Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Weekend

I just want to provide a healthy, holistic, happy, farm-like environment for my kids to grow up in.  The chickens don't get it.  They invaded my garden.  After discovering this and what they had done, I suddenly found myself in the dirt, sucking my thumb, in the fetal position, asking for my mommy.  Here lies a fully grown kale plant.  There were five of them, actually...

So I buried my sorrows by thrusting myself facedown in baked chili cheese fries that, according to the kids, were ewey.  And no, I didn't wait for the cheese to melt.
In between dinner and dessert, I had to muster up the strength to pick up a 25-pound sack of spelt grain, yams, and a case of olives the delivery guy forgot to give me on Monday.  Nutrition for my family isn't so convenient.   I came home to find that my husband decided not to let the raw espresso fudge cake with raspberry frosting set.  At least he seemed to like the new recipe...
11:45 pm, after finding me in the kids' miniature shower, hopelessly splashing water from the neck-height faucet to my face, Buddy-the-elf-style, Jeremy realized it was time.  The master bathroom shower simply had to be unclogged.  Somewhere in between squeamishly anticipating what might be unearthed and bringing up that first small hairball, it turned into a fishing tournament of sorts.  He had to catch the big one.  He did.  But I will spare you from the trophy image.  Picture a tangled, soggy wig and you'll get the general idea.
After all the excitement from our homemade episode of "The Deadliest Catch," I decided to give myself the night off.  The dishes were going to have to wait until tomorrow.  I was wiped out.

20-month-old decided to teethe throughout most of the night and begin her morning at 6:30.  She was hungry.  Into the kitchen we trudged.  The sink likes to take revenge when I neglect it.  It vomited dirty dishes at me.
20-month-old decided she was actually tired. At lunchtime.
Ever hear the saying, "Never wake a sleeping baby?"  Down she went, cowgirl boots, crumby, sticky, peanut-butter-and-honeyed face and all.  I needed to change her sheets, anyway.  There's nothing quite as peaceful as watching a sleeping baby.  And there's nothing quite as stressful as trying to keep her that way while three cabin-fevered kids sprint up and down the hallway.
As I stumbled out of her room, I found myself outside, attempting to somehow resuscitate the garden.  It looked like I wouldn't have much time.  After two weeks of constant rain, it seemed we were about to get more.  Do you want to know a secret? I was glad.  It was the perfect excuse for more comfort cooking, reading, and cuddling under cozy blankets.  And maybe even sleeping.
Sleep is overrated, according to 20-month-old.  So, with her on my hip, I remembered to feed myself some leftovers for lunch.  Mmm, they were happy leftovers.
Back outside we went.  We found that Daddy had laid fresh straw down for the hens.  It all looked so pretty.
"Hey, I'm layin' here!"
Seriously, isn't that gorgeous?
After a week of sickness in the house, it was time to rediscover the world.  Fist stop: In-n-Out Burger.  Gulp.  For some reason, Daddy insisted on taking a break from the raw recipes I was experimenting with... The kids and I ate our dinner in the van while Daddy set up for the benefit he was playing at; our next adventure for the night.  As I gagged down some of their coffee purely for it's medicinal value (it had to have been brewed 12 hours earlier), the kids piled into the seat next to me, munching on fries, and saying with delight that this was the best night ever.  Perspective.

Feeling rather intrusive with four wired kids at the grown-up benefit, I futilely tried to keep them in a back corner.  4-year-old's favorite part of the night?  Deciding to become a cheer leader up at the very front.
8-year-old's favorite part was sitting next to daddy on stage while he played his songs.  I give you high-quality, iPhone footage...
It was 8:00; an hour past 20-moth-old's bedtime and right at the rest of our kids' bedtimes.  I was ready for bed, not another get-together at an un-child-proofed house, no less.  But... off we went.  And it was great.  The kids had a blast with the other family who brought their kids.  5-year-old's favorite part was the massage chair...
and 20-month-old's favorite was this boxer puppy, appropriately named Grace.
Home at 10:00.  The youngest two were fast asleep in their car seats.  It was a 5-minute drive.  

Weekends sure have changed with kids.  Sometimes, it's easy to enjoy motherhood.  Other times, my kids remind me of how amazing they are and what an honor it is being their mama, just by them being them, doing their thing.  It might have been slightly mortifying when 5-year-old ran up to the stage and shot out peace signs to the left, center, and right audiences while Jeremy was playing.  But it is something I'll never forget, and if I'm really honest, I took delight in that moment. When he ran back down to me with pride and said, "Mommy, did you hear all those people laughing?  They were laughing because of me!"  Hilarious.  

I might not have glamorous weekends out, but I do have these memories to cherish now, and a life filled with amazing little people who won't be little anymore when I blink two more times.  Then the glamorous weekends out will recommence.  I didn't mean for this post to be sappy and cliché and sentimental.  It kind of did that on it's own.  I take no responsibility.  I haven't slept in a while.  But I'm glad.  Life is full.  I choose to enjoy it.

Links: Weekend Warriors

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Capture ~ Colors

 This assignment makes me long for spring even more!  When we first moved here in April, this place was bursting with color.  My breath was taken away by all the blooms.  This was the first time I laid eyes on our backyard at move-in day.

Let's just say, there was immediate connection between me and this place...

An Ergo Baby Carrier Giveaway!

After blogging about attachment parenting, being able to host this giveaway is most exciting.  Let me just start by saying that I've been a more-than-satisfied customer of The Homegrown Family for over four years.  Their site is easy to navigate, their shipping is faster than I've ever experienced, and their pricing is so affordable.  It's a site that carries tailor-made products to enrich & help the home life.  I was absolutely blown away when they offered to give away a Black-with-retro-lining Ergo Baby Carrier (valued at $105) here at my lil' blog!

If you've never heard of an Ergo Baby (I'll try to stifle a *gasp*), check this video out (scroll down a wee bit to see it).  I can't help but chortle at the martial arts demo, but it really does get the point across that nothing can get in your way of doing life while wearing a baby. Hehe.

It's the most comfortable carrier I've worn, it can hold babies from 5-90 pounds, and it's super-easy to nurse in.  A stroller seems like a hassle to lug in & out of the car when you can just strap your baby close to you & off you go on your daily errands.  I've worn a 20-month-old all day throughout the trails of Disneyland,

when I was preggers with our fourth, my husband wore our 2-year-old throughout the Pennsylvania countryside,
and all around Philly.
Okay, okay, I'll refrain posting more family pictures.  You get the idea...
It wears like a backpack; the cutest, cuddliest little back pack in the world.  :)

This contest begins Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at 9:00 am PST and ends Thursday, February 4th, 2010 at 9:00 pm PST.
*** North American entries only.  Sorry, international friends. ***

There are SIX possible entries per person.  How badly do you want this thing???

1.  Subscribe to The Homegrown Family's newsletter. Leave a comment at the end of this post stating you signed up.
2.  Follow my blog. If you already do, thank you!  Post another comment that you're following for an entry.
Follow me on twitter. If you already do, thank you!  Post yet another comment that you're following for an entry.
4.  Tweeting about this giveaway gives you a fourth entry, just leave your tweet link in a separate comment. 
5. Go to The Homegrown Family, then come back here and post a comment about an item of theirs you would put on your wish list.
6.  Blog about this giveaway, linking back to riddlelove and The Homegrown Family. Leave a link to your post in a separate comment.

I will go to to pick a winner on February 4th at 9PM PST. I'll post the winning result that night & the winner will have 48 hours to contact me.  If I don't hear from him/her by then, I will pick another winner.  Happy Early Valentine's Day to you & your babe from The Homegrown Family & riddlelove!

Atmosphere Thursday ~ Happy Togetherness

There's no better feeling than being connected with loved ones.  Life just seems lighter, happier, & more joyful when the warm fuzzies are flowing.  With the wee ones, (well, and with me if I'm honest) physical closeness is directly correlated with emotional connectedness.  Quick fact: babies who are worn cry 43% less.  Happy baby, happy parents, happy home atmosphere.  Besides, what better way to get some good exercise in than cleaning house with a baby on your back?

After wearing babies for over eight years & trying multiple carriers/slings, my absolute favorite is the Ergo Baby Carrier, hands down. Want to learn more?  Or how about, want to win one???!!!  The Homegrown Family has very graciously allowed me to host an Ergo Baby giveaway!  Click here to enter!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Appliance of the Week ~ Processing

I've had so many people tell me they have a food processor but hardly ever use it.  Does not compute.  I use mine at least once a day.  When all the parts are dishwasher-safe & it can grate a whole wedge of cheese, mince two onions or a bell pepper, or process two pie crusts in in 10 seconds, I say yes & amen.

I've had my Cuisenart food processor for ten years now, & although there are some little cracks here & there, it's still going on strong.  I'm starting a little food processor fund for when it does finally bight the dust so I can immediately replace it.  I cannot imagine life with out it. *Sniff.*

Besides, now that I'm really getting my hands dirty with raw foods, dicing, mincing, & grating into little bits is a requirement.

Food processors rock.
The end.

Take a gander at more Katie's Quick Home Keeping Tips Here. ~

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In-the-Garden Tuesday ~ Little Seedlings

It.  Is.  Cold.  And wet.  And I don't wanna be together outdoors.  But I do wanna be together.  And I wanna think about being outdoors (when it's warm & sunny).  And I love to prepare ahead.  And we just made lots of newspaper pots for little seedlings to sprout in.  So I say, let's get dirty.  Indoors.  Where it's warm.  Mmmkay?

Now is the time to start seeds indoors.  So many seeds.  Like tomatoes, celery, onions, cabbage, & even peppers if you can keep them warm enough outside in a few months.  Gardening with children is magical.  Especially when they're old enough to know not to pluck green tomatoes or pull up baby plants when they're helping you weed.  If you don't have much room, find a couple large pots & grow a salad.  Or fill up a trash can with dirt & seed potato & grow 25 pounds of your own taters.  It's hands-on learning about where our food comes from.  We're able to see first-hand the amount of work, water, & time that's invested into a single carrot.  This is a great beginning to a whole bunch of good times outdoors together throughout the coming months.  Besides, eating vegetables that you started from seed is the coolest thing ever.  Even for us grown-ups.

So if you haven't ordered your seeds yet, bundle up your little green thumbs & go choose some seeds & potting soil at your local lawn and garden store.  My son always picks the greatest seeds.  He's all about the name.  This year, he chose "Sugar Buns."  Can you guess what vegetable they are?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nutrition Monday ~ Nut Butter Spoons

Sometimes simple is best.  When it comes to snacks for both children & us bigguns, quick is the name of the game, which usually translates to carb-o-rama. Crackers, cookies, cereals, chips...  Carbs aren't all bad, but when you're trying to make as much from scratch for both nutritional & financial reasons, a lot time can be spent in the kitchen keeping up with the high demands of snackage.

My kids were fascinated by watching my parents spoon out some peanut butter for a speedy breakfast or snack. They became the coolest grandparents ever.  Hello!  What a great idea!  My children adore their nut butter snack spoons.  Quick, easy, nutritional.  That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

While we're on the subject, did you know storing nut butters upside-down naturally makes stirring the oil super-easy?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Market, To Market

So guess what was learned this week?  I can find authentic, Asian ingredients amazingly priced at... wait for it... the Asian market.  I did not know this until Thursday when I visited a really good one for the first time.  It turns out I've been paying twice the amount I needed to for baby coconuts at the local health food store.  Yeah, and all those really delicious looking raw Asian dishes I've been so eager to try but couldn't find ingredients for at supermarkets or Trader Joe's?  Yeah, they're at the Asian market.

Many thanks to my friend Sky for helping me find my new favorite place on Market Street. (How fitting, right?  Market Street?  The Asian Market is on Market Street?  I thought so...)  If it hadn't been for her, I wouldn't have found these:
Or these (those things next to the shockingly-priced green onions are lemongrass, friends!):
I was hoping the leaves were lime leaves (my sweet lime tree died in the frost while we we're out of town *sniff*), but when I asked the storekeeper what they were, I'm pretty sure he said, "Curry."  I bet they'll be yummy in the soup the mushrooms are going in, whatever they are.
My husband doesn't even know I have these babies.  I can't wait to surprise him with a hopefully delicious raw nori roll dish.  Is it bad that they say they're roasted?  That doesn't sound too raw, but all the nori rolls said they were roasted, so...

But the most exciting item to find was this!
On my new-find high, I quickly scurried home in the rain and whipped up Sky's delicious raw pudding (blast the blurry picture.  It was beautiful, I tell you):

And, well, I kinda forgot to take a picture of this before I commenced consumption.  It's not yet perfected, but wowza!  I can make my own Thai tea for pennies!
And do you know what else I learned from Sky?  That you can order things from stores.  Like a case of coconuts.  Meaning, instead of coming home with a couple, I can definitely come home with a case.  It's the simple, obvious but newly discovered things in life that fill me with glee and wonder.  Also, let it be known that you can, indeed, outgrow a morbid spelling problem.  There were no misspelled words in this post according to spell check, people.  None.  Will wonders never cease?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Crafty Friday ~ Newspaper Pots

This is the first year I've made newspaper pots.  I can't believe how quick and easy it is, & that I'm only now discovering them!  It is definitely something you can do with kiddos, I'd say ages four & up.  I'm sure the younger ones would love to be involved too, just be prepared do do 99% of the work & that it'll take twice as long.  But it's so worth it, right?  It's all about connecting & making memories. :)

After trying several methods, I found this to be the easiest:
1.  Fold a black-and-white only (color ink can have hard metals that may leach into your seedling) in thirds.

2.  I found that a 99-cent wine glass from Ikea worked really well for this step.  Roll the newspaper in the wine glass, leaving about a 1-inch overlap over the mouth of the glass.

3.  Shove the ends of the paper into the mouth of the glass.

Warning!  I learned from experience that 10-year-old, 99-cent wine glasses are very fragile & one broke on me during this process.  So I suggest a grown up work with the wine glass (have the children help with folding the paper).

Once that step is done, it looks like this:

4.  Very gently, press the bottom of the glass into the bottom of the newspaper pot to make the base.

 The end!

We were able to make 19 in 30 minutes.  Not so bad!

After using a fragile wine glass, it occurred to me the sturdier solution would have been a half-pint canning jar.  I believe we will use those in the future...

We're actually getting together with another garden-loving family for a brunch & to mass-produce these babies over the weekend.  I cannot wait!

Take a gander at more Katie's Quick Home Keeping Tips Here. ~

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Capture ~ Love Around My Home

Love around my home?  Of course I made a bee line to the kitchen.  What currently captures my eyes is glass storage.  I adore looking at all the pretty things we eat.  First stop, revival in a cup.

Next, my pantry door shelf.  Oh, how I love thee.  It's not the best picture.  It's iPhoneage.  My camera's headed to the shop...
And this sits next to the blender, ready & waiting to enhance the day's smoothie.

Atmosphere Thursday ~ Come FLY With Me

It's amazing the type of atmosphere a clean & tidy home can have.  Even if it's just clean-ish & tidy-ish.  My husband's mood seems to dramatically shift when he walks into a clean home, & the children become way more peaceful.  Maybe it's the wonderment of rediscovered toys that were hidden under couches & beds for 186 days.  Whatever it may be, uncluttered homes seem to encourage a sense of centered well-being.

Sometimes, it's just good to take a step back & re-prioritize.  I am really good at taking the time to do the things I love, but not so good at, well, being a consistent cleaner.  Don't get me wrong, I clean what feels like all the time, but with four kids eight years & under, it's apparently not enough.  Or just unorganized, frantic cleaning before people come over.

I was turned on to FLY Lady about four years ago.  She offers a free program to inspire (sometimes with a swift kick to the pants) homemakers not only to complete the daily drudgeries, er, blessings of house cleaning, but she finds ways to make it fun and how to incorporate the whole family, which is key, I tell you.

  To be perfectly honest, I slipped into the land of CHAOS over the past few months, so this past week, I just reviewed her site & put together a schedule (phone alert reminders & all) so it becomes routine again. *Sigh.*  I love baby steps, tossing aside perfectionism, & how "you're never behind; jump in where you are."

I have just officially inspired myself to rid this house of hot spots & conduct a 5-minute room rescue.  Readysetgo.

Take a gander at more Katie's Quick Home Keeping Tips Here. ~

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In-the-Garden ~ Porch Fort

Unless you live in the tropics, the Southern Hemisphere, or SoCal, it's quite challenging to get outside this time of year.  We have ten days of constant rain in the forecast & frankly, I don't like getting cold & wet.  Not to mention all the extra laundry that is generated from playing outside when it's soggy.  Bleh.

But...  Fresh air detoxifies, especially when you're cooped up in a house who's windows haven't been opened in a while.

A favorite childhood memory of mine is building forts on our little duplex's covered front porch in the rain.  I'm talking little front porch.  Just big enough for my mom to stick our kiddy table out on.  We'd cover it with blankets inside & out & eat our snacks in it.  Funnest.  Thing.  Ever.  I still fondly remember it, decades later.  Try it today.  Even if it's not raining.  Making memories usually requires extra effort on our part, but even writing this reminds me how important it is to carve out some time in my days & leave a happy taste of childhood in my little one's mouths as they grow up.

~ Take a gander at more Katie's Quick Home Keeping Tips Here. ~

Monday, January 18, 2010

Appliance of the Week ~ Mill of Wonder

After blogging about bread-making this Monday, naturally, I'm thinking of my beloved mill.  I saved and researched for a year before purchasing the WonderMill.  Definitely a good item to put in your wishpot list.  I'm bullet-pointing it today:

*  This thing mills 8 cups of fresh, whole-grain flour in about one minute (enough for 2 loaves of bread, plus one extra cup).
*  It is easy to use, clean, and store.  It's not heavy to lug from cabinet to counter.
*  Grain is way cheeper to buy than flour, especially if you buy in bulk, enabling me to buy more quality grain (flour) for my family with the same amount of money.  ie: Upgrade from conventional to organic, from wheat to spelt or kamut.
*  You're not only able to make flour, there are 3 options of what kind of flour: coarse, bread, & pastry.
*  I make fresh corn meal by milling popcorn on the "coarse" setting & it makes amazing corn bread.
*  Sensitive to wheat?  Mill your own rice, bean, or tapioca flours!
*  Since the nutritious germ is still in the flour, you'll want to store any extra fresh-milled flour in the freezer so the nourishing oils don't go rancid.  You can use it straight from the freezer, no need to thaw.
*  The process store-bought flours go through is nasty.  Milling your own flour eliminates more additives and preservatives from your family's diet and adds more nutrients to your homemade foods.

Take a gander at more Katie's Quick Home Keeping Tips Here. ~

Nutrition Monday ~ Our Daily Bread

Did you know the average family can save about $900 a year by making their own baked goods?  Not to mention the immense health benefits that come from eliminating all those additives & preservatives which are found in just about every store-bought bread, cracker, and cookie.  Yep, even the "healthy, whole-wheat" ones.  How does 91 cents per loaf sound?  That's how much your homemade bread will cost you to make.

Making your own daily, or sandwich bread can be intimidating at first, but after a few batches, my fear of making yeast breads left & it became a quick routine that fills our house with the most comforting scent ever.  Who needs air fresheners when fresh bread is being baked?

After trying several recipes, I keep coming back to this very quick & easy recipe from The Urban Homemaker.  While you're browsing her site, be sure to get her free ebook, "Steps to the Best Bread."
It's a great recipe as she's already converted it to whatever method you choose to make it, be it by hand, Kitchen Aid, Bosch, etc.  I love all the different conversions she has for this simple bread recipe, like cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, hamburger buns... there are 13 variations in all!

If you're not sure about the time commitment, it takes an hour & ten minutes from start to finish, but it requires only 10 minutes of your time, the rest of the time is for rising and baking.  Pretty do-able, if you ask me.

So if you don't already, have fun with some dough, save money, fill your house with amazing aromas, & provide nourishing options for your family all at once!  My family now prefers homemade bread to store-bought, & that is a pretty satisfying accomplishment.

Take a gander at more Katie's Quick Home Keeping Tips Here. ~

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A New Idea

I've had a hard time really finding a focus for this blog.  I've known I wanted it to be mainly about homemaking, but, as all you keepers of the home know, that covers a myriad of subjects.  Plus, I don't have hours a day to pour over this little blog, as much as I'd like to.  Then, it came...

Katie's Quick Home-Keeping Hints!  The idea is that every weekday (or so), I'll post a quick tip on something I've learned about homemaking.  Every weekday has a special category that's close to my home-makin' heart:

~Nutrition Monday
If you know me, you know I adore food; especially nourishing food.  On Mondays, I share speedy little hints to incorporate into your diet that'll give you more bang for your family's bight.  And it's completely budget-friendly.  Especially for this year as we budget our way out of debt, "frugal" is my middle name.

~In-the-Garden Tuesday
There is just nothing like growing your own food; cultivating your soil and watching it bare fruit.  Literally.  Gardening with the children as much as possible can be a bonding, delightful time that makes lasting memories and is a wonderful worldview-shaper for the littles.  Every Tuesday, I'll share about what's going on in our garden, and in the colder months, what we're doing to prepare for next season's garden.  There's always something fun to do when you dig into gardening. :)

~Appliance of the Week Wednesday
Every Wednesday, a certain appliance that could be thought of as a modern day servant that I've grown to love and depend on over the years will be highlighted.  Don't worry, it won't be boring.  There are some crazy gadgets frequently used around here. :)

~Atmosphere Thursdays
The week is winding down, & sometimes so am I.  As a keeper of the home, I control the atmosphere.  Thursdays are focused on ways to enhance a peaceful, happy, creative and productive-enhansing home climate.

~Crafty Fridays
Some Fridays will focus on family project ideas, & others, just for the grown-ups.  Friday is a great day for thinking about fun weekend creations.

I, in no way consider myself an expert in any of these subjects, but I hold a love & interest in each of them, & have spent years learning & thinking about the art of home-keeping.  I hope you will take advantage of the comment boxes to add any helpful extras that we can glean from, & if the posts leave you guessing, feel free to ask questions & I'll do my best to answer (jump in at any time if you have an answer, too!).

Reinventing the wheel is tiresome and pointless, so often I'll end a quick post with a link where more can be learned about the topic of the day.

Living a holistic life instead of a broken-up, categorized one is how I like to roll.  One "subject" weaves into another (exercise = cleaning the chicken coop as fast as I can -- no time or money for the gym; plus dirty coops are gross), & you'll notice that often one blog entry could fit in more than one specified subject day (a Crafty Friday might be a gardening idea that you can do with your kids outside {Together Outdoors Tuesdays}).  Wow, it is getting late and my mind is fading.  I'm not even sure if that makes any sense.  Time to wrap it up...

Very much unlike this post, these will be quick entries that will only take a minute or two to read, so it's definitely not a time commitment to heap onto your already-extremely-demanded-upon days.  It will be a happy little treat I indulge in daily, and I hope it feels the same to you.  Also, this is completely self-serving, as it will keep my mind in the game, focusing on the season of life I'm currently in & what matters most while I'm in it.

Homemaking rocks!

You Capture ~ Winter

Ah, winter.  I love the coziness it brings.  This year, I attempted my first winter garden.  It is meager, but a start!  Sadly, my nice camera is out of commission, so I had to complete this assignment with the iPhone. :)

We get a LOT of rain here in the Pacific Northwest during the winter, but today we had a little break, so I made the most of it and enjoyed every second of being outdoors, no matter how soggy it was.  First, the chicken coop.  Not so fun, but it does yield all the free fertilizer I need, so that is happy.
And here is my very first head of heirloom broccoli grown from seed!
This little cabbage head is quite tattered, but it's organic, it's local (from my backyard), and it's from a seed that I planted.
And after a lovely day outdoors, I brought some of the bounty in (spinach, rosemary, & broccoli) to make a yummy raw soup.  Goodness.


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