Saturday, October 30, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
How ya been? As you can see, blogging has moved a little further down on the priority list. The pay off? We are having our first week off of school--and we are all on track with the outline of work to be done at this point of school.
The reason why it couldn't be better timing?
This could be our new bathroom.
Friday, October 22, 2010
This is my best loaf yet! I can't believe the largess of it! It's like a begula!! After reading The River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens, it became apparent that my bread making could use a lot of help. So i started incorporating a few ideas i gleaned from the book: like adding gluten flour to the bread for better structure (i sub out 1/3 of the "white flour" with gluten flour), looking for the perfect knead, forming the roll a certain way so that most of the loaf isn't one big bubble of crust attached to a densely packed bottom, and most importantly making it more like the commercial breads in texture (which just requires that you bake your bread in a steamy oven.)
The last two loaves i tried in this way have been amazing. Best, i've merely stored them in the oven, uncovered, and they've lasted at least 3 days!! However, you see, i can't attest that they might last more than 3 days, as we devoured this entire loaf this large in 3 days!! Shhhh! Don't tell my Weight Watcher leader. :)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I'm game, but i have to admit, i feel a little homely compared to some of what these amazing people do! I don't grind my grains or make fabulously healthy dinners every night of the week. But i thought i would contribute since even the littlest changes and successes count, right? I have become more scheduled this year, consequently overcoming my need to make extra trips to the grocery during the week or consisently feeling behind (in some areas anyway, i'm still a work in progress, don'tcha know?)
So, here it is "Livin' the Slow Life: a not so typical Wednesday" by me, Whit
Now yesterday's kinda Wednesday doesn't happen every week. We have religious ed class once a month during the school year. It makes our life a little crazy, as you will see, however it is totally worth it because Cookie Monster is getting a great education (so are we)...and to boot she gets to see her uncle, who is our priest, more often!! Good Guys Win! Woot!
0545 Moose's alarm wakes me up. I dispise getting up this early. Especially because most nights i'm wide awake from somewhere around 2 am to 4 am. So, as i watch hubbie have a rendezvous with the snooze button over the next half hour, i tuck the covers back around me and grab the phonebot to catch up on the news that happened overnight--you know, mainly just what some crazy Tea Party candidate says on the Really Late Late Shows or something.
0700 Cookie Monster wakes. This is usually the time we snuggle in bed and read, awaiting Moose's departure. This day, we finished our first American Girl mystery.
0730 Moose is currently in a heated battle with some hornets that decided to build there nest just under our bedroom window in the wood pile. He pours 3 gallons of hot tap water on them to try to evict them. This is the third day in his war against the hornets, and thankfully it's not as expensive as another current war going on in our world. :)
0745 Moose says good bye and head's off on his bike for his 3 mile commute to work. C.m. and i get up and get ready for the day.
0800 Made granola. A few months ago, i purchased large quantities of flour, oats, and the like) and spent a few hours over the course of a few days making homemade "pre-mixes" of things that we use frequently (cookie mixes, granola, granola bars, meatloaf mix, and such.) As you can imagine, this really cuts down your "baking" time.
0825 While the granola is baking, it's time to make bread. I am currently working my way through a bread book by the River Cottage owner and his instructions are wonderfully easy! And while my stand mixer does the work for me, i jump online to check out a couple blogs. Obsess some more over a really cool quilt i discovered on one of my favourite blogs. But how to make it bigger???
0900 We have breakfast: we have cereal and some of our homemade applesauce we made at the beginning of the week. We tend to read during this time too, making breakfast extremely longer than it actually needs to be.
0945 We clear the table and get down to business: Homeschool! And remember to take the granola out of the oven before it burns. :)
Since we are a homeschooling family, we need to make the most of our weekdays. So i discovered creating a weekly plan that considers our work load, our appointments, and our dinners really helps us out. I usually sneak out of the house at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning and because the local library isn't awake that early, i head to our local coffeehouse (my only trip to a coffeehouse for the week) for a couple hours, taking with me cookbooks, school books, and our trusty calendar to plan the week and make the grocery list. After a sufficient amount of caffeine, i head from there to do the weekly shopping. We've made significant changes in the way we shop: we visit the butcher once a month on our way to church and we order staples from a food co-op monthly. I can't believe how much those two things will add up in time savings at the brick and mortar grocer!
1000 Math lesson.
1050 Break. During our 15-20 minute breaks inbetween subjects is when i bake or clean. Now i can add the extra task of packing up the house to the list too. On this day though, the bread was overdue for shaping and it's second rise. Also swept floors.
1105 Writing and spelling. Clear the table.
1200 Stick bread in the oven and make lunch. We keep it simple for lunch most days. Today it's ham, cheese, and apple quesadillas.
1250 Clear the table (again) and prepare some grapes to freeze to sustain Cookie Monster's appetite for them through the winter.
1310 Retrieve bread from oven and start Art History: read about Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse for 30 minutes. Also cover our memory work that involves trying to commit the Egyptian dynasties to memory.
1400-ish Read for 30 minutes more. Cookie Monster tackles this while i discuss the latest object of my obsession over the phone with my mom. After serious debate, we're satisfied we've solved my problem. Unfortunately, we were both quite chatty and ate up a huge amount of our day. Arrgh...times two.
1515 Grammar lesson. STAT!
1530 Take leftover grapes, lunch, and snacks out to the Ladies of Laying, take care of their water and food, and collect eggs. Look over the garden quickly to see if there are any treats for the girls. Since the ruthless killing of one of our hens by our neighbours off leash beast, we haven't been able to let our girls free-range as they should, so gathering treats each day is a MUST!!
1550 Return inside to help dress Cookie Monster for her dance lesson. Reminded again why i love these crazy Wednesday night because she doesn't need to wear tights to class. I *loathe* tights!
1555 Make 2 tuna sandwiches and one PB with homemade raspberry jam on homemade bread. Pack water and cookies.
1615 Head to dance in the Kent Valley. While dance class is on, i obsess some more over the quilt while i eat dinner and work a bit on my first pair of socks i am knitting for C.m.
1745 Meet Moose at the car, dispense dinner items and beat cheeks to Lakewood.
1834 Arrive 4 minutes late to religious ed class, however it is okay, because the Deacon George still has have of his announcements to go since he has to make them in English and Spanish.
2030 Drive back home. Play "Whoever Yawns the Most on the Way Home Wins" game with family.
2105 Arrive home. Indulge in a dalliance on the computer for 10 minutes while C.m. gets herself ready for bed.
2115 Head to bed myself, reading a Curious George story to C.m. and giving the feline a pat before hitting the pillow. Having a brief thought about Mad Men before my eyes couldn't stand it any longer. We went through Hell this entire season with Mr. Draper, and now, in just a few hours in California with his secretary, he's proposed marriage to her? Really?
Anyway, that's a day in the life around here. A little extreme i guess because truly it's only one day of the month that looks like that, but subtract out the trip to Lakewood and it all pretty much looks the same otherwise! :)
What's your day look like?
I must say, reading through some of these entries has given me a plethora of great ideas!
To see more ideas on how to make your life simpler, visit the Simple Lives Thursday link at the top of this post.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
As long as you have a crock pot, it will be completely easy for you too, to have wholesome, flavourful beans ready anytime and no further than your freezer! However, it does take some planning.
And since it is such a simple process, i am going to keep this post simple. No pictures. No fluff. Just facts.
Steps for cooking dried beans:
1. The Soak: Place 1 pound of beans in the crock, covered about an inch or two above top with water.
- Large, thick skinned beans (e.g. runner, lima, or fava) soak 12 hours
- Garbanzos or whole peas soak 10 hours
- Medium beans (black, kidney, pinto) soak 6 - 8 hours
- Small, thick skinned beans (azuki, mung) soak 8 hours
- Small, thin skinned beans soak 4 hours.
Take precautions during hot, humid weather, either changing the water once or twice during soak times or place crock in fridge overnight.
2. Pull The Plug: Drain and Rinse Beans
( More special precautions: if cooking red beans, boil for ten minutes in fresh water on the stove top for at least 10 minutes to dissipate toxins contained within the bean. It's something regarding a natural occuring chemical in the bean that makes a human sick. Even NASA has funded research on the subject.)
3. Repeat. Place soaked beans back in the crock, cover with fresh water and cook on low for 8 hours* (* or till bite tender.)
At this point is where i diverged from the beaten path. Add fresh or dried herbs. Add garlic or ginger. Add anything your little heart desires to make these beans palatable and sought after!
4. Salt. Add this at toward the end of the cooking time. Or not.
5. Drain and Chill!
After they are done, it's time to drain the cooking liquid and cool your beans. Once cooled, they can be packaged in containers and frozen for up to 6 MONTHS!! Yippee! I find packing them in a pint glass jar provides the closest quanity to a canned equivalent.
Should you come from a family that consumes beans in *large* quantities (bless your heart), then the pot of these in the fridge will last 2 weeks.
To see more ideas regarding making your life simpler, visit Simple Lives Thursday. Every Thursday.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
And what was pretty good about it (the best being that everything is running smoothly, by the grace of God, and the men are coming up reasonably healthy and reuniting with their families) is that it is a current events story i feel comfortable teaching my soon to be 8 year old about! Hooray!
Up until now, i've been pretty mum about the whole business. I remember the day in '86 when someone at our school had the great idea to have us all watch the Challenger lift off because it carried the first teacher in space. And there us 5th graders sat with a group of 2nd graders to watch the horrifying events of the morning, while our teachers and principal shuttled in and out of the room dealing with their own shock, and having to contain ours, while coming up with a game plan. So you can say i've been a little antsy to say anything about the Chilean miners...until today!
But that's just what we did....as soon as our feet hit the floor this morning!
We talked of the geography and methods of mining. We talked of the science of living underground--trapped a mile below for 17 days with little food or light. We covered math in conversions from days to months and metres to feet to miles. We touched on everything else from plate techonics to modern technology. We talked about life vs. time: miners celebrating birthdays, babies being born, men who had just started working a few months ago with a man who was going to retire in a few months. We discussed the strength these men have to possess to stay alive for 69 days underground. We discussed world relations of Chile and Bolivia having to put aside differences now because the miners include a Bolivian citizen; and how a number of US companies and NASA helped with donations of materials so that the Chilean government could design a plan that would be so successful! We delighted in their superstitious belief about the number 33: there were 33 of them, it took 33 days for the rescue shaft to be completed, and they were rescued on 10/13/10 (add them up, you get 33)--they marvel at the fact that their 33's match up to the number of years that Jesus was alive on this earth. We talked of the power of hope. Of faith. Of determination. And of courage.
And then, we went downstairs for an hour and watched 2 rescues. Cookie monster's hooked now. I can't get her to come back up and eat breakfast so we can start school. And once she heard the chanting "Chi chi chi, le le le. Los Mineros de Chile," she couldn't stop singing it.
We've found a great live feed website to share called Breakingnews.com. It is filtered to receive only the news on the miners, and MSNBC links video of important developments very quickly. They even have a video of the ride up the rescue shaft with the rescue of Edison Pena. The BBC has a great website that is updated as well with international feed. I find their feed for mobile devices is best...as in if you are in a place that you can't watch video feed but you will be able to read updates.
I know we'll be glued all day!!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Place potatoes (russet, Yukon, sweet, etc.) in the microwave, covered. Steam 3 to 5 minutes to remove the excess water from them. Pat dry, then hand toss to coat in 1 tbsp oil mixed with 1 tbsp organic, non gmo corn starch and 1 tsp salt. Meanwhile, in oven, have a large cookie sheet with 5 tbsp veggie oil heating until it smokes. Carefully place fries in the oil. Cook for .... then turn and cook for .....
Crispy fries. Is there anything better?
Friday, October 8, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
It also had to meet the all important criteria: no shopping any further than the pantry. :)
I had some 7 Bean & Grain soup mix, in which are pinto, black, kidney, and navy beans, split peas, lentils, barley, etc. There's a cabinet full of spices.
So it sounded like to me, soup was going to be the ticket. However, i didn't want any tomatoes added.
Here's what i came up with--more gruel than a soup, i'd say, but pretty yummy:
1/2 lb lean ground beef
half large onion
2 cubes garlic (this fabulous new invention i found--frozen packets of garlic by Dorot, frozen in perfectly beautiful cubes equivalent to a clove)
1-2 cups soup mix
8 cups water
2 tbsp organic beef boullion
2 tsp parsley
2 cubes of frozen basil (see garlic)
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rosemary
Precook the beef. Add beans, etc and simmer for a few hours.
Best the next day!
Monday, October 4, 2010
The first list i made regards the great artist covered in Art History curriculum. In the Well Trained Mind book they seem to be in random order to me. I wanted the list to tell me who arrived in what order, since i remembered studying these artists in an actual order as they tend to build off each other somehow. I also added a few i thought weren't worth missing.
I've arranged them in order of accepted year of birth. That way, when we are studying the Renaissance, we'll be able to pull all the artist from that time and review them.
Art History Reference: Who Came First, What's on Second, Picasso's on Third, and Warhol's in the outfield.
Da Vinci 1452
Francisco Goya 1746
Edgar Degas 1834
Mary Cassatt 1844
Van Gogh 1853
Edward Hopper 1882
Diego Rivera 1886
Marc Chagall 1887
Grant Wood 1891
Norman Rockwell 1894
(the salmon above and below are exhibits at the Oregon Zoo, in Portland.)
Here's the stats:
We've had 2 field trips for the month of September. One was to a local organic farm. The other was to inspect some local creeks and rivers for her watershed unit in science.
We also finished the month with a trip to Portland, OR. We visited the zoo with a dear friend of mine and her adorable chidlren, who also helped make clear to me the act of knitting gussets in a sock because she is thee knitting guru, and also an excellent child wrangler to boot! :) Cookie monster also participated in The Portland Feis, where she competed in the U9 catagory which meant she was dancing with children young and older than her. She did great, considering it was extremely chaotic, and won the 2nd and 3rd place medals for Single Jig and Light Jig. Hooray! We also spent a few hours in the mesmerising Powell's Books, where i didn't even make it out of the children's section. Note: this place warrents a post all it's own. And we finished the visit with a trip on the MAX and lunch at Kell's Pub. C.m. fell completely head over heels for Portland and is telling everyone that she can't wait to go back--she thinks this winter would be a good time to go and visit her new friends in her new favourite city!