Preschool Teacher Showdown

At school,Hurricane is doing a theme on the planets.  He seems very interested in this subject, so I’m enjoying him exploring a new passion.  As a result we have Solar System pictures plastered all over the brag wall, the fridge, his bedroom…you get the idea.

This afternoon, I had the rare opportunity to take JUST HIM to school (usually the other monstrosities are in the car).  So we turned off the radio and visited.  I resisted the temptation to drill him on numbers or letters, instead just letting him direct the conversation.

Below is the result of Hurricane controlling the convo…..

I love being upstaged by a five year old!

Until next brag….


What’s For Dinner?

Sorry another adventures in the kitchen post.

Hubs is back.  SO to welcome him back, I made one of his favorites…Seafood Gumbo.

Before you start telling me that isn’t vegetarian, let alone vegan…spare me.  We are considered Pescetarian.  While we abstain from red meat, poultry, and the other white meat, fish gets the green light.  We eat it sparingly, but it does open up the dine out options considerably!  Can we get back to the post now?

Gumbo.  I discovered this recipe in time for Christmas, and it was AMAZING!  (Not to worry, I will share the recipe…in a minute).  I did make a few changes to it….surprise surprise, but I think the changes just made it better.  In all honesty I’ve been craving it since, oh January 2nd, so when I casually mentioned it to McD, my heart soared when his reaction was “OHHHHH YEAHHHHH”.  Not only is it scrum-diddly-umptious, it makes A TON!!! Which translates to leftovers, which means fewer days in the kitchen, oh and did I mention it’s a crock pot meal?  This is the all around winner in my book!

So we made the Gumbo.  Assembled it in the morning and let it cook all day.  About 4 o’ clock, Hurricane comes into the kitchen.



“Whens the Gumballs gonna be ready?”

“The what?”

“The gum balls.”

“I don’t have any gum balls babe.”

“Yes you do”

“Ummmm, no…I don’t”

“But you said you had gum balls”

“Uhhhh nope….when did I say that?”

“Mom…..” insert whiny voice here

“Hurricane” insert fed up mock whiny voice here

“Yes you do…you SAID we were eating them for dinner”

Me with the dawn of recognition on my face…thinking <lightbulb> “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh….the Gumb-OH?”

“Yeah the Gum-BALL”

Here’s me and McD, exchanging the parent glances and stifling laughs…

“It’s just about done bud….go play Sonic, we’ll call you when its ready”  (translation: go out of hearing range so we can laugh at you!)

There you have it…tonight, whats for dinner is Gumball Soup!  Yum!

Want some gum ball soup of your own?

Here’s the recipe.  I adapted this from one of my favorites…Paula Deen.  If you’ve ever cooked with Ms. Deen, it aint PD unless it’s got a pound a buttah and a quart a cream, but I did par it down a bit, and just because we are cheating with the fish doesn’t mean I throw our entire “veganish” lifestyle out the window.  Lets just say tonights dinner is a treat!

Savannah Seafood Gumbo

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base (I use a chicken-less base—it’s called Better Than
  • 3 cups water
  • bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/3 cup dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons House Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil, and oregano or 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups sliced Cajun-style fresh link sausage- I used veggie links
  • 2 cups cut  frozen okra – WELL RINSED!!!
  • 1/2 lb peeled 41-60 ct shrimp
  • 1/2 pound crabmeat
  • 1/2 lb white fish–whatever is on sale
  • 1/2 lb bay scallops

This is what you do…..

Make your roux with the oil and flour.  Stir until light (milk chocolate) brown, and somewhat fragrant.  Add onions, garlic and celery and sauté.

Throw that in the crock pot.  Add your broth, and base and stir, add water, stir again.

Add Bay leaves, parsley, thyme, lemon pepper, cayenne, House Seasoning, Worchestershire,and tomatoes.  (House seasoning is below)

From here, you just turn the crock pot on low and let those flavors simmer together through out the day.

Here is where I prep the seafood and sausage, but it goes back in the fridge…at this point anyway.

Also, here is where I start my rice, in the rice cooker.  Do you know the knuckle method?  Lemme share….

Pour some rice in the cooker…don’t worry about measuring it, just pour until it looks good.  Trust me on this one.

Peel 2-3 cloves of garlic and add.

Throw in 2T butter or margarine

Prepare a cup or so of chicken-less broth.

Pour that in first.  Now shake your dish back and forth so that you even out the rice.  Add water a little at a time.  When your pointer finger inserted into the water, just BARELY grazing the rice, is wet to your first knuckle, you have enough water.  Now, throw it in the cooker and your done here.

On the gumbo, PD calls for “House Seasoning”  It’s an all in one, always nice to have around the house, so let me hand that off to you….

House Seasoning

1 cup salt-table salt, not the Sea Salt…it doesn’t work very well

1/4 cup black pepper

1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix together in a big bowl, store in an airtight container.

Now, about half hour to an hour before eating….go ahead and add the shrimp, crab, fish, okra, scallops, sausage….throw it all in there. Then continue to cook until shrimp shows pink.  If you are using meaty sausages, you may need to cook longer, or perhaps pan cook them prior to adding them.  Just please check for doneness.  Raw meat does not a good meal make!

Ok, ready to eat?  remove the bay leaves and…

Pour Gumbo over a bed of rice and enjoy!!!

Now lets see if the critics approve…

Wheres the Gumballs??

Good stuff mom!

Are you serious?

Open Wide!

Here goes nothin...


And there you are…your very own GUMBALL SOUP!!

Until next brag…..

My Own Twist on Veganish Mac and Cheese

McD is gone.  Not McDonalds…unfortunately.  McDaddy.  That means we’re on a kid friendly diet.  I know I know, I try to mix it up a bit but I might have to admit here that sometimes its easier just to NOT have that fight.

Anyway, one of my pre-veg favorites was Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese.  The combo stems from preggers days.  I really wanted meatloaf AND mac n cheese so I just put it on the menu and McD knew enough to keep his opinions to himself (it wasn’t ice cream and pickles for hells sake!) The result was a family favorite.

Since going veg, this is one meal that has STUMPED me.  Lets face it, meatloaf without the meat doesn’t translate well…kinda like the mac and cheese isn’t the same with out the cheese…until tonight.  Even my critic of an 11 year old gobbled it up and asked for seconds….and thirds….and some for lunch tomorrow.  Yay!  Success!

So, let me share the recipe with you all!

You Need:

1 lb dried elbow noodles

1/3c rice milk

1 tub Tofutti It’s Better Than Cream Cheese

Shredded Cheese Substitute in Mozzerella(I used Daiya)

1/3 c Vegan Margarine

1/2 small onion Diced

2 cloves garlic-minced

1t Nutritional Yeast

1T Franks Red Hot

Salt and Pepper to taste.

For the topping:

2 pieces wheat bread

2T vegan margarine

1Tdried parsley


The directions are easy….

PreHeat the oven to 350

Cook the pasta and drain.

Melt the margarine, then saute the garlic and onion.  Once your onion is translucent and garlic is JUST fragrant, add the cream cheese

and milk.  Let meld together.  Throw in the Franks, and nutritional yeast.  Cook until it starts to bubble.  Now, throw in your pasta and stir to coat the noodles.  Throw in a handful of cheese and barely fold in.  Set your heat to low.

Now throw your bread, margarine and parsley in a food processor or blender and make your bread crumbs.

I put my pot straight into the oven from here, but if you want to transfer to a dish, transfer here….ok ya done making more dirty dishes?  Lets move on!

Sprinkle a small handful of cheese on top, followed by the bread crumbs.

Toss in the oven and cook until it bubbles.  About 20m.

Now turn your oven to a LOW broil and SET YOUR TIMER for 2 minutes (I tell you this because I don’t know how many things I’ve crispied under the broiler for lack of setting the timer) .  What you should pull out is a pretty, lightly toasted top with creamy scrumptious goodness below!

Well there you have it.  One day I’ll have a “meatloaf” to accompany this but right now, Mac n NotCheez that Rain doesn’t complain about is success in my book!

Until next brag….


Pinterest Projects with a Spin

Hi all….if you don’t know yet I am A-D-D-I-C-T-E-D addicted to Pinterest.  IT’s part of my morning routine, part of my bed routine, and sometimes just thrown in in the middle of the day somewhere.  My problem is I’ve pinned a whole lot and not done ANY!!!

One of my Improvement’s this year is just that…follow through.

Well, I actually started this Improvement at Christmas.  I told my self I would only purchase supplies for my next project AFTER I had completed the current project.  It was the best thing EVER!!  I did a bunch of home made Christmas this year, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  I worked on what I had, I didn’t try and multi task it and *gasp* things actually got done.  It was a revelation to me.  Anyway….one of the things I had on my “want to make” list was this calendar I had seen on Pinterest.  I blogged a little about it here.

I almost didn’t get to it, but I managed.  I made one for my mom, sister, and me 🙂  But I of course had to switch it up a bit.  I thought it would be cool to add birthdays to the cards.  That way, at one glance you can see what birthdays you have coming up during the month.  If you’re really cool you actually make and send out birthday cards.  (Another goal this year) I’m using this site.…they’re new, the quality is PHENOMENAL, and the cards are the cheapest around…not to mention they will stuff and send them for you too!

So lemme show you….

Aww cute-ah…. I’m a damask freak….and this was $1 at Target.  Ya can’t go wrong.

Here’s the view looking down…thought you could get a better feel for the calendar that way.

This is how you see your birthdays at a glance…those days mounted to a taller card…

ingenious right?

Just because I am trying to move away from multi-tasking doesn’t mean the calendar has to!  On my birthday cards I put the persons name and birth year on the front and thought I could make a journal of what I had bought them each year, because if you’re my mom or sister, you get the same thing every year because I forgot I gave it to you already!!!

Have I gotten you excited yet???  This is what you need:

a vessel…I prefer the Target dollar bins. cute stuff and its better quality than the ones I’ve found at the Dollar store.

200 4×6 lined notecards…cut in half…these I got at Target…$.84 vs $1 at the Dollar Store.  PS Dollar Store is not ALWAYS that great of value.  Just an FYI.

a stamp, or some nice writing

12 cards/postcards or other mementos you can cut down(my June marker is a post card my friendly Stacee sent to me!  I didn’t want to chuck it…this seemed like the perfectly functional way to preserve it!)

12 Month tags…(download link is below)

20 scrap papers cut to 5″x3″-you can cut more, but I just did a nice round number.

The rest is fairly self explanatory…date your cards JUST the DAY and the MONTH…leave the year blank.

Then assemble!

See the “one, two, three…” on the cute cards…that’s my surprise to you…I MADE those cards!  Because I love them so much and because I have gotten so many compliments on them, I uploaded them HERE for you because I LOVE YOU so much!!


Are you hungry?

I was working on a post about how I’ve been a model of efficiency.  I went into great detail about how I found the best site ever that has helped me to get organized inside and out.  I drone on and on about how my house used to look like this…


and now it looks like this….

well not really this, but the serene feeling of if you goofball!!!

And the most time I spend a day is 30 minutes.  No….REALLY!!!!

I scrapped it.  The whole thing.  It was boring and lets face it, who really reads this blog but mostly people that know me…although I aspire to have that change.  I want everyone to read me but that’s not for this post.

So anyway I spared you the bore, or the brag…whatever.  If you really have questions…ask!!!

This post, instead is about me completely loafing off the past five days…opposite end of the spectrum huh?  That’s the way I roll, you know!

Rain received The Hunger Games for Christmas.  I mentioned that I wanted to read it when she finished.  Well, she finished…in three days….and then proceeded for a week to badger me about if and when I planned to read the book because Miss Popularity has a waiting list a mile long of friends that want to read the book.  Thursday at 3:58 I picked up the book and read exactly three pages so I wouldn’t have to lie to her when she walked in the door from school.

Friday, I needed some me time.  So we went to the gym…imagine the child care attendants surprise when I told him, straight faced, that he could find me in the hot tub if he need me the next two hours.  To his credit, he didn’t burst into laughs, or look at me with disdain at my selfishness.  I unpacked my “book” and beelined to the hot tub…where I sat reading for the entire two hours.  I finished the first book Saturday afternoon and started STRAIGHT into the second book.  I am hooked!  I don’t want to give anything away, and I am still trying to gauge where all of this will lead.  Then I find myself staying up late at night, oh wait let me qualify that…staying up LATER at night, trying to analyze all that’s happened.  For me, I wonder if this is like a C.S. Lewis thing where the book is a brazen political statement hidden in a book aimed at a teenage audience    Perhaps this post apocalyptic sci-fi stuff is rooted in some reality of what COULD be.

If called upon to argue my point of the books political premise, I will surely blanche in the limelight of that stage, but if anything, I am being entertained.  So enraptured that the series is consuming my every breath.  So without giving any spoilers, I will tell you this, you won’t be disappointed, and finally, read it before the movie comes out…it’s always better that way anyway!

And there you have it…from model of efficiency to mediocre book reviewer, I am a woman of many talents!

Until next brag….


Kids at Play

My mom irons.  ALOT.  She bought a Sgt. Steam a few years ago….for the iron attachment.  Whilst I thought I had a good explanation for her obsession (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), I only learned the real reason recently.  It lulls my dad to sleep.  My mom travels a lot and so when she’s home, she iron’s to “relax”.  It’s comforting for my dad to have her ironing because in his mind it means my mom’s at home, not on some airplane.  It triggers his brain to sleep.  Its the comforting drone of the steam and the methodical movement of the iron as it slides across the fabric- that create a white noise for my dad.  For just that moment in time, all is right in the world and he can check out and take a nap.

I’m a mother of four young, rowdy, active children….I don’t get to indulge in such frivolous pleasures.  I don’t iron.. in fact last time the boys were with my mom and she said she was going to iron, Hurricane asked her what “iron” was.  The truth is, to me its a medieval form of slavery still miraculously alive.  But it got me thinking…what is my “white noise”?

McDaddy travels….alot. (see a pattern here?)  The other day while he was home, I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when I realized just how content I was.  There I was in the middle of the kitchen, elbow deep in dishes, dinner on the stove, cookies in the oven… kids screaming in the background.  I was in complete and utter bliss.  That’s when I started to tune in to the noise.  Mixed with the delighted squeals of the FON’s (Forces of Nature) was the hearty chuckle of their daddy.  Doing what daddy’s do.  Wrestling on the floor with the kids.  All four of them were jumping on his back and screaming as he wrestled them to the floor and tickled them until they said “daddy you’re so cool”.  These moments are few and far between.  Raising four kids means lots of busy time.  Between the extracurriculars, school, etc, there isn’t much “veg” time.  Throw in the limited amount of time McD is here; with a honey do list a mile long, and these occasions are very VERY rare.

It was today…….

That I realized….

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Just how my dad feels.

In a life full of hustle and bustle, sometimes your “oasis” presents itself in a truly unique form.  My job is just to recognize it and find the joy in it.

Until next brag…..

Update on Diversity Means

Late last year, I posted about Rain’s Reflections Contest, here’s the update….

They had an Council Awards Night earlier this week.  Keep in mind, she progressed from school level to this next level.  This Awards night was much more formal.  They had state PTA representatives and children from several area schools, blah blah blah etcetera etcetera etcetera.  Once the gravity of the event settled on me, I got nervous.  I quickly began studying the boxes on the far end of the stage, trying to find Rain’s entry in the decrepit losers forgotten and left for better days.  My heart soared as my snoopy eyes did not reveal my darling daughters prized entry.

I took pics enough to embarrass my pre-teen then took my seat as they dimmed the lights and began the presentation.  There I sat with my best benign smile pasted upon my face, camera set and ready in one hand and phone set to record poised in the other hand….anxiously awaiting for Rain’s name to appear there in lights.  It never did.

As the lights came up my heart sank, my eyes filled with tears.  Sometimes when your kids fail, the failure is harder on you.

I gathered Rain in the best, most supportive Mom hug I could muster and kissed her head as tears again took my eyes hostage.  And whispered (cuz I could speak no louder than that) I’m proud of you just because you tried.  Rain was disappointed that night but so was I.

My life lesson I learned was this; even when the odds are stacked against them, it’s important to let your kids try out their wings.  Otherwise they’ll never know how high they can fly.

Until next brag….


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