24 March 2010

Being done with the crib

Today I am grateful for my little guy moving out of the crib and into a big boy bed. Of course, I have to get him a bed now, but I am thankful he is finished with that stage. I am also thankful that he adjusted well from being contained to having the ability to easily get out when he wants. He is currently sleeping on just his crib mattress on the floor, but I had no choice but to remove the crib since he started climbing out. I decided that it was much safer this way than to have him dropping to the floor from the height of the crib. It took one night of consistently putting him back on the mattress for him to realize that he was expected to stay there. He has stayed in bed for 4 nights now and resumed his afternoon naps yesterday. I miss the younger stages of the children's lives, but I am also grateful each time they reach a new milestone.

22 March 2010

Farm Markets

One of my favorite things about the weather warming up is the abundance of farm markets that open. We do have one in our area that is open year-round, but the number of farmers is very slim during the colder months. However, it is my favorite market to visit once the weather warms and the farmers return. I love fresh fruits and veggies and the beautiful flowers that are brought in. The colors are bright and vibrant and when you see them all together they create a stunning display. Below is a picture my husband took when we were in Seattle at Pike's Place market, not exactly a farm market, but offering many of the same things you can find at one.
I love the abundance of vegetables on the table and just how fresh everything is. At another local farm market, there is a group of Amish women who bring up the most delectable baked goods. Our trips to the farm markets are a family affair and the little ones enjoy getting freshly made donuts or honey sticks from the vendors and sampling the various goods that are available. They can be a little busy, but the people are almost always friendly and the farmers (and their helpers) are usually very helpful.

It is just a few more weeks until the majority of our farm markets will open, but in the meantime, I will keep visiting the one that is open and enjoying all that they offer. I love our weekly trips to the farm market.

13 March 2010

Crock pots

Today I am grateful for my slow cooker/crock pot. I love that I can throw everything in it and then forget about it for several hours, often right up until serving time. Recently, I made homemade fat-free refried beans in it. My husband is Mexican and shuddered when I told him they would be fat-free. He did not believe it was possible to make them without lard. I asked him to just try them and then if he doesn't like them, I would not make them again. Fortunately, he loved them and ate a bunch of them almost as soon as they were done. Here is how I made them:
1 pound dry pinto beans
9 cups of water
1 large onion, peeled and halved
1/2 a jalapeno pepper, seeded, and diced (use caution when preparing as the juice will sting other body parts if you touch them after cutting the pepper)
1/4 tsp white pepper (black would probably work just as well)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste

I pre-soaked my beans, but it may not be necessary. Then I combined everything except the salt in the crock pot and set it on high for 10 hours. When they were done, I drained the water, reserving some of it, and used a potato masher to mash it all together. A hand blender would also work, but I wanted them to be a little more chunky. Add salt to taste (we liked about 1/2 tsp) and water from cooking as needed. The onion will mash right down as well so don't let the large pieces scare you. Also, the jalapeno does not really add any spice, just some flavor, so do not be afraid of putting it in. My 1 and 3 year olds were able to eat these without a problem.

Anyway, that is just one of many foods I have been able to make in my crock pot. I also love that I can put foods in it to keep warm, especially when attending a pot luck or something similar. So tell me, what do you use your crock pot for? Do you have any yummy recipes to share?

12 March 2010

A minor change

I have been trying to keep this blog to only things that I really, really like. Unfortunately, this means I am unable to post as often as I like since there are only so many things I come across that I love that deeply. Due to that, I am going to make a minor change to this blog. I will still be posting things that I love, but I will also be adding things that I am grateful for, even if they are things that I do not necessarily love.

I will start today with my gratitude for the visiting teaching program through my church. This is a program through the women's group, called Relief Society, where each lady is partnered with another and they visit 3 or 4 other women in the church each month. Often they bring along a spiritual message which is always wonderful, but I am especially grateful for the companionship. As a homeschooling mom of four, most of my days are spent only with children. It is so nice to get that monthly visit from adults. I am able to have an adult conversation and to have someone else to share my children's attention. As a visiting teacher, I love being able to serve others and get to them better. It has been a great way to meet the women in my area, especially since we moved here almost a year ago and I did not know very many people. I guess this posting of gratitude is one of something I love. I love the visiting teaching program.