Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Favorite Pasta

So my mom sent me this recipe about a month ago, and I am hooked. Like, it is a good thing Randy likes this for dinner but he still might get sick of it hooked. The artichoke hearts aren't quite as expensive if you get a jar at Costco--but beware, you will have enough on hand to develop a serious addiction. I will have to post my recipe for artichoke pizza another day.

Here is the original recipe, in all its non-vegan glory. I altered it by removing the meat, sauteing the garlic in a little of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes, and then using veggie bouillon instead of chicken. Then at the end, I added a little Seitan--and even if you aren't vegetarian, you really need to try this recipe. It makes a healthy protein alternative to meat, and is seriously delicious. It slices like meat, and makes really delicious sandwiches!

Sausage, Artichoke & Sun-Dried tomatoes Pasta
Sweet Italian sausage
2 or 3 Sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 small jar (6.5 oz) Artichoke hearts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup (or more for desired consistency) Chicken broth
4-oz Angel hair pasta
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP chopped fresh basil leaves
2 TBSP chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Brown sausage, set aside to drain.

Wipe excess grease from sausage from pan. To the pan add the artichokes and garlic, sauté over medium heat until garlic is tender (about 2 minutes).

Add broth and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes [I think this is too long]).

Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package. Drain pasta but do not rinse.

Add the pasta, sausage, Parmesan cheese, basil and parsley to artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in mozzarella cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve, topping with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Seitan O'Greatness:


  • 1.5 c. vital wheat gluten

  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast

  • 1 . salt

  • 2 t. paprika

  • 1/4 t. cinnamon

  • 1/4 t. cumin

  • 1-2 t. pepper

  • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper

  • 1/8 t. allspice (I skipped this)

  • 3/4 c. cold water

  • 4 T. tomato paste

  • 1 T. ketchup

  • 2 T. olive oil

  • 2 T. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

  • 1-3 cloves garlic, crushed well (I just sprinkled in garlic powder to taste)


Preheat oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for several minutes.

Form into a log (6-8" long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

You can seriously just throw all the ingredients in a kitchen-aid with a dough hook, let it mix- and then pop it in the oven. I take it as a great seal of approval that both my dad (who really likes meat) and Randy liked this.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Boys

These two bring such joy to my life. They both share the same funny, sunny dispositions that make me laugh. They love to play and giggle together, and I can't help but love them both so much it hurts.

I'm pretty darn lucky.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apartment Gardening

Last year as an Easter gift (if I remember properly) my mom gave me a gift card for a couple of large pots, some soil, seeds and garden tools so that I could have my own little "garden," even though we live in an apartment. I was so excited for my lettuce, tomatoes and herbs--until little Wesley decided that it was time to make me REALLY morning sick . . . and then nature kind of took over. As in, nothing got consistently watered, and the lettuce went to seed.

But this year--I'm not pregnant! So I'm having fun watching little seeds come up in my garden-pots-o'-fun . . .
My cute baby lettuce sprouts popping up amongst the "volunteer" salad mix from last years crop . . .

My cherry tomato seedlings, along with a roma plant my neighbor so generously gave me.

Now this is the best bit. Today I finished off the rest of my volunteer greens with hominy, baby spinach, red beans and vinaigrette. Yum.

Growing like the cutest little weed ever . . . He loves to stand on my lap, and bounce in his exersaucer, and roll. He pretty much has us wrapped around his adorable little finger with his huge grins, funny coos, and those funny little feet (that are always moving!).

Could I be any more cute?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Small Miracles

When Wesley was a month or so old, a couple in the ward lent us a book that really helped them out. It is a best-seller, and many families in our ward swear by its techniques. I started reading it, urged on by my husband who was anxious to have a wife and not a zombie, looking for help getting Wes to sleep through the night. An hour later, I put the book down crying.

Apparently I am not a big fan of self help books. I didn't respond well in my emotional state to the bullying technique, "Babies that are raised using our guidelines are happy, wonderful, well-adjusted babies. Babies who are not end up cranky, needy, horrible children that no one will want to be around." So, according to their standards, ( I had not been using anything close to their techniques) I was a sub-par mother.

I know that I spoil Wesley, and much of it stems from his rocky start. He took a long time to thrive, and is still on the skinny side for a six month old. So when he cried in the middle of the night, I ran to feed him. Sometimes many times. My husband told me that this was madness. He was probably right. My pediatrician told me that Wesley could handle not being fed, that I needed to let him cry a little. My heart breaking at the thought, I relented.

My sweet Wesley still has this fairly young baby cry, and when he gets upset he frantically shakes his little arms up and down. After two nights of letting him cry, I couldn't take it any more. I was getting probably less sleep, I felt horribly guilty about what I was doing to Wesley and our poor neighbors, and my emotions were completely raw. So I snuck in and fed him.

Then three nights ago, it happened. We put him to bed around ten and he slept through the night, waking up at six-thirty. No two o'clock feedings. No four-thirty feedings. My sweet angel just slept. And I slept. And there was much rejoicing.

And this has been his schedule ever since. He goes down about nine-thirty, and wakes up at six or six thirty. I don't know how it happened, but I'm not going to press too hard for an answer. The self-help book cannot guilt me into feeling bad about feeding my baby when he acts hungry. Many people say that motherhood comes with no instruction manual, but I beg to differ. There are so many instruction booklets out there, telling you that you are only a good mother if you feed your baby breast-milk, or if you stick to this schedule, or feed them only organic baby food, or (fill in the blank). I am trying to come to peace with all the voices, and drown out as many as I can. I think we as mothers do the best we know how. We learn from women around us we trust, and try what we feel in our hearts is right--and beyond that we trust that someday our children will have a really good therapist to sort out all the mistakes we make! In all seriousness, I think that if we love our children and do our best, our Heavenly Father will help make up the difference for our shortcomings as parents.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fresh Cut

Today Randy and I went and got our hair cut. It turned out shorter than I was expecting.

My mom wanted to see a picture of my new hair cut (please forgive the poor quality of the pictures, they were taken with the webcam) and Randy decided he wanted to take pictures as well.
Finally he started to break me down . . .
Is insanity contagious?
If so, I may be in trouble . . .

Monday, May 18, 2009

Worm Farm Composting

I was reading some articles online around Earth Day (yeah, I'm a nerd from the Northwest I know, I know) and I came across this article created by New York to encourage inner-city composting, and I thought it was too cool! I have always liked the idea of composting, but thought I would have to wait until I got a house with a yard and all that. But this method allows you to inexpensively set up a compost that you can do either indoors (I'm a little squeamish about that personally) or what I want to do--on our front porch.

One fact that interested me as well: a great number of greenhouse gases contributing to global warming come from discarded food that ends up in the landfill, where it decomposes anaerobically into methane. Who knew? I knew that Americans were notoriously wasteful of our foodstuffs, but I wasn't aware of the eco harm it was causing.

I think that soil produced from a little worm farm would make fantastic potting soil for my little garden-in-a-pot I have going on my front stoop (pictures to come). I can't grow much produce because of living in an apartment, but I am growing indoor herbs and some lettuce and tomatoes outdoors in pots. Organic produce is expensive, unless you grow it yourself!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Adventures in Yogurt Making

When I decided to go vegan, I gave up most dairy. I will cheat on little things here and there (a slice of pizza with a bit of cheese now and again) but for the most part I try to avoid the milk products. So I haven't had yogurt in over a year. I liked yogurt--my parents had a yogurt maker when I was growing up, and I have wanted one of my own for awhile. I put yogurt-making out of my head until recently, when I saw this blog entry on how to make yogurt without a yogurt maker, in your crock pot.

Which got me to thinking . . .

If people are clever enough to make regular yogurt in their slow cookers, what if I could do the same with soy? So I went investigating. And I found this recipe, which uses commercial soy milk ( I haven't come to the point where I want to make my own yet--I like that the stuff I buy is organic and already vitamin fortified . . . I'll have to re-evaluate later on . . . )

So after much searching (my regular grocery store didn't have either the Agar or the tapioca starch) I acquired the necessary ingredients, and one night I gave it a go. With mixed results. I think that I need to break down and just buy a candy thermometer so that I can follow the directions precisely, because my yogurt came out the proper consistency, but without the tartness. So I don't know if my yogurt was too hot and it killed the cultures, or what. But it was pretty simple other than that--and I was able to use my slow cooker to let my yogurt warm overnight--so I think that after a few times through I should have the hang of it. Even though it was milder than I would have liked, it still tasted yummy, and should make some wonderful frozen yogurt! The recipe can be found on the same site as the soy yogurt recipe, but I will reprint it here for anyone interested. You can probably just use regular yogurt if you aren't vegan . . .

To Make Fruit-Flavored Frozen Soy Yogurt: in a blender mix 2 1/2 cups soy yogurt with 3/4 cup organic sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, lemon, almond or orange extract. Optional is 2 TB vodka or appropriately fruit flavored liqueur (alcohol keeps frozen desserts from freezing rock-solid). Blend well. Add 1/2 cups berries or chopped fruit (fresh or frozen). Blend until mixed. Freeze according to directions for your ice cream making machine.

As I didn't have any vodka on hand :o) I simply increased the vanilla extract from the half teaspoon to two TB since I wanted vanilla yogurt anyway and there is a little alcohol in the extract--it helped it not freeze so solid. I used the commercial soy yogurt the first time I tried this recipe, and it was DELICIOUS! So simple, fun and good for you. Well, as desserts go anyway!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Family Moments Monday: Silly Traditions Can be Fun

First of all, a very happy Mothers' Day to all you mothers out there! I am so blessed to have an amazing mother who is talented, smart, funny and fun to be around, cares so much for her family, and who has taught me so much.
I love this picture--I remember taking it with my mom when I was three or four. I was too scared to stand on the edge of the hill by myself, so she held me so I'd be safe.

I have also been blessed to be a mom this year. My little Wesley is such a joy in my life!
Yesterday also happened to be our little guy's six month birthday! I can't believe how fast the time is going. He celebrated his half-birthday (yes, it is a real holiday in our family) with some presents and the above animal cracker--which he managed to get all over the place. We read some stories, talked to Grandma and Grandpa on the phone, and pretty much had fun.

This whole "half-birthday" tradition is something that started when I was a little girl. Perhaps I missed my calling in life as a lawyer or negotiator, because even as a very young girl I recognized a discrepancy in the number of holidays I got to celebrate (birthday, Christmas) and the number of holidays my parents got to celebrate (birthday, Christmas, Mothers/Fathers Day, wedding anniversary)--and so to remedy this egregious deficiency in holiday cheer, I talked my way into getting a half-birthday. My parents didn't go overboard spoiling me, but it was a special day where I got to pick what we had for dinner, I got a few presents, and generally was made to feel extra special. Now that I am married I wanted to carry this silly and fun tradition into my new family. Randy thinks it is ridiculous still, but has come to welcome his half birthday celebration so he puts up with the holidays!

Something silly I added to the mix: what has come to be known as the birthday stocking. I think Christmas stockings are so fun--all the fun silly little candy and presents inside--and one day I was speculating to my mom that I thought birthdays should have a similar tradition. Boy did she come through for me:
See what a cool Mom I have?

So of course I had to do one for Wesley:
I'm sure it isn't quite as perfectly crafted as my mom would have done, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Now I just have to make one for Randy before his half-birthday the end of July . . .

**Oh and Congratulations to Casey, who won my first giveaway! Those burp clothes will be making their way to you very soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sixth Month Check Up

Today Wesley went in for his sixth-month visit. Here are the stats:

Height: 26.2 in--45.77 %tile
Weight: 13.62 lbs--2.12 %tile
Head: 17.7 in--71.95 %tile !!!

So . . . yeah Wes has the Johnson head after all. When he was born he only was in the 7th %tile for head circumference, but his genes finally caught up with him!

He is now rolling over from front to back, and loves to bounce and turn himself around in his exersaucer. He has started to push up on his knees a little bit . . . so I'd better start baby-proofing the house! We are supposed to start him on vegetables now, so we gave him some green beans tonight. So far he has been very patient and good natured about trying new foods--let's hope it lasts! I'll cook vegetarian for him at home, but I'm sure his grandparents will sneak him a hot dog or two when he comes to visit.

Play time

Our happy little guy. He is such a mellow little spirit.


He is getting more and more independent in his play time, but he will still look up at me every so often and give me a big grin!

Little monkey feet. He loves to grab things with his toes :o)

I love how he looks at the world with such wide eyes.

Everything--especially fingers--go in the mouth these days. Teeth should be soon to follow.

I love our quiet moments of reading together. Our favorites are What's Wrong, Little Pookie? and Goodnight Moon

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Crochet borders and a giveaway

Soon after we were married, my mom learned how to crochet adorable borders onto flannel infant receiving blankets from a friend of hers, and she passed along the information to me. They make really cute gifts for baby showers, don't take a lot of money to make, and are so useful! My mom made me a bunch of them along with matching burp clothes before I had Wesley, and since he was a "spitter" they ended up being so useful. They are wonderful to burrito wrap an infant, and the ones she made are large enough that he'll be able to use them for quite some time. Plus--did I mention they are adorable? That is really the most important part :o)

Since I had a boy and the last several friends/family members I have made these for have had boys, I had been sticking to a pretty basic border around the edges--nothing too frilly. Then when Randy's cousin had a little girl, I decided to branch out and try something a little more fancy. Here is the result:
I was pleased with the result. I had a difficult time finding a pattern for a border I liked online, so I just kind of made one up. Here are the instructions if you are interested:

Zigzag the edges of the flannel with a wingtip needle. Single crochet around the edges, in each corner making two sc in one stitch. Next row: in one half of one stitch sc four times, sc in each of next two stiches, repeat. Last row: go behind the shell where you made the four sc in one half of the stitch, and in the other half make four double crochets. Slip st. to the next shell, and repeat all the way around. Here is a closer look:
To the aforementioned cousin: I apologize that these are getting to you after your very cute baby has been born--but I will get them in the mail to you this week!

To everyone else: leave a comment on this post and I will randomly choose someone to receive a little gift packet of girl or boy burp cloths (your choice) to either use on your own munchkin, or give as a shower gift. If no one responds, then I guess I will just have something put aside for the next baby shower I'm invited to!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Things Are Changing

Spring/Summer (is there really any difference here in Orem? It goes from 0-80 in about a week) is finally here, and we have been busy with all the changes a new season brings. Randy started his last "semester" (composed of one spring and one summer term), Wes is nearing his six month birthday, I have been continuing with my freelance job and trying to get various projects done. But on to the good stuff . . .

This is a project from last fall that payed off on Easter morning: bulbs from gifts I received. Sadly, two days later, they looked like this:
The other ones not open never had a chance. Very sad. But when the snow thawed the pot above sprouted with lettuce from seeds I planted last year. I may have been so morning sick that I planted lettuce that just went to seed . . . but at least I can enjoy it this year! I love fresh salads in the summer--something I miss very much about my parents' home in Salem.
The Easter Bunny came and brought all kinds of fun surprises. He even brought Wesley some rice cereal a month early (I wanted to wait until six months, but Randy was really excited . . . )
A first taste . . . Dinner with cousin Sydney . . . (she hoped her Aunt Joy would think the picture was cute!)

. . . and the many . . .

. . . stages . . .

. . . of being oh so cute in my sleep!

And Dad brought Mom some flowers just because. How sweet was he?