Monday, February 28, 2011

from the weekend

This weekend was one of those rare times when all the housework, laundry and chores were done enough (it's never really all done, is it?) that we were able to relax and fill our time with plenty of other enjoyments... a meeting at the farm looking ahead to the work of spring, a lunch with an old friend, time for cooking, baking, swimming, reading, family, friends, games and more.

Our friend, donning what the children have dubbed the "loser's" hat. Very prophetic, indeed, as Daniel won the match (was it the hat, Annie, or did you let him win...?)

Sophia working on her new favorite snack (recipe to come later this week.)

And a recipe from the weekend to share today, three-ingredient peanut butter cookies. I certainly didn't come up with this recipe, but love how easy it is to make (and it's gluten free!).

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. peanut butter

1 c. sugar

1 egg

(I add a little salt and baking soda to this mix, mostly because our homemade peanut butter is unsalted, and the soda helps to lighten the cookie a bit.)

Mix until smooth. Spoon onto a baking sheet and press with a fork. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, more or less depending on how large your cookies are.

Hope your weekend was full of enjoyment, too.

Friday, February 25, 2011

the stable

When the kids start in with their pleas for ponies, it helps to have horses at the ready. Working at the farm each week usually satisfies their longings, but we're lucky to get some extra help from my brother whose horse is boarded not far from our home. The kids went out to the stable to get their hands dirty and their heads full of horse dreams.

I'm grateful for days like this for so many reasons. It certainly helps the way a new destination shakes up our winter rotation (library, nature center, open gym, repeat). The children enjoy and learn so much from these moments, and I'm glad for the time they are spending with their uncle, the memories they are making and the relationships they are building.

Oh, I'm also just as grateful for the way these visits help to satisfy those childhood hankerings for a horse of their own. We'll see how long it will last...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

down time

I'm feeling a little sick today. We've all been fighting off a nasty bug that's been making the rounds. So I'm happy to declare today a "do little" day.

We're making up pots of tea with fresh ginger and chamomile from last year's garden.

I've got a stack of books waiting for me, some old inspiration and some new...

And the kids have some favorites they're ready to snuggle up with, too.

(love these slippers from Satch & Sol)

Even though I'm feeling low, I've got this guy in the garage to make me smile. We found him on the side of the road yesterday. Couldn't bear to leave him there.

(Yes, this means we were trash picking. It was terribly entertaining. We're considering decorating our whole house with things we salvage from the trash pile. Maybe I should start a new series of posts..."from the curb." I think I like it. )

Good day, to you all. Hope you're feeling fine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


With the recent glimpse of spring past, we have returned to winter cold and blowing snow. I do love this in-between place, filled with anticipation and preparation for the season ahead and a lingering enjoyment of the one we find ourselves in now. The big kids were up and out this morning, checking the creek as it swells to carry the water that was so recently snow underfoot, scattering food for the animals who are nearing the end of winter's scarcity. But they were soon brought back in for the warmth of fresh muffins and tea to offset the cold out of doors.
This morning found the oven running strong, baking warmth into the house, filling the kitchen with batches of good things to eat. One of the breakfasts that we keep in heavy rotation around here is this granola that we've been making for a few years now.

Nutty Granola

1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. water

3 c. oats
1/3 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
1/3 c. flax or pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/2 t. salt

Preheat the oven to 250. Mix the first five ingredients in a medium sized bowl. (You can easily liquify the coconut oil by measuring it into the bowl and placing it in the oven as it preheats). Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and stir to coat. Spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

This recipe makes enough to fill a one-quart jar, plus a little extra for those fresh-from-the-oven samplings.

It makes for a very satisfying way to fill these mornings in-between.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursday over at The Nourishing Gourmet, and Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

looking forward

This weekend brought signs of what's to come...

leaves getting ready

buds on the blueberry bushes

peach tree blossoms in the making

green seen in the strawberry patch

With the warmth came melting snow, rising water, bicycles in motion and a brief trip to visit friends. That time spent on the road was passed taking in the scenery,

and looking forward to more birthdays to come...

(What are you looking forward to these days?)

Friday, February 18, 2011

more from the birthday

Another gift for the boy's birthday was really a belated Christmas gift; the elves were a bit behind schedule at Christmastime to get this one to him, but promised it would be ready for his birthday. (The "elves" are Elves and Angels, a family business based in Maine specializing in beautiful, handcrafted wooden toys, available through Nova Natural Toys.)

With gifts from family and other collected odds and ends, we soon had a fully equipped farmyard.

Engelberger wooden figures, also available through Nova Natural.

There is such joy in watching the children deeply involved in their play, and the quality and craftsmanship that go into these toys make them a pleasure to have in our home. I can't help but let my mind wander through the years, thinking of the generations (hopefully) yet to come who will find their imaginations sparked here in the pieces with which our children now play.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

it's like butter

(Well... it is butter.)

We recently found ourselves with a half gallon of organic cream and the usual amount of energetic children. Making butter is a much-loved game for the kids. We fill mason jars just under half-full with the cream, and the children begin dancing about with the jars, shaking and rolling them back and forth.

After a while, it turns to whipped cream.

Keep shaking, and soon it feels as though the contents of the jar are no longer liquid as the cream sticks to the glass. Shake a little more, and the buttermilk begins to separate from the butter.

When all the buttermilk has released, it is poured off to save. The ball of butter is removed from the jar and rinsed in cold water, working the butter with a spatula to remove all the buttermilk that may be trapped in the pockets.

Fresh buttermilk is sweet and can be enjoyed plain, or it can be cultured by adding a small amount of plain yogurt and leaving to stand at room temperature for a few hours.

We shape our butter into sticks and store them wrapped in parchment paper,

or season with salt and garlic powder to enjoy with our bread.

A delicious fix to the age-old problem of eager children and excess cream.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

for the birthday boy

Recently, we purchased a new bed for Daniel. Deciding on a mattress was a difficult choice as we wanted something that was free from toxic chemicals so prevalent in standard mattresses but was also affordable. We settled on the Keetsa mattress. With a blend of unbleached and organic cottons, bamboo and wool for the cover, bio-foam with green tea extract for the core and non-toxic flame retardants, this mattress provided a lot of what we were looking for. The company uses unique shipping (for free!), compressing the mattress in bio-degradable and recyclable packaging. A solid, untreated pine bedframe added one more non-toxic element to this place where he will spend so much time in the coming years. We topped the new bed with organic cotton sheets, so all that was needed was this:

A nice, warm blanket.

The blanket top was pieced together with a length of horse print cotton and a watery blue cotton print from the local fabric store. The batting is warm and natural unbleached cotton, with a solid green cotton flannel backing.

I do so love this horse print, and it goes very nicely with last year's handmade birthday gift...

This teepee, a favorite reading/hiding/scheming place for all the little ones.

While not the most challenging sewing project, this blanket was certainly the largest I've undertaken. I was reminded of a few very basic, yet very important, rules while working on it:

- Measure, measure and measure again (I could have sworn I had enough blue fabric for both the front and the back)

- Pins exist for a reason. It's good to use them (and also, who knows why, I really do work better with a pin held in my teeth.)

- The seam ripper is your friend. While it may hurt to undo a large section of work (twice), the results when you get it right (it helps to use those pins; see above) are worth the effort.

And another, more personal reminder: I truly do enjoy making things for my family. Makes a girl feel good.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Happy Valentine's Day to you...

Daniel's snowy valentines

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It's been five years since this boy so peacefully entered into our lives.

When a friend once asked if I had a sense of who my children were while I was carrying them, I immediately thought of Daniel. The months of his pregnancy were pleasant and joyful; his birth in our home was calm and peaceful -- all very much how he is.

Yes, it's true, he has his share of boy energy that finds him bouncing through this world. But more than that, he has a quiet, sometimes reserved nature. While his older sister meets everything with a great outward curiosity and energy, Daniel eases his way along, quiet observation before excitement.

As the years march forward, he continues to find his own rhythm in the new roles he takes on; big brother, farmhand, playmate, helper and more. It has been a joy to watch him find his place and forge his relationships with his world and the people who fill it.

Here's wishing a day of wonder and adventure to our five-year-old boy.