Indian summer

Pip enjoying an afternoon of glorious weather a few weeks ago. It's turned colder now but no snow yet! I'd probably be happy if it didn't snow all winter, mostly because it disrupts our walks to school and I hate driving in it.


A day to tidy

Thanksgiving was a nice break. The kids had the week off school, and my husband had a long weekend. The kids (and I) adored having their aunt here, and after a busy few days preparing for Thanksgiving, we slowed way down and were downright lazy afterward.

Today was a good day to pick up and put away the clutter that had accumulated in our living areas (while listening to Verdi's Requiem, because I needed something epic on in the background). Then I scrubbed the counters and kitchen sink, and just to put the icing on the cake, cleaned out the silverware drawer and threw the measuring cup bin and the fruit bowls in the dishwasher.

For me the definition of a good break is that I have a good time, but it is enough of a change that I enjoy getting back to life after it's over.


A coincidence

Yesterday morning my husband came back in shortly after he left for work—the car wouldn't start. So he took the minivan instead, and we went about our days. After dinner, he took the battery out of the car and we all piled into the minivan to go buy a new battery (because Monday is family night!).

Getting the new battery was no problem, but when we got back into the minivan, guess what happened? It wouldn't start either. That's right, both of our batteries died on the same day.

So I took the kids to get treats at the café next door while Mr. Mordecai went to buy yet another car battery. The very nice college student who works in the parts store gave him a hand, and we were hardly late for bed by the time we got home.

Tiger Lily had the time of her life: the glee leapt to her face when the minivan wouldn't start. When we got home, she had to watch Daddy put the battery in the other car too.

I did feel a tiny bit of guilt while I was in the café having treats with the kids and my husband was out in the cold changing a battery—but he didn't mind. We were both glad there was a warm place to take the kids to get them out from underfoot for a few minutes.

I guess if we had to be stranded somewhere with a dead car battery, a car parts store is about the best place it could happen. We are blessed in so many ways.



"Many . . . see the process of material divestment as wasteful in itself. It makes them feel guilty. But this process is only wasteful if we throw away things we can still put to good use. If we rid ourselves of things that serve no purpose, we are not wasting anything. It is far more wasteful to hold on to something that's of no use to us: we waste our available space when we cram it full of things . . . We waste time tidying things up, cleaning them, hunting for them."

—Dominique Loreau, L'art de la Simplicité


Thanksgiving menu planning

I planned my Thanksgiving menu this week. This holiday really crept up on me; this year is flying by! We are looking forward to staying home for Thanksgiving and having my sister visit.

I appreciated this planning sheet that helped me get my thoughts organized. I also wrote down the oven times and temperatures to help me plan what to make when.

Drinks: cranberry juice and sparkling cider
Green salad
Roasted squash
Turkey loaf
Mashed potatoes and gravy
No-bake cheesecake
Pumpkin pie


Probably the last flowers

I was surprised to find these flowers peeping out from our garden since it has frosted several times. I don't even know what kind they are or how they got there! They looked a bit wilty, but perked up when I brought them inside. Parsley, which is loving this cold weather, provided the perfect contrast.


How to make vegetable bouillon

When I first started plant-based cooking, I spent a small fortune on cartons of vegetable broth. Before long I moved on to Better than Bouillon vegetable base, and although it was cheaper, it still cost more than I wanted to spend, and had a few suspect ingredients. 

I was happy to find this recipe. I wasn't sure at first whether I would like it, but I figured it could save me a lot of money so it was worth a shot.

I hunted down the ingredients (I had to go to an Asian grocery store for the dried mushrooms) and gave it a try. And it's good! I use it in every recipe that calls for bouillon or broth. I now make it in double batches and store in a quart jar.

I start by powdering the mushrooms in my blender. I do these separately because they tend not to break down all the way once the remaining ingredients are added. (I keep the extra mushroom powder in a jar and use it in recipes sometimes, or save it for my next batch of bouillon.)

Then I add everything else and let my blender go! I get my nutritional yeast and dried vegetables (actually a soup mix) from the bulk bins at my grocery store. If you can't find a mixture of dried vegetables, I would recommend dried carrots and/or celery. You could also leave them out, or use more mushroom powder instead: I suspect it would still taste just fine.

If you're going to double your recipe, I'd recommend blending half at a time. (By the way, I've only tried this with my high-powered Vitamix blender. I don't know how it will turn out in a regular blender: I suspect it would be all right but maybe not quite as finely ground.) When I make it, the powder is so fine that it dissolves invisibly into my recipes.


Vegetable bouillon powder

3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup salt
1/4 cup dried mushrooms
1/4 cup dried mixed vegetables
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram

Blend to a fine powder in blender. To use in recipes, use 1 teaspoon bouillon per cup water.


A trip to school

We've been enjoying beautiful weather for the season. We hardly need jackets during the day! On a recent day off school, we went to school anyway to play outside. Red Chief biked a mile around the track . . .

. . . and Pip figured out how to climb this ladder. It is hard to watch him do things like this, but I know it's how he learns.


Recent happenings

Feeling uninspired to blog lately, but life is still good. Recent happenings:

  • Amazing orchestra concert for me! Sometimes I don't feel like going to rehearsal, but I'm always glad afterward—and even more so after a successful concert like this weekend's.
  • An excellent piano recital for Red Chief and Tiger Lily. They work hard and do well in piano, and we're blessed with a good teacher just around the corner.
  • Last week's menu from Vegan Richa was yummy. This week we're having lots of Italian food: pizza, lasagna, puttanesca. I don't usually do themed menus, but it keeps happening. Okay.
  • I am officially on a fantasy reading kick right now. Started off with an old favorite by Robin McKinley, and now I'm trying Gail Carriger for the first time. I need the escape right now.
  • A doctor's visit for Pip to try to figure out his eczema. We didn't make any more progress toward finding the cause, but the (new) doctor did give us a prescription cream that's much better than his old one (which didn't work at all), so that's something. 
  • Lots of Family Search Indexing. Our ward is having a contest between the ladies and gentlemen, and my husband and I are enjoying the extra motivation to index. We both have our pet projects that we've gotten pretty good at (him: obituaries; me: an 1876 French census). 
  • With my husband, collecting and compiling material for his father's 60th birthday to get started on his life history. At 100 pages, I'd say it's a pretty good start! I did some editing and layout, which felt good: it's what I went to college for, and it's a skill set I use less and less as the years pass (it's been 13 years since I finished college!).



Dinners this week will be exclusively from Vegan Richa. I've seen her recipes floating around the internet, but I'd never browsed the site before. I immediately started printing out recipes for this week. We'll be having:

Lentil walnut burgers
Tofu broccoli bok choy stir fry
Vegan deep dish pizza (using this cheese)
Chipotle garlic jackfruit tacos (so excited that I found some jackfruit at the Asian market this week)
Pad prik khing green beans
Veggies and lentils in peanut sauce (we've had this before and liked it)

I am looking forward to eating this week! I had one kitchen prep session today and will have a veggie cutting session tomorrow to help things go more smoothly before dinnertime.