Pita Perfect? Perhaps!

One of the conveniences we’ve missed during our dive into gluten-free cooking and eating has been the ability to toss together a super fast sandwich lunch. We were lucky enough to receive a gift of samples from Rami at GFL when we returned home from our holiday ramblings.
Pita Plate

Anna and I tested the pitas on a couple of different days, and we decided that they had both postive and negative qualities, but the postive qualities outweighed the negatives in many ways.

First off, fresh from the microwave, these pita pockets are undistinguishable from their gluteny counterparts. They’re delicious and soft and held up amazingly well to having ingredients added. Anna was actually a little worried that she would get sick, because she thought sure the GFL pita bread must have gluten.

After I convinced her to eat, she finished her plate in record time. The sandwich was excellently sized for someone small, but the pitas were a bit on the tiny side for a grown-up lunch.

Our biggest complaint, though, is that they do not hold well. After defrost and stuffing, there was about a 5 minute window in which the pita bread felt fresh and was easy to eat. When that window closed, the bread became hard and incredibly difficult to chew. It’s a downside to anything that has been frozen and must be defrosted in the microwave, I’m afraid. When Anna got distracted during her second lunch and left her plate at the table for a bit, she was upset to return to a sandwich that was just impossible to eat. She really just couldn’t bite and and eat the chewy/stiff bread. Reheating the sandwich gave her another small window of soft bread time, but the pita certainly wasn’t at it’s best after two trips through the microwave.

Closeup Pita

We did have a pita in our sample that arrived cracked, so that it was never really a “pocket”. That particular pita became strips to dunk in hummus. It was an excellent dip-scoop!

Our overall opinion of the GFL pita breads was that they’re very expensive for our personal budget. At $9 plus shipping per package, they can never be a regular part of our menu planning. They are the only commercially available gluten-free pitas that I’ve found, though, so they’ll probably be our fallback for special occasions and ethnic meals that really require pita to feel complete.

The quality of the bread itself, not inclusive of our pricing issues, was very good. I wish they held up longer in their delicious fresh-from-the-micro state, since we often have to hold over meals for small “emergencies” or want to take our meals along when we’re traveling. Would we recommend GFL pitas to other folks. Certainly! Will we buy them again ourselves? Probably! Are their things the company can continue to improve in the product. Definitely!

Thanks again to Rami and the gang at GFL for giving us the opportunity to try their product and spread the word to other families who eat gluten free.

Pennies from Heaven or Headaches from…somewhere further South? – Blog Blast

I am the mother of three rabid consumers. They were exposed to consumer culture early and often, via heavy doses of commercial television and multiple sets of over-indulgent grandparents. When pressed for introductions, we frequently just call them “Gimme 1”, “Gimme 2”, and “Gimme 3”. Their collections of “stuff” fill up all the room in our moderately sized home that we, pre-children, wondered if it might be impossible to ever utilize fully.

Unfortunately for both our wallets and our little super-shoppers, giving birth to children with a strong desire to ACQUIRE MORE STUFF did not magically cause our financial status to change to comfortably-wealthy or come with their own little money tree where we can pick perfect hundred-dollar bills each morning to use for our spending sprees.

Learning to bridge the gap between want-to-have-it and do-you-need-it is an ongoing life lesson for the Chen family. Teaching our three kids the value of work and how to adequately control spending is important to us because we do not want them to become adults who fall into serious trouble with debt or who value possessions over people in their lives.

We have instituted an allowance plan that is helping the kids see the link between the money they have and the things they can purchase. Each child gets weekly allowance in an amount equal to the years of their lives. Our 9 year old gets $9 per week, for example, while the 4 year old is only given $4 as her weekly allotment.

From that allowance, each child must place 1/4 of their weekly total into long-term savings and at least $1 into a charity-giving account. The rest is used at their discretion to purchase snacks not covered under the family’s grocery budget, toys, and any type of extra-special treat that has not been previously budgeted for as a family expense.

We have a set list of things that are covered under the “Family Budget” rainbow. Comfortable and well-fitting clothing are a family expense, but clothing from specific brands or in specific designs that costs more than the average article must be paid for from allowance. Fruits/veggies/healthy snacks are a family expense, but candy, chips, or trips to McDonalds must be paid for via child accounts. Most books, school supplies, and hygiene items fall into the Family category, but special art supplies intended for single-child use, fancy bath or hair products, and the seventy-millionth new box of markers (bought because unnamed lazy children have left the caps off all the older markers and they’re no longer viable) are paid for by the kids.

Teaching the kids to take advantage of sale prices, plan ahead and save for major purchases, and think twice about impulse buys has taken some of the sharp edge off of their consumer hunger. We will continue to explore more ways of becoming conscious spenders, and I am excited to see what the folks over at the Parent Bloggers Network have to say on the issue.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about making wise financial choices can check out the MoneyWise Learning Tools sponsored by Capitol One.

It’s a Technicolor World, so enjoy it!

We got a big box of surprises in the mail today from Steve Spangler Science. The kids were eager to jump right in to playing with their new baby soda bottles and test tube racks. We decided to work with two projects today. The first, and the one that kept them occupied for the longest time, was a good old color-mixing experiment.

The kids started off with empty test tubes, a large beaker flask of water, a pipette, and three fizzy color tabs. They turned the fizzy tabs and water into three tubes of liquid- red, yellow, blue. Then they used those colors and their pipettes to experiment with secondary color combinations in the empty tubes.

After the color experiment, we used some Magic Sand to study the concepts of hydrophilia and hydrophobia.

I think we’re going to love our newly restructured screen-porch Science Lab!

We’ve already started making another order at Steve Spangler. We’re a little obsessed with their Test Tube Experiment Kits. They’re incredibly kid-friendly. Simple enough that the kids can go it alone with minimal adult supervision.

Keeping a running record…

I borrowed the idea of keeping a running record of our day from Alexa. This is my first attempt at charting the flow of an entire day and then blogging the result. Our lives are a bit more busy and productive than I usually imagine them to be, and it’s helpful to be able to look back and actually see the shape of our day from the notes I took.

Continue reading

Big City Lives (Part 2)

We’ve been in our new home for nearly 3 days, so it was time to follow our homeschooling urges and search out the nearest Library facility.  White Plains has a wonderful children’s library called The Trove, and we were thrilled to arrive and get our new library cards.  The kid’s card are actually imprinted with The Trove logo, to keep them from getting mixed up with adult cards.
The Trove-White Plains Library

Each of the kids quickly found their comfy place and made themselves at home.
Nate at the computer station

Emily reading under a tree

Anna climbing the mast

We checked out some great things, then we had to head off to take Nate to the doctor.  He had a traumatic appointment (throat swabs and bloodwork).  Then we headed home for dinner, baths, reading and playing with our library haul, and an early bedtime.  It was a busy and fun day. 

Best Foot Forward…

The wonderful folks over at My Family Loves It are running a contest for a pair of See Kai Run shoes. Of course ~I~ am going to win the contest (wink), but all of the rest of you should feel free to hop over to their blog and check out sweet baby girl Jamie in her gorgeous Lola style See Kai Run shoes. Oh, and you can enter the contest too, just don’t take it too hard when Anna walks away in her new cute sandals…..

That whole thing would sound much more plausible if I had a bit of PisecoBabe’s contest luck.

~L

Wooo-hooo, Guild Wars.

So, Dave went out to get groceries and school supplies for Em and came home with my very first every video game. I don’t know what in the world has made me want to play a MMORPG, but I DO…so, for my 30th birthday (Aug 25th), I’m gonna learn how to play a game.

Now to figure out to play and then, hopefully, find some people to play with me since I’ve heard it’s not easy to play alone.

Anybody wanna play with me?

In The Good Old Summer Time

So, yeah, I stopped blogging for months and months. I was in my self-induced hermit mode. Things were rough from March to May and I just really didn’t want to have to thing about it as much as I would have if I’d tried to set it down in writing.

But SUMMER is here, and things are beginning to feel “ok” again and I really need the release and the accountability that keeping a daily journal entails.

Judy (Dave’s Sister) is down for a couple of days to get a break from the trauma-drama that surrounds my inlaws house at the moment. It’s good to have someone else in the house during the day, even if she is holed up in the guest room doing her homework.

Emily and Nate are doing very well with our new schooling routine. We’re doing four 30 minute school sessions each day, seperated by other life-type activities. ((You know, meals and chores and potty trips.))

I’m so impressed with Nate’s progress toward reading independently. I hadn’t expected him to be reading this early.

Anna is almost completely recovered from her horrible week of accidents and illness. Her Roseola rash has almost completely faded, the tooth that has been torturing her finally broke the skin, and her smashed finger is mending up and can bend again. My poor baby was so miserable for a few days. It’s nice that she is starting to be perky again. And VERY nice that she’s getting back to her sleep schedule and sleeping through the night.

I’d better get back to my chores so that I can have the house semi-decent when the television repair fellow gets here this afternoon.

~L

Kentucky…

I’ve been here for too long, and will be here for too much longer.

I don’t imagine we will make it home before the first week in May. Mom can’t even get out of bed anymore. She’s had to have a potty chair put in the bedroom again, and really just can’t even stand up by herself for long at all.

We’ve had happy days and sad days. Most days though, are just days we muddle through together. The kids are thrilled with cousins, horses, dogs, chickens, cats and the freedom to run all over the farm.

The internet connection here tops out at 14.4, though, even on my brand new laptop. I can’t connect to any type of bulletin board or my email server (because there’s too much email clogging it up…grrr). It will probably take half the night to post this message.

Home is calling, but there’s much to be done here before I can answer.