Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Guts

My favorite part of Halloween is carving pumpkins. Not because of the carving itself, but because of pumpkin seeds. Honestly, the seeds are my favorite part (other than getting to rifle through my kids' candy stash). Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite snacks.

Thankfully, even though pumpkins aren't around for too long, squash seeds are just as delicious (and often it's far cheaper to purchase squash than pumpkins). If you haven't tried them yet, roast some seeds.

After scooping out your squash, pick out as much "guts" (pollination stems) as possible. Wash the seeds. I don't worry too much about getting them too clean--I figure extra squash on them is just extra nutrients. I only dry them through the colander; I don't worry about them being overly dry (though you can let them dry more if you want). Turn your oven on to 350 degrees (I've seen many different recipes with different temperature settings--I'm often baking the squash at the same time, so I just keep them at the same temperature). Spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet. Spray them with cooking oil. Sprinkle salt and other seasonings on top (chili powder, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, etc.). Roast for about 15 minutes (I'm not positive on the time--just keep an eye on them. When they're turning brown, they're ready.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Role Play

Anders & Nils (to me): Yargh! We're pirates (wielding "swords" made out of K'nex).
Anders (to Nils): Now let's be muskrats. I mean musketeers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I love soups during this time of year. They're usually pretty easy to prepare, typically can be done in a slow cooker and often can be made in bulk and frozen for later use.

I came across a couple pounds of mushrooms recently and found a good use for them online. My wife doesn't normally go for mushrooms, but she enjoyed this soup. Here's my slightly-altered-version of Hungarian Mushroom Soup:


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)

  • Directions
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Finally, stir in the salt, ground black pepper, Worcestershire and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil.

My kids enjoyed eating it with bread toasted with melted cheese on top. Bread with soup is always a must.

Mom Time (aka The Date)

My wife is pretty good about making time for each of the boys once in a while. She takes them out on a date. It's usually just to the cookie shop down the road, but what more does a boy want for a date? Cookies, time with mom, sometimes a board game. It's the life.

It's important for her to get individualized time with each of the boys. It's important for them as well. Encourage your spouse to take that time. It doesn't have to be much--just some focused time to remind them that they're special. And that their parents love them. Plus, you don't need a baby-sitter for this kind of date.

Now to figure out how to do that with my wife...

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Orchestra

Our names had gotten drawn this fall for tickets to Target's Free Family Concerts with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. So this past Saturday the boys and I picked up a friend from church (Beth had to work) and we headed to downtown St. Paul to the Ordway. Nils put on his new favorite clip-on tie (49 cents at a thrift shop) and even Anders' got dressed up (albeit with his usual reluctance).

The concert was The Four Seasons Unleashed. It involved a radio host interviewing Antonio Vivaldi and Astor Piazzolla, an Argentinian composer to wrote his own version of the Four Seasons more than 200 hundred years later. It compared how each composer interpreted the seasons from their geographic perspectives and showed how Piazzolla was inspired by Vivaldi whilst infusing his music with South American flavor.

The orchestra did a good job of making it a family friendly event. It helps that there wasn't the expectation of anyone in the building for the kids to sit quietly the whole time. There were plenty of wiggles and giggles (and other noises), but the kids also weren't bored with it. There is something about classical music...I'm glad my kids got the opportunity to experience it live.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Frugal Resources

A lot of the opportunities for free events I know about I find out from through the website Pocket Your Dollars. The website's founder got out of debt by making better financial decisions and clipping coupons. She shares her tips on the website as well. I don't use the grocery shopping tips much since we mainly shop at Aldi where I feel we still save a decent amount without taking time to clip coupons, but it's worth checking out. A lot of the events are around the Twin Cities metro area, but there is plenty of things on the website for everyone no matter where you live.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Today: A Play

We were able to score tickets not too long ago through the Free Night of Theater Event, so we took the boys to see Robin Hood this morning at the Children's Theater Company. It would have been a $64 outing for us otherwise. I'm grateful for all the free opportunities we're able to get. Next weekend we have free family tickets to a concert with the St. Paul Orchestra. We've been able to see a lot. Still, I sometimes get jealous of the parents who are able to do things like that all the time. Then I remember all the kids in our neighborhood who have probably never seen a play or gone to a museum or other similar experiences. So I'm very grateful for these opportunities.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


This morning I overheard one of our neighbors yelling at the bus driver for yelling at her kid on the bus. I could only hear the "conversation" from the parent's side, but she proceeded to cuss the bus driver out and invite them off the bus to fight. The bus driver wisely closed the door and drove away.

Whether or not the bus driver had yelled at the kids on the bus, yelling back at the bus driver didn't get anywhere. If you're trying to make sure your kids are respected, don't disrespect them by treating others poorly. There is a lot of irony that she was yelling at the bus driver for yelling at her kid. In fact, she disrespected all the kids on the bus (as well as the driver, of course) by responding to the driver with yelling and abusive language. We don't need to teach kids that the solution to a problem is to yell, call names and fight.

When we yell at others, we often show our own issues (if we take the time to look at ourselves). Getting upset over other's shortcomings reveals our impatience, disrespectfulness or anger issues. Of course, we all have our issues; none are perfect. But let's respect our kids in teaching them to handle issues properly (as well as dealing with our own issues), being respectful of others (as well as our children). Most cultures have some form of Jesus' Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." Treat others the way you want to be treated--the way you want your children to be treated.