and swept and mopped the kitchen floors.  5 year old stayed in bed quite a while today and didn't get up till maybe 8:30, but she was dressed when she came down.  After she ate breakfast, I had her use teddy bear counters to demonstrate adding concepts.  Then she and her sister emptied the dishwasher.

We all went up to the school room and stayed on task for a while. Subjects that gone done: Spelling, Handwriting, Writing, Grammar, Morning Meeting (memory work and religious studies).  Got a phonics lesson in with the 5 year old, then we all took a chocolate milk break.  I sat next to the 9year old  and knitted while she did some map work and a puzzle for history.  5yr old played with some toys nearby, then I did a short activity with her about the sequence of a library visit (picking a book, checking it out, taking it home, and then returning it) where she got to cut and write. 

After that the girls went to the other room to do a yoga DVD I have checked out from the library, and I sat down to make a little blog entry!  This is not a very typical day because we normally eat lunch around noon, but the rest is a typical day here if we're not going out.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Turkey Chili

I made turkey chili for the first time today, and it was well liked by boys and girls alike in this house! Wow!  I found halal ground turkey at Trader Joe's and figured I'd give it a try.  After looking at a couple of recipes online, this is what I ended up putting in the pot:

1lb ground turkey
1/2 white onion
1/2 red onion
4 cloves garlic
2 thin carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 14oz cans diced tomato
1 14oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning (taken from 100 Days of Real Food)
salt, pepper

Saute the vegetables in a bit of oil for a few minutes, then add the ground turkey.  Crumble it up and drain if needed.  Add the tomatoes and beans along with two cans full of water and the spices. Let this simmer an hour or two until the liquid reduces to your desired thickness.  I would also transfer this to the crock pot once I browned the turkey and add everything else in the crock pot and let that go for a while.

I set out some toppings like shredded cheddar, sour cream, jalapenos, freshly chopped onions, and the leftover crumbs of our gluten free chips.  You could make cornbread or eat this over burger buns :D

Monday, September 15, 2014

This weekend's work

Some weekends I am really on top of things and get a lot of good food prep done.  This was one of those weekends.  I will recap for the sake of offering suggestions and encouragement to others and to remind myself of what things work for me.

The first good news is that the gluten free mix I make myself and store worked wonderfully in our standby pancake recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that is a tradition in our family.  This good news goes perfectly with the other good news which is that I found and used the griddle attachment to our stove top which has been sitting in the garage since we moved in two years ago.  (You know some of those pancakes went to the freezer for after school snacks during the week)  To continue with the gluten-free theme, my daughter made a batch of iced cookies that just really hit the spot, and now we are both so excited to continue experimenting with our homemade flour mix in other dessert items.

So I got out my biggest pot, bought a 105oz (or so) can of tomatoes, an almost ridiculous amount of tomato paste, and 4 pounds of ground beef.  I stirred a pot of tomato sauce for a few hours on Saturday to achieve 4 portions of meat sauce for the freezer. Some for lasagna and some for spaghetti dinner.  I'm really excited about those.  That was a lot of meat sauce.

Another exciting adventure was making yogurt with one of my daughters Friday night.  It was a success and we are all enjoying the yummy yogurt even though it is not very thick.  I hear this is a common issue in homemade yogurt. Still working on that one.

To continue, I boiled and shredded a chicken breast to be dressed up and used for lunches, stocked up on fruits, veggies, and a few obligatory salty snack foods for the kids' lunches this week. 

I found a few recipes for the crockpot and made one of them.  It was a sesame chicken recipe that turned out kind of plain.  No one is going to ask for it again, but in a bind I could use it.

That's a lot of cooking and food handling.  Throw in a trip to Costco and Safeway, and we should be good for a while!  Tonight, Monday, there will be leftovers from the not-so-great sesame chicken plus some leftovers from the lunch restaurant we ate at.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kindy Science getting done/file folders

I've made a goal this year to do one experiment a week with my kindergartner.  I used the great book More Mudpies to Magnets as a starting point.  The experiments are simple and give the parent and child an ideal environment in which to use science terms and to share scientific ideas.  Because I'm using a file folder system (I got my ideas from here and here) I am able to print out the experiments that interest me and just tuck them into week after week of folders in our large box.  Bam, I've just done all the hard part (planning ahead), and all I need to do is make sure to actually do the experiment each week with my little one which shouldn't be so hard since that's kind of the idea of homeschooling.  Since all the details are at my fingertips, I can easily plan ahead for any materials or things I need to have on hand.

Here's today's making playdo activity. The book guides you to use science specific vocabulary as you describe the activity.  She got her hands in the flour and salt, poured the liquids herself, and felt how sticky the dough was.  Great fun.

And this is a snap of the file box I have for the Kindergartner.  I have a separate one for my 4th grader where I file sheets I want her to complete each week.  There are all sorts of great uses for this method of filing! 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kindergarten Reading List

I asked for, and received, excellent recommendations for bedtime or storytime reading for 4-6 yr olds.  I needed to add some variety to our bedtime reading.  I think I'll print this and keep it in my homeschool planner so that it's handy when I reserve books at the library.  Also, I can just check off what we've read instead of write the titles in the book.

A Child's Garden of Verses

A Giraffe and a Half

Anansi the Spider

Andrew Henry's Meadow

Bats at the Library, Bats in the Band

Beatrix Potter stories

Billy and Blaze books

Blueberries for Sal

Bread and Jam for Francis

Caps for Sale

Chicken soup with Rice

Cinderella version by Marcia Brown

Chrysanthemum, Chester's way - anything by Kevin Henkes


Crocodile Beat

Curious George series

Doctor DeSoto, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Elmer (David McKee)

Eric Carle books (there are many)

Frog and Toad

George and Martha series

Gerald and Piggie books

Granny and the desperadoes (Peggy Parish)

Harold & the Purple Crayon

Harry and the Lady Next Door

Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry Mouse & Tucker Kitten

It's Not a Box

Jamela's Dress (Niki Daly)

James Herriot's Treasury for Children

Jan Brett

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub

Little Bear

Little Black, a Pony

Lost in the Woods

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Madeline series

Make Way for Ducklings

Mama and Papa have a store

Max Velthuijs books

Marshmallow (Clare Newberry)

Miss Rumphius

My hen is dancing

Officer Buckle and Gloria


Owl Moon

Patricia Polacco

Peter Spier

Peter's Long Walk


Rain Makes Applesauce

Rapunzel, illus by zelinski
Richard Scarry books

Robert N. Munsch books

Robert the Rose Horse

Rumplestiltskin, illus by Peter Sis

Sam and the Firefly

Seven blind mice

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

Stranger in the Woods

Tea for Two

The Barefoot Book of Monsters

The Berenstain Bears series

The drop in my drink

The Grumpalump

The Empty Pot

the Gruffalo

The Hiccupotamus

The Little House, Choo-Choo and Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel

The Monkey and the Crocodile

The Paper Bag Princess

The Snowy Day

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

The true story of the three little pigs

There's an alligator under my bed

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Train Song

What is the Sun?

When I was Young in the Mountains

Where the Wild Things Are

Why don't you get a horse Sam Adams

Z is for Moose