September 15, 2011 § 2 Comments
Well, School is in full swing, now, and it’s been a rough couple of weeks. We’ve had a few bathroom accidents during school, a few forgotten homeworks, one completely missed project (in an email, the teacher sweetly asked why my child’s project wasn’t there. I had never even heard of this project! Not a great start…), and some major meltdowns here and there. Outside of school, my youngest got eight stitches in her forehead one Friday night, we’ve had two chickens die in the last week (pretty gruesome), and I’ve been laid out for days with the flu. Sometimes life just kicks your butt. But, I know it could be worse.
There have been great things, too, however and, in effort to dwell on the beautiful and good (something I’m working on), I’m going to list them:
~While I was sick with the stomach flu recently, my oldest totally came through, rousing everyone from bed, making lunches, and fixing breakfast for everyone, so that I could just roll out of bed (curled up in a cramping ball) and get in the car to drive them to school. I was touched by her kindness to me.
~My son’s teacher sent home an “award” for his performance in the math part of class that day. He really gets excited by solving number problems. We see some geeky coolness in his future, but this is not breaking news with him.
~My second daughter, June, loves to read out loud (loudly), and has recently taken to reading the non-readers stories. Bedtime, mealtime, in the car time…she’s reading to someone. She likes to be in charge and I’m hoping this is a good way for her to be. Plus, the younger ones are being read to more. I’m so appreciative of that.
~I couldn’t be enjoying all the time I’m getting with my youngest any more. We are having a blast working our way through a book, practicing the formation of letters, going to the YMCA (where grandmotherly types read her books, she makes clocks to learn how to tell time, etc. all while I’m getting some exercise), reading books while eating warm roasted peanuts, and baking something almost every day (these, this, and this amazing thing, for example). See what I mean? I’m just reveling in it because she goes off to kindergarten next year. Sniff.
Speaking of granola (one of the links above), we have been eating it on a pretty regular basis as I continue to try to reduce our sugar intake (I know, I’m one of those people. But read this article and tell me what you think) by making our own cereal. I have no hope, nor wish, to eliminate sweetness from our diets entirely, but I can do what I can, right?
I kind of just wing the granola at this point, dumping the dry stuff into a big bowl (seeds, nuts, flax meal, dried fruit or not, salt, cinnamon or nutmeg) and mixing it with some wet ingredients (maple syrup, vegetable or grape seed or even olive oil, honey, vanilla extract). If it’s too dry I add more wet stuff. If it’s too wet, I add more dry. Then I bake it on a sheet pan at 375 degrees for ten minutes, stir it, see if it needs to toast more, and go from there. It’s pretty foolproof and you can customize it to your tastes. Oh, and your house will smell like it will in heaven.
Other Stuff to Love:
This version of Jane Eyer, lent to me by my friend, Angie. I’ve only watched it three times this week. (what?)
Daydreaming over this beautiful, little bed and in what kind of dream world it would fit (can you imagine how dirty that could get? still…).
August 18, 2011 § 7 Comments
Today was the first day of school for my kids. Well, three of them. It was the first first for my son. After waiting an extra year b/c I was sure he wasn’t ready for all that, he finally got out of the car and waltzed (well, sort of raced his sisters so they wouldn’t be showing him where his classroom was. He KNEW!) into school. Kindergarten. I spent a lot of the day praying (truly) that there wouldn’t be a bathroom accident (otherwise known as peeing in his pants). There wasn’t (he didn’t). In fact, he came home jazzed to tell me about the class room signal for needing to go to the bathroom (crossing one’s fingers in the air). He was full of tales and excitement, loved his day, said he “think(s) it’s fun in kindergarten”, and at dinner, asked if he could say the prayer, then thanked God that he was able to go to kindergarten. Oh my goodness. I love him.
These are pictures of the messenger bags I made them. I know it’s hard to see detail, but it was all I was able to snap in our rush out the door this morning. Henry: stripes. June: horses (oh my, that fabric. But she loves horses, so…). And Aiden: floral. I’m pretty happy with them, but probably happiest that I made them using only materials I already had. Oh, the satisfaction. I figure I probably only have a couple more years, if that, where they want me to make their bags for school, so I’m reveling in it.
I modified the pattern found here.
- I find this very inspiring.
- My sister-in-law, Elena, turned me on to soaking oatmeal and I’m into it. I can do it at night, warm it in the morning, serve my kids something warming and healthy for breakfast, and still be on time for school. Excellent.
- I found a “squirrel lady” to rehab Scotty (yes, that’s our pet squirrel). Apparently she will raise him to squirrel adulthood and then let him go. I’m for it. I’m pretty sure the best time to keep a wild animal is in its infancy.
- Read this book and really liked it. Currently reading this one and I’m intrigued, but not sure yet.
August 15, 2011 § 6 Comments
Scenes from the Circle B Ranch here in Lakeland. It’s on a large lake full of alligators. The thought of an alligator crossing our path definitely added some drama to our walk. Proper drenching in sweat occurred.
And this? This is “Scotty”. Yes, he’s baby squirrel. He fell out of his nest in our front yard. I’m not a squirrel rescuer, reader. Seriously. I generally think of squirrels as rats with fuzzy tails, and every time I’m feeding him PUPPY formula from an eye dropper (what??!) I’m shaking my head at myself. But this thing…it’s cast some sort of spell on me. I love it! Hopefully we aren’t doing more harm than good….
August 8, 2011 § 6 Comments
…I’ve been enjoying this recipe over and over again. Our orange tomatoes from the garden make an even more colorful dish. I officially need a tart pan.
…looking forward to seeing Josh Ritter (in November. Long term goals, people). I can’t get enough of this version of “Thin Blue Flame”.
…cooking out of Kim Boyce’s book Good To the Grain. Amazing whole wheat chocolate chip cookies! I’m going to post the recipe soon if I can get a picture of them before they are gobbled up! They’re shocking…really.
…working on making three little messenger bag/backpacks for my back to school kids. This may stretch into next week too! I need to get working…
What about you? What are you up to in the last few weeks of summer?
June 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
My kids are all home now for the summer. It’s a great thing, but I’m finding myself still adjusting to all of the “activity” that is constant in the house, now. It’s loud. It’s messy. And I feel like I’m supposed to be coming up with stuff (other than just playing) for my kids to do all summer. Why? I don’t know. I’m a firm believer in them not having too much structure in their lives, letting them be kids who get to wander a bit. But the past week has felt way too nebulous. Maybe it’s because MY schedule has been totally thrown off. I’m feeling adrift. They’re probably fine.
Anyway, I thought I’d do the French Fridays with Dorie recipe this week, only to discover it was a roasted rhubarb dish. Rhubarb has completely disappeared from my grocery store (it always seems too expensive to me anyway), so I knew I wouldn’t be making that one.
I was going to cook SOMETHING from Around My French Table , though, and I landed on a simple cookie that would let the kids participate: Speculoos. Speculoos are a Belgian cookie, actually, but, according to Dorie, quite popular in France, mostly around Christmas. The ingredients are simple, they’re short on baking time (you do have to let the dough chill for a few hours), and make a great, little snack with coffee (me) or milk (them).
As we tasted them together we had to describe them as best we could. “Cinnamon-y”, “Crunchy” (yelled at top volume), and “More cinnamon-y than snickerdoodles” were some of the responses. Everyone agreed they were “YUMMY!!!”, though, and that’s hard to beat.
Unless you add ice cream…
You can find the recipe here.
April 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
I’m Letting the spring lettuces go to seed so I can collect them for the next planting. This pod is filled with arugula seeds. I feel like a (somewhat) real gardener when I do this…
The first few tomatoes have come out. I’m already battling the aphids/tomato plant murderers. Fish oil is keeping them in check at this point. I’m hoping to not have to bring out the synthetic chemicals on them. But I will. They are ruthless.
The herb garden (a raised bed Vince built for me; love that guy) is so pleasing. I love having all those different tastes at my disposal. I just send a kid out with some scissors (I’ve had a little “this is how you cut ____” talk with all of them already) when I need it. Cilantro, basil, thyme, and chives (going clockwise) are all producing well, so I’m looking forward to some serious flavoring this summer. Hopefully I’ll be brave and be more adventurous in what I combine with them.
It’s so fun, and….I know I sound hokey and like I have some soothing flute music playing in the background when I say it, but…it’s truly a privilege to watch.
March 24, 2011 § 9 Comments
For the last few years, finances have been pretty uncertain for our family. And when I say uncertain, I don’t mean asking questions like “Will we be still able to take our family vacation this year?” No. The uncertainty has been more like “Mommy? Are we going to make it to school this morning?” (because the red E is glaring at us and I have exactly $0 to spend on more gas) We’ve lost our house, moved in with my in-laws (with our four children! These are amazing people), and because we’re always paying off debt, we’re still month-to-month with money. Sometimes, day-to-day. There have been some ugly moments. I’ve had meltdowns. I’ve sworn and yelled and cried. I’ve thought, deservedly, “This isn’t supposed to be my life!”
The odd thing is, having less has been so good for me: I’ve learned I can do jobs I didn’t think I could stand, and lived without things I ridiculously thought necessary (vacations? Sadly, not necessary to life). I guess I could be just getting used to it or learning how to make the best of a “bad” situation. Or, maybe my entitlement is starting to crumble. I don’t really know. But, I do know I feel softer and in having less, I’m more attune to how good I actually have it.
This recipe, a staple in our house, has become a symbol to me of how rich you can be, even when you’re broke. Humble, everyday ingredients transformed into something that’s both beautiful (contrasting, bold colors) and full of intense flavors. It reminds me that there are so many gifts around me, most of them costing little or nothing to experience, and that I really don’t want to miss them by wasting time, wishing we had more money. I know it’s just beans, but it’s a reminder.
I found this recipe in Gourmet a few years ago, when we were all in better financial shape (the magazine and my family). I loved it then, but have since changed some of the ingredients because of cost (good sherry and avocado are typically out). But, even if you do use the pricier items on the list, this is still an extremely inexpensive way to feed a crowd, and satisfies in a way you don’t expect from beans and rice. It’s a great recipe.
Kemp’s Black Beans (Gourmet April 2007)
- 1 lb dried black beans (about 2 1/3 cups), picked over and rinsed (but not soaked)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- **1/4 cup Sherry (cream or medium-dry)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Goes well with:
- sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed (1″), and roasted (with a little olive oil and kosher salt on 450 for 20-30 minutes)
- grated cheese (any kind you like)
- Pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds)
- Chopped red or white onion (or shallot)
- Chopped cilantro
- Avocado, cubed
- sour cream
- Lime wedges, for squeezing on top
- Hot sauce