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Baked Oatmeal

This is a simple, easy to assemble recipe to make in the morning.

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup whole cane sugar (Sucanat or rapadura)

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in any extras you want to add. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Suggested adaptations: this is very sweet (and I cut the sugar in half from the original recipe!).  You can easily reduce the sugar.  Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of any kind of sweetener you like – honey would be a great sub for the maple syrup and whole cane sugar.  You could also add nuts and/or dried fruit.  You can soak the oats ahead of time.

Adapted from this recipe on allrecipes.com.

Homemade Playdough

Ah, winter’s never ending question – what to do with a busy preschooler on a windy, rainy, cold afternoon?  The solution – make playdough!  My 3 and a half year old adores cooking with me and playing with playdough, so the whole process is a very exciting endeavor for her.  It is a great learning activity as well; for example, measuring, counting, and stirring to cook it.  Obviously, a preschooler should not be using the stove so the last step is left to the adult.

Homemade Playdough

1 cup        Flour
1/2 cup     Salt
2 tsp        Cream of Tartar
1 cup        Water
1 T            Oil
Food coloring (optional)
Essential oils for scent (optional)

Mix dry ingredients, then add liquids.  Cook over medium-low heat approximately 3 minutes while stirring continually.  Dough will become lumpy and then eventually ball up into a single ball that no longer sticks to the sides of the pan when it is done.  For best results, make a single or double recipe only. Store in an airtight container.

This is the same recipe my mom made for me when I was a child!  Although I don’t know where it originally came from, I do remember how much I enjoyed making and playing with it as a child.  It is such a joy to see my daughter enjoying the same activity.

This week, I am traveling and won’t be doing a standard meal plan.  You might also notice that this is a day late…  Vacation will do that to you.  Since we are traveling, for the most part, I don’t plan meals while I am traveling.  Instead, I plan to have items on hand for snacks or meal replacements since you never really know what you will encounter.  This week, I am staying with family, so I am able to cook some meals and keep healthy snacks as well as breakfast and lunch options on hand.  Generally, everyone wants to go out for dinner, but that is something I’m willing to accept despite having to venture from our real/whole/traditional foods diet and so I haven’t planned anything.  I’ll discuss that in a later post on food vs. fellowship.

Snacks:

  • Larabars (great for airplane travel or long periods in the car)
  • Organic string cheese
  • Apples, bananas, pears
Breakfast:
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs and nitrate-free bacon
Lunch:
  • Quesadillas with Ezekiel tortillas
  • Fruit and cheese

I have joined in Keeper of the Home’s Plan It- Don’t Panic six week meal planning challenge.  Each Monday for the next six weeks, I’ll be posting a meal plan here for the challenge and also sharing it at Keeper of the Home.

You may notice that the dinner portions are blank for a large part of the week. This is because my meal plan is highly dependent on which items we receive from our community supported agriculture (CSA) farm – we don’t know the produce box contents ahead of time. We will be picking up our CSA box on Tuesday rather than Friday due to travel, so I will update this meal plan on Tuesday evening. Additionally, I list snack and lunch ideas for the week, rather than planning a specific item for each day.

Monday

  • Breakfast: yogurt with fruit
  • Dinner: spaghetti with brown rice noodles, artichokes (steamed with melted pasture butter).
  • Prep work: prep and freeze remaining items from Friday’s CSA box.  Soak oatmeal for tomorrow.

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: zucchini bread, yogurt and fruit
  • Dinner:
  • Prep work: prep and freeze as many items as possible from Tuesday’s box.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: zucchini bread, yogurt and fruit
  • Dinner:
  • Prep work: soak oatmeal.

Friday

  • Breakfast: oatmeal, yogurt with fruit
  • Dinner:
  • Prep work: thaw zucchini muffins.

Saturday (travel day)

We won’t have a formal meal plan for this day due to an early start getting everyone onto an airplane!  Look forward to my “travel meal plan” next week.  Since we will be on an airplane with limited space, packing a lunch or beverages won’t be possible; instead, we’re packing lots of kid-friendly snacks.

  • Breakfast: zucchini muffins (zero clean up for a quick trip out the door)
  • Snacks: LaraBars, nuts, Trader Joe’s dried fruit bars, extra zucchini muffins.
This week’s snack ideas:
  • Cantaloupe, watermelon
  • Strawberries, raspberries
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peanut Butter Smoothies
  • Popcorn
  • Homemade apple sauce
This week’s lunch ideas:
  • Peanut butter sandwiches (on sprouted grain bread)
  • Leftovers
  • Quesadillas
  • Cottage cheese or yogurt and fruit

Recently, I created visual routines for my three and a half year old, in order to ease our transition into a more intentional, ordered lifestyle.  Much changed nine months ago when we had our second baby, and since then, everyday things have been a bit hard on our daughter.  By creating a visual routine and adding more structure to our daily lives, I hope to accomplish more and do it more quickly without her balking or feeling insecure during transitional times.  So far, it’s an instant hit.  She has so much fun following the routines and schedule!  I put the day’s schedule together each morning with the help of my preschooler.  She enjoys the activity, and it introduces her to the flow of that day first thing.  She has learned what each icon means very quickly, and it helps that some are very obvious.  Most remarkable has been her sudden willingness to wash her hands before meals, because of the pink sink on the routine!  She loves that pink sink.  Previously, it was a battle to get her hands washed before eating.

I created one routine for meal times and snack times, one for morning time, and one for evening.  I kept them very simple, and used clip art from my word processor so it only took a few minutes.  The morning and evening routines are posted on each child’s bedroom door, as well as on the fridge (with the meal time routine) for easy reference.  Each routine has an icon to denote the type of routine at the top, followed by an icon for each activity.

Kids' Morning Routine

Kids' Night Routine

Kids' Meal Routine

The schedule was  inspired by “How a Visual Schedule is Bringing Order to Our Home” at Keeper of the Home.  It turned out to be slightly more complex to create, because I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my first attempt at making a visual schedule for free, using materials on hand.  I already had a magnetic whiteboard that wasn’t in use, so rather than buy a pocket wall chart of some kind, I used it with some larger icons I had printed from my word processor.  Then, yesterday, I found a pocket chart scheduler in the $1 bins at Target!  I was so excited.  It is small and very cheaply made, but for $1 I’m not complaining.  It is much easier, and I don’t have to worry about a choking hazard from the small magnets.  I also prefer the format with titles next to the icons – even though I know what each picture stands for, I prefer to have something to read.  For some reason, it clarifies things for me and I actually have to think about it less.  I used the same clip art that I had on the routines for continuity, plus some additional clip art for items that were not a part of the routines.  Unfortunately, I ran out of ink in my color printer partway through the printing process, so some of the icons are black and white instead of color.  I’ll have that fixed once the technical expert of the household has a chance to change my printer cartridges!

Here is my new, improved Visual Schedule:

Visual Schedule

No, that isn’t just bad photography, the seams really are crooked.  But it definitely serves its purpose – my toddler certainly doesn’t care about the straightness of the seams!  We go down one column, then start the next as I thought that going strictly left to right might confuse a non-reader.

Here are some other scheduling items I use that weren’t in today’s schedule:

Additional Schedule Icons

It is much more convenient than my first attempt with the whiteboard:

Visual Schedule on Whiteboard

I couldn’t get a full picture because it is hanging in a narrow hallway, but you can get the gist from this picture.  I’ll keep the whiteboard up for my own use, and add a spot for today’s meals in addition to the to do list.

Simple, easy to create, and effective!

As you can see by the minimal content on my blog, I’m quite new to the blog world. I’ve been steadily working on creating a framework for the content I’m posting bit by bit. So here’s a look at what’s coming:

Book reviews! I love to read, so I plan to post regular (monthly at least, or every other week) reviews of the books I am currently reading.

Recipes – I cook a lot for my family, and I’m always adjusting recipes to make them more healthy. Coming soon is a healthy (well, healthier) cupcake requested by my husband. He does not react well to sugar, so I am looking to reduce sugar and refined carbs while still creating a yummy cupcake. Stay posted for the results of my experiment!

Weekly meal plans with pictures of the contents of my CSA farm box. We get our produce from a local biodynamic farm; its fabulous! I did forget to photograph this week (like I said, I’m new to this…) but I will still post my meal plan.  We are fairly new to a traditional foods diet, so I am doing a lot of experimenting and learning by doing.

Homeschooling my preschooler – I will be posting my curriculum choices and activities as we start up our first year of (official) homeschooling.  This will include an emphasis on teaching the Bible also.

I’m also working on projects around my home, such as decorating the kids’ rooms, organizing my kitchen, creating schedules and routines that my three and a half year old can understand, and creating a household management binder.  I rent, so decorating and organizing cheaply and with movable, reusable items is a top priority.  We are also paring down and simplifying both our lives and our possessions.

I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn as I journey toward intentional homemaking and intentional parenting!

That’s right, I am a perfectionist.  A die-hard perfectionist, to the point that it can actually interfere with my life!  I came across something today which summarizes how I feel about my struggle with perfectionism:

Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.

While Bob Pierce (founder of World Vision) was probably talking specifically about solving problems like worldwide hunger and impoverished children, I can’t help but find this incredibly relevant to my daily struggles as well.  This is a reminder that I can do something small, every day, to help my neighbor.  To serve my children.  To serve my husband.  And yes, even to chip away at huge problems like hunger and poverty!

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14