Squash and eggs, squash and pesto, squash casserole and cake

After picking all of the squash before a 4-day road trip, only to find 3 more huge squash on our return, I can tell that is squash season.  I’ve been busy eating squash at almost every meal to keep up with our garden’s abundance.  Here’s what has been on our menu:

  • Squash #21 of the summer was shredded along with an onion, sautéed in oil, then mixed with a few tablespoons of fresh made vegan pesto (2 cups basil, 1/2 cup walnuts, 2 cloves garlic, 4 tbsp olive oil, salt).
  • Squash #22 was also shredded to become not one, but two frittatas.  One had pesto and the other had some cherry tomatoes and garlic.
  • Squashes 23, 24, & 25 were juillenned and mixed with a red wine vinaigrette for a raw squash salad that made a very tasty lunch.
  • Squashes 26, 27, 28, & 29 were cut into coins and formed into a sour cream and squash casserole topped with cracker crumbs and baked.
  • Squash 30 was shredded, cooked in some lard, and seasoned with pepper and soy sauce.
  • As we speak, our 31st squash of the summer is being shredded to be cooked into a chocolate budnt cake, recipe via Serving Up the Harvest.

Soon, I may have to admit that I cannot keep up with as many squash the universe throws our way.  I have plans to give a few away, but for now I’m still hanging tough.  My biggest challenge to date is that my 3-year-old gags every time he eats squash and had been skipping a few meals due to hunger strikes. At least I can count on him to help eat the budnt cake.

Two tiny words that changed my parenting in a big way

I just finished reading the new classic alternative parenting work Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joyand let me start by saying, “WOW!”  This is a great read and I am so glad that I came across this title and asked my library to borrow it for me. Not everyone will agree with the author’s message or her methods, but I think most of us would say that we want to enjoy a peaceful and joyful relationship with our children, and at least this book offers some ideas of how one can reduce or eliminate the need or desire for coercion or other means of controlling these pint-sized human beings in our care.

I’m still processing the ideas I read about in this book, but I’ve been surprised over and over by how one little change inspired by this book has lightened things up around here.  Those two little words that have changed everything?  Oh, no!  Yes, they are “oh, no!”  Accompanied with exaggerated begging and exasperation, they have transformed situations where I could have nagged, corrected, coerced, or physically prevented them from doing something, into opportunities for us to connect, be lighthearted, and share the absurdity of worries about the “small stuff”.  For example:

  • When the kids begin taking frozen items out of the freezer: “Oh, no!  My Brussels sprouts! What will we have for dinner! “
  • When Peter “steals” my toiletries bag when I’m packing: “Oh, no! How will I brush my teeth?  They will rot out of my head!”
  • When John takes the hat off Peter’s head: “Oh, no!  He stole your hat!  What will you do if your head gets cold?”

It is so easy and natural to want to pack your bags without interference, or to be able to cook dinner without wondering if a misplaced bag of frozen chicken carcasses will get forgotten in a couch cushion.  But instead of providing tension by trying to force them from doing things that I wouldn’t do, even if it is done in the most peaceful, redirecting, and gentle way, we’ve been laughing and playing.  Hopefully, I’m teaching them what I’m learning—-that little things are not worth bothering about and that enjoying each other as we are is more important than making sure things go my way.

But what about those Brussels sprouts, toiletries, and hat?  After a few times of my “pretend” over-the-top antics of putting them away and begging the children not to touch them again, they tend to stay right where they “belong.”  But regardless, my children are right where THEY belong in those moments . . . laughing with mama and knowing how important they are to me.

thiscrunchylife_boyswrights

Bathtub rave party

The night before we switched to daylight savings time I wanted to put the kids to bed a bit early to help with the adjustment.  Seemed like the perfect time to give them a nice, long bath.  And we made things a whole lot more exciting with lots of bubbles and lots of cheap glow sticks.

thiscrunchylife_ravingbath

I wish I could say that I came up with this great idea myself, but I got it from a mom friend in our playgroup. We had glow sticks left over from last year so this was free for us, but I we had so much fun that I would definitely “splurge” the $1 price tag for cheap bunches of glow sticks from Target or a dollar store.  And if you like bubble baths and glow sticks, it might even be fun for grown-ups.

Basement Biking

This winter has been long and cold.  Although I’m doing really well with my goal to get myself and the kids outside every day for at least 15 minutes, some days we are only just making it.  15 minutes of playing in our yard, shoveling snow, or walking around the block doesn’t get all of the kids’ energy worked out by a long shot. So we have to stay busy indoors too.  Some of our favorite ways to burn off that excess steam include dancing around to fun music, jumping and racing around the house, and riding bikes in the basement.

thiscrunchylife_bbikes

I never would have thought to put our bikes in our unfinished basement, but fortunately, I saw one of my Facebook friends doing it with her kids.  I love learning tricks from other moms and this one has worked like a charm.  Pete has been getting much more use out of his bike and tricycle and the boys absolutely love tearing around downstairs before dinner or before bedtime.  My favorite part is that I get to work on laundry, straighten up my stuff down there, and enjoy Pete and John’s capering.  Sometimes it’s good exercise for me too!

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One man’s trash is…..My treasure.

I truly live by this mantra. There are so many areas around our home that I used repurposed or upcycled materials. I don’t only do it for the awesome monetary benefits but also because when your done, it can look rad and your saving a little space in the landfill. Here are a few things I’ve upcycled:

 

There are more cabinets not pictured.

There are more cabinets not pictured.

1. When remodeling our home years back I put an addition on the original 2 bedroom house. This created a 3rd bedroom and new bathroom upstairs and a new kitchen and half-bath downstairs. At the time of the remodel I was single and on a major budget because I was paying for this house, an apartment and renovation costs at the same time. Ouch. Anyway, the “new” kitchen I installed was actually one that a friend removed from his house. Maple cabinets in good condition all for $250 and I didn’t even use them all. Include the counter top and kitchen sink and I had a kitchen for under $1k. Unheard of. Oh, one other thing, the wall paint is Benjamin Moore and was free. How do you ask? Well, I went to the paint store and asked if they had any mis-mixed paints and sure enough they did and still do. Your saving them disposal fees by taking them off their hands so lots of times they are happy to give it to you.

tcl_stairway_01

2. The interior of the house was covered in paneling, over paneling, over plaster. Sheesh. I did my best to remove as many layers as possible but when it came to the stairway I was just sick and tired of plaster dust. This area was left go for some time but finally I came upon some materials that would work great and offer some visual appeal to the house. Cedar clapboard siding is what I landed on for the walls, which is intended to be use on the exterior. Why not use it inside? Anyway, I paid nothing for the siding. The only cost I had in finishing the stairway was fasteners for the installation and paint.

tcl_activity_center

3. When it came time for my oldest son to move into a “big boy” bedroom and out of the nursery we needed to spice things up a bit. Of course, we wanted to do this on little or no money and we achieved our goal. What you see in the picture is an activity area in Porter’s bedroom. A place for him to stand and color, play with toys or climb up on (which seems to be the most fun). The countertop is made from a salvaged piece of Georgie Pacific Rim Joist which is used in the construction of a sub-floor in new home construction. It was sanded and stained using some stain found in my Dad’s woodshop. The magnet boards on the wall are made from 3 – 100 amp electrical panels that were found in a warehouse and repainted with a can of spray paint which was given to me. Another pocket pleasing $0 total for this project.

Are you upcycling? Are you repurposing materials around your house? You should be. If you think you can’t do it, try this, stop looking at things only for what they were intended or made for. Start looking at materials and objects as universal problem solvers and you too will begin to find new uses for everyday objects and materials.