Had to try this…I miss eating Indian Food. There was an awesome Indian joint on my commute when I was working out of the home. We would eat take out from there at lease every other week…yogurts and masala sauces, yummo. I found this recipe on Pinterest.
I go on a hunt for garam masala to try the dish, but like the absence of a great Mom and Pop Indian food restaurant in the local area, there is no garam masala on the grocery shelves in town. I find a recipe for making my own garam masala, but before I can put it to the test, a friend shows up with a shaker full. She buys hers in bulk at Patel Brothers in Shrewsbury Massachusetts. Thanks Jenn!
I omit all the spicy stuff in hopes of making it more appetizing for the kids.
I even go as far as rinsing some of the sauce off the chicken before serving it to the boys.
The adults love the meal, kids not so much. The chicken was still a little spicy for them.
5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp freshly, finely grated ginger
1 jalapeno, stemmed, sliced in half and seeds removed
1 (29 oz) can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-3 tsp cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
Prepared Long Grain White Rice or Basmati Rice
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Combine chopped onions, minced garlic, grated ginger, tomato puree, plain yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, Garam Masala, cumin, salt, cinnamon and pepper. Stir until combined. Pour half of sauce mixture into a large slow cooker then add in diced chicken followed then cover chicken with remaining sauce. Add in 2 bay leaves. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat for 8 hours.
Whisk together heavy cream and cornstarch, pour mixture into slow cooker and gently stir. Allow mixture to cook 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve warm over rice.
I want to try some more print making with the kids. It is a beautiful day, perfect for some driveway studio time. I drag out a table and all the supplies. Friend H wasn’t able to try the printing projects when the boys and I went to the art playgroup in February.
Friend H attacks the project with the passion of a true artist and like a true artist, puts her own interpretation to the materials available to her. Instead of using the textured blocks on the painty sponges, Friend H mixes colors and smears and splatters with hands onto the a platter and paper plates.
When plans don’t go my way, I can sometimes get disgruntled. I try to encourage Friend H to use the materials as I intend them to be used, but her impulse to use them differently is too strong. During her artistic investigation, she is focused and very happy. I can tell there is an imaginary dialogue playing in her mind as she works. When the plans change, I have to let it go and see where the creative urges take the kids. Usually, it is more interesting and informative for the kids to go to where they’re ready and willing, within reason, of course.
She is very proud of her grey covered paper plates.
Friend H and her little brother, friend A, spend some time at our crazy little casa during the week when their parents are bringing home the bacon.
Friend H sometimes likes to see what I’m up to on HappyLittleMesses…she likes that I write stories about our adventures.
She tells me that when she gets older, she’d like to have a blog of her own. She wants her blog to be about cats.
This is school vacation week on our side of the world, so we’re spending an exceptional amount of time adventuring together.
I ask Friend H if she’d like to have a guest post on my blog.
Here it is:
“I have a friend, her name is Jena.
She has 2 cats. Their names are Ansel and Cassidy.
Ansel loves to cuddle me. She waits for me to get off the bus every day.
Cassidy is very shy, but I am a cat whisperer.
I meow a special meow, and he lets me pet him on the nose.
This is how you make the special meow:
Block the air from your throat.
Make a humming sound.
Make a “meeeooow” sound in a high pitch voice.”
There is a local photography contest on the grounds of a nature sanctuary this spring.
We go into the woods today with a tripod and small digital camera.
The kids take turns lugging around the tripod with camera,
taking photos when they find something they like. I find using the tripod grounds the kids and allows them to use the camera in a more careful, focused way.
Children welcome the opportunity to try their hands at this technology and when given time, they use the camera as one of their 100 creative languages, telling stories with their photos, adding props and dress up.
Little K finds a maple tree with sap buckets and takes 4 photos…the left of the tree, the center, to the right and then he tilted the camera upwards towards the top branches.
Friend A has the idea to bring a prop. He would like to put a blue jay somewhere on the path and take a photo of it. So the boys giggle as they set up the birds and take lots of photos of the birds every place they can think of.
When a child takes a photo their ideas of what is interesting, beautiful, what is worthy of investigation becomes clear.
Their eyes and mind frame the photo. We begin to understand their thinking process when we look at the world through their lens.
The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages,
a hundred hands,
a hundred thoughts,
a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking.
A hundred, always a hundred,
ways of listening,
a hundred joys for singing and understanding,
a hundred worlds to discover,
a hundred worlds to invent,
a hundred worlds to dream.
The child has a hundred languages (and a hundred hundred hundred more),
but they steal ninety nine.
The school and the culture separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands,
do without heads,
to listen and not to speak,
to understand without joy,
to love and to marvel…only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there and of the hundred they steal ninety nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play,
reality and fantasy,
science and imagination,
sky and earth,
reason and dream,
are things that do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child that the hundred is not there.
The child says no way. The hundred is there.
Loris Malaguzzi, Italian Early Childhood Education Specialist, 1994.
Our local nature sanctuary is having a photo contest for kids and adults this spring.
We’ll be taking a hike on their grounds with cameras and tripods today.
All the batteries are charges in the digitals, my 35mm is loaded with film and we are ready to find some beautiful shots.
I have a small, 5 year old, Cannon Powershot that the kids have adopted as their own. It’s super resilient and takes surprisingly interesting pictures. I can’t wait to see what they come out with.
When I take out the film for my 35mm, Little K says, “What’s that?”
Perseverance, tenacity, patience, persistence, consistency, survival. These are some of the best lessons I’ve learned from being a mom.
I can hike tall mountains with tired kids on my back, I can fight away sleep deprivation to help a child through tantrums, I can do many, many loads of dishes and laundry in a single day, etc, etc…you all know the drill.
These days, I have a much more of a full plate, but have decided to add a gym routine to the mix…time to wake my body from the hibernation of growing kids. I felt I needed some balance in my life and some time to myself.
I have made it through contractions of motherhood, proof that I can get through the more uncomfortable moments in life and still make the most of it.
Before being a mom, I was such a wimp. I was bored easily by exercise, (I also didn’t need it as much because everything was perky and firm) if something was too hard, I’d shy away and find an easier road. I was on a cross country team in high school and I’d walk if there was a hill or I got a stitch in my side…I walked half the time during meets. I had a gym membership in college and kept the same routine every time I went, didn’t push myself much.
I’m adding a new category to the blog…body.
I’ve been going for about 3 weeks now. I have a friend that meets me there and that helps. For now, my goal is to get there 5 days a week, get my heart rate up and do some stretches. Every month, I’ll switch up the routine.
Here is a great detoxifying stretch routine that boosts the immune system. I found it on Pinterest.
It is almost sunset and closing in on the witching hour. Instead of staying home to chase couch cushion carrying kids, we venture out with some adventure gear: compass, binoculars, and other exploring tools.
Our friend Roger has a beautiful piece of property fairly close to where we live. Every so often, Big K will take the day off and work in the woods with Roger. When he does this, we like to visit. It’s a great walk and search to find where they are in the forest, but we follow the sounds of the chain saws. The work all day cutting down trees that are impeding the growth and health of the stand, using the fallen wood for keeping our houses warm. They use a tractor and log trailer to remove the fallen trees from the woods.
The kids can fit themselves in the hubcaps of the tractor. They get a ride out of the woods with Roger.
We get to watch the tractor pull a stuck truck out of the open field near the road. Walk through the woods, tractor ride and vehicles in action…This was a good witching hour.
How do you survive the witching hour?
“With great love and respect, I honor my heart, my inner teacher.”
The library has a kid focused yoga class once a month. Little K and I go and we love it. Well, I love it, and am pretty certain it’s right up my family’s alley, but they need to warm up to it, like anything new. I’d like to gently introduce yoga and yoga practices into our everyday lives.
I rent a yoga dvd for kids to take home, and we watch it and try some of the breathing techniques and animal poses. I buy a deck of yoga flashcards that describe yoga moves for children. I take these to the gym with me in wee hours of the morning and practice a couple of poses after cardio. I also find a simple little kids’ yoga app for my iphone, that tells a story and teaches about 10-12 poses.
After I had my boys, my body went into nurture / hibernation mode, but before I had kids, I was a regular at yoga class. Prenatal yoga was my all time favorite because I felt that the stretches and mantras were so great for my changing body and life.
The teacher in all classes would share beautiful madras with us.
“Be aware of the feelings in your body.
Be at peace in the mind.
It doesn’t have to be perfect…
Just who you are.”
Respecting the body and honoring the spirit are important lessons for me to teach my kids. We pay a lot of attention to our cognitive and emotional and social selves, challenging the mind every day, using I statements and sharing our feelings, playing with friends every day, but it’s time for our bodies to come out of hibernation…time to focus on the spirit in other ways than simply going into nature for tranquility.
There’s one exercise in particular that catches our attention.
We call it the “Sun Belly.”
Little J sometimes gets “spooked.” The Sun Belly breath is supposed to help you feel empowered.
Reach for the sun high up in the sky, and breath out hard as you quickly bring the sun down into your belly.
I tell Little J that he can try this whenever he needs to feel brave.
“The spirit in me respects the spirit in you.”
Part 1 of Make Your Own Zen Tray for Sand Drawing was hosted by Artful Parent.
We use a found bottle of sand art on a cookie sheet and the boys make hatch marks with their fingers and feet.
There is a comment in response to the first post on Artful Parent, about the sand art stuff being toxic, so we throw out the old stuff and give dying sand a try.
You can make your own colored sand art medium with sand or salt and food coloring:
1. Pour half a cup of salt or sand into a tupperware with some food coloring.
2. Shake it up.
3. Pour the salt or sand in a thin layer on the newspaper and let it dry.
4. Repeat this for each color, giving each its own piece of newspaper.
5. When all colors are dry, pick up the papers one at a time and pour the salt into containers to store.
I write out some number cards that the kids can use to practice their number recognition.
Little K likes to draw in the sand, pretending he’s writing letters.
The 4 year old boys practice numbers 1-10,
and Friend H wants something more challenging, so we write up some bigger numbers for her.
When you want to erase, you shake the tray gently like an etch a sketch.
Little J has spooked himself while learning about the tooth fairy.
…she sneaks into your room, without waking you, to steal baby teeth from under your pillow?
Inspired, he convinces himself that a burglar sneaks into the house at night while he is sleeping and steals his money from his little wallet without waking him. This tooth fairy, burglar story seamlessly blends with the scary stories Friend H hears on the bus about ghosts. We are all freaked out.
He’s still a believer even after I remind him that he left the wallet and coins spilled on the floor, and I scooped them up to put them in a coin jar on the kitchen counter. The imagination is a very strong force, especially when your mind is half asleep, your room is dark and your focus is on any noise or light shifting in the night.
We come up with an action plan to battle the burglar, monster and ghosts…during lunch the 3 little guys put their heads together and we come up with this defense plan, against the monsters, but also against the scary thoughts in our minds.”Monsters don’t like love”:
1. They would NOT like love music, so we’ll get the radio and play lullabies at night.
2. We’ll put love pictures on the walls.
3. We’ll make heart cookies.
4. Make a line of
every stuffed animal in the house around the bed.
And if that’s not enough:
5. The alarm system will be set every night.
6. Little J will have a net and some “grabbers” at arms reach just in case he needs to catch any monsters and sling shot them out of the window into the trees.
7. Tape “X’s” on the door to the room, so monsters know they’re going the wrong way.
8. Use lots of monster spray.
Monster Repellant Spray Recipe:
(Friend H comes up with the ingredients, trying to think of things that would sting the eyes.)
I have a very condensed all purpose cleaner that we water down to clean around the house. I use a dash of this soap, a very small dash of conditioner, and a whole lot of water. Friend H uses the lemon squeezer to add lemon juice and I cut the tip off of an onion and just let it float at the top. Friend H stirs. When we add the mixture to the spray bottle, I toss the onion. The kids spray the scary places in their rooms before bed,
wiping away with a wash cloth rubbing in the repellent, and cleaning dust bunnies from under the dresser, making it even more potent.
9. …And if all else fails, “we’ll build an invisible trap at the door, with a button that disappears monsters, an invisible rainbow button. We’ll need to go to the wire store and buy a button and wires to hook them all up through the walls up to Little J’s room, so they work.”
Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope your love scares away all the bad guys!