Vegan Bouillon

VeganBouillonThe cold weather is not quite here (ever), but who doesn’t like a cup of bouillon with a sandwich? I guess I would say this is a vegan “chicken” bouillon. It’s very tasty and oh, so easy to make.

Vegan Bouillon Powder

  • 1  1/3 cup of large flake nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
  • 2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse to a powder. Add 2 tsp per cup of hot water or to taste. A lot of recipes call for sugar. I prefer mine without.

Make it once and then double the recipe for next time. It’s that good.

Here are a couple of links to other people who use this awesome recipe:

http://winebarrelgourmet.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/make-it-yourself-vegan-broth-powders/

http://fatfreevegan.com/blog/2010/11/01/bryannas-homemade-vegan-chicken-style-broth-powder/

 

Nature’s Garden Lotion Kit

I’ve had less than stellar results with making my own lotions and potions. So much so, that I’d just given up completely. Then I received this kit from Nature’s Garden. It comes with the exact, perfectly measured ingredients. All I had to do was follow the simple instructions and, voilà; I made my Raspberry Vanilla Body Butter. If you feel daunted by gathering and choosing recipes and materials, this is an excellent way to get started. Check out the variety of kits at Nature’s Garden.

Deborah, the owner of Nature’s Garden was kind enough to send me a complimentary kit to review but I would definitely buy another. There are so many starter kits to choose from but I’m thinking 24 tubes of vegan lip balm would make perfect personalized stocking stuffers.

 

My Summer of Waiting for Patience

“Patience is a kind of love. A love that is its own explanation in bewildered circumstance. It is an old, old woman placing a wrinkled-parchment hand against the cheek of a reckless child. Because her heart is too wise to make room for reproach. Too full to find place for offense. ” – Pavithra Mehta

It’s been a year since my mom passed away. Last summer was a maelström of emotions with a virulent combination of personalities. My memories of that experience have blurred, partly because of the distressing nature of events and more so, perhaps, because I just wasn’t present. There were very few moments, if any, where my mind and heart were in the same place as my body.

What a difference a year makes. The kids finished school in June and ten weeks of summer vacation loomed. I signed them up for 4 weeks of gymnastics day camp, we went on holidays for 1 week, and the rest of the time was just me and the boys, a 6 and 3 year old. I admit I felt a little panicky. It seemed like a lot of days to fill without the busy work of death and dying.

And then an idea dawned; hey, why not forget about the whole summer and just live moment to moment each day. Could I – really? No. Forget it. This is the supreme goal of enlightenment for much more advanced spiritual aspirants than me. I needed a beginner step. I decided to work at eradication of my most glaring defect: impatience. Of course, I’m not into blaming people but, honestly, I did inherit this defect from my mother.

For me, patience is one of the most important virtues conducive to joyous parenting. It lends itself to being a great teacher; it allows little people to move and grow at their own pace, and it makes space for wonderful conversations with kids who need time to put together their thoughts and ideas. So, this summer, I cultivated patience. Was I a paragon of virtue? Not by a long shot.

I took it little by little. Every three hours of every day, I would commit to practice patience. 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. I would commit to being patient. 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. I could be patient for another three hours. You get the idea. I started to notice a pattern. Mornings were sketchy. It was easier to practice patience when everyone got a good night’s sleep. I learned to slow way down when we were all running on empty. Patience was generally high at midday but a little after 3 would often be a time when I felt like I was going to lose it. I quickly learned that the best thing to do was turn on the hose or jump in the pool.

Some days were still fraught with impatience. On a particularly rough day, I ran to the calendar to count down the weeks left of summer vacation. Still six weeks left? I was profoundly disappointed but after some reflection, I gave myself a giant mental hug because for me to go four weeks without even the slightest thought of counting down the days was truly one huge miracle. And in that moment, I happily realized that patience had come not only for my kids but for myself as well.

We had a wonderful summer and I enjoyed my kids for almost every minute of it.

I hope everyone had a fantastic summer. I’m back to blogging again after a summer of “no time to write.” Today was the first day of school so that excuse won’t really fly anymore.

 

The Great Paradox of Motherhood

Kinder1 We walked hand in hand into the schoolyard.
“Well, today’s the last day of Kindergarten, he said, “Are you happy, Mom?”
“I have mixed feelings. It’s bittersweet.”
“What does bittersweet mean?”
“It means that I’m sad you’re growing up and I’m happy you’re growing up.”
I dropped him off in class and gave him a hug. Then I went home and bawled my eyes out.

kinder2I know someday they’ll grow up to make their own way in the world.

leavingI hope they’ll always stick together.

sticktogether

Forget the Jones’; I Couldn’t Keep Up With the Sears’

Hubby wears the Big Guy.

He wears him well.

I’m a parenting book junkie. I’ve easily read over 100 parenting books. Some of them have helped me immensely, some were total garbage, and some of them made me feel very bad about myself. The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears did just that. Oh, I get the philosophy of attachment parenting, I even agree with the eight principles, except for that last one that talks about finding a balance in your personal life and marriage because how the heck is that possible when you’re sleeping with your baby, breastfeeding on demand until he wants to stop, and carrying him around in a sling all day?  My husband used to loudly and proudly tell people that we were into attachment parenting. “No, no we’re not,” I’d quickly say, “we’re just AP lite.” I didn’t want anyone getting out the attachment parenting yardstick to see how short we were falling.

I had a crib. I fully intended to use it but the first time I went to put the baby down, I got super nervous. There’s this thing called SIDS and nobody knows what causes it and it’s totally random and it can happen suddenly (that’s the S) to any baby at any time where they just stop breathing and die!!??!. “Okay, Baby, you’re sleeping with me so I can keep my eye on you to make sure you don’t “suddenly” die in the night.” That’s how our co-sleeping started.

I tried with all my might but I absolutely did not ever “wear” either one of my babies. I had a Hot Sling (cool name), a Petunia Pickle Bottom sling (maybe something pretty and cute would make it bearable), a Moby wrap (mummifying me and the baby in 18 feet of fabric in the middle of summer was so not where it was at), and finally the Ergo (yes, if it’s expensive, it’s gotta be good). It took trying (and buying) all those carriers and slings before I just finally admitted to myself that I didn’t want to wear my baby around all day. What I really wanted to wear were my pre-pregnancy jeans. And, Jeez, what’s wrong with baby lying on the floor for a minute while I throw in a load of laundry? I always came right back.

I mostly didn’t mind being the human pacifier. In fact, it fit in perfectly with my minimalist lifestyle. I didn’t want the burden of washing bottles, buying formula, and searching for the infernal pacifier that always ends up on the floor. Practical to a fault, there was no way I was going to buy something that I could easily make for free. Oh yes, and of course, it’s best for the baby. However, after 18 months (only 17 with the Little Guy), I was more than ready to Moby wrap it up. That was my decision and neither of my sons liked it very much and I felt so guilty.

What I didn’t realize was that as I was trying so hard to live up to the ideals of attachment parenting that I still (a little less) firmly believe in, I was heading into what the philosophy warns against: parent burn-out mode. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was full-on in it when the Little Guy came. We still co-slept. I still absolutely did not want my little baby inexplicably dying in the night, and I did breastfeed on demand but I was emotionally and mentally exhausted. And guilty. It didn’t help that the Little Guy wasn’t exactly a clone of the Big Guy who was generally mellow and quiet. Nope, Little Guy was the opposite. Let’s just say he was more on the demanding side and for a little while we nicknamed him “Screech” because, well, you get the idea.

Long story short, those crucial three years are over for both of my boys. My oldest son is still generally mellow and my youngest is still less so. They are both very attached to me and my husband. And, while I still prize the attachment parenting philosophy in those first three years of life, I’m starting to realize that there’s still a lot more life and a lot more parenting to go. In hindsight, I wish there really was an “attachment parenting lite” book. If I wrote it I would say, “Do only what you can to the best of your ability and leave the guilt behind because guilt can turn a pretty good parent into a really crappy one – fast.”

 

Gluten-Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday I revised my regular cookie recipe to make it vegan. I’ve re-done a lot of my recipes lately now that I’ve stopped buying dairy products. I consider this a huge victory because my husband loves milk in his coffee and he’s gone without it, not too unhappily, for several weeks now. Keep your fingers crossed. The kids made a very quick and easy transition to non-dairy milks. I think we all miss cheese just a little and of course, if we ever go to France, well, all bets are off.   I’m sure we’ll eat the cheese.

Gluten-Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 cup non-dairy butter*
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 5 Tbsp water (replaces 2 eggs)
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups of your favorite gluten-free flour (I use Trader Joe’s – so easy)
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips or non-dairy substitute

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, honey, and vanilla until fluffy and creamy.
  3. Add applesauce and flax meal mixture.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and add slowly into the mix.
  5. Add chocolate chips. I’d love to add walnuts but then my kids wouldn’t eat them. Hmmm, that gives me an idea for when I want them to last more than a day.
  6. Drop batter by the teaspoonful on lightly greased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
  8. See how long they last at your house! Makes 45 – 50 cookies – you’ll need them. Plus, we love to share.

*I use Earth Balance because it’s convenient but I will look for a substitute soon because the dreaded (controversial) canola oil is one of the main ingredients.

Tomato Ginger Salad Dressing

TomatoGingerDressin

Tomato Ginger Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 medium to large tomato, chopped (heirloom is best, beefsteak is good)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.

 

Happy Mother’s Day Boys!

Where's the nearest bush?

Where’s the nearest bush?

“Get away from me or I’ll kick you in the penis,” my son said to the friends who were following him around the park after school.

While it may not have been the best way to ask for privacy it was effective nonetheless. I knew right away why he said it. He wanted solitude so he could go behind the bathroom to pee. Yes, that’s right; he wanted to go behind the bathroom, not in the bathroom.

As a parent, I do a lot of things right. One thing, obviously, is that I’ve taught my kids to use anatomically correct words for their private parts. However, I must confess that I abhor public restrooms and unfortunately, my aversion has rubbed off on my kids.

That said, I’m not exactly a stickler for the rules when one of my kids needs to pee. I know that most parents look for the nearest restroom when their kids need to go. Sometimes I look for the nearest bush. One time, we sat in a three-hour line-up at the Canadian border and I made a “curtain” by opening the driver’s side door and the back door right there in the line-up. It was a dead giveaway to the other drivers as little puddles pooled on the ground in front of their feet but my sons appreciated the privacy.

We went to a restaurant once that was renovating its restrooms. There was a line of porta potties outside in the parking lot. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – that we eat at some really fancy places. Anyway, my son had to go so my husband took him to the parking lot and told him that his only option was the Andy Gump.

“Is it an Andy Gump or an Andy Dump?” my son asked. He opened the door to check and then quickly shut it. “I can hold it,” he decided. And he can. Both of my boys can “hold it” for a surprisingly long time. A trait they have most definitely inherited from me. Just for the record, I would also rather go behind a bush than use a porta potty.

Since he started Kinder, I admit I’ve become a little concerned about his camel-like tendencies. He feels nervous to use the bathroom at school so he holds it all day. I talked to his teacher about it and it turns out this is a fairly common phobia for Kinders. I’m not so sure if it’s as common for adults. But, there it is. Our kids get a lot from us and we get a lot from them.

This is my Mother’s Day post dedicated to my boys. I don’t know what’s in store for me on Sunday and I’m not particularly attached either way. I’m so grateful for these two amazing boys who came into my life and made me a mother. They are my greatest teachers and they’re doing a fantastic job. I’m learning a lot, boys.

 

Through the Door Lightly

Door

The door to your house/flat/apartment/abode has come unstuck in time. The next time you walk through it, you find yourself in the same place, but a different time entirely. Where are you, and what happens next?
WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge

The door opens and I wake up my boys with back rubs and songs. A stellar day begins with a good night’s sleep. I was up before the boys and had twenty minutes to myself to meditate on a cup of coffee (yes, that’s a real meditation). Their favorite breakfast is on hand: cereal for one, pancakes for the other. Fifteen minutes of free play and then out the door to kindergarten and preschool. Of course, everyone knows where their shoes are and we all get along famously. We share lots of hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s.”

The door opens again and the Little Guy wakes me up. I groan inwardly as the realization  dawns that I’ve slept in, missed my precious coffee-meditation time, and I’m still tired because Little Guy was up three times in the night and while he looks no worse for wear now, I know his exhaustion will catch up to him by midday. I feel sorry for myself and in my mind, the battle cry of the victim begins, “Why? Why? Why?”  I haven’t had three nights in a row of good solid sleep in over six years.

We’re out of cereal and pancakes. The coffee’s weak. No matter, I don’t have time to drink it anyway. The squabbling starts as my paranoia kicks in full-bore, “They’re deliberately dawdling because they know we’re late.” I put more pressure on the boys and use my “loud” voice. They squabble some more over a stupid plastic toy and the tears start. They’re not mine – not yet, anyway. I yell some more, louder this time. Finally, we’re out the door. It hasn’t been a good morning. None of us feel good.

I come from a black and white, life or death, everything’s a major catastrophe kind of upbringing – no, not just a regular catastrophe kind of thing, but a major one. That’s my legacy. I work hard to change it every day. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time playing the “if only” game. If only I could go back and change this or change that, I would have said this, or if only I had said that. This kind of thinking sends me into a tailspin of regrets and desires and keeps me from my task at hand. It takes a real effort to open the door to this moment and this minute of every day.

The door opens yet again and the morning can go either way. Most often it’s somewhere in the middle of the above-mentioned scenarios. Either way, I practice greeting the day with equanimity of mind. The more I keep myself right here in the present, the more I’m able to enjoy my kids. Some days I do better than others. Some good sleep helps.

Orange You Glad I’m a Carrot Smoothie

carrotsmoothieMy oldest son turns his nose up at green smoothies. I have to start where we are so I put a carrot in this one to give it a beautiful orange color.

Orange You Glad I’m a Carrot Smoothie

  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup Aloe vera juice
  • 2 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/5 frozen banana
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 3/4 cup frozen mango or frozen mandarin orange segments

Blend on high for 30 seconds. Makes 2 kid-friendly servings.