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And She is Six

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Oh my summer girl, you turned six today! How the time has flown. You are amazingly joyful, enthusiastic, daring, sweet, and sometimes even shy. I love you Delaney Rose. Happy day!

 

 

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This Morning

This morning…

Pretzels ready to go in the oven and bread dough rising on the counter.

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Enjoying the outdoors in the sun and not the rain.

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A fast paced game of UNO Attack.

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Foraging with Liam.

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Dandelions and lamb’s quarters.

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Friends finished with swim lessons for the morning.

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What fun things did you do this morning?

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A Walk in June

 

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Mindfulness…Standing at my Door

Most mornings Gaia, our one year old lab mix, and I go on a walk. We have walked in the snow, cold, rain, wind, sun, and fog but on all of these walks I get time to think. Sometimes I think about the weather and the landscape around me, sometimes I think about what I need to get done that day, and sometimes I think over a problem I am having. I love this time, even when I don’t really want to get out of bed.

When I get back to my door I always find myself at a transition from my alone time into the world of my family. To prepare for this transition I stand at my door and quietly take three breathes, three seems like the right number to me.  During these breathes, I give myself time to turn my mind toward my family and become ready to give hugs, read books, make breakfast, get a band-aid, switch the laundry, or what ever is needed when I come through the door.

These breathes, this pause, helps me to move into something new. I have used this during other times of the day as well. After a busy morning of errands we can come home frazzled, so before I get out of the van I take a breathe and then move into my work at home. I have the kids take a breathe after playing in the yard before we sit down for a story. By taking this moment to prepare our minds for a transition we can make each activity in our day a little easier to begin.

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A Present From Great Grandma Darcy

Delaney is just about to have a birthday and every year my grandparents give her a small present and some money to spend. So this year, I knew the perfect place to take her, The Wisconsin Wool Exchange in Stevens Point. This is a great little fiber store with local and non-local yarn and roving. Over the last year Delaney has learned how to knit and how to needle felt and she just loves it. My Grandma Darcy is a big knitter, so I thought this would be just the right thing to buy with the money she gave to Delaney.

Here Delaney is using her new yarn, called Fire Wine, she loves the name. While we were picking out yarn she saw some fingerless gloves and decided that was the project for her. We are planning for her to knit a rectangle and then sew up the side, making sure to leave a thumb hole. She is very excited.

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Here is the wool roving, carded but unspun sheeps wool, that we will use for needle felting.TOSHIBA CAMCORDER

Delaney is using the felting needle to felt the roving to a piece of prefelted material. She is making a fun design.

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A close up look at her picture in progress.

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She also wanted to make a doll. I used white to shape the body and then we used colorful roving over the top of the form.

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Her name is Catalina.

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I am sure there will be more fun fiber work to come! I think my grandma would approve :)

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What’s Cookin….Lamb’s Quarters

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I thought I would continue with the wild edibles this week because that is what we are learning about in our homeschool, what we can eat from the world around us. The kids have really enjoyed this and lamb’s quarters is a new one for them so that is even more exciting.

Lamb’s quarters is a lovely little plant also known as goosefoot because of the shape of the leaves.The leaves often have a powdery white coating. This wild edible is a good source of  Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Roboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. So overall a power packed food.

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Gathering

Lamb’s quarters can be found in disturbed areas like newly dug garden beds and open soil where trees have fallen down are two examples. I found mine next to a park where some cable wires had recently been put in the ground so the soil had been dug up. We collected the stems and leaves of the youngest most tender plants in the group. When you are harvesting always leave more than half behind even if people think it is a weed :)

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Cooking

Besides goosefoot and lamb’s quarters this plant is also known as wild spinach so you can use these wonderful leaves any way that you use spinach. For example:

Use fresh young leaves in a salad

Steam them toss them with salt, pepper, and olive oil for a side dish

Use them in quiche

Lamb’s quarters and peach green smoothie

Lamb’s quarters and shells

Lamb’s Quaters Bread and Chickpea Salad

1/2 loaf or a little more of day old Italian bread

1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas

2 ribs celery

1 1/2 cup lamb’s quaters

1/2 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

4 oz parmesan or feta cheese

1 tsp cumin

salt

pepper

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. In a large bowl combine 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, and cumin. Add bread and toss.

3. Season with salt and pepper to taste and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted.

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4. In the same bowl  you mixed the bread add the chickpeas, celery, cheese, vinegar, and remaining olive oil.

5. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add lamb’s quarters, cook for two minutes and then drain. Put in ice water to stop cooking.

6. Drain the lamb’s quarters and add to the main bowl then add the bread. Toss and let stand 1 hour.

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Perfect lunch on the front porch!

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The next day we added lamb’s quarters to a veggie chickpea stir fry.

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Enjoy!

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Mindfulness…Stick Pictures

Part of mindfulness is being in the moment. See what is happening around you right now and not worrying what will happen next. Most of the time I find that kids are in the moment. They get engulfed in what ever they are doing and loose track of time. But sometimes, even kids start to worry about what is going to happen next. My oldest son, Killian, gets this way sometimes, he becomes focused on the future the same way he gets focused on a task he enjoys. When Killian begins to think about what are we doing next, and next after that, and next after that, it does become a problem. He not only stops enjoying himself and misses what is going on, but his questions about what will happen stops me from enjoying the moment as well.

I have started doing an exercise with the kids about being in the moment, it is called stick pictures.

First you find a flat spot to make a picture. Today we were indoors because of the rain but a smooth spot on the lawn, on a trail or on the beach work as well. Delaney sorted the sticks into three piles, 15 sticks per person.

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Now give each child a pile of sticks, let them examine each stick, look, touch, smell. Once they have had a chance to examine their sticks explain that they will be making a picture together using the sticks. The challenge is to make a picture without talking or gesturing to each other.

The point of the exercise is to put a stick down in the moment. You cannot think ahead because you cannot know what the other person will do, you have no time to plan. One person puts down a stick, then the next, in order around the circle until their sticks are all gone.

Before we start we take our three breathes and say

I am breathing in

I am breathing out

I am happy

Oh so happy

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When everyone was calm I told them to start. I had to remind Liam when his turn was but they stayed quiet and put down all of the sticks.

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When they were done we examined the picture. Today they decided that it was a campfire. I took a picture and then we collected the sticks and put them back in the woods. Not only did they make the picture in the moment, the picture itself only lasted a moment. I guess that is also a lesson in impermanence.

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The kids also like doing this one their own, so after their group picture they get to make one on their own. Here is Delaney’s happy fish.

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Here is another way to do this exercise with Bendaroos. They allow for more shapes which is also fun.

Namaste

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Little Moments…Building Forts Again

All winter long the kids built forts all around the house. But now that warm weather is here they have taken to building forts outside. Today they found a bunch of wood used in another fort and decided it was time to start fresh. They did most of the building themselves but I helped with securing the frame and draping the tarp. They busied themselves with all the little extras like a sign with their names, a mail box, fire pit, bench, etc….

Frame for the fort

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Securing the tarp with sip ties

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Lunch in the fort

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More work

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A bridge across a hole

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Homemade table from last year all spruced up

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Fun with friends, can’t ask for much more than that!

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Little Moments…Rhubarb Bars

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YUM!

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Project Simplicity…More Than A Clean House

This week we had tacos for dinner and while I was shredding some cheese my husband walked into the kitchen. He looked at me funny and said, “Why are you doing that?” And of course I said, “For the tacos.” He laughed and pointed at the sign that hangs in my kitchen, it says simplify.

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He told me that shredding cheese by hand does not look simpler than the shredded cheese in a bag I usually buy. Well, in some ways this is true. I have been buying the shredded cheese in a bag for a long time because of, well, the convenience. It does take less time to pull out a bag and sprinkle cheese on what ever you need. But this week I decided that maybe I don’t want the extra things that come with shredded cheese and what kind of cheese is really in the bag anyway? So, I bought a cheese from a Wisconsin Dairy and shredded it myself and truthfully, it did not take very long at all. I chose to do some processing myself for a better product. And this kind of thinking is part of a simple life as well a time saving decluttering frame of mind.

The reason I am decluttering my house is to make is easier to find the things I need, to put things away, and keep the house in good working order. Less stuff means less work and more time for other things. So other things are part of simple living as well. What do I really want to be doing with my time? One thing that is important to me is cooking with real and local food when ever I can. I want good tasting healthy simple food for my family to eat everyday. But simple does not always mean easier or shorter it means in this case less processed. We have slowly been moving away from processed food from the store. You can see that in some of my other posts about crackers, yogurt, and granola. So part of project simplicity is finding time to do what is important to me and cooking real food is important to me.

 

Here is a recipe we made yesterday for homemade pretzels. I got the recipe from the Kind Arthur Flour recipe page.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

1 cup water

 

1. Combine all of the ingredients in your mixer bowl and beat until well combined. Knead dough by machine for 5 minutes until it is soft and smooth.

2. Flour the dough and place in an loosely sealed bag to rest for 30 minutes.

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3. While dough is resting mix one cup boiling water with 2 Tb baking soda until dissolved in a flat bottomed bowl. Set aside to cool.

4. Preheat oven to 475 and grease a baking sheet, set aside.

5. Remove dough from bag and knead until smooth. Divide the dough into 8-12 pieces depending on the size you would like your pretzels. I did 12 because I find that the kids waste less.

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6. Roll each piece out into a long rope and then shape into pretzel form. When the kids are helping they can make any shape they want. We have even gotten out cookie cutters. Let them be creative.

7. Place each pretzel in the water and baking soda mix for 30 second – 1 minute. Then let extra drip off into pan and place on prepared baking sheet.

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8. Let rise for 10 minutes and then bake for 7-9 minutes.

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This was our lunch yesterday, pretzels and nettle soup!

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Yum Yum!

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And with my decluttered kitchen I can not only make simple food but I will have time to clean up the kitchen as well.

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And if you are wondering if the kids really eat the food we make. I think this will answer your questions :)

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