Friday, March 30, 2012

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."  To play along go to the SouleMama blog.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Its been way too nice around here to sit down and do anything inside, never mind in front of a screen.  I love this time of year (though usually its much later than March) when the temperatures climb from 30's in the morning into the 70's before noon causing the shed layers to pile up on the deck; rakes and garden tools are hauled out, toys make their way outside, and suddenly all inside work  just stops:  The dishes pile up, the laundry hangs on the line for days at a time, and grilling seems like a perfectly acceptable way to cook all meals.  I finally broke down this afternoon and vacuumed when I realized the floor was so gritty that I was putting shoes on to go into the house.  Then, with a sudden burst of spring cleaning energy hauled the "soak up the snow and slush" rug from our mud room onto the back deck, and packed up all of the snow boots and ice skates.  Yup, I guess Spring is really here--and right on time for a change.  (Scary as hell but we'll take it anyway we can get it).    

Just a few Morsels from these sun filled days:  

* Oliver is our co-housing kitty.  We share him with our neighbors who live in our cabin up the drive way.  He's an outdoor cat for us (indoor for them) and is thrilled with the piles of clothing being strewn about the deck these days.  His favorite is the laundry basket--best when filled with clean, folded laundry of course.  

*During the winter I do a fair amount of complaining about laundry (and all kinds of scheming about how to make it less of a chore--no luck yet except to have the children do it).  But, in the summer I actually like doing laundry.  We planned our deck to have a line right from the house, so we can load and un-load the line from one spot outside.  I love to fold the laundry when its all stiff and crisp from hanging and separate it right into piles there on the deck.  I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but if I could only rig up an outdoor sink then maybe dishes would be fun too.   

* The kids have been asking to tap a few trees, so even though we're pretty late to get in on the action we thought we'd give it a try.  We put in just two taps, but only got sap from one--not sure why.  We only have red maples here, so if we ever want to get some real syrup we'll have to tap quite a few and boil it down a little longer than sugar maple sap.  Maybe next year.  Its funny, even though we've seen maple sugaring dozens of times, walked the sugar bush at local farms and tasted local syrup on Maple Syrup Sunday, when we put in our own taps and then actually got sap!  it was like magic.  What a crazy thing that all that potential sugar is literally growing on trees!  

 * Sometime Monday afternoon Wylie declared it warm enough for outdoor tubbing.  We haven't hooked up the warm water for the outdoor shower yet this year, so they filled it with the ice cold hose water and "swam" anyway.  

* We put a few seeds in the cold frame.  Spinach, lettuce, and chard to start.  Peas will go into the ground when the seeds arrive.  And even though every year we think it will be a good idea to start seeds in March and then realize that it wasn't--we may do it anyway.  This year it really does seem like a good idea.  

* We have a tradition each spring equinox that our little birds  lay chocolate eggs for the kids to find. Its just a tiny treat, but they talk about it all year.  Somehow our birds didn't notice that the equinox was on the 20th this year--not the 21st.  Oops.  Fortunately the children aren't in the habit yet of checking the calendar for that sort of thing.  But, you can be sure they'll be checking the next first thing tomorrow morning.
Another spring treat that I'm embarrassed to mention are the beans.  Despite all my organic cooking, home grown veggies, and wheat free/dairy free living, I'm a sucker for "traditional jelly bird eggs".  Gross I know, but I just can't help myself.  I can resist them at the grocery store--but if someone brings them into the house I"m a goner.  Best to eat them all before the kids get into them.  

Now here's a kid who knows good eating.  "My fill my body with those grapes."

Happy Spring to you!   

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Last week's nearly full moon found me enjoying the first and last?! ski of the year.  It was a magical evening with a friend--no need for headlamps as we followed the moonlit trail into the woods and skied for nearly two hours.  We ended the evening with a relaxing sauna.  If there's a better way to end winter I'm not sure what it could be.  

Less than a week later the snow is all but gone, and we're barefoot in the mud.  The kids spent the day playing in the stream at Mimi's house.  The same one my brothers and sisters and I played in growing up--their fun was much the same as ours.  Juniper competed in a "water event" which consisted of wading through the mucky stream thigh high while creating waves with a whiffle-ball bat.  Kale proceeded to throw every ball and bat and toy car (those toddler size ride on ones!) into the pond for Juni to fish out.  As kids our favorite game this time of year was "boating" in our orange torpedo sleds.  I'm sure you can imagine the results. Over the years we've all tried to talk my mother into moving for various reasons, but in times like this I really love that she still lives here.  I love seeing my children and all the cousins playing the same games we did, in the same places.  People change so much in 25 years, but the stream still looks the same, and the big wheels go just as fast down the grassy hill toward the water.  

Morsels: (brief this week as I've no way to upload any more photos from Mimi's house)

Kale inherited this pink poodle suit from a friend who thought he'd look just like Marley. We can see the resemblance, though he's not sure what to think of it.  

We bid farewell to our Christmas tree last weekend.  We never did get it decorated for the birds.  

and there it goes!  That sucker went up in a minute and the flames were nearly 20 feet high.  (No wonder they say don't let your tree dry out--yikes). 

Did you ever imagine what it would be like if adults walked around singing one and two word chants throughout the day?  "driving the car, driving the car, driving, the car..." "washing dishes, washing dishes, washing dishes,..."  "bills, bills, bills, bills, bills, bills..." (though the latter might be more likely to elicit a tantrum). This is how Kale spends much of his day.  Above he's cradling and rocking a banana, singing, "banana baby, banana baby, banana baby".   

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Morsels: More Good Food

Morsels:  Tasty bites from the past few days...

Last year about this time I posted this kale salad recipe that I love, and we still eat often, with one minor change (check out the post for the update).  But, we love kale in other forms too--(toddler Kale included).  Sauteed with a lot of minced garlic, olive oil and sesame seeds is another favorite, as well as krispy kale, sometimes called "kale chips".  There are recipes for this everywhere so I won't post it here.  We just use olive oil and sea salt.  I made this batch with coconut oil and that was good too.
Two out of three children here dig it.  

I've also been making a ton of recipes with almond and/or coconut flour.  The stuff is crazy expensive so I just buy the almonds and shredded coconut in bulk and grind them myself in the food processor.  They are still more coarse than the flour that I could buy, but I haven't minded so far.  Most of the recipes have come from elana's pantry.  A friend mentioned the site to me a while ago and I've been printing recipes from her daily.  She has an "easy print" feature that is great, and all of her food is grain free and so far delicious.  I haven't bought her cookbook yet, but I feel like I should at this point.  Our favorites so far are the silver dollar pancakes (I make mine with a mixture of coconut and almond flour) the breakfast bars, and the "cauli-rice" (below with beans and sauteed root veggies).  Good stuff really.


* We've finally got some snow around here and I don't dare be ungrateful after all the complaining I've done about not having snow--but really this is the time of year we're about ready for mud, you know?
But, we were all happy to have a quiet storm day, and the kids have been hoping for maple candy as featured in "Little House in the Big Woods" all year.  Heat the syrup (with a little bit of butter according to the recipe we followed) until about 6 minutes after boiling--or until it stiffens when dripped onto a cold plate.  Then allow the syrup to cool for a few minutes.   Pour directly on clean snow.  It will harden on contact and become all gooey and caramel like.  Eat a lot of it  immediately.  This was, not surprisingly, so good.  We followed Laura Ingalls Wilder's advice and "[ate] as much as we wanted because maple sugar never hurt anyone". Though we probably ate too much of it given the cost of maple syrup.  The recipe said it should be eaten with something salty to counter the sweetness.  They recommended pickles, but since none of us like pickles we opted for krispy kale.  We don't boil our own syrup, but would like to try a very small scale operation with our abundant red maples some year.

*  I'm not sure why he looks so suspicious here, perhaps he knows he's being used as a model.  He's wearing on of three hoods just off the needles and headed to my nephews and niece in NH, pronto before its too warm for them to need them.  All three were knit in Good Karma Alpaca, from their farm right here in  Belfast.  Its one of my new favorite things to knit with.  I have knit about 8 of these hoods in the past few years and they are perfect for keeping necks and cheeks warm and dry in the snow.  Wylie and Juni still wear theirs from three years ago.  I made up the pattern, and I'm sure you could too.  But, if you want my notes just send me a comment and I'll email them to you.  The Good Karma Farm is holding a photo contest featuring knit-wear in their yarn.  I've got a plan for some really funny pictures of all of the hoods/hats knit up this winter.  (Helen has the details for the contest in her shop--or stop by the farm).  

    Snow Dog

* I love photo's like this when foreheads and ears are covered and I can see how alike all my kids look.

                      barn in snow
*  Despite the snow (which is not at all unusual for March in Maine) we can tell spring is coming.  The late afternoon light has such a different quality to it.  I'll be going about my business and then be suddenly struck by the change in focus and the increasing angle of the rays.  Never mind the later day light (change your clocks next weekend!)

                      Afternoon sun
   dinner prep with sunlight

Happy Monday.

Friday, March 2, 2012

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."  To play along go to the SouleMama blog.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homeschool Thursday: Put something in

Eight years and three kids into this gig, some days I still feel like I'm just beginning to figure it all out.  Each day is so full of challenges and changes, tears, laughter, thrills and tantrums.  Learning with my kids is an adventure I wouldn't trade for anything--and I'm so glad to have the opportunity to do it.

Lately I've been feeling like the very best homeschooling lesson is to show them that you're never too old to learn something new, and by being a model in searching out my own interests and taking on new challenges.

Leaving outside, paid work, to stay home with babies is a lesson in patience and requires a whole new perspective on time and productivity.  It took a while to adjust, but I got pretty darn good at it.  You know, celebrating each milestone as an accomplishment, reveling in their joy and delight, and letting go of all expectations and outcomes; because some days with little ones just getting dinner made can feel like you've really done something with your time.  And if you've brushed your teeth, managed to fold some laundry and negotiated a successful trip to the grocery store without loosing your cool or forgetting the T.P. you think you're the bomb (you are!).

But, Good News--as they get older it gets easier.  Most days I notice that not only are my children ridiculously cute and shockingly brilliant (its my blog and I can brag if I want to...)  they are also good company.  Not only that, but I'm finding I can actually get stuff done.  I can set a goal--and while it may take a while I can finish things.  Things that have nothing to do with household chores and childcare.  I started slow and practical with knitting.  Finishing a hat was a huge accomplishment.  A baby sweater was suddenly manageable, and then I was taking on adult sweaters.  Some time later I learned to sew, competed in my first triathlons, started to garden, and am psyched for my first year with bees.  Unexpectedly, out of necessity (chocolate chip cookies are a necessity) I learned how to bake gluten free.  Now, thanks to a some good food blogs (and some persistent eczema) I'm learning a few tricks about baking/cooking without grains. Who would've thunk it?

So while I will always find a place for math basics, legible handwriting, and a general understanding of world history, what I really hope our kids learn from our days together is that life is an adventure and you get out of it what you put in.