Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easters Away

A few years ago after Tess was born Matt and I sort - kinda agreed that holidays were to be spent at home. We both recounted past childhood holidays spent with close family and mostly often than not centered around the family dining table and in my family the table and the dreaded TV. Not a lot of frills or fancy trappings just good food and being surrounded by our nearest and dearest. We both concluded that we would put our old ways of "yeah it's a holiday lets get outta this town" aside and retire our flight bags to the garage. What were we thinking.
This Easter was our third major holiday this year spend away from home and we spent it in the Texas Hill Country. We managed to skirt town for Thanksgiving (San Antonio) and Christmas (North Carolina) as well.  
It's not that I mind cooking and decking out the house in holiday fare, I like doing all of that. It's just that I am sooooooo in love with family time. And as family oriented as holidays are it just seems like that's when folks end up spending the least amount of time together. So when the opportunity for 3 or 4 days off from work and school arrises I want to escape somewhere where I don't have to cook, clean, tell my children wait until mommies done or I can't now because I have this or that chore to accomplish. I want to spend every moment immersed in their world with them. I want to see out of their eyes, do what they do, give them and get from them undivided attention. It's just my bliss.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Green Thumbs

Every year we try and plant just a few things. Usually we don't end up with more than a few tomatoes, peppers and herbs - it's really more about letting the kids experience the wonder and excitement of planting and growing from seeds. Last year Texas had an unusually hot and dry summer, the state suffered some of the worst every wildfires. Crops and lawns everywhere dried up to nothing. There were water shortages and watering bans that made growing a garden in this harsh heat even more difficult than usual. Thankfully, this year we have gotten some much needed rain and I am determined to plant some crops that might even yield us a meal or two. I have been wanting a raised garden bed since we move into the house but we are planning a renovation so I have held off building anything permanent. Earlier this year I started researching semi - permanent planting solutions and found this cool mini greenhouse call the Grow Camp. It manages to solve not only my space issue but it also boasts a nice screen which helps to block out 40% of the sun so my plants won't scorch in this heat. The screen also acts as an insect barrier so that you can grow your vegetables completely organic and without the use of insecticides. Pretty cool. When I purchased the Grow Camp I also bought a small soaker hose and a timer so that I could make a watering system to use within the greenhouse - so far it seems to be working perfectly. Here are the pictures of the set up with the watering hoses. Summer is not the best for vegetable gardening in Houston so I went with only the most heat tolerant crops. We ended up planting eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, various peppers, leeks, celery, arugula, summer radish, lots of herbs, and sowed some carrots directly into the ground. Most of the plants Tess started from seed indoors in those jiffy grow peat pots and we moved them outside now that they were big enough.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Big Changes

It's been a long time since our last post. We have been working around some big changes around here and free time for writing has been something that's been hard to find. A few months ago me and the both of the kiddos had Iga testing done for food sensitivity issues and the results came back showing that we were all highly allergic to gluten,soy, egg and dairy. Since both of my kids had severe colic as infants and nothing except me going on a very strict elimination diet worked these results were something that we had already suspected. But none the less it has shaken up our pantries and resulted in a complete food and mental overhaul for us. First steps was to clear out all the "bad" foods from our diets and we are slowing learning how to replace our favorite foods with options that we can tolerate. It's been a learning curve to try and find work around and meals take a bit longer to plan and cook but I am getting better. One of the first essential purchases was a bread maker - what can I say we are a carb loving house. Over the next few months I will be posting our "food" successes and failures, I have had a few of both. I will also try and post reviews of some of the GF and allergy cookbooks that are starting to pile up around here.  Here is our first successful first attempt at allergy free eats. The cupcakes are from the amazing cookbook The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal. I used her Vanilla Cupcake recipe and the Icing recipe was the Chocolate Buttercream recipe from Vegan Cupcakes take Over the World. The cupcake recipe can be found on Cybele Site