Thursday, August 1, 2013

All About Food

When I was 10 I started to get these really bad migraine headaches. My mother, bless her soul, dealt with the military hospitals and did all she could to figure out what was wrong with me. I had CAT Scans, MRIs, and referrals to a plethora of different specialists. Nothing worked and I just figured by the time I was an adult that exhaustion, migraines, and pain were going to be my status quo. In an effort to deal with the symptoms of another issue I was having I started the Paleo Diet. What Is the Paleo Diet?

Anyways, everything I read said I would feel sluggish, have mega cravings for carbs, have headaches (ha ha, like I could have more than I had already), and in general go through some pretty crummy grain and gluten withdrawal. It never happened. In a few days my energy levels increased. I fell asleep at night when I wanted to. I felt FANTASTIC! It wasn't until about 3 weeks into the Paleo lifestyle that I realized I hadn't had a headache since I started Paleo! It was eye opening to compare my life pre-Paleo to now. I cried when I realized how poor my quality of life had been. I still mourn the energy I should have had in high school and college (you know there is something wrong when you would rather sleep than explore Vegas with your husband at 21).

I think if you suffer with any of the symptoms I had, cutting gluten, grains, soy, and processed foods from your diet is worth a month long test. I'll do my best to post recipes here for you to try that I've already tested on my family. 

Tonight is my very favorite recipe for Stuffed Peppers that I've Paleo-ized! I'll post how to make ahead and freeze. You can skip the make ahead and freeze part if you want to :) 


1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. salt
2 cans tomato sauce
8 green peppers
1 c. chopped onions
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 lb. sharp cheese, cut up or shredded (omit if you can't tolerate dairy)
1 1/2 c. riced cauliflower

Cook meat, onion, garlic until meat is brown. Add seasonings and soup, simmer covered 10 minutes. Add cheese, cooking until cheese melts. Stir in riced cauliflower (use shredding attachment on a food processor to rice your cauliflower). Cool if you plan to freeze ahead of time.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and take out seeds, or if you'd like, you can cut the top of the peppers off and stuff whole. Cook in boiling salted water about 3 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place peppers on baking sheet. Stuff with meat-rice mixture. Place in freezer until frozen. Remove, wrap, seal and return to freezer. You can also freeze in baking tin if sealed tightly with saran wrap. 

To serve: Remove wrapping and partially thaw at room temperature. Place in shallow pan, cover with foil. If frozen in baking tin, partially thaw at room temperature and cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until heated through. 

Tip: If you'd like more sauce you can add an 8 oz. (or more) can of tomato sauce over top of peppers 15 min. before taking out of oven.  

My girls INHALE this meal. I can never make enough of it. Here is the evidence ;)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

So Many Kids, So Few Chores. . .

What do you do when you have so many kids and not enough chores to keep them all busy longer than 20 minutes? You make stuff up. My children are 5 (6 in 2 months), 4, and 2 1/2. We started chore charts this week, and my kids are so excited they keep asking me for MORE to do. I accept that challenge. I am sure I can think of something that needs to be done. At this moment, my 2 and 4 year olds are wiping down our walls with wet sponges. Are they actually accomplishing anything? Probably not. But they aren't breaking anything, aren't fighting, and aren't making bigger messes. That's a win in my book.

Each child does have "real" chores that need to be done daily. I found my inspiration for their lists from Pinterest.

H, my 5 year old, does the following: brush her teeth twice a day (yes, I included hygienic "chores" in their chart - more stars! Yay!), brush her hair, make her bed, put her toys away. Then she has the meatier stuff - wash the dishes before dinner, sweep the house, fold towels from the wash, wipe down the bathroom sinks, counters, and mirrors, scoop the cat box, and help mommy with meal preparation (hopefully not that in order without washing her hands first).

J, my 4 year old, does all the same hygienic chores and her meatier jobs are: feed the cats, wipe down the table after meals, help load/unload dishwasher, wipe down our leather couch, put folded clothing away, and wipe down all the door knobs.

F, my 2 year old, along with the basics helps clear the table after meals, helps unload the plastic/Tupperware from the dishwasher, wipes down walls and the fridge, and if she's bored I give her a cloth to "dust."

So far, my girls think it's a game (yay for games!). They also think their school work is a make-believe. I know someday in my future they will catch on, but I won't be the one to tell them. ;)

For today's recipe I'm going to share with you our FAVORITE go to Paleo breakfast muffins (they are so good, we've been known to eat them for dessert). I found the recipe on Fast Paleo but for the size of our family, it just wasn't enough. I had to tweak here and there and this is how I make them now:

Paleo Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (I know, right?)

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 C Potato Starch
  • 3 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Wet Ingredients

  • 15 oz. Canned Pumpkin
  • 6 Bananas
  • 6 Eggs
  • 8 oz. (1 C) Apple Sauce
  • 1/4 C Melted Coconut Oil
  • 16 Medjool Dates, pitted
  •  1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
Add in - 1 pkg. Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Pit dates and place in your handy dandy food processor then pulse until they are in teeny tiny pieces. 
  3. Add the bananas until smooth. 
  4. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to your food processor until mixed. 
  5. Mix together dry ingredients in a LARGE bowl with a fork. 
  6. Add wet ingredients from food processor to dry ingredients in a LARGE bowl.
  7. Whisk everything together until fully integrated (about 2 minutes). 
  8. Add package of chocolate and combine.
  9. I use 24 silicone muffin cups on a cookie sheet to cook the muffins all at once. OR you can grease a muffin pan with coconut oil and cook in 2 batches. 
  10. Cook for about 20-25 min. until a toothpick inserted in a center muffin comes out clean. 
  11. Cool and enjoy. OR put them in the fridge overnight. I prefer them cold. My hubby likes them however he can get them ;)

Friday, July 12, 2013

So, What IS a Classical Education? A Resource Guide.

There are some AMAZING resources for those of us new to a classical model of educating our children. I just finished the three day Classical Conversations Practicum here in Kailua, Hawaii and am so excited to start the new school year. I dream about the number songs, time-line hand motions, and history facts. I think I might have even pinched my husband in the middle of the night using the "Minoans" hand sign. When he jumped I claimed to know nothing. "Huh? What? You were bit by something? Go back to sleep."

The very first thing I would suggest to anyone interested in a different form of education other than the assembly line educational system we have today would be to read Dorothy Sayers' essay, "The Lost Tools of Learning." It really isn't an essay. It was a speech she gave at Oxford University in 1947. 1947, you say? Why, yes, we were warned 66 years ago that we were losing the tools of our learning trade. Dorothy Sayers was one of the Inklings and friends with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. She often joined Lewis at meeting of the Socratic Club. I just find that fascinating. Any who, back to the point, this essay is an easy, conversational read. I mean, really, if you can't hear her speaking while reading it I don't know what to tell you. At 20 pages, it isn't too long to be overwhelming and it isn't too short to be a brief overview of the classical model. You can buy it for 99¢ on Amazon or find it on many different websites with an easy Google search. Here, let me find it for you. . . I'll be right back. . .

Here is it. PDF and free! Yay me!

Before I move on, I want to share one of the many quotes from this speech that struck a cord with me,
Is it not the great defect of our education today (- a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned-) that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils "subjects," we fail lamentable on the whole in teaching them how to think?
How do we teach our children to think? In a day and age where we are bombarded by radio, television, internet, etc. we are constantly told what to think, and often times we fail to ask, "Why?" As products of the assembly line system, we were told what we needed to know to pass the test, to move up a grade level, to graduate, and then to make money. Education has become all about the money. We give our kids multiple choice tests and when they recognize a term and pick that we say they know the subject. I would wager, if you asked that student who recognized a term to explain their answer you'd find they really didn't know much about it at all.

A classical model of education isn't only about setting up our children for financial success later in life. The main focus of  classical education is to discover the way our universe works. In the book written by Leigh A. Bortins, The Core, it is written,
Understanding the physical universe requires a foundational knowledge of math and science. Understanding human nature requires a foundational knowledge of language, history, economics, and literature. To learn foundational information from any field of knowldege, students need to be trained in reading, writing, communication, and analysis of qualitative information. At their highest level, the humanities are studied because they embody the ideas that make us human. 
So, where do we start? The first stage in the Trivium of a classical education is Grammar. We cannot do anything in life without knowing the Grammar of the things around us. My children are learning the Grammar of my kitchen, so when I ask for something they  know what I'm talking about. Children in the Grammar stage of learning don't often ask, "Why?" They are happy to learn songs, dances, rhymes, etc. Very young children, most often between the ages of 4 and 10 have brains like sponges. It's amazing how much they can memorize and retain. This stage is simply about memorizing as much as they can, so when they enter the next stage they have the vocabulary and are ready to ask the all important question, "Why?"

Sometime around puberty is when children enter the second stage of learning. This stage is called the Dialectic stage. It is the stage of understanding. In the subject of math, Grammar would be numbers in all their kinds and forms. The second stage of math would be a firm understanding of mathematical laws and operations. Logic is introduced in this stage. The third, and last stage, of the Trivium is the Rhetoric stage. A mathematician would use numbers and their laws and operations to compose their own work.

A second example of all three stages of the Trivium would be learning to play music. In the first stage a student would learn the grammar of musical notes, rests, treble and bass clefs, beats, measures, etc. In the Dialectic stage a student would apply the grammar and actually start to play music they read. In the Rhetorical stage a student is expected to compose their own works.

There are some amazing resources for people not only interested in a classical education, but who have already made the leap and need guidance.

  • Half-A-Hundred-Acre-Wood - what an amazing blog! This mom has And, while she has WAY more space than my 1,000 sq. ft. I am constantly trying to find ways to adjust her awesomeness to my shoebox. 
  • Classical Conversations- this just happens to be the program we have decided to use for our kids. It has CC Connected if you aren't interested in joining a community but still want to teach using a classical model. It's packed full of ideas, videos, songs, print outs, etc. 
  • The Core Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins is a must read book for ALL who have decided to teach in a classical model. 
  • Leigh's List is a place where homeschoolers can buy and sell materials and share recommendations. 
  • On YouTube search for ANYTHING with Andre Kern. 
I hope this has helped you in at least a small way. We are all in this together. I'm going to try my best to sleep tonight without pinching my husband. Maybe I should just listen to the Presidents Song. 

When 1,000 Square Feet just ISN'T Enough

Alooooooooha! My husband and I are living the dream in Hawaii. We married and bought a home we thought would fit us for a few years and then we'd move into a bigger home and have kids. Ha ha ha, God is such a joker. This was 8 years, 3 kids, 2 cats ago and we're still in our 1,052 square foot home (that includes the garage). When our girls were ready to be sent to school, my husband announced that we would be homeschooling them. He is a product of the public education system here and I am the product of homeschooling. Why wouldn't we homeschool? I had no good answer to that question, so here I am! 

One of my favorite things to do is surf @Pinterest and see all the wonderful ideas people have come up with for homeschooling their children. Just yesterday I saw an amazing idea where a teacher put wooden paneling across an entire wall. This way she can create a time line by using pictures and Velcro. Genius. So, I look around and realize I just don't have the wall space for something like this. Darn it. I really need to stay away from Pinterest.

We are grain-free in our home, and our youngest daughter has a nut allergy. So, any recipes I post will be grain-free, gluten free, nut free, and super yummy. I use a classical model for educating our girls, and am currently a Classical Conversations Foundations tutor.  

I plan to use this blog to post ideas I've used in our teeny tiny living space to make it easier to live, learn, and love in such small quarters. I'll post Gluten-Free recipes we love, storage ideas, and homeschool ideas. I am so very excited for the new (school) year and all we are going to explore. 

In closing, I'll leave you with a recipe for REAL home-made Vanilla Extract. I've made 24 bottles for Christmas gifts this year.

Real Vanilla Extract

What you will need:


  • Sanitize your bottles - boil water and place bottles and caps in boiling water or fill with hot soapy water and rinse WELL. Allow to dry. 
  • Cut your vanilla beans in half and then lengthwise (but not all the way through). Open beans a bit and then place in your bottles.  
  • Pour 1 Cup of Vodka in each bottle. 
  • Store in a dark cabinet and shake once a week for 4-6 months until the liquid is daaaaaark brown. 
  • Enjoy!