A sleeping baby…

One of my very favorite things to do is watch my little ones drift off into sleep.  There is something so incredibly special about this.  Maybe it’s the fact that I know that their little, always moving bodies are finally getting a well deserved break.  Maybe it’s because sleeping is the only time that they are still enough for me to truly be able to look at them, to appreciate them.  Maybe it’s because I know that I am the only one that knows how each of them falls asleep.  I am the only one in the world that knows that my little guy twitches ever so slightly when he is just about to dreamland or that my little girl has a habit of letting out a giant sigh just before she slips into a deep sleep.  I watch as her tiny eye lids close for a moment then spring open as if she was going to miss something important, just to be so overcome by tiredness that they slowly close again.  This happens a few times and then she just gives in.

~Mj 3 years ago~

~Eve this week~

My kids never quite made it to their cribs.  We bought cribs, twice, yet the only time they spent in them was when I needed to grab something that could be dangerous to them or required 2 hands and usually it was only for  a few minutes at a time.  I couldn’t and still can’t give up that special time.  I love knowing them so well that I can tell that they are going to need kisses because a bad dream is coming.  I only know this from studying them and knowing that their breathing pattern changes ever so slightly when a bad dream is on the way.  I love knowing the things that only I know.  I love those special times that teach me so much about these amazing little beings that I have the honor of parenting.  I love that they don’t even know these things about themselves yet and that I will be able to share these special moments with them when they are older.  I love that I know them better than they know themselves and I love that someday, when they are ready, the roles will be reversed and  I’ll have the joyful task of figuring them out all over again.   Until then, I will notice and note, hug and kiss, revel in and remember theses very special times that belong to only us. ❤

For the love of laundry…

It’s that time again, it’s always that time. *sigh*  Laundry time!  6 years ago (you know, sans children) I could never imagine the sheer amount of laundry that I would do in a week and there is ALWAYS a pile left.   When I get to the bottom of the pile, I feel so good about having it all done that I decide at that moment that it is time to change ALL of the sheets and towels.  I guess I do it to myself. 😦  Anywho, I decided a while ago that I wanted to put less junk into the water that we’ll eventually drink and found a recipe online for a laundry soap that is easy to make and uses ingredients that I can cross utilize in other areas of the home.   It may seem odd to make your own laundry soap, but for us it makes sense.  By making my own I save money, resources, the earth and time.  So it really is a win-win for us.  It takes maybe 10 minutes and lasts quite a while, even with all of the laundry that I do.  So here it is….

2 cups of shaved bar soap (I love Dr. Bronners peppermint, small shave)

I use either a box grater or hard cheese grater, both work well

*Update*  I’ve since moved onto a kitchen aid.  I use the shredder attachment and it takes minutes to whip up a batch!!

1 cup Borax

1 cup Washing Soda

1 cup Baking Soda

Pick your container, add the ingredients, cover and shake well to break up soap.

PLEASE cover while you shake because the powders will create a dust that you won’t want to inhale. 🙂

I use less than a 1/4 cup per load and I usually double the recipe so I won’t have to make it for a while.

 Give it a shake every once and a while because the soap shavings can tend to settle on the bottom

I also use vinegar as fabric softener. 🙂

Now off to actually do the laundry…

Lazy Chickens…

I think we have lazy chickens.  Probably sounds strange, but this is our 3rd batch of chickens (can I call them a batch? Kinda makes them sound like cookies.) and these gals don’t seem to have much motivation to do anything.  Really, you ask, what does a chicken do?  Well, normally they forage for snacks like bugs and clover.  These gals, not so much.  They come a running when they hear me in the morning and at snack time, but that’s about it.  I open the door for them to free-range, they do one lap around the coop and decide it’s not for them and return inside.   They have a nice run, where they can hang out on snowy days, but nope they are inside perched on their roosts.  I guess it’s not entirely a bad thing.  There is no real pecking order as not one of them seems to have the motivation to be the leader, so that means no fighting.  That’s good.  I guess I don’t have to worry about them being bored, they seem to enjoy that.  That’s good too, no entertaining the chickens to reduce chicken violence.  Yes, I did say chicken violence.   All I see when I look inside is the knitting chicken from chicken run.

Although I have never seen knitting needles per se, I still can’t assume that isn’t what’s happening in there….

Boogerville and Granola…

Welcome to boogerville, just be glad that you can join us with a computer screen and miles and miles of road between us.  We have been taken hostage by the booger moster!  It has been almost 4 weeks of runny noses, coughs, sore throats and fevers here.  This one is a stubborn one.  Keeps resurfacing even with the soups, juices, remedies and boogie wipes.  Hopefully this will be the last week of it. 😦  In the meantime, we have been cooking and planning for our piggies in the spring! 🙂

The little-uns have fallen in love with Granola and since we are house bound (I won’t be the one to spread this bug, it’s nasty) and needed and activity, I decided to whip up a little granola.  Normally we buy it, but from now on, I will be making it! We call these baby steps. So easy and a great way to make use of all of the Christmas baking leftovers.  I modified this recipe from All recipes.

Ingredients

  • 10 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup Cashews
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raisins or sweetened dried cranberries and dried blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line three large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
  2. Combine the oats, flax, almonds, cashews, walnuts and berries in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, peanut butter, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool,store in an airtight container.

I used the recipe as more of a guide….so go ahead, make some granola.  It’s super yummy!!!  But, beware….it is a bit of a nightmare to get out of a long shag rug…just saying. 🙂

Let the pressure begin…..

After our fun with canning session last fall during a hurricane (cause what else are you going to do with all of the stuff that would otherwise splatter all over your house?!?), we decided to invest in an aluminum pressure canner. I say invest because they are not cheap.

At first we thought that we could use the monster as a canner AND cooker, which we can, except we are not too keen on the idea of adding aluminum, forcibly to our food so we opted to also add a stainless steel pressure cooker to the pots and pans repertoire.  Needles to say that they couldn’t have come at a better time as a serious case of the sniffle, sneezes and coughs has entered our home.  First on the list of things to make….chicken soup!  The hubs ran out to get the fix-ins for some amazing organic chicken stock and of course beef stock, hey, might as well, right. 😉

So the stock making began and with the help of the pressure cooker took…wait for it, 30 minutes!!!  Holy cow!  I couldn’t believe it!  Normally I would start a stock in the morning and it would be ready for dinner. It needs to cook that long to extract all of the animo acids and other goodness necessary to be a proven cold fighter.  It is our go-to for colds and general sickness. 🙂  This stock was the color of a cooked-all-day stock in 30 minutes!  Why doesn’t every mom have one of these??  Perhaps it is because all I could picture when the idea was proposed was a cartoon skit where the roof is blown off of the house by a wayward pressure cooker.  That however, was not the case, the roof is intact and so are all of our limbs. 🙂 Yay!
Then, came time to play with the pressure canner…that thing is scary looking and HUGE!  I must admit that it is very intimidating like something out of a Dr. Jekyll movie.  Long story short, it took about 2 hours total to can 9 quarts of stock.  3 Chicken and 6 beef stock and we had a huge pot of minestrone for dinner.
After canning the stocks became even darker!  That is chicken stock!  It is a dark caramel color.  I can’t even get stock that color from reducing all day.  I am amazed and can’t wait to dig into that stock.  We promised ourselves that we’d save those for sick days so no one has to go out or stand over the stove.  So that’s it…a day in the life of a little pressure.
Here is a good recipe for some great stock.  This is NOT a pressure cooker recipe although it probably could be.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chicken carcasses, including necks and backs
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
  • 4 ribs celery, cut in 1/2
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 gallons cold water

Directions

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer.  Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.
I am planning on a “how to use a whole chicken” blog soon so save those bones!  Since I use EVERYTHING….some call it frugal or even cheap….I call it resourceful and NOT wasteful, I even use the carrots and celery that have been used in the stock.  Most of the good stuff has been transferred to the stock, but there is still some left so take those out, hold them aside.  My kids will just walk by the counter and munch as I strain.  The ones they don’t eat, make for a quick side dish for them or throw them back in with some of your stock and blend it all up with a stick blender, add a little tomato product and some cumin and chili power.  Heat and serve with cheese and tortilla chips for a yummy tortilla soup. 🙂
Off to bathe the babes now…

January 1st 2012!

Wow..first I can’t believe that another year has passed?!?
Where did the time go?  My babies are one year older as are we.  Neither of which bothers me as well, we ripen with age and my kids get to a new level of fun and function.  Will I miss the past? Yes, but that is where it belongs.  I do make sure to take pictures and videos to instantly transport me back when I am feeling nostalgic…it really is instant. 🙂
As for the new year…exciting new promises and new adventures abound.  We are going to try our hand at pig raising this year and perhaps next year, bees!  We are taking a more natural route to many things, first off our food, then our toiletries.  You’d be surprised how easy it is to make your own laundry soap and deodorant!
As for this blog, I will try my hardest to blog everyday with our lives, tips and tidbits of natural living and recipes to go along with it.  Now…I have been a pretty crappy blogger thus far, so maybe one day a week I can play catch up with all of the information that I have been keeping to post but never got to.  So keep your eye out. 🙂

Our NYE was very quiet and that was just fine with us, we are looking for more quiet in our lives. 🙂

We made a nice Salmon Dinner with rosemary brown rice and steamed broccoli one of our little family favorites followed by a make your own s’more parfait in which we mistakenly made fudge instead of ganache, which was ok with me!

On the first of the new year the thermometer said 58 degrees in the sun so I decided to let the ladies out to graze for the first time since we got them as chicks in late October.  They were confused in the beginning but once they realized the good pickins, they decided that it was ok.   Perhaps it was the gentle coaxing of Mj who very calmly let them check out his boots and his pjs while explaining to them that “if you see a bug, you can eat it but, if you see a rock you cannot.  They don’t taste very good”  I didn’t have the heart to explain the theory of grit…we’ll get to that. 🙂
I hope that your New years was just as you expected it to be.  Ours certainly was. 🙂