Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter Fun and the Week in Numbers

 Here's our week in numbers:

  • 1 car, 7 people, 3 hour trip to NH (each way).
  • 2 out of  3 hours spent driving down with a crying baby.
  • 20 harmonious minutes of sharing the one DS in a car with 4 children--which means many more minutes where it was not happily shared (you can do the math). 
  • 4 days of 5 cousins playing together (mostly well).
  • 1 trip to the planetarium.
  • 1 child vomiting.
  • 24 salamanders found on Mimi's road.
  • 2 baby cousins/nieces to visit and love.
  • 1 set of twin cousins/nephews to enjoy.
  • 1 nice visit with a childhood friend.  
  • Many jelly beans consumed.  
  • 4 evening of knitting and House with my mom and sister.
  • 3 mostly quiet hours on the way home.  
  • 1 Papa waiting happily for us to arrive home.  

a few pictures of our Easter at home (before our trip).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Homeschool Tuesday

This week we've been:  

Happy to move our chicks outside (with a 100watt light for chilly days and nights),

 Hunting frogs, and enjoying their songs each evening,

Watching for the season's first blooms,
Red "Swamp" Maple

  Purple Hyacinth  (photo by Wylie)

Colt's Foot

Lots of independent reading--I love how Kale enjoys this too (notice his book is upside down!)

Crafting for friends' birthdays (These turned out crazy cute.  I wish I'd saved a set for us),

Getting ready to garden,

Baring some skin,

And most recently, a ton of nasty, vomit filled laundry. 

Hope you're all staying well.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

The View from Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".
In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Homeschool Tuesday: Worms continued

In case you've been dying to hear about the worms (and even if you haven't) here are our results:

Can worms swim? appears not.  They sank and wriggled around a lot.  They were able to move about.

Can worms climb?
When give the choice between climbing or drowning they can.  


They could not climb vertically up the stick, but did climb down without falling (almost).

Where does the slimy stuff come from?
Juniper noticed that after swimming and then being dried off, the worms felt sticky.  But, after a while they began to feel slimy again.  So, she decided the slimy stuff must come from the worm.  (As opposed to from the dirt which was her hypothesis).

A worm bracelet.  Way better than silly bands.

 What is a worm's defense mechanism?
Wylie said we'd have to attack them to find out--but that seemed cruel.  So, we just listed everything we could think of that would help them survive.  Here's what they came up with:
They can hold on tightly to their burrows (according to a book we read).
They burrow fast.
They can regrow part of their bodies (but not as much as half).  Also according to a book.  We did not try this ourselves--though I suppose its less cruel than fishing.

Do worms ever carry light sabers?
We haven't seen one yet.  But that doesn't disprove the theory.

  Kale's favorite part was the dirt. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gluten Free Baking

I've said this before, but it bears repeating:  I do not consider myself to be a good baker (many others would agree) but, I occasionally get lucky.  However, I do feel like I know my gluten free flours and I actually seem to have more success baking G.F.  than I did before I stopped eating gluten.  How is this possible? Not sure.  

Anyway, quite a few of my friends have recently given up gluten for various reasons and have been asking my advice.  
I will give one final caveat:  You can most definitely find all of this information (and more) from actual cooking blogs and/or G.F. cook books.   
Regardless, here's a brief summary of the flours I typically use, and their personalities (as it were).  

I compiled this list originally for a local friend, so any readers who are not local will have to find their own sources.  Some brand names may be available in other places, others may not.  

Brown Rice flour:  I get this in bulk at the Belfast Coop.  A good all around flour, I use this in almost all baking recipes.  

White Buckwheat Flour:  This is actually an herb (according to the packaging) and is grown in Maine.  "Bouchard Farms" is the name, it is in a grey bag in the baking isle at Hannafords, also found at the Coop.  This is light weight and good for muffins and pancakes--it bakes up really soft and crumbly, not great for cookies or pizza crust.  Not to be confused with the dark or "blue stone ground" buckwheat available in bulk at the coop (which is really heavy and dense and best used in very small quantities--I think.  

Tapioca Flour and Potato Starch:  These two seem to be interchangeable.  I usually buy the "Bob's Red Mill" bags of these, I think there are other brands as well.  These are light weight and good for "white flour cooking", anything I want to be light and cakey. 

Sorghum Flour:  "Bob's Red Mill", either Hannaford or Coop, occasionally Reny's or Job Lot's.  This is sweet and grainy.  It lends a wholesome texture to muffins and pancakes.  I use it a lot.

Quinoa Flour:  "Bob's Red Mill"  is what I buy.  This has a strong, savory flavor.  I tend to use if for non-sweet baking, such as corn bread type muffins (I also cannot eat corn, but the two would go well together).  

Xanthum Gum: "Bob's Red Mill"  You only need 1-2 teaspoons of this per recipe, so it lasts forever.  I've been Gluten Free for almost 3 years and have only bought maybe 4 bags of this ever.  Used as a binder.  If you forget it everything crumbles apart.

Almond flour:  you can buy this but it costs a ton.  I typically get bulk almonds from the Coop and grind them myself in a food processor or small coffee grinder.  I store whatever  I don't use in a container in the fridge.   This is like the secret ingredient in G.F. cooking.  It makes everything taste better.  Can also be used to coat fish or chicken for frying.

For a typical baking recipe I substitute approximately (everything I make is approximate) 2 parts Rice flour, 1/3 part tapioca or potato starch, 1/3 part sorghum, 1/3 almond flour.  I keep baking soda or baking powder, and liquids the same.  1-2 tsp. of Xanthum gum added with the dry ingredients.  Once you get to know the other flours you can add them in in small quantities to best appreciate their different tastes and textures.  

So, for typical pancake recipe that calls for 1 1/2 cups flour, I would probably use 1 cup rice flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, and 1/4 cup of sorghum or light buckwheat flour, plus the xanthum gum.  

For muffins calling for 2 cups flour I would use 1 cup rice, 1/3 cup sorghum, 1/3 c almond, 1/3 c tapioca.  Plus the xanthum gum.  I also like to use a ground flax in my muffins.  

Cookies are tricky, I have a good recipe that has worked well for me on my blog in the entry here . 

Here's the link to the Gluten Free Girl blog that I like.  She is a great baker and has all kinds of good advice.

Aside from baking we also eat plenty of "Nut Thins" Rice Crackers, and rice cakes with almond butter or cream cheese.  The rice wraps at the Coop in the freezer section are good for quesadillas.  We make homemade pizza, typically with the "Bob's" crust mix, or a homemade dough.  The "Joy" brand rice pasta is decent, we also do a lot of green veggies, roasted root vegetables, soups, yogurt and granola, fruit, nuts, eggs, frittatas and some meat.  

I hope this is helpful.  Good luck!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The View from Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".
In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."  

This is technically a few moments, but a photo doesn't do it justice.

(movie by Rob)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Homeschool Tuesday (on Thursday, oops): Crafting

Some days (particularly when I'm feeling ready to do something "academic" and on "task")--I put these in quotes because right now it feels a bit ridiculous to talk of academics and schedules for 7 and 5 year olds--the kids wake up and launch into some inspired art or craft activity that way-lays my plans, but is usually way more fun and probably more important in the scheme of things.

Here are a few of the more recent child led crafting forays:

 The kids drew these (I did the bird) on regular size paper, cut in half.  Then we used the minimize feature on our copier/printer to make them tiny (why are things so much cooler tiny?) We love these and will be using them to make a memory game for a friend's up-coming birthday.

Kid-made togas and wings.  Juniper is Athena as an eagle.  

Wylie's recycled car.  I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the next phase when it had a battery case, motor, and alligator clips attached.  The thing really drove--but only in circles!

Plenty of sewing, and needle felting.

I love all this crafting, especially when they initiate it all on their own.  Often it doesn't even turn into anything and is more about the process than anything (I can't tell you how many "bags" aka rectangles,  have been sewn on that machine). I try to keep it to myself, but I do really love when things actually get finished such as the chick above, or this winter wear for duck duck.