Hummingbirds and Pizza II

I wanted to share a short update with you!  We’ve been seeing at least one hummingbird quite consistently.  I think it’s a female.  She is such a sweet little bird.  Often when I’m doing something out in the yard I’ll all of a sudden hear the hum of her wings and her sweet little chirp and look up and there she is flitting to and from the feeder, daintily sipping the sugar water!  I took this picture while sitting on a small stool on our porch waiting for her, so that’s why it’s at a weird angle.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to look for a gluten-free pizza crust recipe so I could make pizza for my husband who eats (mostly) gluten-free.  Well, last night for our Friday Movie and Pizza Night I made a gluten-free pizza for him, and I’m happy to say that he loved it!  I used the recipe from http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-pizza-dough/ and changed it just a tad bit. You’ll want to use her recipe rather than what I’ve posted below (her directions are more thorough and complete), but I’ll share below how I made my husband’s pizza.

Gluten-Free Pizza Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour — I used Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour (I bought it in the natural foods section at Fred Meyer).
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum — I used Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum (I also bought it in the natural foods section at Fred Meyer).
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon raw sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt — I’m out of sea salt, so I just used cheap salt I had in the cupboard I had bought to make salt playdough with, but next time I’ll use sea salt.
3/4 cup warm water — you can test the temperature of the water to make sure it’s not too hot by holding your wrist under the faucet; the water should should feel very warm but not hot.
3 tablespoons vegetable (fruit) oil — I used canola oil because it was easy and I had some on hand.  I usually don’t usually buy canola anymore, though, and next time will probably use grapeseed oil or olive oil (both technically fruit oils)

The author of the recipe said you could make the dough in a medium-size bowl or in a food processor.  I decided to try making it in my food processor.  I placed the flour, xanthan gum, yeast, sugar, and salt in my food processor and mixed the ingredients up.

Then I added the 3 tablespoons of oil and the water in a steady stream, pulsing in my food processor to combine. The recipe says a ball will begin to form, and I tried to watch for that.  The dough was pretty sticky, so I added a small amount of more flour a few times until it wasn’t so sticky.  I pressed the dough together into a disk, smoothed some oil all over it, placed it in a bowl, covered the bowl with a cloth, and put it in my cupboard.  I was supposed to let it rise for an hour, but I didn’t have that much time.  I’m guessing it raised for about half an hour, but I’m not sure.

Then I took it out of the cupboard and with my hands (oiled) I pressed it out on an oiled cookie sheet into the shape of a round pizza.

Before putting the toppings on it, I baked it in the oven at 400 degrees F for 6 minutes. Then I put sauce, vegan cheese, chunks of pineapple, chopped up tofu patties (from Trader Joe’s), and chopped onions on the pizza.  After the oven was free again (I was baking my children’s pizzas at the time, I baked it for about 7 more minutes.

I am so happy my husband loved it, and I will be making this again!  :)

Hummingbirds and Pizza

Again, I’m writing about two completely different topics, except this time I found a way to tie them together. :)  I enjoy having family traditions, even simple, basic ones, and I think my mom has helped us start a new family tradition! She has a hummingbird feeder at her house that’s hanging by her fuchsia plant (that I traditionally buy her each year for Mothers’ Day!), and she loves watching the the sweet, little birds come to drink from the feeder.  She wanted to share that experience with us in a special way, so she bought us two hummingbird feeders and mixed the sugar water to put in them, and, together with my younger children, she hung the feeders up on the porch.  This tradition is especially neat because my mother-in-law also loved hummingbirds, so watching for hummingbirds is actually a tradition on both sides of the family!

And the hummingbirds have been coming!  Here are a couple pictures my 7-year-old son took this morning (I apologize for not fixing the flag so that it hangs correctly; I feel bad about that!).  My son took these pictures through the window on our front porch.  Isn’t the hummingbird pretty?

Another simple tradition, in a completely different vein!, that our family has is watching a movie on Friday nights.  We’ve watched a movie together as a family on Fridays for years now.  I’m not sure when we started doing that, but I can’t remember not having Fridays as movie night.

Sometime, I think last year, I started making personal pizzas on Friday night to eat while we watch the movie, and that has become a tradition, too.  Each person puts topping on their own pizza however they want.  I think it’s fun!

Here are two awesome pizza dough recipes: Robbie’s Thin Pizza Crust and Robbie’s Whole Wheat Pizza Crust.  Those are the recipes that got me started.  Now I just kind of throw the dough together by memory, and it turns out pretty well, though maybe I should re-read the recipes to make sure I’m not missing any great hints that I’ve forgotten since the last time I read them.  I usually use all whole wheat flour (the crust turns out softer, though, when I add some white flour to it). Last night I experimented and put some garlic powder, crushed basil, and chia seeds that had been ground in a coffee grinder in with the dough (I added the chia seed meal to increase the nutrition of the dough), and I thought it turned out fine (no one complained, so I took that as a good sign;)).  Here are pictures of our pizzas from last night.

My 13-year-old son's pizza

My 7-year-old son's pizza

My 11-year-old daughter's pizza

My 16-year-old daughter's pizza

My pizza!

They are all vegan pizzas, by the way, and they are so yummy! You might be wondering where my husband’s pizza is. He eats (mostly) gluten-free, and I admit I haven’t been making pizzas for him because of that, but I think I’ll look up a recipe for him this week. I’ll let you know if I make him a gluten-free pizza next time and how it goes. :)

A Deer and Strawberry Jam

Those are two completely different topics, by the way. The deer had nothing to do with the strawberry jam, except that I saw the deer around the time I made the jam this morning. ;)

My 7-year-old son spotted the deer outside in our yard through the front window. It was enjoying eating leaves! I love deer, well, okay, even when they eat my roses, . . . and tulips, though I wish they wouldn’t do that! They are, though, such noble, beautiful, peaceful animals. Just look at these eyes. How can you not love this creature?

Deer eating leaves

Now regarding the jam. . . first of all, I want to say that my mom is one of the sweetest and kindest people in the world! She’s always doing thoughtful things to encourage me and bless our family. Yesterday she brought over some Mrs. Wages No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin for me to try. She also brought over and washed and cut up 2 lbs. of fresh strawberries to use to make the jam.

This morning I smashed the strawberries a bit. In another container I mixed half a package (about 7 1/2 teaspoons) of the pectin with 1/2 cup of xylitol and 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar and stirred them together. Then I poured the mixture into the strawberries and stirred them up. And, voila! There you go. . . as quick as can be we had fresh, uncooked, delicious strawberry jam! Two pounds of strawberries (and half a package of the fruit pectin) made four jars of jam with some leftover to put on our toast this morning. Yum!!

Mom Breastfeeding her 3-Year-Old Son on Time Magazine Cover

Have you seen the cover of Time magazine this week?   It has a picture of a mom, Jamie Lynne Grumet, breastfeeding her three-year-old son for the cover story on attachment parenting called “Are You Mom Enough? Why Attachment Parenting Drives Some Mothers to Extremes–and How Dr. Bill Sears became their Guru.” There are other pictures of mamas nursing in the magazine, too, and you can see the cover photo and some of the other pictures here: Behind the Cover: Are You Mom Enough?.

As a mom who breastfed all four of her children when they were older and who is an advocate of attachment parenting, I definitely want to buy a copy of the magazine so I can read the articles in it. I saw on codenamemama.com an article about Kroger Pulling Time Magazine From Registers. She wrote:

It appears that Kroger’s corporate office made the decision to pull the issue from the front registers. Kroger stores nationwide have removed the issue at least from their registers, if not entirely from their stores.

I was planning on buying it at Fred Meyer (owned by Kroger) and so I called to see if our local Fred Meyer has it. An employee looked for me, and I was disappointed when she said she couldn’t find it. :-/ I hope that doesn’t mean that they aren’t carrying it.

I think it’s amazing and good that breastfeeding an older child is being discussed. I don’t know what the articles in the magazine say, but the fact that the topic has been brought to light in the public eye provides a great opportunity because the only way it will become the norm in this country is if people become more educated about it and see how normal and good it is. I am saddened by thoughts expressed that make fun of it, call it gross or inappropriate. Those who write such comments show that they do not know much about it and do not understand it. Breastfeeding an older child is the norm worldwide. Also, we can see it in the Bible as well — read the story of Samuel. Just because we don’t commonly see it here in the USA doesn’t mean it’s strange or extreme. One of the moms who took part in the photoshoot has a blog called Code Name: Mama, and she wrote an article about it called TIME Magazine Cover: Extended Breastfeeding Does Not Equal Extreme. I love how she explained why her son (age four) still nurses. She wrote:

So you see, nursing past infancy simply does not feel extreme to us. Why does my son still nurse?

He nurses because I am his warm, safe place.

I found that to be true as well. Each of my children weaned at a different age. My first daughter was still nursing (but nursing less and less) at age four, my second child nursed until he was two and a half, my third child weaned sometime after her third birthday, and my fourth child nursed until he was five and a half (he just nursed at bedtime by then). It never felt extreme, and I didn’t feel like I was better than any other mother.  My children got older one day at a time, and if the day before they weren’t “too old” to nurse, why would they be too old the next day? I wanted to meet each of my children’s unique needs. It continued to provide good health benefits but also it provided emotional nourishment and helped meet their needs for security and love. Nursing them as they grew older until their nursing needs were met and their time of full weaning from the breast was reached was natural and good and beautiful.

nursing my first child

nursing my first child

ETA: 5/13/2012 We went to Barnes and Noble today (Sunday) to see if they had this magazine. We couldn’t find it, so we asked a cashier. He said they hadn’t gotten it yet, but that it should be there tomorrow.

Biting my Lip

See that funny picture of me biting my lip?  I’m not sure why I’m biting my lip there, maybe I was just thinking about something, but that’s common for me, both biting my lip and looking funny, that is ;) , and sometimes I bite my lip when I am nervous about something.  I get anxious far too often, and it’s really frustrating.  I wish I could make myself be more self-assured, confident, assertive, and, especially, I’d love to be calm and peaceful.  Apparently I often give off a calm vibe, despite my lip-biting, but inside I too often am struggling with anxiety, with thoughts going every which way, doubts and worry and dislike of myself creeping into my mind, threatening to fill it up and burst out.  I’m going to be 42 this month, and I’m awfully tired of having so much anxiety.  It’s especially worrisome when I see my children picking up my anxiety.  I really want to change and grow in this area for myself and for my family.

I’m trying to take small steps and push myself in hopes that I will grow. In my last post I mentioned that I drove on the freeway the other day, and that was an exciting accomplishment for me considering my anxiety over driving on the freeway.  Another thing I’m doing is looking into Toastmasters.  I’ve attended one meeting so far and am going to attend another meeting today.  I’m not speaking there yet. I’m just being brave by going at all.  But it’s a start!!  I’ll keep you posted.

 

Some Thoughts about Anxiety

I’ve been watching a lot of shows on Netflix about hoarding and anxiety. I think a lot of people must struggle with keeping too many things and placing too much importance on things.  I was surprised to find so many shows about it!  The shows I’ve found so far are “Hoarders,” “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” “Obsessive” (it covers various types of anxiety), and “Clean House.”

Hoarding is often rooted in anxiety.  I struggle with anxiety, and I admit that sometimes it’s pretty hard for me to throw away or get rid of certain things.  For me it’s like things hold memories. . . they help me remember precious times of the past and give me something tangible to hold.  They help make those times more real and bring back emotions that I experienced back then.  Also, I really feel bad getting rid of something someone special has given me or even that belonged to someone special who is no longer alive.  Things are part of history and have stories to tell.  I have way too much clutter, but I praise God that I have grown and am learning to let go.

I have a  family member who hoards, and from seeing how watching those shows I’ve learned some about how difficult it can be to overcome it.  There isn’t a simple fix, but rather it takes a lot of work and help from a counselor can be crucial.  Things can really burden us so much.  They become special to us because we can hold on to them when people change and go away. . . they can become our security.

But the whole of idea of finding security in things is something that is just not real!  Things cannot give us true security.  Things are temporal — they are not lasting.  It reminds me of Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I wrote the above quite awhile ago, a couple months ago maybe?  Anyway, I’ll go ahead and post it to keep record of how I was feeling at that time.  I haven’t been watching those shows lately. I’m not sure what happened, but I just quit!  Now I’ve been watching “Monk” on Netflix, a show about a detective with a whole lot of phobias.

I wanted to explain why I have a picture of the porta-potties in the picture for this post. In an episode of “Obsessive” the therapist had a lady with OCD go into a porta-potty and stand in there and experience her anxiety and then touch the dirty (really filthy-looking) seat to show her that she would be able to get through her anxiety and be fine afterward.   It sure made me cringe!  It’s an amazing concept, though. . . going through what makes you experience anxiety and seeing that you can indeed live through it and come out on the other side a stronger person!! ♥

I am so excited to tell you that I drove on the freeway the other day.  One of my fears is driving on the freeway, and my husband sat in the driver’s seat while I drove on the freeway for about ten minutes, and I got to where we were going!  I drove on an “easy” one, but it’s a step, and I’m really excited about it. :)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Vegan Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Vegan Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffin

My 10-year-old daughter and I made Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins yesterday in honor of National Peanut Butter and Jelly day!  I based my recipe off of this one, but changed it quite a bit.  I do that a lot because 1) we are vegan and don’t eat animal products, 2) I like to make recipes healthier, and 3) it’s fun!

If you want a safe and tested recipe, I would encourage you to follow the link above and make your own substitutes.  If you would like to see my non-exact recipe to help give you some ideas of your own, feel free to read it below, but don’t get upset if it doesn’t turn out. ;)   It turned out well for me last night, but I didn’t write down the recipe while I was making it, and I need to test it again to make sure I’ve got the measurements correct.

Healthy Vegan Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

  • 2 cups whole wheat white flour (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup ground up raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup Herman sourdough starter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups plain rice milk (approximate amount — add enough so batter isn’t too thick and not too thin; more on the thick side than on the thin side)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • egg substitute equivalent of 2 eggs = mix 6 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and let sit a few minutes until jelled
  • 2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil (from Trader Joe’s) — melt on a stove on low before adding it to wet ingredients; coconut oil melts very easily
  • tablespoon of vinegar
  • Cooking spray
  • jam

Use two bowls — one bowl for the wet ingredients and one bowl for the dry ingredients.  Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in the other (all wet ingredients except for vinegar — add that at the end after everything is mixed together).  Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (or vice versa — whichever works best for you) and mix them together.  After it’s all been stirred together, then add and mix in the vinegar.

To put the batter in the muffin pans, I used a small ice cream scoop I got many years ago from Pampered Chef.  It’s half the size of a regular ice cream scoop.  With the small scoop I scooped one scoop of the batter in each muffin cup.  Then my daughter put 1/2 tsp of jelly in the center, and then I put another scoop of batter on top.  That way when it cooks, the jelly is in the middle of the muffin!

I also put a topping on our muffins.  For the topping, take a little peanut butter and mix it with a little turbinado sugar — maybe about 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 4 tablespoons sugar (you’ll probably need to experiment — I didn’t measure it out when I made so that is a guess).  Mix them until the mixture looks like little crumbs.  Then crumble a little bit on the top of each muffin.

Cook the muffins in the oven for about 20 minutes.  The other recipe said 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  I was afraid mine might burn, so I cooked them on 400 for about 15 minutes and then turned them down to 375 the rest of the time.  They turned out nice and golden and rose well.  Yum!  :) Makes 18 muffins.

Another Sunny Day

It’s a gorgeous sunny day again today. The ground was frosty, but it feels like spring, and I did some yard work! My two younger children helped me for awhile. Here’s something fun — my little boy was talking yesterday about chores and saying how he enjoys them. Pretty cool, hunh? LOL I sure hope he can hang on to that. It will help him throughout life. :)

Yesterday I didn’t finish all of the chores on my list, but I did keep busy! Here’s what I did. . . I changed the litter in the other litter box. I swept and mopped the bathroom floor. I started picking up the hallway, but still need to finish picking it up and need to vacuum and the stairway. I started cleaning the front entry, but still have more to do before it’s finished. I started a load of laundry. It’s drying right now, and I’ve started another load, too. I even have some sheets hanging on the line outside! I finished dishes yesterday and went to bed with a clean sink. Woohoo!! :D

Here’s my list for today:

* Finish picking up the upstairs hallway and vacuum it
* Vacuum the stairway
* Finish cleaning up the front entry
* Finish up the laundry that I started
* Keep up on the dishes and go to bed with a clean sink

Keeping a list is really helping me! Of course I’ve been doing this for what, 3 days now, so who knows how long it will last, but I’m going to keep plugging along!

A Walk in the Sunny Park!

My youngest leaping exuberantly!!

Just as a side note, I’m listening on Rhapsody to the album “Starkindler: A Celtic Conversation Across Time” by Michael Card. I am really, really enjoying it. ♥

My kids and I went for a walk in the park this afternoon, and it was so beautifully sunny outside. The sun even felt warm, and it was pleasant without a coat. . . until the sun sank lower in the sky, that is. Brrrr. . . then I sure wish I had worn a coat. My little boy and I got such cold hands!

Turtles on a log

Turtles on a log

But back to the sun, oh, it was wonderful, and the animals in the park were enjoying it, too! We heard a lot of birds and saw turtles there for the first time, sunning themselves on a log in the water. There were cormorants on another log on the other side of the lake. They are a type of bird that doesn’t have a pretty singing voice LOL, but they look so gorgeous and noble.

We had a really nice walk. I love happy times like that! Thank you, God!! ♥ And now, I need to go make pizza dough, so we can have pizza while we watch our movie tonight. :)

Cormorants

Licorice Herbal Tea and Memories

Isn’t it amazing how smells and tastes can spark memories? Today I had some licorice herbal tea and the scent and taste reminded me of a time so long ago when my husband and I, pre-kids, went and stayed at a hotel by the beach in Lincoln City, OR.

When we got to our room I was so excited when I spotted a little coffee maker on the table. I didn’t want coffee, though. Tea is more my thing. I love herbal tea! We bought some licorice tea at the store, and I made some and drank it in our room. Have you ever had any? It’s taste and smell are distinctive. I’m not sure why, but I haven’t had much of that particular flavor over the years, and when I do it reminds me of how much I enjoyed that wonderful, though short, vacation. Here’s a picture I took of my husband on that day. ♥

about 18 years ago...

What scents and smells bring back good memories for you?