Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We're still in love

We're so in love with our little furry boy Zephyr. It's his 1st birthday today.

When we met you, we knew you were the one. Our hearts melted and we became a family with dog. At first, you were so shy but now you're quite comfortable with us.

You take your job as protector very seriously and ever night you wake up and come sniff us to make sure we're still there.

You love finding a sliver of light on the floor and stretching out to take advantage of the warmth. You love eating chicken shit.

And we're so in love with you. I don't think you doubt that for one minute.

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

weekend planning

I'm sitting here with the south facing shades completely open, the sun is pouring in the family room and it's somewhat pleasant (yet windy) outside.

The fence has been mended and Jonathan is outside right now working on a movable cage to grow greens under for the chicken yard. Those chickens wake me up every morning wanting attention. For a simple bird, they sure know how to get their way. Hopefully this cage will allow us to grow greens for them all summer.

I crawl out of bed every morning at 6:38 am (earlier and earlier every day by a few minutes) to give them scratch and the compost scraps. If they like what I bring them, they'll let my kids and I to sleep in a bit longer! Chickens can be extremely loud in the morning and have been known to crow without the presence of a rooster.

What they really want are some greens....but I guess a bucket of worms would work too.

Jonathan lifted the boards on the compost bin so that they can scratch at the good stuff before we sift out our finished soil.

The scene on Saturday morning looked something like this.

Each of my three kids quickly came over to the table in order to get dibs on their seed packets. They're very into gardening. Solomon wants more room every spring to grow his sunflowers, gourds and watermelon. Amelia begs Jonathan every weekend to take a walk down the street with his wheelbarrow to pick up loads of manure for her garden. Eli just wants to grow flowers on his plot of land at this point. I wonder if I'm going to have any garden space left by the time they're teenagers! I have to hold tight to my space out there.

We've just gotten seeds from various stores. There's no special place we got our seeds from this year. We always end up with far too many seeds though. Sometimes I want to be more organized but it's so much fun for the kids to pick out seeds from the display.

What I've been thinking about for a while is changing the way I garden. I got a few books from the library about permaculture and I'm diving into them tonight.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

bits and pieces

After I read the comments on my last post I realized I didn't quite explain myself! So, let me tell you that I bought this applique project at Sugar City a few years ago. It's the kind of project that keeps you dreaming and waking up in the morning with the solution to make it work. And it does come with instructions. That's the funny part. The method didn't quite work for me but I figured it out the other day. I really do need my own work space but the corner of the family room works too. Here's how it's going....

This week has been rainy, slushy and cold. The wild and crazy weather started last Friday with an outrageous wind that whipped through our neighborhood and blew down part of our fence. Good times. I am very thankful for the snow, unlike the rest of the country, we had a really mild winter. A couple good things about the snow. First, it meant that the wind stopped and second, soccer practice and the games scheduled for this weekend have been canceled! Okay, I'm not totally thrilled about 4 nights a week of soccer but I'll warm up to the idea as soon as the weather warms up. I promise.

Actually, the weather can't stop me from dreaming about my garden and wanting to get outside and work in the dirt. By this time of year it looks pretty drab and lifeless out there. I want the green to come back because it looks so nice out there in the summer. Well, a little nicer.

I've also been purging my house. I know it's serious when I dream about it. (I guess I've been dreaming a lot!) The pantry has been a total mess and I sometimes can't find a thing in there. I didn't realize until recently that I had three more jars of tomato sauce from last summer.

And I think that purging makes want to cook things to fill it back up. Someone gave us some grapefruit at the homeschool co-op, then I craved it. At the store, I could smell the grapefruit. When I went to visit my great aunt last week she was making her mom's recipe for marmalade. It smelled so good, I just had to make some for myself and I can read the writing on the wall when it's just too obvious to ignore. It's a combination of lemon, grapefruit and orange marmalade that my kids didn't like it but I think it's pretty good. I guess there are marmalade lovers or marmalade haters! I'll keep on making it and hoping that it grows on them.

Jonathan has had a few weekends out of town and the last time he went away to San Francisco he brought back this huge bag of books from his parents. They were his or his brothers when they were kids. (Hey Ben, you can borrow them whenever you want!) So, I'll be dusting off and cleaning those book cases we've been storing in the garage and bringing them inside.

Since I wrote last, I've been kefir making, kefir learning and kefir loving. I've also been meeting kefir making locals through Freecycle. I placed an ad on Freecycle for kefir grains and one person was kind enough to offer half of hers. Turns out she's a really interesting grad student who studies birds at the local university. She also hooked me up with a wonderful kefir sight that I'd like to share with you here.

Before I was using the freeze dried kefir starter from the health food store and it actually was a lot of work - heating the milk and letting it cool. With live kefir, I just place the kefir grains in milk and let it do it's magic.

My kefir grains are very productive and the end product is so mild and delicious. We've been making kefir smoothies every morning.

As you can see, I've been a busy little bee. I guess it is spring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

twelve princesses

This is my new-old project. I don't know why I start projects, get so excited about them, then put them away just to fret over it for months. I think I'm terrified I won't be able to finish them properly or perfectly.

I've been cleaning out my house lately. I can't believe how much stuff just sits around unfinished or unused. I decided I need to finish this project. I need to finish it for the sake of finishing but also I would like to enjoy the process.

This is a promise to myself to work on it every day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Spring is showing herself more and more lately ~ the robins are everywhere doing their spring dance, we've been waking up to the sweet smell of rain more often, the kids and I have been spending the afternoons cleaning up our garden and hanging out with the chickens. But really, I'd say the one thing that really says spring for me is finally ditching my winter shoes and spending all day long either barefoot or in flip flops.

The best part of spring is it's mild weather here in the high desert. In the summer I wouldn't think about heading out in the afternoon for the dog park. That's why we have to take advantage of the spring weather.

And if you're at the dog park, you might as well collect some rocks. That is if you're OBSESSED with rocks. You might even ask your mom if you can jam a few in her back pocket.

Spring also brings new and exciting growth for kids. I've been told that trees grow the most in spring as well as kids. One sign of reading readiness is skipping (or being able to cross the mid-line. This is a great article of reading readiness). I asked Solomon if he could skip while we were out and he just started skipping! He just started skipping and skipping. Then Amelia joined in. It was a big skip fest. I told Solomon I was calling him Skippy from now on. He thought that was hilarious.

I guess we have finally made the transition to spring. Transition can be hard for me sometimes but I just have to remember to live in the here and now. I have to be grateful for every blessing in my life. Like for instance, watching my kids enjoy the outdoors, loving life like only kids can.

I can't believe it's Friday already. Have a great weekend! And remember if you're out collecting rocks, wear a belt!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

it's a morning thing

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that cooking and eating our meals together is part of their education. Sometimes we'll sit down to a bowl of cereal but most days we eat warm breakfasts that the kids can help make.

One of their favorites ~ pancakes with banana or apple. Lately we've been adding vanilla and cinnamon. They also like dutch babies, egg in a hole or omelets. Of course, I hear a lot of requests for oatmeal. By the end of the day, there's lots of dishes to clean!

Eli told me to stay out of the kitchen while he made his pancakes. I stayed close enough for me to feel comfortable with him around a hot pan but far enough away for him to feel he was doing this all on his own.

Not bad for a kid. His favorite part was eating the "baby" pancakes made by the little dribbles of batter.

I have to remember this isn't about me and my concerns over a hot pan or the very odd shaped pancakes that result in a four year old making them. It's about the experience of a young boy and wanting to instill in him a love for cooking and the confidence he gains in knowing that I believe in his ability.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

making kefir

I would say that kefir is one of the easiest fermented foods you can make.

The milk is heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit , cooled to 75 degrees, mixed with the kefir starter and left out at room temperature in a sterile container for a day, then refrigerated. The thing is, it tastes a bit like buttermilk, which could be absolutely normal. But I don't know. I've been using the freeze dried kefir from the health food store.

In the book, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, he recommends a company call G.E.M. cultures which sells a few different types of cultures that are live. I also should try my local food co-op to see if they offer live cultures. The benefit of live cultures is that they can be reused again and again. Any comments or suggestions are welcome!