...in photos because some things need no explanation
Hoping your Christmas was merry and your New Year is bright! xo
The girls and I have been busy in the kitchen making cranberry bread, The recipe is from the book Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende & Harry Devlin, which we studied & made lapbooks of during the thanksgiving season.
My girls are ever willing and capable in the kitchen these days, they always want to help & make and I'm all for that. On this particular day I set out the ingredients, they round up the tools. We work slowly and try to stay the course of the recipe all the while they chat up my ear. I'm happy to have them so interested in making even if baking with kids twins can be daunting. Patience I tell myself, one day they won't need my help anymore.
They carefully cut up the cranberries, measure & mix the ingredients. Help me pour it into the dish and let me put it in the oven, there have to be some rules in the kitchen. The recipe itself was a nice loaf loaded with fruit, we reduced the sugar & substituted raw honey into the mix, we also substituted the oil with coconut oil. The first time around we made the bread as one large loaf and recently made it again as mini loaves for teacher gifts (aside: fruit should be reduced for the mini loaves, in my opinion).
my rating: recipe was good
time with the girls: priceless
Yup, I'm addicted to pinterest you know, but I'm getting better now. I don't "need" to pin everyday but on those days when I do visit, there are so many yummy things to see and pin, it's inspiration at your fingertips. But I'm not just a pin and look sorta girl. I've gotta try things out you know. And so I gave this recipe and go and my review is: I liked it, my kids however did not - too tarty and limey for them (keep that in mind if you do not like lime, I however adore all things lime). Between you and me I'm not very sad that they don't like it because there is never quite enough of this stuff to share when I do make it.
Now go and do likewise: don't just pin, make :) Happy Friday, xo
This fall we started our school year on the right foot with an organized and dedicated space for our resources. Let me tell you how happy I am to finally have this space in place for all these items. Most of which have been sitting in banker boxes until needed and then we go on a mad hunt for such and such, you know the book about "... blah, blah, blah"
The planning for this little area started way back with these renovations. I knew it would be a long while until I saw this area complete as this is an open concept shelving unit in a central part of the home and I didn't want dusty construction from ongoing projects wrecking havoc on our education resources.
With the hallway & stairs newly completed (more on that later), the hubby started his work on a custom build-in shelving unit. Let me first say that carpentry is not his fortay, but he does a fantastic job at it none-the-less. In the early days it did take a fair amount of convincing that diy is the way to go and a typical conversation would go something like this:
me: "honey, it would be great if we could build something in this area (of the hallway) since it will be dead space"
him: "umm, I'm not a carpenter..."
me: "I realize that but we can't afford to hire a carpenter for every little thing that needs to be done and by the way, who was the first carpenter anyway?? someone had to start somewhere." When I sense he isn't biting, I throw in a desperate attempt aimed at his spirituality : "Jesus was a carpenter" ...at this point his eyes are rolling and he just wants me to stop already.
him: "alright already, but this will take some planning" I think that is code talk for stalling but I am immune.
me: "great! I already have the plans drawn up"... as I hand him a drawing of what I would like.
him: sensing the lost cause of it all he succumbs to my insatiable desire for project 'organize this home' "k, I'll need to make some measurements and then we need to go to home depot..."
Once the unit is built, we jam it into place, fill holes and cracks - I'm dangerous with the caulking gun, add a few coats of low VOC paint and a water based varathane to seal the deal. I let the unit cure to a solid hard finish for about 14 days, overkill I'm sure but at this point I don't want any mistakes.
AND didn't mr. duckyhouse do a fantastic job? he may not be a carpenter, but he sure fooled me!
The shelves were sorted and organized, baskets (from Costco) were filled with hands on learning items as well as crafty kid stuff. Our texts, current books, binders, dictionaries, etc all live in this zone. It's our go to place for everything education. I love having it central and readily available. I'm sure the kids find the visual aspect much easier as well and I couldn't be happier!
Accidental gardening has to be one of the best surprises of life. We do a fair amount of composting in our home, our kitchen waste includes fruit & veggies skins & seeds, as well a few other non-meat items - don't want rats ya know.
Back in early September I was working in my tomato garden and noticed a crazy vine growing out of my compost bin. It looked very similar to a cucumber and since my cukes did nothing this year I thought "great!" As it continued to grow it flowered an amazing amount of blooms which then turned into a small round green ball of sorts. At this point it was losing it's similarity to the cucumber and my intrigue was greatly increasing. I sent the message out to the grass cutters of the home "beware and do not cut near the vine...", everyone got on board and we watched this plant grow.
I kind of forgot about the crazy vine, until last week when my attention was turned back to the yard, as things are getting a bit cool here. I checked to see what had become of the little green balls when I realized woah! the little green balls were now quite big and were...
Now, it is really late for anything to be growing in these parts and even during the heat of summer our zone is not known for it's cantaloupes, but hey if mother nature is handing it out, I'll take it.
Now that the cool weather is upon us, I have at least one homegrown cantaloupe ripening in my kitchen. I sure hope it tastes good!
I have a few million things to share with you about life, craft & our goings-on. My problem over the past year has been time, I feel really short on it, and brain energy for writing up a post is lacking. On top of it I never know if the things that I am working on are blog worthy or not, since this started out as my is supposed to resemble a craft blog. In the end I write nothing and that is not a great way to go for blog followers, sorry :(
I'm on another big learning curve at this stage in my life. Learning how to balance all the things that are pulling at me: renovation planning, renovating, homeschooling, part time work, home responsibilities and relationships. I've been fighting with them all over the past few years trying to see which of them I can cut out and I finally realize that none of them can be cut out, they all need my attention and that is not a bad thing. Balance is the key and I've learned that balancing takes practice. It seems to me that for balancing to work you have to know when to let go, or walkaway and when to embrace. It reminds me of the "work hard - play hard" line of thinking with a "rest well" twist. I personally struggle with the last part - rest well - but my blogging absence has been teaching me the latter and by resting well, I've learned to walk away and let go.
In a perfect world I would be able to do it all, but I'm sorry folks, I'm just not that girl. While I like to think I can do it all, this 40 something girl has learned that tomorrow seems to take care of itself and has it's own list of things that need to be done adding to the previous days list (Ugh! but lets not go there, okay).
Why I am sharing this? Well, it's always on my mind, to explain my lack of blogging and to update you to where I am at and I think this explanation may be as much for me as it is for you. I need to make sense of my life, I need to journal these thoughts and days for what they are and because I don't think this is the end of blogging for me.
I am dabbling in a bit of everything right now because that is what life is demanding of me. I'm okay with it and I'm adjusting, I'm not kicking and screaming anymore and I feel less whiny about the whole thing. Yay, progress!
So here's what I would like to do, I'd like to go through my gazillions of photos and chronicle what I can of some of the projects we've been working on for the past couple years that were photographed but were never blogged on. I don't intend on turning this into a home renovation blog, because I will be so happy when things are done, done, done; but I would like to share some of the changes we made because it is where my energy has been for so long. I will also continue you with crafty life posts as inspiration comes. Sound good to you?
One more thing... Happy Fall! The weather has been beautiful here and the photos are from a recent walk we took through our forest where I followed that squirrel through the woods trying to get a photo of him, he was so fast and when he finally did slow down I snapped and snapped. It was kind of un-nerving as I had this ominous feeling like the big fella was going to jump on me and I would be explaining to the folks at emergency how exactly I got a bit by a squirrel on my head....ha!
Posting on the go today, thank you typepad iPhone app.
I made quinoa stuffed turkey breast for dinner today. It's in the oven and I am a happy camper. I used the recipe from Dani Spies as a base, just google her and the quinoa stuffed turkey breast. I didn't have all the ingredients so I substituted the leeks & cherries for onions & cranberries. I'm sure it will be just as yummy.
After the dressing is prepared, butterfly your turkey breast, cover with dressing, roll up tightly & tie with string. Add some fresh garden potatoes tossed in olive oil and you are set for dinner. Oh and don't forget the garden beans!
I'll take photos once dinner is cooked and edit them in to this post.
ETA: it was yum-a-licous:
Happy cooking, xx.
Fall has arrived here in lower Canada and I've been uber busy organizing kids schedules, extra curriculars as well as educational needs. I'm heading into my second year of home educating all four kids now and feeling much better about the year ahead than I did last year at this time. The logistical challenges (last year) of adding the twin girlies to the mix had me scrambling a bit and making some choices for my older boys that I am not making this year. Primarily I am speaking of the independent curriculum that I had my boys working on. While the curriculum itself was not a bad thing, what I didn't like about it was it had the boys doing a lot of jumping around from textbook to manual to handout, etc., a lot of unnecessary steps in my opinion.
My homeschooling style tends to be somewhere in between organized and unschooling, a lot of room in between those definitions, I know and maybe some explanation would help. I generally don't like education to be contrived, rather organic in purpose, breathing life into learning and kindling the interest already in the heart of a child. This year we will be integrating a bit of Charlotte Mason's teaching style of 'living books' into the boys curriculum. side note: Ambleside online is a great resource for books and there is a Canadian site that has recommended versions for those us a little higher than the 49 parallel.
For the girls I will be working through the Five in a Row (FIAR) literature curriculum. I purchased it years ago with the intent of using it for the boys but never fully did, this time I intend on following through for the girls. I love the literature focus and the storybooks are so well chosen. We will be supplementing FIAR with a phonics and math to continue to build the basic skills, as well as a couple of AO book recommendations for Science & History.
This past week the girls and I started FIAR with a book called Storm in the Night. We are currently following the book guidelines, discussing certain subjects on each day and Wednesday we discussed the art of Storm in the Night. We talked, as recommended, about how the author uses colour to convey the feeling of darkness, or absense of light. After our discussion, we had a paint time where we got to apply the same ideas to paper. We used acrylic paints and Benjamin happened to be on a break between his studies so he joined in on the painting.
I think painting is one of the most beautifully artistic mediums available, especially suited for children. It is very hard to find a child who does not want to participate when the colours come out. I feel like the girls really got a grasp on what the illustrator was trying to convey and they did an excellent job with their pictures.The remainder of the week we worked on their lapbooks, they seemed to really enjoy the hands-on element of FIAR. Up next is The Story of Ping, a childhood favourite as I happen to own a copy.
It's very satisfying watching your own children flourish & grow right before your eyes through literature and discussion. Home education is da bomb!
Last year, well maybe even a year and a half ago, I got on bread making kick. In my making, I was determined to venture away from the bread machine and using any form of store bought yeast. Excuse me you say? How does one make bread without fast rising or traditional yeast? Well, I ventured into the world of sourdough bread. Yes indeed the bread that made San Francisco famous with all it's yummy goodness.
My first and foremost reason for wanting to make sourdough was that (I suspect) my oldest and I have some form of gluten intolerance, though we have yet to be tested my logic tells me that decreasing gluten in our diet can only help. Secondly, in all my bread reading sourdough has excellent health benefits which you can read about here, here, here, and pretty much anywhere else on the internet, just google "sourdough health benefits". Armed with reasons & readings, my foray into sourdough was as naive as would be expected considering I had zero experience with wild fermented yeast. That deserves a whole post of it's own but googling "sourdough troubles" will also do the trick.
I started making my sourdough starter with this recipe, which is from Peter Reinhart. In my experience, whole wheat starter never worked that great for me. Instead I have found more success with a starter that combines unbleached white and rye. I won't get into too much of the fundamentals because really there is so much information out there about sourdough and depending on where you live sourdough is just as much about trial as it is error. For example, my sister and I both live in the same city & make sourdough yet our proofing times are different from each other. Strange but true. Speaking of sisters, let me give a shout out to my big sis' here because she "got" sourdough way faster than I did and was making beautiful loaves early on. She would even gift me a loaf here and there when my sourdough failures were starting to get to me.
And yes, there were failures, I felt a bit like Thomas Edison when he was working at the light bulb. I would estimate discovering 40-50 different ways not to make sourdough bread. But hey, I'm patient, I have the time, how hard can this be right? Meanwhile my mum could be found sitting on my shoulder like a little cartoon character (we won't mention which one) saying "I would just give up on that thing if I were you..." Ha! Nothing like a little mum speak to stir up the stubborness, and so I pressed on.
Fast forward to today: the Sourdough and I have been making our peace and I am no longer making bricks. I am finding the balance between starter, bulk fermenting, and proofing times and all that sourdough lingo. Even my last loaf obeyed the laws of bread form when it spilled out onto the stone in perfect loaf shape and baked to perfection. My kids can attest to my excitement level when they heard me screaming like a crazy woman over my proofed loaf . "I have conquered...muhahaha..." (hint: remember Tom Hanks in Cast Away after he made fire). Umm yeah, right now you might be thinking too many hours "baked" in the kitchen. Indeed! Well, whatever it takes I say.
Fyi: the last 3 photos are of recent sourdough loaves and a pretty consistent representation of my results. I no longer use a loaf pan for baking, only for proofing & shaping. The round loaves you see are proofed in circular bowls. The loaves are tranferred to baking stone and the end result is the lightest texture. Very yummy! This is my favourite recipe for sourdough, I subsitute rye flour for some of the white but keep my measurements the same. Her website is a fantastic resource for all things sourdough.
You sure started out with a bang! No sooner did I post my summer goings on then we had another trip to the emergency room that very evening. This time however it was not one of the kids rather it was my mum. She was walking in a park when a young girl on a scooter ran into her knocking her over. What followed was: she couldn't get up...she knew it was bad...a trip to the hospital for x-rays plus a CT scan revealed my mum's hip was broken. Argh and $%&*@#% for her. A bugger of way to start the summer.
My mum is a very active 80 year old who never spends a day in bed, to see her lay in bed waiting for her turn in surgery was both nerve wracking and frustrating. Finally 3 days after the fall she had her surgery - a partial hip replacement, pretty amazing what they can do surgically. She started walking (with a walker) on her new hip by day 2, day 3 she did stairs and by day 7 we brought her home with us. We have given her the girls room as it is on the same floor as the kitchen, LR, DR & deck. We have some fancy gadgets in the bathroom like toilet armrests to help mum in her daily needs. I get the pleasure of giving her a needle every day - not really my forte but live and learn right?
Our summer holidays have re-adjusted themselves, first week was all about hospital visits and moving furniture to get a room set up for mum. Second week was spent close to home making sure all was well with mum. This week we have enlisted some help (for my mum) so we can sneak away with the kids on a few day trips to the local events & beaches...and maybe even a movie or two with my sweetie ♥ (I'm so behind). Not exactly the way we had planned to spend our three weeks of holidays but right now flexibility is a very good thing and I'm feeling grateful that things were not worse (for mum).
Until I stop by again, Happy Weekending. xoxo.