Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Magic Blanket

The past few weeks I've been working some new items into my production time. One of them is weighted blankets. They are time-consuming yet fun, and serve a purpose so near and dear to my heart.
   As many of you know, my oldest son has what is often called Sensory Processing Disorder, or Sensory Integration Disorder/Dysfunction. The really-really-really short description: Our bodies have five senses- smell, sight, sound, taste, and touch- and his brain does not process those things the same way most peoples' bodies do. When we see a nice sunny day, he cries hysterically because the brightness is literally painful for him. When something like a refrigerator cooling motor begins to hum, most of us barely notice, and he screams, covers his ears, and begs me to make the sound go away. When many of us laugh hysterically at being tickled in the ribs, he just cries and begs the tickler to stop because it's painful. That's just brushing the very tip of the sensory ice berg.
Sleeping soundly with his beloved Miss 'Nise Blanket
   Another aspect of sensory issues is sleep. It's tough. When he was a baby, our guy SCREAMED all night, and had a terrible time settling down to sleep without being very tightly swaddled, and rocked vigorously for hours. What many would think was uncomfortable and disruptive were what his brain needed to calm down
and rest. When he was 2.5 years old, or amazing occupational therapist brought us the magic invention of the weighted blanket. It was weighted with tiny, smooth river rocks inside the enclosed pockets, which laid flat over his legs and lower abdomen, giving him customized(by weight) sensory input of gentle pressure, allowing his brain to regulate, calm down, and rest. His "Miss 'Nise Blanket"(which he named for his beloved OT who gave it to him) came with us everywhere he might be bombarded with sensory input that was overwhelming, and helped keep his brain a little more calm in dealing with it all. It also helped his sleep more than anything else we'd tried.
   Now I am making weighted blankets for sensory and autistic kids. I love it. It's one of those things that despite the tedious nature of gathering supplies, weighing polypellets(the weighted material for inside the blankets) meticulously down to the 1/10th of an ounce for each square, and detailed calculations, it brings me great joy to make them knowing the help and peace they can bring to so many other sensory kids and their families who desperately need this tiny bit of 'magic.' It's a new venture that is much more about passion than
profit. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chick Pea Brownies: I Know What You're Thinking, but Wait...

   Here's another one of those posts I've been meaning to make forever, but life keeps getting in the way. This time, though, I was determined. I made the plan, I took the pictures, I got the baby sleeping, and here I sit, furiously typing in hopes of getting it done before he wakes up again. IF he wakes up again. It is 8:15pm, but he's a wild card, that sweet little Badger.
TEXTURE APPROVED!
   If there's one thing about food for me is that I'll try anything once. When I was looking for a way to use up my stash of dried beans in a form other than hummus(we love hummus, but you can only do so much of that a week) several years ago, I started to search. Hmmmm... What did Chef Google have to offer? That's when I stumbled across an intriguing headline: Chick Pea Brownies. Are you for real? I am a die-hard chocolate-lover. Was it really possible to make BROWNIES out of CHICK PEAS? Or even ADD the chick peas for a little healthy incentive like I do to sneak some 'healthy' into many dishes? I doubted it mightily, but what did I have to lose? The ingredients were so minimal, I had to give it a shot. Once. I'm so glad I did. Not only are they GOOD, but they're so healthy, dairy-free, gluten-free, and jam-PACKED with protein! They're also a great way to get fiber and nutrients into my SN-kiddo who literally gags and heaves involuntarily at most textures of ANYTHING. Yes, even my sensory guy can chow-down on these brownies thinking he's getting a fabulous treat.
  So I know this list sounds wacky, and even the batter, as you might call the pre-baking soup, is dubious, but fear not. Follow the recipe and You will be pleasantly surprised.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups cooked chick peas
  • 1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raw natural honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
That's it. Really ridiculously easy, right? The directions are even easier. You can melt the chocolate over a double boiler or carefully, oh-SO-carefully in the microwave, and these are prepped in less than one minute. Yep- just one minute. Even an insanely busy work-at-home, homeschooling mom of four can do that! First, put the chick peas, eggs, and honey in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add the chocolate and baking powder, and spin a bit more until it's thoroughly combined. Pour it into a greased(we use EVOO) 8x8 pan, then place in a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 40 minutes, or until it's softly firm in the center. Now this last step is key: LET THEM COOL! The fresh-from-the-oven texture can be off-putting, but once they're cooled completely, they're very much like a moist, fudgey brownie. Like most baked goods, if you over-cook them, they will be crumbly and dry. If you under-cook them the center will be wet and, um, strange in texture. Yes, I've done it. Both of them. 
You might find that the chick peas are not completely pureed, but that's okay! They're cooked soft to begin with, and when they're baked they are very much the texture of walnuts so unless you're a brownie purist, it's not off-putting at all. 
   So give them a try. Just once. Odds are you're going to be pleasantly surprised and can add this gem to your arsenal of secretly-healthy goodies. 
   Lest I be remiss for leaving them out, the credit for this recipe(which the above is my own derivative of) goes to the blog Married to a Non-Foodie. It was a GREAT food/cooking blog I really enjoyed in 2009, but disappeared from the 'net in early 2010. SUCH a bummer, but I am thankful I had the need to print the recipe before it vanished so I could continue baking these treats and chuckling inside as my kids and husband devoured the ridiculously healthy snacks. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In Theory

Life- Always happening faster than I can blink
So back in March I had grand plans of creating masterpieces and blogging to my heart's content. Then life happened. Daily. Creation only happened out necessity, and blogging just didn't happen at all. Life continues to happen, but writing is so dear to me- such an important part of who I am and something I enjoy
immensely- that I feel I should MAKE the time, even ten minutes a day, to write. So I am. Usually in my black and white notebook, but I am trying to get back to the blogging. I've taken so many detailed pictures of so many projects, dishes, etc, with the intent to use them for specific topics, tutorials, recipes, and more, but they all sit in my Flickr, unloved and many forgotten. Trying to retroactively fix that by sorting, deleting, taking notes, and making plans.
   Plans. I have so many of those. You know- like knitting my son's entire woolie stash BEFORE the winter, hand-making all gifts for the holidays, not waiting until last-minute to finish stockings, and , losing 55 pounds. At least I'm 12 pounds into the last one. That's about all I can say about that.
Rainbow Rice- Another intended blog topic
   Yet for some reason I continue to make lists. And another list and another and another and another- somehow I believe THIS NEXT ONE will be the list that magically organizes me and I get it all done. Not likely, I know, but I cannot seem to shake that mentality. It's just part of who I am. Like my knitting. I always have a knitting queue with yarn and patterns chosen for numerous outfits, perfect plans and intentions, but I've yet to complete a single queue. Ever. EVER. And I knit all the time. I suppose I'm just a glutton for punishment. Seems I remember blogging that term a fair few times before. Coincidence? No. I really am.
   Speaking of knitting, what's on the agenda? I'm currently working on a YYMN custom 2T/3T romper using my Kumfy™ Jumper pattern. The yarn the customer sent me is stunning handspun wool dyed by Mosaic Moon in her "Elements" colorway. Incredible stuff. The way the colors mix and the rows stripe is an entirely different look from the variegated colorways I usually work with. Even though this project has taken me three weeks now due to its size and it's STILL not finished, I am enjoying knitting it because it's a mystery how it'll stripe up on the next row.
The beginnings of a Kumfy™ Jumper with handspun MM Elements
   What's next? My next planned knitted project is an organic cotton outfit for Bitty Fluff's August 2nd stocking. It will be something small, quick, and new. I love those kinds of projects. They always bring the kind of nearly-instant-gratification often missing from knitted projects.
   And maybe, just maybe, I'll blog in the next week. Maybe.