Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Punkin' Mac Attack!

With all that's been going on I realized that I haven't done much about eating!  Lots of good stuff with reading and teaching, but I've heard from my fellow fodmaps, hey hello, where is the food!

Fear not!  I promised recipes and here is a new one that you may not have seen.

For those of you who wonder, I was diagnosed with IBS a few moths back.  There are several factors/theories as to how I got it, but it really doesn't matter.  My son, who seems determined to be "just like mama" was diagnosed yesterday.  His gi dr and dietician were thrilled when I whipped out my Monash info (more on that in another post) and we will work together to tailor a diet for my son.
Basically fodmap is short for a group of dietary sugars, Fermentable Oligo-sacchariarides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.  Try saying that 5 times fast.  Anyway, my intestines don't absorb them as well.  I have to be careful what I eat. So the burning question often comes up, what do you eat??  Do you eat??  The answer is I eat.  I eat well.  I just have to put more thought into what I eat.

In the old days before IBS when the hubby called working late Marvin and I would pig out on chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and canned fruit.  Easy, quick, and really unhealthy.  But it has been another crazy week and it's only Tuesday!  We had a crippling snowfall of 1/2" here in Virginia. At least my neck of the woods.  Shannon had to work late and Marvin and I needed a comfort meal.

So I started with the chicken.  Both Marvin and I have gluten indolence's.  So a processed nugget was out.  I had chicken breasts, but Marvin isn't a fan of them.  So I tried something new with them in hopes of making them seem exciting.  I started with a 400 degree preheated oven.  I then buttered a casserole dish
I then put the chicken breasts in the dish, threw a little butter, salt, pepper, rosemary, and basil on the chicken.  Then I did something wild and crazy.  I put aluminum foil on the chicken and tucked it in tight.  
This way the chicken poaches in the oven, keeping it moist and yummy.  
I cooked it until it got to be 165 degrees.  Easy.  And yummy.  Plus Marvin and I split a breast so it makes leftovers.  Which is good.  I love having another night or two of meals out of one meal.  

Now the next part Mac and cheese.  I was so upset when I found out gluten was not my friend.  Some can tolerate it, I can't.  Also Marvin has had lots of issues with it as well.  So I tried rice noodles, rice, and some other gluten free products.  I wasn't happy.  The Barilla came to the rescue!!
I love them and they taste really good!!  Almost like real noodles!  Yum.  So I take about 3 cups of uncooked pasta and cook it.  While that's cooking I make the sauce.  

You start with 2tbls butter or butter sub if you can't do butter (we can thank heavens!).  Melt it in a pot.  When it melts add 2 tbls of gluten free flour (I like gf King Arthur).  After it thickens slowly add 2 cups of lactose free whole milk (or whatever milk you can tolerate).  When that thickens add 1 cup of cheese (we used grated sharp cheddar but you could use fontina or gruyere).  Then add 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  Let it melt in.  Then you add some seasonings.  1/2 tsp dried sage leaves and salt and pepper to taste.  Then comes the pumpkin.  I love pumpkin.  I'm also glad I can still eat it.  Canned pumpkin can be a moderate fodmap to some so use caution.  I put one can of pumpkin in. 
Doesn't that look good?  Now if my son had any clue this had pumpkin in it he would have a fit and refuse to eat it.  So I just don't share that part.  Taste and adjust.  If you aren't on low fodmap you could throw in some onion powder or garlic.  I put a lot of pepper and sage in.  

Then you throw it in about a 9 by 9 baking dish and root through your freezer for the tail ends of the gluten free bread you hoard because no one wants to eat heels.  
I took a handful, stuck it in the toaster and shredded it up in a bowl with more parm and sage and threw it on the top of the mac and cheese.  I baked it at 350 until it was bubbly and browned 20-30 mins.  
Tah-dah!!  How easy is that.  And yummy.  To finish it off I just sliced some fresh veggies for me and the boy.  Red peppers for him, tomatoes for me.  
It's a far cry from what we used to eat, but it tastes so good!  It was worth the extra time it took.  Plus Marvin ate two helpings of the mac (so did I, just small portions though).  He thought it was great. So I have a winner dinner that I'll be putting into regular rotation!  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

We Have A Winner!!


It was a good first contest!  This week we have had a whirlwind week of Montessori, doctors, and therapies.

Cary Lynn has enjoyed working on her puzzles and I'm working on a second giveaway in February.  I have some more unused curriculum's and some materials I purchased for my daughter and realized it's not exactly what we needed so my loss will be your gain.  Also I have a dressing frame coming up as well!  So all sorts of goodies!!  Yay!!!  I love a chance to help out and give back!!  So lots of chances to win fun stuff.

I placed the names in a hat and my son insisted on putting on a blindfold and a scarf.  It was so funny. Of course no camera when I need one!  Go figure!

Congratulations Christie Vanavi!!!

Please contact me through the blog with your address.  Don't worry no one else can see it, I have to approve the post before it goes on!

Congrats and keep your eyes peeled for more great stuff!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Giveaway Time!!

As any Montessori person could probably tell you, they have a lot of stuff.  Most of it very well cared for.

I am proud of my hoarder status, lol.  But what I am realizing is that I don't need it all.

So my mission is to spread the knowledge and share the largess.  And to find my master bedroom closet once again!

When I was in training I was told that this was mystical knowledge and should be kept hush hush. After all we didn't want just "anyone" to have all star access.  The same was true when I became a teacher at most of my places.

Then I became a stay at home mom/home school renegade teacher.  And people asked questions.  I joined groups and learned so much.  I have a love of learning and sharing knowledge.  It's how we grow.

So I decided that I wanted to give back and help others on this journey.  There are only so many things I can use.

When my daughter came home I bought this book off of Amazon.  It's called Montessori House: Curriculum for Infants and Young Toddlers Birth to Eighteen Months.
I had all the intentions in the world of using it.  It is an amazing book and the lessons are easy to follow and execute.  I love that they include records and that it is laid out really nicely.  Unfortunately my daughter spent most of her first year with us either in the hospital really sick, living at doctors, or at therapists.  So from 9 months plus her life was mostly about survival.  I laid the book aside very sadly.

Fast forward to now.  We are much healthier, she is moving at her own pace, and we are three. Primary age.  I pulled the book out the other day and said "little book you need a new home".

So I'm giving away this book free of charge!  It has really nice lessons in it.
Plus, it is super easy to use as I mentioned.  You don't have to spend oodles with flashy materials.  A lot you can diy.  

The book is divided into sections.  The sections are: Creating a nurturing learning environment, starting out, use of the hands, structuring and presenting practical life skills, and language and vocabulary specifics.  

You will find lots of helpful info from setting up that bedroom to basic glass carrying.  This book is a great guide for beginners who are feeling a bit overwhelmed.  

To enter the giveaway is simple!   All you need to do is two things.  One, leave a blog post comment on why you want to win this or what you would do with this awesome resource!  Two, either subscribe by e-mail or google connect so you don't miss any really cool giveaways from me!  I also give away fictional books and sometimes food.  Yummy!  The contest will end on the 23rd.  We will put the names in a hat and my seven year old will draw a winner.  I will announce the winner on my blog and they will have 48 hours to claim their prize!  Easy peasy!! Also one entry per family please!  
Good luck!!!  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Montessori By Mom

(Please note that Montessori By Mom did not provide me with any perks, freebies, or trips to Mexico.  This is a review of their produce that is my personal opinion after purchasing this product.)

So you have probably seen their ads on Facebook or even checked them out on line.  Montessori By Mom is a new kid on the block trying to make a niche for themselves.  They provide a monthly toolkit or theme box with activities, Montessori materials, instructions and how to videos.  They are aiming at the home school Montessori parent.

I have been eyeballing them for awhile.  The price sort of cowed me.  $55.95 is a lot of money.  But my daughter had some Christmas cash left over and I didn't want to buy her cheap crap.  I wanted to invest in her education and give her materials we can use for a while.  Then they ran a couple of specials and I got free shipping.  So I caved.

I did have a brief moment of panic when the box came and I thought, this is a small box for nearly $60.

But then I saw this nice little note.  They put my name on it:).  I decided to breathe.  And took a look inside.
There was a lot of stuff crammed in that kit!  I'm going to go through some of the pros and cons of the kit.  Remember, this is my opinion.  You may think very differently than me on this.

As a Montessori teacher with 10 plus years under my belt and going on my first year as a home school Montessori teacher I look for several things.

Does the material call to the child?  Is it beautiful?  The answer would be yes on that one.
 I loved the turtle puzzle!  We have used this brand before and it's pretty and durable!
 The bee Practical Life transfer was probably my favorite!  The only thing I would do differently is I would use tweezers which were not included but if you are a home school rock star teacher (or a parent with a seven year old boy) you probably have a steady supply of them anyway.
The cards.  They are beautiful but I have mixed feelings about them.  More on that later.
The poster which is double sided.  Also more on that later.  

The second thing I look for is durability.  Will it last?  I don't care if you have 1 child or 20, you need things to last.  The cards came laminated but I notice they can still bend quite easily.  Also I will have to laminate the poster.  The instructions that came with it put it to good use with several activities and one careless jerk from my little one and it will be wrecked.  It also came with a book.  
The book is simple.  If you have an emerging reader or little one it will probably appeal to them.  But it is also flimsy.  I am going to laminate it as well and restaple it.  I have to say, I was disappointed because to me, books can make or break a unit.  Another idea that they may want to consider is a list of books to look into and put something else in the kit instead.  

The cards were something else I had mixed feelings on.  Though they are really beautiful and have lamination I have found that little hands are just that little hands.  I wouldn't introduce cards like that before 5 or 6.  They have a definition on the back that would be great for readers!  Here is one of the activities they suggested. 
You can see that the cards are fit for this but to me they don't pop and get lost in the picture.  Plus my three year old looked at me blankly, lol.  My seven year old enjoyed this.  But since this box is mostly for my three year old we go on to my next thing I look for.  

Adaptability.  Can these items be transformed?  Yes!  They can.  This kit was very flexible in that respect.  
Here you can see what I plan on doing with the cards.  I plan on placing them on card stock, re laminating them, and viola!  I have the control of error (card color) built in.  I will recopy the definitions behind the cards and use them at a later date.  

Another thing you need to know about my child.  You see we adopted her out of foster care when she was nine months old.  She was born at 24 weeks to a woman who was addicted to drugs.  She is my champion and hero.  She also has cerebral palsy, cortical vision impairment, and a host of other conditions.  So everything is harder for her.  Including being allowed to attend a Montessori school. Which is why I do it at home.  Because every child has a right to this education.  Alright, off my soapbox.  The following pictures are of her.  She works with a light box because it helps her see the work.  You could not wipe the joy off her face through the bee work and the turtle puzzle.  

 You can't really tell because of the light box but she was picking up bees and putting them in a container.  This is hard for her because she has to connect vision and use motor planning.
The turtle puzzle was a huge hit!  She spent lots of time exploring the puzzle and trying to get it back together!  

The last thing I look for is it frustration free?  For me, lol.  For the most part yes.  There are plenty of videos and handouts on line that make it pretty easy.  Plus lots of little extra parts like the jars for air, land, and water.  Those can be a real pain to get.   There was only one part of the kit that wasn't 
These are your land water form cards.  Yup, you get sticky sandpaper and a blue card with a description on it.  Now they do show you on line sort of how to make them, but I will tell you they are a real pain in the butt to make and if you don't know a bay from an archipelago and you cut it wrong, you are up the creek without a paddle.  I would really suggest that they put these together for people.  That is big time frustrating when you want something ready to go!  

So the burning question, should you buy a kit?  Well that is up to you.  If you want something that you can pull and go (for the most part) or you are a first timer who is panicked at the thought of putting together a unit and need a good place to start, then yes this is a good package.  I can even see a seasoned person (like me) who just wants some new ideas buying one (which I did).  

They do have memberships so you can get better deals, but the price tag may cow some (I know it did me and if not for discounts and free shipping I may have thought twice about getting one). But I'm going to let you decide on that one.  I'm putting their link here so you can check them out.  You may even just look at some of their ideas and say, "Hey, I can make/do this on my own!".  Whatever you choose to do is great.  I think all in all this is a really good idea and there is a market out there for it. I will be interested to see how this company does in the future!  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bakery Bunch

No,  I'm not off on another baking post.  Although there is nothing more I like better than curling up with a warm cup of tea, gluten free snack, and a good book.

I was excited to be chosen as part of Amy Clipston's street team, The Bakery Bunch.  I discovered Amy's book a few years back when I was amazon surfing and there was a free book of hers available. I've been hooked ever since.  Amy writes Amish fiction and young adult books.  You can link to her website here.

We got some amazing goodies and I got to take my camera and show where some of these goodies and I traveled to.  Unfortunately, my phone had other ideas and now my selfies are lost in space somewhere.  So I had to get a little creative.  The first photo is the only one I was able to find and of course, I'm not in it.
I got my goodies and I was pretty happy!  I love purple and having a new book is always a treat!!  I was really excited to start reading it!

Ok, so we got this really cool bag and not only have I taken a shine to it but so has my little girl. So we share.

When we go places I load her AFOs, feeding and g-tube supplies and we're off!  I get lots of compliments on it and a little boy at one of therapy sessions kept trying to take it, lol!

I took my bookmarks to the local library and was able to leave them with the librarian there.  (Note these following photos are reenactments of actual events due to lost photos.  All participants were willing and voluntarily offered their services.)
After my stop at the library I found one of Amy's books!
I was very excited.  Her books are easy to find around where I live (sorry the photo is sideways, I can't seem to fix it and I'm not taking any chances on loosing another one!)

I put on my new luggage tags right away.  This is going to be great since we are heading to Florida in about 20 days.  

The tumbler has been fantastic.  This is a hot commodity in our home.  I have to hide it if I ever want to drink out of it!
See what I mean?

I also put the pens to good use.  I tend to be the Bermuda Triangle of pens.  I have made sure to bring and leave them at doctors, the bank, and all the other places I make pens disappear from.
I'm off!  Happy Reading everyone!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What do I eat?

Eating is a social event in our culture.  When you have a condition that limits that, it can be a headache and then some.

I used to love to go out to eat.  All the time.  Now I avoid it as much as possible.  Not that I still don't love going out.  I just don't love what it does to me.

Another thing is I used to bake.  A lot.  I loved it.  When my diet changed I had to change too.  But I had the blues because I felt like I was being cheated.  So I decided that I would learn to make things that I love again in a safe format for me.

The first thing was muffins!  I love muffins.  I eat one pretty much every day.  Or more.  But I was buying them and frankly the price was killing me.  One pack of my fodmap safe brand is between 5-7 dollars.  For 4 muffins.  So I felt like I was being taken to the cleaners on this one!

I decided to try to make my own.  That didn't go well.  They tasted like rubber, plus I have two special needs kids so by the time I find ingredients, get it put together, and still have it taste bad is discouraging!

Then I was out shopping today and the light shone and angels sang!  King Arthur has a muffin mix!  With fodmap safe ingredients!  Yay!!  I snapped it up, took it home and assembled my cast.

Not pictured butter, eggs, and lactose free milk.  But it was easy!  You don't have to put chocolate chips in it, you can add fruit, nuts, gummy worms (my 7 year old's idea).  But I used my "safe" chocolate chips.  I only used a cup because a) they are expensive and b) one cup is plenty!

I started with wet ingredients.  Six tablespoons butter, 3 eggs, 1 cup lactose free milk, and a splash of gluten free vanilla.  Then I threw in 1 cup chocolate chips, then I added the dry mix.  I folded it gently and put it in a 375 oven for 18 minutes.

Sorry my pic is sideways here, but can we just say yum!   The box said it only would make 12 but I ended up with 18 muffins (one tragically lost his life in a taste testing).  So for the price I paid they are cheaper than my premade ones and they will last longer.

A couple of tips/hints.  I can do butter, eggs, and lactose free milk.  But some can't.  You can sub oil, almond or rice milk.  You can also do an egg substitute. You don't need the vanilla, but I think it made it taste better.

Also you MUST spray the muffin tins or muffin paper.  Gluten free stuff can stick.  I used olive oil spray.  And if you aren't going to eat them in three days time freeze them.  I let them cool stuck them in a freezer bag and they are now hanging out in the freezer waiting to munch.  They are best eaten within 2-3 months but with an active 7 year old and his muffin munching mama, that won't be a problem.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Why I'm here!

I love to blog!  I have another two blogs that I keep really busy at, but the stuff I want to post here really doesn't fit into my other blogs, so this one was born out of necessity.

I'm a lover of food, but about a year ago I was diagnosed with IBS.  Some people call it a crap diagnosis, but that's what I've got.  I got really sick with the stomach bug de jour about 3 years ago.  I worked at a school at the time and it was going around like crazy!  Every kid and lots of the parents were dropping like flies.  It was out of control horrible.  I could talk about sanitation efforts, but I won't go there.  Suffice to say after being out of work with it for over a week and after that it still took about six weeks to be able to keep anything in longer than a day, my gi landscape changed forever.  I also think some of it is bio, because some in my family have touchy tummies and mine was a little on the sensitive side beforehand, but the illness pretty much killed the rest of it.

So I was placed on a low FODMAP eating program.  I still have good days and bad, but most days are so much better!  I am low dairy, gluten free, and low fructose and a few other things.  The most frustrating thing is that there aren't a ton of recipes out there!  So I hope to post them!  Lots of them!

I'm also an avid reader.  In between reading lots of fodmap things, books on medical conditions (two special needs kids and my gut lol), and Montessori I am a big time reader of Amish Fiction.  Yes, I love them.  I'm also a proud member of a street team (more on that later).  So you will hear me talk about them!

Last but not least, I'm an AMS certified Montessori primary teacher.  I love Montessori. It's my passion bringing this to the masses and showing people that this is not just an educational method for the elite.  I now home school my special needs daughter using this method.  When I was a teacher we were in the process of adopting her.  I naively thought that I would be able to find an amazing school for her.  Ummm, let's just say the responses have been less than positive.  So I am determined that she have an opportunity to be educated this way!