Friday, February 26, 2010


I should mention that, along with the 3 solid meals per day we enjoy, we also like a few snacks.  Over the years of parenting I have managed to find or create several relatively healthy, whole food snacks for our family.  My first choice for snacking is fresh fruit but we also like to have our treats.  My favourites are to have fruit and nut bar (recipe on side bar, photo in link) in the freezer as well as some energy orbs. We usually have some muffins (either banana, pumpkin, blueberry or applesauce) on hand. And every once in awhile I like to make these chocolate treats.

You start with dark chocolate (ours is from Rancho Vignola and, unbelievably, it is still leftover from last year's order.)
You add your favourite nuts.  These are walnuts from one of our walnut trees at our old home, I'm starting to realize just how crazy an amount of food I put away when I see that I still have a huge bag of walnuts to use up and we didn't even harvest any last year.)  Anyone with nut allergies can use seeds instead.
Melt the chocolate over low  heat.
Choose what else you would like to add.  I put in raisins, flax and hemp (also from RV) as well as some coconut.
Stir it up until everything is coated in chocolate and then drop by small spoonful onto cookie sheets and put in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.  Then store in covered container in freezer. Now, the reason I say small spoonful is NOT because I think one should only have a tiny amount of chocolate (especially when it comes mixed with all these healthy ingredients), it is simply because we like to eat them frozen and if you make them small enough you can pop them whole into your mouth to suck on.  If you make them too big and have to bite them in half then you will end up with a big chocolate smear around your mouth....Every Time You Eat Them.  Trust me.
Plus if you make them small then you feel quite justified in having more than one.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Menu Planning for the (maybe not so?) Hopelessly Unorganized

I have made a goal to stick to menu planning this year.  I used to do a one week menu plan when the boys were younger because I simply did not want to have to think up something to cook each afternoon and then cook it from scratch.  I always found the thinking of a meal that would use the ingredients I had on hand harder  than the actual preparing of if.  I was inspired by another homelearning mom to try to plan for 3 weeks at a time and, living out here further away from town, I am really glad that I am doing this.  The next few months we will be using a lot out of our freezers and cold room.  I stash away so many veggies and fruit during our summer growing months that I am able to keep us stocked in our favourites throughout the year.
This is our plan for the next three weeks.  A lot of our lunches and dinners will be using our stewed tomatoes as I try to clean out a freezer.  Most of the ingredients in this plan are from the freezer, cold room or pantry.  The legumes we use were all bought in huge bags last year and I cook up big batches every so often and freeze them on cookies sheets (so they freeze separately instead of in clumps) and then bag them.  The boys each have one night a week to cook including my husband on Sunday nights, they choose what they will make.  We are, of course, open to changes and can switch nights if needed (due to being out all day) or change plans if we have company coming but overall I find it frees up an immense amount of time and energy for me to follow this.  I usually plan the main part of the meal and then if it needs to be supplemented I use the veggies on hand to make a salad, side-dish or soup.
Monday - Chickpea Cannelloni - Baked squash (half a butternut)
Tuesday - Black Bean Tortilla (W's night)
Wednesday - Cannelloni Leftovers - Broccoli Soup - Spiced baked squash slices (other half of butternut)
Thursday -Mac and cheese (E's night)
Friday - Pizza Night (I make dough and everybody makes their own pizza)
Saturday - Homemade Perogies - cabbage salad
Sunday - S's night
Monday - Lasagna
Tuesday-Lentil Casserole
Wednesday- Tacos with leftover lentil casserole as filling (E)
Thursday - Pasta (W)
Friday - Pizza (Jamie Oliver dough, sauce from our tomatoes, various toppings)
Saturday- Stirfry (Broc, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions) and sushi
Sunday - S's night
Monday - Chilli  - Baked Potato - corn bread
Tuesday- Rice  with tomatoes, chickpea and feta - broccoli soup
Wednesday - Tortillas or sloppy joes(chilli as filling) (E)
Thursday-  Pasta (W)
Friday - Pizza
Saturday -Homemade perogies
Sunday - S's night

Tomato (made by simmering some of my frozen stewed tomatoes with some broth and whizzing it up)
Roasted red pepper (want to use up the remainder of my frozen roasted red peppers)
Onion (from 50 lb bag bought in Autumn)
Nettle (hoping we can get our hands on some more fresh nettle over the next week and start eating this)

9 grain bulk cereal topped with our applesauce
Oatmeal (cooked with apples/cinnamon/raisins)
Waffles (I make a triple batch on the weekend and then  refrigerate the leftovers to be heated in toaster, we eat them with the peach butter we made in summertime)
Yogurt and homemade granola - we sweeten the yogurt with our frozen fruit or fruit butter
Toast and Egg or Egg Tortilla
French Toast
Smoothies (using our frozen fruit)

Last night I made our usual broccoli soup but I also added the leftover nettle from my infusion.  W always loves broccoli soup and comments on it but E said last night how good it was and helped himself to a second bowl, then S said it really was particularly good and that was when I told them about the nettle.  Oh, sometimes I just can't help myself, I do so want everyone to love nettle. :-)

We also used up some of our frozen strawberries to enjoy over a bowl  of icecream.  Delicious!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

French Press Failure?

If at first you don't succeed...then hopefully you learned something.
My first attempt at the French Press slippers didn't work, the wool just wouldn't felt.  Frustrating.  I've never had that happen before that I can recall.  What to do with unfeltable ballet type slippers that are large enough to fit my husband's big feet? 
Happily I already had another pair on the go with Paton's wool which always felts up quickly for me.
Here they are drying by the fire and waiting for their buttons.
So...what was the lesson here?  Hmmm, use the wool you know?  Get to know more people with huge feet and a penchant for ballet slippers?  It couldn't be to try to felt a small swatch first, could it?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bits and Bobs and French Press Slippers

I've been catching up on bits and bobs and odds and sods around here - a bit of knitting, a bit of springish cleaning, some baking, some organizing and lots more catch up after a month away.

I started on some French Press Felted Slippers with some of my thrifted stash of wool.
Look at all the bits you end up with when finished the knitting part.
Thankfully they looked slipperish once I got them stitched together so now I just need to felt them.
I saw this video on Navaho knitting on Ravelry when I was looking for tips on putting these slippers together and thought it was very cool.  I often see huge cones of yarn for a good price at the thrift store but it is very fine yarn that I haven't had a use for.  If I tried this technique and tripled the strands it would be quite useful.

The cat decided she would help out with my cupboard cleaning.
The boys have been busy with their work as well as lots of outdoor time.  E got this sweater out of my thrifted felting pile.  It's hard to beat wool for warmth.
And we've been seeing loads of birds just lately.
Sunday morning the trees were covered in frost again and made for a  beautiful sight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Men's Rustic Scarf

We still have snow up here in the woods and so I decided I wasn't too late in making S a woolen scarf.  I'd had my eye on the Men's Rustic scarf in Last-minute Knitted Gifts book for sometime and so I set to it the other night. 
This knit up quickly and I was ready to bind off but then decided that I wanted to make the last two colour sections just a little wider than suggested so I went back and redid them adding two extra rows to each colour. I finished binding off this morning and am pleased with how it turned out. 
W agreed to try it on so I could take a photo.
And now it waits on S's chair as a surprise when he gets home. Fun!
And did I mention I used up 3 balls of wool from my stash?  Now...those French Press Slippers use almost 2 skeins per pair...hmmmm.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I *heart* ...needle-felted hearts

I wanted to make some hearts for Valentine's day and found inspiration here.  I don't have the mold so I just made mine without.  They're fun to make, although I suggest keeping the words short - needle felting words that tiny takes a bit of patience ( I decided to change my O to a U and leave off the E in LOVE so you can tell how limited my patience is). ;-)
And while I love the needle-felted hearts my boys (all three of them) love...
a more edible kind of heart, especially when served with warmed peach butter.  I find it to be true that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. ;-)  Do you?

Friday, February 12, 2010

How to be Happier Day by Day: A Year of Mindful Actions

How to be Happier Day by Day...for only one thin dime.


My lovely husband found a book shop run by The Friends of the Library while we were on holiday. (yes, we are addicted to the library and everything to do with it)  The next time we were headed that way he took me to the shop to see what I could see.  I found all sorts of goodies and you can imagine how pleased I was when the gentleman minding the shop told us the books were 10 cents each unless otherwise marked, not including the free books outside.  Well...need I say more?
Anyway, out of the books we came home with this one is my favourite.  I read it in its entirety that night and the next day instead of reading only one section daily.  It is just one of those books that is fun to have close by - uplifting, inspiring and motivating.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

One of the things on  my list of 101 Things To Do is to indentify 100 things that make me happy.  A few things that normally make me very happy were made very clear to me while we were away on holiday and I was away from these things  - my love of, and the pleasure I get from, composting; my love of my well-seasoned, deep black cast iron pots and pans; the enjoyment I get from baking from scratch; and my complete and utter devotion to my home-canned is not as good for me without home-canned tomatoes. that we are home I am enjoying filling up our compost bucket each day and watching E wander out to the bins with it, I am eating tomatoes as often as I can and cooking them in cast iron and...I am baking...
Oatcakes (with sugarless strawberry jam)
Cinnamon Bread French Toast (this is W's piece and you can see he took a nibble out of the bread before making it into French toast)
Pumpkin Birthday Pie(s)

and lentil casserole,  homemade perogies with roasted garlic powder (or roasted gold as we call it - a gift from a wonderful friend), pasta with tomatoes, Jamie's roasted veg and more.  We do love good food.

I've left space in my journal for a list of the 100 things that make me happy because I think being aware of these things makes it just that much easier to be sure they have a place of priority in my life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Button-tab Knitted Hat

I found this knitted hat on this blog awhile ago and was quite taken with it.  I made two of them on holiday and had to wait until I got home to my button jar to finish them off. 
What is it about a pile of buttons that little fingers can't resist?  E swooped in to grab one just as I was taking a photo and W couldn't resist them either.  I used to always play with my mom's buttons in her jar too.
I didn't find quite what I had in mind for buttons but I found some that look good.  Here is the first hat, made with the leftover yarn from this vest
Here is the second one made with some thrifted very soft cotton.  I chose some mother-of-pearl buttons for it.
Since being home I made another one (with more of the leftover vest yarn) to give to the person who took care of our home while we were gone.
Two of them might be gifts (I had that plan to get all my gifts made early) or one might just end up being for me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Month of....

Sunshine and sunsets
Fresh eating
(in a different sort of way...I'm calling it my cutty, cutty, paste, paste journal)

Thrifting (of course!)
(a 1971  Thermos - love it! and my own copy of Pride and white-shirt lovin' heart be still)
Hiking (naturally! and more on these hikes later)
I can never help myself from taking too many photos of these gorgeous trees.  They're huge and beautiful and I love the way their bark peels off to reveal such gorgeous colours in their trunks.
All sorts of beauty
( I love finding heart-shaped rocks so I was tickled when I saw this - a heart-shaped hole in the lava)
(details on finished projects later)
Critters of all sorts - birds, turtles, geckos, humpback whales...
(E spotted this gecko with no tail, they can drop their tail as an escape tactic when necessary)
(E's  photo of one of  his favourite birds there)
And I know it isn't a good photo but one day the whales were in very close to shore all day. We were eating dinner and looked out to see this whale in very close. S snapped a photo as she did a fin slap and then we ran across to the beach to watch her. Some others had been watching her for an hour and said that at first she had been on her own and now we could see there were two whales...they figured she had her baby within that hour. Wonderful.

Not to mention lots of planning and dreaming, snorkeling, reading and a whole lot of relaxing.

Hope you had a wonderful month - the first month of this new decade.