A Week In Our Home Ed Life: the Melbourne Museum edition

Here’s a little glimpse in to our homeschooling life this week, featuring the Melbourne Museum.  Yay for museums!

On one of the warmer days, DeeW went off on a beach adventure with Husband.  No photos there, but they had a good time being beach geeks.

Arthur loves Kerbal Space Program.  Check it out, it’s a fab program.  It has become Arthur’s number one favourite:

kerbals

Father and son reading What if? xkcd.  They read it together so they can have a discussion.  I love hearing Arthur giggling at it:

whatif

Flower pressing with DeeW for some art work in a few weeks:

flowerpressing

Arthur’s reading pile, courtesy of many library visits:

bookpile

I kept forgetting to take photos of the numeracy/literacy stuff, hopefully next time 🙂

Today we visited the Melbourne Museum.  We were there for about three and a half hours and still didn’t see everything.  With our free entry, I’m not that fussed and we’ll go back again before the weather starts getting too hot.  We often visit these school-y kinds of places in the afternoon, when school excursion groups have gone home and we get everything to ourselves  😉

melbmuseum1

This piece of amber contains 35 million year old fossil insects.  Phwooooar, geek out!

35million

An 1860 printing of The Origin of Species:

originofspecies1860

…aaaaand it’s always about the poo with my kids:
dinopoo

melbmuseum3

melbmuseum4

melbmuseum5

melbmuseum6

Husband took the kids to the playground by the Museum when we were done, while I had a quick browse in the shop:

museumshop1

museumshop2

museumshop3

I ended up buying these to be used as part of our Australian Studies next year.  The DK Human Body book will be used as part of our Life Science studies:

museumshop4

The Royal Exhibition Building, opposite the Museum and IMAX:

exhibitionbuilding

I’m looking forward to returning to the Museum to see this.  Husband says Timothy Dalton was hands down the best bond.  I’m inclined to agree, only because one of my favourite cheesy movies is Flash Gordon:

melbmuseum2

Hope you enjoyed the first of my homschooling specific ‘weeks that were’ 🙂

So long vegan MoFo 2013! And random what-I-ates

veganmofo2013banner

Ehhhh welll it’s no secret my attempt at vegan MoFo this year was rather slack.  So many plans, so many last minute spanners in the works that just saw my MoFo plans fizzle out.  I did enjoy MoFo though because I discovered Australian blogs I hadn’t read before and I’ve enjoyed every single one.

Melbourne, being Melbourne, has really given us the four seasons in one day recently.  We’ve had some beautiful spring days and crazy winds last night causing power outages and all sorts of annoyances.  At least it’s good kite flying weather and Husband is a kite flying expert.  Me, I do the running around stupidly in a circle getting the string all wound up.

Much excitement (for me) as I had a Box Day.  For those of you not down with homeschoolin’ lingo, Box Day is when a cool package of schooly stuff arrives.  For me it was the next level of DeeW’s reading program:

aar

I’m going to plug this reading program because I love it so much.  It’s called All About Reading and the sister program is All About Spelling.  I have found these to be absolutely brilliant for both Arthur and DeeW.  Arthur has All About Spelling .  Both programs involve multi-sensory learning and none of this “memorise 100 words by sight” stuff which doesn’t work for many kids.  You don’t have to be a homeschooler to use these programs, you can be a parent with a child displaying reading readiness (more info on that at the AAS/AAR site) or reading difficulty, or you can be a teacher looking for a new program for your students to grasp basic reading and spelling concepts.  I know people who have dyslexia and their kids do too, and the family benefits together.  I can’t recommend All About Reading and All About Spelling enough, and the founder has a very interesting story to tell about why she started the program.  You can find out more at the All About Learning Press website at http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/  (all opinions here are my own and my opinions are in the category of “this has been super fantastic for my kids and I can’t gush about it enough and hey I even learnt a few things about when to use ‘k’ or ‘ck'”).

Okay, time to put on my food face.  Another gush-worthy recipe I’ve mentioned before is Dreena Burton’s BBQ Sunflower Tofu which Arthur loves.  I make a batch of this for him and he asks for seconds.  He likes the little marinadey bits:

bbqtofu

I’ve been making the Lemon Meringue Pie smoothie from ‘Eat Raw, Eat Well’.  Yep, this tastes as good as it sounds:

lemonmeringue

Aaaand here’s my big flop.  It’s a raw banana pie from Brendan Brazier’s ‘Thrive’ book.  I don’t know what I did wrong, but my base was really crumbly and I’m sure I followed the recipe.  The filling part was good but I should have taken more care.  I didn’t make the topping but I had some cashew cream and used that.  It was okay but I found the taste of sunflower seeds a little much.  i would make it again though with some little changes.  And take a much better photo:

rawbananapie

I made another batch of Singapore Style Noodles I blogged about previously.  This time I used mock duck (made from wheat, with a bbq flavour) and tofu puffs:

singnoodles

I’ve been making the Raised Waffles recipe from Isa’s ‘Vegan Brunch’.  Arthur really likes these, though I prefer the cornbread waffles.  Still, it’s fun making this yeast version.  I plopped some coconut cream on mine and coconut sugar.  Yes, this was the last-of-the-batter waffle:

raisedwaffs

During the week I just forgot to take photos.  Or I did take some photos of stuff and deleted them somehow.  Now I will just have to make citrus coconut pie all over again!  See you then 😉

Tofu Makhani from Holy Cow!

I’ve been really bad with meal planning lately.  The way I like to plan is to look through my bazillion cookbooks and try a few new things.  Unfortunately for the past few weeks, my kitchen table has been covered with all sorts of junk.  Before I sit down to work, I must have a completely clean, clutter free space.  I like to lay out all the cookbooks and a notepad and make a list of what I’d like, what the kids and Husband would like and notes on what we all might like together.  Which is rare, as the kids and Husband all have their own food ‘issues’.  This week, I went through these books:

cookbooks

(yes, sharp eagle eyed readers!  That is indeed a new kitchen table)

So I was going through these cookbooks and a few websites.  Holy Cow! is one of my favourite vegan recipe sites.  I love Indian food.  Love love love it.  So for the stuff I jotted down, I went and did a nice big grocery shop.  I usually like to avoid the big supermarkets but we had a gift card thingy:

supermarket1

groceries

Hey!  Who put these in my trolley?:

tastytreats

So years ago, before I was vegan, some friends and I went to dinner and one of my buddies ordered the chicken makhani/butter chicken.  I’d always ordered a korma or rogan josh but after that I was converted to the rather unhealthy chicken makhani.  Husband loved it too.  The vegan version I’ve been using is The Kind Cook’s Not Butter Chicken recipe and I really do like it.  Today I decided to try Holy Cow!’s recipe for Tofu Makhani  because I wanted to make something with cashews.

The recipe is very straightforward and involves marinating some tofu in advance (if you want) then frying it.  For the sauce part you toast some spices, then add onions and the other stuff and finally whiz it all up in the blender:

tofumakhani1

Husband doesn’t eat tofu (by choice) so I added in some green beans and potatoes I’d steamed.  See steamy photo:

tofumakhani2

I enjoyed this dish but I suspect I added a bit too much of something (ground fenugreek maybe?) as there was a slightly bitter aftertaste.  It tasted better on the second day and I kept finding myself going back to have another sneaky piece of tofu  🙂

Are you a makhani nut too?

Status update on the not-vegan-YET-mwahaha family, part 1

Part of the reason why I started this blog was to record my family’s journey with moving to not only a vegan diet, but veganny stuff in general, as being vegan is not just about what you eat (or don’t eat!).

I went vegan in March 2012.  I informed Husband that I could not in good conscience continue to cook the way I had.  He understood and no longer buys meat and when I do the shopping I don’t buy any animal products.  He is however using up the stuff from our upright freezer but once it’s finished he won’t be replacing it all.

The challenge for me was to find vegan meals that my family would love.  Arthur (8yo) was the difficult case, as he is what experts call a ‘fussy eater’ and a lover of cheese.  Cooking him non-vegan meals was hard enough as it was.   Unfortunately, he instantly equated ‘vegan’ with “I can’t have any of my favourite foods and I’M REALLY UNHAPPY ABOUT THAT”.  He has emotional attachments to things and when he is faced with the prospect of losing something, he takes it hard.

Arthur has two vegan friends and even though they’ve never actually discussed being vegan, they have positively influenced him.  When I first tried the vegan sausage rolls recipe, I mentioned this was one his friend’s favourite meals.  I do think it helped because Arthur never ate sausage rolls, vegan or otherwise.  I was also stunned to see Arthur go and eat some of the roasted chickpeas I’d made, again ever so casually mentioning that his friend makes these.

Last week, Arthur said “okay Mum-o, from now on whenever you make something vegan I’ll try it”.  This is amazing, considering how resistant and oppositional he had been.  I mentioned that ‘I know some vegan and vegetarian people on the internet who have Taco Tuesday nights’.  I’ve never made tacos for the kids as there’s no way they’d go near it– they’re not fans of foods being presented that way and anything messy gets put in the too hard basket.  So I loaded up some pictures of vegan tacos.  Come Tuesday, I’ll have taco stuff ready to go.  Even if he fills his tacos with one thing, it’s a great start as he is willing to explore new ways of eating.

As a four year old, DeeW (now 5yo) asked me where meat comes from and why I don’t eat it anymore.  I explained as delicately as I could and she said “you mean the meat is animals that used to run around happy on the farm???”.  Okay so I obviously left out the whole factory farming angle but then she declared “I don’t want to hurt the animals or eat them, I want to be vegan too”.  Arthur explained that being vegan would mean she doesn’t have yoghurt and that vegetarians eat yoghurt but not meat.  So she said “okay I will be vegan sometimes and vegetarian sometimes”.  She asked lots of questions after I read “Vegan Is Love” and was quite upset when she realised animals suffer.  She hasn’t eaten meat since and is always asking “is this vegan/vegetarian?”.  It’s at the point where she was given a candy cane and said “these aren’t vegan because they use crushed up bugs to make the red colour”.  She was offered a piece of non-vegan pizza and said “no thanks, it’s not vegan”   🙂

So that’s where we are at currently.  I take baby steps approaches with my children for most things they find difficult.  Ideally I’d love to only go to vegan or vegetarian businesses but that’s not the reality for my family, nor is it for some others in my position as the only vegan in the family, especially a new vegan.  I am hesitant for example to go to a non-vegan restaurant or cafe and blog about them here but the truth is my family get to see that I can go out and have a vegan meal and still have fun and not miss out on anything.  Some vegans have partners or children who refuse to ‘eat vegan’ so their dining out choices must be an eatery that serves both meat and vegan meals.  I figure that for my family, if it’s one step in to getting my family that much closer to being vegan, I’ll try it.  Even if it means going to a non-vegan place (which is rare anyway).  My children sometimes find change difficult to deal with, so I am treading very carefully.   My approach is working because Arthur is willingly trying food, being curious and sitting down with me to brainstorm vegan foods he likes and foods we can veganise.  DeeW is making her own connections and refusing meat and it’s not because she is copying me.  Had I put my foot down cold tofuturkey I guarantee I would have highly oppositional children on my hands!

Baby steps.  Slowly but surely wins the race.  Good things come to those who wait.  Etc etc etc.

Photo taken from Edgar’s Mission website (click on Polly to go straight there)