Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Blessings abound

We've had a lot of pans on the fire the last couple months, some of which will be the subject of future posts. But perhaps the biggest news for the moment--we are expecting! Another baby is due next spring--three now with us, one with Jesus. Our arms and our hearts are very full. Thank you, Lord, for your blessings! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Gardening exploits

It happens every spring. The weather gets pretty, the plants start growing, I start seeing the occasional flower, and I get the bug to grow things. Every time. I'm not a particularly skilled gardener (yet). I'm not sure what color my thumb is (probably not green). But I make up for what I lack in skills and experience with a bushel of enthusiasm combined with a few hours on pintrest and long conversations with people who do garden.

There are two things I like to grow--flowers for my own personal enjoyment (whether as cut flowers in a vase or in my yard) or fruits and veggies to eat. Unlike my hubby, I'm pretty unenthusiastic about landscaping as an art form, or "curb appeal." I just want to see things grow.   That said, I was outlining my rather ambitious plan for a HUGE square foot vegetable garden and HUNDREDS of flowers in the back yard, when hubby told me we really should do something with the front of the house before we planted our entire acre with tomatoes and gladiolas.

I had to admit, he had a point. While the front of the house does have three really pretty arched windows that I adore, everything else is overgrown and ignored. We have a couple bushes obviously intended for some sort of sculpturing, but they've been growing wild and free since we moved in. Those overgrown ugly bushes are the only nod to "landscaping" around, and I actively dislike them.

So, we put our heads together and came up with a plan. It's going to involve ferns, and I might have used the words: wild, fairy, elf and garden as I planned it. The old ugly bush/trees are coming out, and good riddance. Pictures to follow once we get the project started (the plants arrived yesterday, so that should be soon!)

The vegetable garden is still happening--we have a lot left over from last year, and so will just expand a bit on what we already have. I'll be posting updates on the veggies as well. I think I learned a lot last year, and should be able to make it more productive this year.

Monday, February 22, 2016

My favorite sprouted bread recipe

I make this sprouted bread recipe several times a week, and we all enjoy it. The bread comes out with a good crumb, and makes excellent sandwiches. I haven't had to experiment with the recipe at all, which is a major bonus for a mom of toddlers!

• 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter
• 4 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1 1/2 cups room-temperature water
• 4 cups Essential Eating Organic Sprouted Flour (wheat or spelt)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
• 2 teaspoons yeast

Combine all ingredients in the bread machine, in the order listed: wet ingredients first, followed by the dry ingredients. Set bread machine cycle to "quick bread" and press start. On my machine it takes about 2 hours, and the house smells amazing the entire time it is cooking!

When I ran out of butter I successfully made this recipe with avocado oil.

I have also used this bread for pizza crust, by starting the "dough" cycle instead of the "quick bread" cycle. I usually sub olive oil for the butter, and add some Italian spices to the dough.

I purchase sprouted flour through my monthly Azure Standard order. It is also available on Amazon, though the price is not quite as good.

This recipe works just fine with regular flour, though I prefer both the flavor and health benefits of sprouted flour.

I'm sure this will work just fine if made by hand. I prefer the machine, and so have never tried it. If you do, please let me know in the comments how it goes!!

Recipe Credit: I found this recipe on Essential Eating, however because they have changed their website I can no longer link directly to the recipe. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chicken update

Well, the last four months have been full of LOTS of learning about chickens. I guess I knew adding a totally new animal to our mini-farm would be challenging, but the biggest challenges we faced were totally not on my radar.

Challenge #1:  AKA Heinz. The best, most trainable dog in the world. It took 4 chickens, 4 incidents, before he really figured out that he MUST NOT play with chickens until they stop playing back. He knows it now. I trust that, if exposed to a chicken, he will resist as long as his still-semi-puppy nature will allow. Think the kid and the marshmallow test.  I think the chicken would have at least 15-30 minutes unmolested. Not that I'm willing to test that theory and risk another Incident.

Challenge #2: Random possum attack. One chicken down several months ago. Hasn't been back. My theory is the dogs might kill the chickens, but they also scare away predators. So that's sort of a win, right?

Challenge #3: This adorable puppy, RollyPoly. You wouldn't know he's a chicken killing machine, would you? He looks all adorable and sweet. He's cuddly and fluffy, too. And he REALLY likes to play with the chickens. Until they stop moving. Because really, they are just fluffy squeaker toys, right? Oh, man. He got in the pen with a new batch of chicks through a hole in the fence we didn't know about. It was truly awful. Our fences are so much better now. He's also starting to respond to training, so there is hope he'll calm down once he gets out of the young puppy stage.

 Challenge #4: Random chicken stupidity. I forget what all the chickens have done to get themselves killed.  We've lost at least a couple to sheer birdbrained stupidity (and that's not including the ones that flew over the fence to play with the dogs. Fence is taller now). I'm ALWAYS sad. I ALWAYS cry when I find one. But at the same time--seriously? How many crazy things can a bird do?? That said, we always fix whatever it was that the chicken did and never loose two to the same stupid thing. At least we are learning, even if they are still birdbrains.

And, for all that, we still haven't gotten our first egg. Though it is really hot here right now, and they are still a couple weeks out from normal egg producing time.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

New family additions

A couple weeks ago we added 12 new additions to the homestead. Chicks!!

I'm a total newbe to chicken keeping, but a backyard flock of chickens has been high on my new-home wishlist. I selected a dozen chickens--five Buff Orpington, five Australorp, and two Black Copper Marans. They are all female, since our city isn't crazy about roosters in city limits (which is okay, roosters don't tend to lay many eggs).

I chose breeds that are considered "dual purpose." They will be good for both meat and eggs (but won't get as big as a meat-only breed, or lay quite as many eggs as a layer breed). Eggs are the most important part, but I also want my daughters to grow up okay with the idea that we eat meat, and the meat we eat used to be an animal. We raised the creature in a humane, loving way and then gave it's life to make our dinner. It's part of the cycle of life, and it is silly to be squeamish about it. (That said, I am squeamish about it, and I'll have to work on that before any of these girls end up going in the soup-pot.)

The chicks are living inside with us until their feathers come in and they can move outside. Right now they are in two giant uhaul boxes that I've taped together to make a brooder. It isn't nearly big enough, especially now that they have started growing. Later today I'm going to add two more boxes so they have a bit more room.

I'm not naming them. I'm not sure how many will become chicken soup, but just in case I don't want to turn them into pets. Some of them are easy to tell apart, of course. The runt is half the size of the others. There are only two Marans. A couple of the Buff Orpingtons are HUGE. But no names until I know I'm okay with "Runty McNugget" potentially turning into real McNuggets.

Whoops. So much for not naming them. I guess Runty has a name now. Well, we won't name the other 11, then.

In a future post I'll introduce you to the Hall of Golden Yolks, which hubby built with a good friend of his. It is absolutely beeeeeyoutiful, and deserves its own post.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What is your art?

I've been reading A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman of Chatting at the Sky. I started it a well over a year ago after hearing her speak and being given a copy. It isn't an easy read, but it is such a good one. In it Emily Freeman explains that God is a creative God and has made each of us in his image--an artist. Our art reveals a small part of His nature. Perhaps our art is the traditional kind--painting, drawing, music. Or perhaps we are called to show God's glory in accounting. Or Teaching. We all have art, and each of us is called to make that art a little differently. There are A Million Little Ways for us to show the glory of God.

As I read the first portion of the book I struggled to see where my art fit in. I like to draw, but drawing isn't my calling. I sew beautiful things, but it isn't something I must do. I like to blog, but blogging isn't a primary ministry outlet. There are many things I enjoy doing, but few of them are drives the way that Emily Freeman describes.

And then it hit me, around page 91, my art is right in front of me every day. My art is covered in jam and oatmeal, and marker art from yesterday evening. Mothering is my art. My children are the canvas upon which I show the glory of God. Sometimes being a mother means I sew cute things for my girls, or write a blog post, or take marker in hand and show my daughter how to draw a person (or, more often, every person in our family and extended family with "ABCD names" right beside). But those things are not my art, they are expressions of it. Mothering is the art.

This morning I was thinking about this as I began my day. The children were still in bed, and after yesterday it was easy to think of mothering as an art. I had the most pintrest worthy morning yesterday. I got up early and drank my coffee while reading a few pages of a Christian classic. I had breakfast on the table in time for the family to eat together. My husband had a homemade lunch to take to work. I worked on Bible verses with the children, complete with handmotions. I taught my oldest to balance on a balance beam. We learned about Noah while coloring pictures of Noah's ark. we spent time outside. We went to the store. Yesterday morning was art, if ever mothering was art.

The baby woke up while I was thinking these things. I got her up and as I was walking to the kitchen felt something run down my leg. In the time it took to walk to the kitchen the diaper had exploded and was running down my leg. Did I mention we're on day 6 of norovirus (for her--she's the last to catch it) and I've been changing poopy diapers nearly every hour? Nursing around the clock? Yeah. Baby cried for the next 3 hours. I never put her down. It wasn't a pintrest worthy morning. It wasn't a blog-worthy morning. It was a down-in-the-trenches, jaw gritted, holding on till naptime sort of morning.

When I'm a pintrest mom it's easy to see how my mothering is art. It's a little harder to see the art when the baby is crying and I can't decide which poo to clean up first. Sometimes art gets messy--but messy, imperfect art is still art. An artist can't throw in the towel every time their art doesn't turn out just the way they envisioned--any artist knows it NEVER comes out entirely perfect. We just keep making art, keep reflecting God's glory, even when it isn't exactly how we'd had in mind. And that's okay.

What is your God reflecting, messy, beautiful art?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Day in the Life Of:

4:11ish--Baby starts fussing. Morning feed. She goes back to sleep. So do I.

Some-random-morning-hour-after-that-but-before-7--Baby starts wiggling in the bassanet beside the bed. I'm not really conscious. I try patting her back. She relaxes as long as I'm patting her back, wakes up as soon as I stop. End up nursing her again.

7:00 Hubby is up. I wake up. Want to be in bed. Decide I should be up. Get on FaceBook for awhile as my protest to being awake ("I may be up, but I'm not going to do anything useful!")

7:30--I decide to do A Day in the Life Of. Maybe that will motivate me to make it a good one.

7:53--said goodbye to hubby. Ignored the munchkin banging on the bedroom door for about 10 minutes while I picked out 5-6 recipes to freezer cook from a shopping trip to costco. Fed the dog and put him out. So not ready for today to begin.

8:20--got the tot up, went in singing to hide the fact that I'd rather be in bed. I think she thought I was playing when I pretended to fall asleep on the floor. BUT singing got us both in a cheerful mood. We cleaned the kitchen while I was warming up leftover oatmeal. Tot put silverware away. "Good job! You can do it--wait, no! You put the silverware away in the drawer--don't take what's already in the drawer out! Okay. Good--that's right! There you go!" First tantrum of the day--"I want to listen to music on the TB!"

8:55--ate breakfast (sort of. Legos were more interesting. We didn't really eat breakfast,  I just made the tot sit at the table for 5 minutes and eat a few bites before going to play). Sorted 2 loads of laundry, but didn't put them away since the baby is still sleeping in my bedroom.(at this hour sleep is questionable, but at least she's entertaining herself quietly and I'm hoping she might still be asleep). I even swept the floor in the playroom--with the help of the toddler. Third tantrum of the day was her thinking I WOULDN'T let her help with sweeping.

Umm--toddler just packed her bags and is standing by the door. (literally. Bottle sticking out of tiny purse hanging from one arm, baby doll in the other, hand grasping half a recorder--the non-noisy part, thankfully) Maybe time for the costco run?

9:44--Got the baby up (she had soaked through her pajamas and her sheet. Changed the diaper. Threw the sheets in the washing machine). Tirza discovered window blind strings while I was nursing. Changed everyone's clothes--or at least made sure everyone was wearing them. I informed Tirza that "ladies don't go out in public with no pants on! You have to wear something over your diaper." Tirza was delighted at the prospect of going shopping, many exclamations of "We're going shopping!!"

I feel gross and want to take a shower, but I'm freezer cooking with a toddler using tomato sauce today. No way there's time for two showers, and I'll definitely need one later. Will deal with it till this evening.

9:55--finished the last 10 minutes of Pimsleur German lesson 10 while driving.

10:09--Did a co-op pick up, or attempted to. Apparently forgot to communicate that I was picking up, so wasn't able to get it. Oh, well. On to Costco.

11:05 Wore the baby into costco, let Tirza be in charge of showing off the costco card to the checker while we went in. Tantrum #9 today was because Tirza wanted to do more shopping. Maybe I should be worried about a 2 year old that likes shopping so much?

11:45--My suspicions on the tantrums were correct. Tirza ate nearly 2 1/2 hot dogs and a banana when we got home. Skipping breakfast in favor of legos didn't agree with her mood at all. Baby fell asleep in the swing. Won't try to keep her up till we all can nap as I usually do--I have energy and need to get the freezer cooking done.

12:30--well, that was a short nap.Elizabeth's eating now. In the last 45 minutes I got (almost) 6 meals prepped. Tirza was genuinely helpful with putting the food in bags. Eventually she got tired of that and started playing with toys in the playroom. Without being told she cleaned up her last box of toys before requesting a new one. Mommy win!

12:43 Still nursing. Doorbell rang for a delivery--it was an amazon box. Find it interesting that the pandora station went from bouncy silly kids songs to lullabies. I'm starting to question my decision to not try for naps happening at the same time today. *yawn*

1:33--Went back to cooking. Scolded Tirza for getting into the "medicine" keeper (just vitamins, nothing harmful for kiddoes, but still). I saw she had stolen a fish oil softgel, and let natural consequences take place. She now smells like fish oil, but maybe now she'll believe that pills are nasty and not candy? She definitely wasn't expecting THAT flavor when she bit down! Baby has started shrieking--not just crying--in the last few days if I don't get to her quickly enough.  Tirza started crying too and announcing that "Baby needs milk! Baby needs milk! Diaper change?" I nursed her again, and put her down to bed. Hopefully she will sleep while I finish up the meals.

1:51--Told Tirza it was naptime. Another meltdown. Which tells me I was right.

1:59 All babies are in bed. Shouuld be asleep soon?

2:12 Babies all sleeping. Watered the dog. I've done a quick tidy of the kitchen--not perfect, but decent considering the 9 freezer meals I've done in the last 2ish hours. Time for a nap.

2:43--heard the baby waking up, so got up and ate a banana and computer-ed for a few minutes. Fed her again. Now reading a chapter of Wrestling Prayer while she is eating

4:33--Got up a few minutes ago to another snack (raisin bran). Hubby got home from work early, we sat on the couch and talked for awhile before the kiddoes woke up.

5:25 both of the kids are up, dinner is in the oven.

5:40 Tirza spent the last 15 minutes suggesting--and attempting to get for herself--different snacks. She has been given a snack of her leftover lunch--dinner was just not going to be ready soon enough. So many hungry melt-downs! We then opened the Amazon box from earlier.

6:10 Talked to a friend on the phone about some church stuff while getting dinner on the table. Just took away a butcher knife from my daughter which she had managed to get from the silverware drawer. I think she wanted it to open a box? Yay for me.

6:48--finished dinner, and I retired to the bedroom to play with Baby since she was full of the giggles. Suddenly found myself mobbed by Robin, Joker, and Superman. Proceeded to play with all of them and Tirza.

7:06--went outside to check the mail. I got two packages and a wedding shower invitation. I'm exccited about my water kifer grains coming in the mail! Elizabeth watched from the swing while I opened the packages. Tirza then grabbed the scissors and attempted to open a few packages herself. Watched daddy from the front window while he mowed the yard.

8:03---Big kid in bed after normal bedtime routine involving Richard singing both mountain songs (Misty mountain from Hobbit, Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). I then sang an assortment of songs. Played Peekaboo. Prayed with her, and then sang The Baby Monkey Song (from Tarzan). She hasn't wound down at all.

8:28 Both babies are down. Elizabeth went down no problem. She was worn out. T was still crying so I gave her a bottle of water and round 2 of Baby Monkey Song and now she's quiet. Time for that shower. And then a movie with hubby.

9:00 Woke Elizabeth up taking my shower, so she's finishing the second half of Prince of Persia with us.

9:40--finished the movie, headed to bed.