Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Outside...

 This is how it looks outside and the temeratures are frigid...so frigid the-snot-in-your-nose-freezes kind of cold.  It's hard to drive in, hard to walk in, hard to do anything in.  I never want to go anywhere and the darker days just make me want to sleep all of the time.  I am up to nearly three cups of coffee throughout the day and I have always been a one cup first thing in the morning type of girl.
 It's is snowing in these pictures, but I couldn't get a decent shot.  Could be that I opened the door two inches, stuck my hand out with the camera and pushed the button had something to do with it.  I wanted to lose as little precious heat as possible, but I wanted to share the winter wonderland outside our doorstep. 

 I did get the kids outside for about a half hour a few days ago.  But after sledding down a hill two times, they were done and begging to go back indoors...it was much to cold, but they needed the fresh air more then anything.
 The messed around in the snow a little with a neighbor friend down the street and then we headed back inside.  I had had hopes of them making a snow man, but that was just not going to happen.
Spring, I think we're more then ready for you!

Monday, January 24, 2011

In the high chair...






A little photo shoot I did the other day.
I love this little girl!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Enchilada goodness...



I made my Mother-in-law's enchiladas a couple of days ago.
Sauce made from scratch, there is nothing better. 
So good, so comforting, so proud of myself that I was able to pull them off. 
I was so busy stuffing my mouth that I didn't take a picture of the final product. 
But never fear, I slathered them with sour cream and went to town.
 Thank you Virginia for showing me how to make these.  They were not as good as yours, but at least now I can satiate the craving in between visits.
I could eat these every other day.
And now I can!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kitchen Bowling...

 What do you do when it is too cold and snowy to spend much time outside?
Why kitchen bowling of course!
All you need are cardboard tubes, balls, and kids needing to get the wiggles out.
Total bliss for them and for this Mama.
I have a feeling we will be bowling a great deal in the Winter weeks to come.

 Note the Rubia in the background watching...so cute!



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

To make: Homemade spiced play dough...


 Evelyn and I made our own play dough last Thursday.  She loves to pour, dump, mix, and stir so it was a perfect activity for her to help with.  Firstly, I outfitted her in a beloved apron that was given to me by a wonderful group of blog friends!  Morsel loves the pocket and the red ball fringe on the bottom edge and I do too.  Anyway, I digress...We mixed and kneaded until we had the perfect spiced play dough.  It keeps for up to 6 months, so it is something we can keep using for awhile and Evelyn was so happy to be helping in the kitchen.


 She wanted to help knead the dough but, it was a bit hot to the touch for her, so I worked it until smooth and by then it had cooled down enough that she could play.

Here is the recipe that I used:

Play Dough
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup flour

Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and spices in a saucepan and heat until warm.  Remove from heat and add flour.  Stir and knead until smooth.  The cream of tartar makes this dough last up to 6 months or longer, so resist the temptation to omit this ingredient if you do not have it on hand.  Store this dough in an airtight container of freezer/zip bag.
I adapted this dough recipe from the one in the Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.  I added what I felt was a good amount for the spices and it really does smell lovely while the children play with it.  If desired you could omit the spices and add food coloring as desired to make a colored dough.

I know play dough can be a messy venture with children, but mine love it and to me it's worth it to have to pick it up off of the kitchen floor at times.  I love making our own dough too, because then I know what is in it and it's not a toxic-I-have-no-clue-what-is-in-this dough.  I'm always a fan of things like that.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Simple Women's Daybook...

I haven't done one of these is awhile, but I have been wanting to get back into it...here we go!

For January 18, 2010
Outside my window...there is lots of snow.  It snowed all day yesterday and while beautiful, it is very chilly today.
I am thinking...about many things: menu plans, etsy, finances, preschools, and how I need to mop the kitchen floor.
I am thankful for...my children.  We are in the middle of such wonderful yet challenging years.  I am trying to be cognisant of this fact and to strive to be the Mama that they need me to be.  This means being nurturing of course, but also focusing on training them up in the way they should go i.e. discipline and structure.  These are two things that are hard for me to consistent with, but, I am working on every day.  I have never felt more human than I have since becoming a Mom, or more flawed.  But, I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow from being a Mama to these happy, spirited, rambuncious, intelligent children.
From the learning rooms...learning through play.  I am still working on doing something structured with them each day.  Yesterday we talked about Martin Luther King Jr., I haven't quite settled yet on today's activity.
From the kitchen...I baked my favorite bread yesterday - Honey Whole Wheat and I can't stop eating it!  Today we are having Spaghetti with homemade meatballs.
I am wearing...Black satin lounge pants, a gray t-shirt, and cozy black sweater...oh, and bright blue socks.  All my sport socks are in the dirties.
I am creating...invitations for Elijah's 4th Birthday party.
I am going...to the post office and the library at some point today
I am reading... a young adult fiction book about Marie Antoinette from the Royal Diaries books.
I am hoping...to get some better sleep tonight.
I am hearing...Rubia cooing and jabbering and Evelyn "cooking" in her kitchen.
Around the house...Still working on the end of the year filing and rearranging the living room.  We are going for something different and I am excited about getting in done.
One of my favorite things...clean sheets on the bed, clean towels hanging in each bathroom, and clean children fresh from a bath.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Homeschool Co-op, AWANAS, and spending more time tucked in at home staying warm.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
A whole bowl of juicy Clementines.  Evelyn loves eating these and I love how she says the word Clementine.
You can read more day books here or post your own!

Monday, January 17, 2011

To make: heart shaped crayons...


The kids and I recycled our bag of broken crayons...I save everything that I think can be used for something else, even if I don't know what for yet at the time.  We made heart shaped crayons for their friends for Valentines Day.  Saying heart-shaped might be kind, it might take a little imagination to see the heart, but they turned out fun and cute nonetheless. 
The most laborious part was peeling the paper off of the crayons...after that it went pretty quick.
 I can't for the life of me find where I got this idea, I swear it was in a recent magazine, but I can't seem to locate it.  Anyway, place the broken crayons in foil cupcake liners ( I found a package of 24 for .89 cents) and preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  To make the "heart" place a piece of rolled foil between the foil liner and the muffin pan to form a V.  Then place in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before handling...then give out and color away!!!!

It's really neat how the crayons melt together to form interesting mixes of color and pattern.  I had several brands of crayons that I used and some melted better then others.  So a few of the hearts have a stripe of solid color from crayons that didn't melt.  All in all, a very cool craft, easy and a great way to recycle and reuse.
We made these so early because we have to send them off to cousins on the West Coast in time for the holiday.  We will still be making paper Valentines in the next week or so and I will share about those too when we get them done...the kids are going to have a fun, messy time with them too!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Star Wars and Clothes Pins...

 Another activity we did recently was hands on and crafty.  The kids and I spent a good hour working on these projects...each had their own thing to do which helps with the difference in their attention spans.
Elijah received several Star Wars action figures for Christmas and I had given him a basic shoe box to keep them in.  I decided he might enjoy decorating the box to fit the contents that it holds.  I wrapped the box in white butcher paper and taped down the inner edges with sticky tape...the lid  and the box.  Then he set to work coloring, drawing and placing stickers from his Star Wars sticker books all over the box.  I love how he felt that the inside as well as the outside needed to be decorated and he liked to put the stickers at the top edge and then fold them over, so they are half inside the box and half outside.  I try so hard not to impress my ideas about how things should be done on the kids...I don't want them to think there is a right or wrong way when it comes to drawing, coloring, crafts etc.  How else would anything new ever be created?  So I hold my tongue a lot.


 While Elijah worked on his box, I had Evelyn going on her own thing.  I had saved a milk jug from the recycling that I washed and dried.  Then I gathered up our wooden clothes pins and set her to work.  It is a simple activity where she drops the pins in the top of the jug, rattles them around, shakes them out and then does it all over again.  It's great for a toddler's gross motor skills, but most important (to the toddler) it makes a delightful racket!  I also gave her stickers to stick all over the jug to make it her own.  She still carries the jug around  and I have found that she has started putting other things in it as well...buttons, wooden acorns etc.

My kiddy kats love to work on projects and this filled the need for that day.  Elijah still talks about his box and wants to put more stickers on it, here and there.  I like that his action figures are safe and cozy in there own personalized home.  And all we needed for these two projects were things that I already had on hand...no expense what so ever.  The shoe box, milk jug, and even the butcher paper were all recycled from other things.  Elijah's stickers were a favorite Christmas gift, while Evelyn's stickers were new and unopened packages that I bought at Goodwill several  months ago for just a few cents each.  We've done several other fun activities this week...check back, I will be sharing about those in the next few days, including a fun crayon recycling project for Valentines Day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A wee reshuffle...

 I took inspiration from Heather over at Beauty that Moves.  She was rearranging things in her home to make way for her Christmas tree and made space for linens and cookbooks with apple crates.  I decided it would be a good solution for me as well.  After I cleaned up from Christmas I pulled out these two crates that I have had for years and made this little nook.  It freed up some nice space in my linen closet and it is nice to have the table clothes and napkins close at hand that I use the most in the kitchen.  I also made room on one of my other book shelves my placing my favorite and most loved cookbooks in the bottom crate.  It is nice to have them close at hand in the kitchen as well.  I am forever trying to make this house more efficient with storage and I like things to be cozy and pleasing to the eye as well.  This idea fit my style, but what I am most excited about is the space that was made available by this simple project.

On top I made a new home for the nature shelf.  It's a little bleak since it is winter.  I was given two nests by readers of this blog (did I ever share that?)  I love them both.  Here is one with a paper Cardinal nestled in it, since we have those beautiful red birds year round and a candle to remind of the early evenings and darker days this time of year.  I often catch one of the kids stopping and feeling the nest or picking up the Cardinal and given it a twirl before setting it back in it's home.  I like it to be hands on and accessible.  In the next few months, I will start to make little changes to the shelf to symbolize the changes that will be happening outside and to signal the coming of Spring.  I will try to continue posting on the progress we make.  I also put out fresh food for the birds that frequent our back yard last week.  Now is a good time to get seeds and nuts out to our feathered friends to help them make it through the cold days ahead.  I placed raw peanuts and suet packed with black sunflower seeds to give them a little boost.  The bonus is that I get to watch them dine from my back window.  It's enjoyable for me and the kids and fun to see nature doing it's thing.
My mind has already begun whirring with ideas for valentines to make this year.  I can't start thinking about these things too soon, so as to make sure there is enough time to create and then send them off in the mail.  I am also plotting with regards to a certain little boy's 4th Birthday that will be coming next month.  Maybe a little party will be held...we shall see.  I have lots of ideas, I just have to whittle them down to a manageable to-do list.  It may be Winter, but that never slows us down too much.  We have a relaxed business about us and I don't mind that at all...manic and harried are two things I work hard for us not to be.
Oh, and Rubia had her check-up today...she is charting out to be tall and slender just like her brother and sister and she is healthy in all other ways.  Thank you Jesus for that!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nothing a recipe can't fix...

Here's my little buddy with her little buddy Raggedy Ann.  Rubia is a busy bee most days...moving, rolling, grabbing, jabbering.  She is getting her two bottom teeth, so she has a case of the crankies too. She likes to hang out with me wherever I am and if she gets fussy, but isn't hungry or interested in playing, I read to her.  She has an affinity for cookbooks. She will lay by me and listen as I read aloud how to make risotto or pumpkin cheesecake.  A future chef in the making?  You can never start too young, I say.  What a kick it would be if her first word is radicchio or cardamom instead of the standard Ma Ma or Da Da.  Like I said, raising readers that's my goal.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For the love of books...

Once a week, every week we go to the library.  It is one of those activities that I don't think the kids nor I would survive without.  We all read voraciously.  My plan is to bombard them with words and books with the hopes that they will continue to read throughout their lives.  I can still remember learning to read and I still have the first book that I ever read by myself.  I have loved reading books for as long as I can remember and it is such a big part of my life that brings me nothing but joy...I want my children to have that too.
So every Monday we go to the library. We pick out picture books to look at and read each day and at night before bed, new books on CD are selected too.  They listen to these to go to sleep at nap time and bed time...just another way I like to get them plugged into reading and words.  While at the library, Elijah always goes and looks at the non-fiction.  He has really gotten interested in books about animals, pirates, and Star Wars.  Evelyn still likes a good picture book, especially those that have girls in them wearing princess dresses.
While they look about, I push Rubia over to the young adult fiction section.  I have been reading a great deal from this area lately.  Throughout each day while I nurse Rubia, I find that it is the perfect time to read.  She likes to nurse for a long time and I have nothing else that I can do in those 45 minute stints but bury my nose in a book.  It doesn't bother me in the slightest either.  I have found a wealth of lovely books that I can't wait to check out for the children when they are reading on their own.
Anything by Ann Rinaldi is wonderful, but I especially love Time Enough for Drums and The Girl in Blue.  I have been reading her books since I was a young adult.
The Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs by Betty G. Birney
The Royal Diaries from the Dear America books, I really enjoyed the book on Catherine the Great.
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. She also writes for adults and I have long loved her writing.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
and
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, the whole series about Calder is excellent, this is the first one.

These are just a few of my current favorites, but I keep finding new ones, so the list will continue to grow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Activities...


I am loving the little bit of green that is peaking out from my window sill. That’s basil on the left and cilantro on the right. I started the seeds growing before Christmas and it has taken them awhile to get going. I am thinking maybe because of the cold, I know I don’t move very fast when it’s cold.
Our schedule has started back up with earnest this week and although it has been busy, it has been nice to get back into things after a long rest. I think the kiddy kats were ready too…there was a wee bit of cabin fever going on. I am trying to be more intentional with the kids as well by doing planned activities with them each day. Something simple, I try not to put a ton of pressure on myself to be elaborate. A few days ago we spent a half hour throwing balls into an empty tub. Once they got comfortable with a certain distance, I would move the tub farther away to give them a new challenge. They loved it. Evelyn gave up after about 10 minutes due to her 2 year old attention span, but Elijah was happy to keep going.



Yesterday, I pulled out this Button Art set that I had gotten Evelyn for Christmas. Both kids enjoyed matching the colors. It was fun for them to do together and great for their gross motor skills. Plus, with the cold it is nice to have these kinds of bored busting activities to pull out, especially while I’m making dinner.

What do you do to keep the kids busy while you work?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Southern Comfort...

Happy New Year!
Illness, has swept our house..I was the last to get it...yuck.  But now I am on the mend.
I was feeling well enough by the end of today to prepare my take on the traditional Southern New Year's meal. I made a pot of black eyed peas with Turkey ham, an oven roasted sweet potato, corn bread, and sauteed kale.  It was good and so comforting and nourishing to my weary body. 
I made Rubia homemade baby food today.  She has not been crazy about the Gerber varieties she has been sampling.  So she had sweet potato which elicited smiles and then she had pureed persimmons...which she flipped over.  She was in love, so I think I am on the right track with making her food. I found an online source that has a lot of ideas that I am excited about...Weelicious.
The tree is almost de-ornamented, Rubia and Evelyn are now together in their room and Elijah has his own space, MOPS and AWANAs are starting up again, and all of our snow has melted.  Lovely things are happening in our little neck of the woods.  Bring on the new year!