Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

With a little inspiration, some thrifting and repurposing, and a trip to the craft store, this:

Became this!

Meet the ocean family: Poseidon, Mama Ocean, Baby Ocean and little Sharkie.

We had a wonderful afternoon on Sunday trick-or-treating around the garden by C's school. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Carving Pumpkins

 Pop the top


Bird's eye view

 After carving, C filled her teapot with pumpkin guts and called it "ma'am." She put it in the fridge "for later." Good thing mama remembered before it was too late....

Our new additions, jack o'lanterns Michelle (left) and Brown


Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free to Be D

This little boy loves toting his baby doll around the house...

At least his sister is a good influence on some aspects of his behavior. (Unfortunately, not so much on others--thanks to sissy he can throw a kicking, screaming tantrum like the best of them!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cashew Cheese

This is a very popular recipe around our here--in fact, we make it about once a week. I originally found it in Vegetarian Times, and have simplified it through the years down to the four essential ingredients: cashews, salt, lemon juice, and water. We use this in place of cream cheese, or to add creaminess and zip to tacos, or for making grilled "cheese" sandwiches. A recent and delicious variation was to add about 1 TB of minced fresh rosemary and 1 grated clove of garlic to make an herb spread. It is a versatile recipe, so have fun with it!

Cashew Cheese
Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 TB water
3/4 tsp salt

  • Place cashews in a bowl or large jar and cover with 3 inches of water. Soak overnight (up to 24 hours).
  • Drain soaking liquid, rinse cashews, and puree in blender or food processor with remaining ingredients until smooth and creamy. 
  • Transfer to a container and cover. Let sit at room temperature ~12 hours or overnight, then transfer to the fridge where it will keep for about a week. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Back to the Island

Ever since we took a summertime camping trip to a magical island close to our city, we've had something at the back of our minds: we have to go back.

We have to go back.

So, along with C & D's Pop-Pop, we took a day trip over to this wonderful place.

It was hard to leave. Until next time....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Culinary Genius?

 (Photo taken this summer) 
A garden snack of C's own making: Fennel fronds and nasturtium petals rolled up in a kale leaf.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

We took a trip with C's preschool to the pumpkin patch yesterday. We were lucky enough to have amazing weather--it was a sunny, glorious fall day. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to charge the camera batteries so this is the only picture I got while we were there:

B feeding a baby calf!

Luckily, we were able to borrow a camera to snap a few pictures of the kids. However, it was right before lunch and C's spirits were low (as may be apparent below).

After lunch, all the kids played happily in the barn. Then we headed back home. C, much happier now, told D a long, rambling story in the backseat. All I caught was a constant refrain of, "and 'whoosh' went the wind..." and then all of the children in the story fell asleep.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Double Rainbow

B took this one from our front porch on 10/12/11. The children were amazed.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Puddle Jumper

D enjoying some nice puddles in his rather hilarious spacesuit (I mean, rain suit).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fruit Leather

We recently bought a 20# box of pears, all of which were already ripe. After eating many, making a pear pie, pear muffins and canning a few jars, we still had some left over. One of the families at C's new preschool had given me a recipe for fruit leather, so we decided to try it with the pears, with great results. This could be used for any kind of fruit, or even a mixture of fruits.

  • Peel, core and coarsely chop fruit.  The amount depends on the type of fruit you have, but you generally need about 2-2.5 lbs. The goal is to end up with 4 cups of puree.
  • Puree the fruit in a blender.
  • Spread in an even layer on a Silpat or parchment-lined (rimmed) cookie sheet. 
  • Put in a 200 degree oven for about 8 hours. I usually do overnight, but it can get a bit crispy if it goes too long. (It's still tasty, though!) You may want to do your first batch during the day so you can start checking on it after 6-ish hours, until it gets to the consistency that you prefer.
  • When it's done, peel it off the sheet and cut or break into pieces. 
  • Fruit leather will keep well at room temperature for a few weeks (possibly longer; it's usually gone so quickly in our house, I can't say how long!) or a few months in the freezer.

Friday, October 14, 2011

All in a Day's Work

Today, we:

Canned some pears

Sipped some truly amazing genmaicha and sencha teas

Brought in tomatoes to ripen on the vine indoors

Admired a lovely cabbage (the only one that truly looks like a cabbage so far!)

Picked carrots at our community garden plot (across the street from our house)

Played outside
Good times.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Folding Laundry

(Photobombed by D!)

Lately, C loves to help fold the laundry (...sometimes). She came up with the following little ditty to sing as she folds:

(To the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb")

I was folding Marymere,
Marymere, Marymere,
I was folding Marymere,
And then it popped away.

Give it a try next time you fold laundry... it always makes the chore more fun around these parts!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pocket Surprises

Walked down to catch the train to work this morning. Put my hands in my pockets to guard against the autumn chill, and what did I find but...

... two tomatoes! D has an unfortunate habit of picking tomatoes (usually green ones) and not eating them. These selections of his were actually ripe and were a pleasant surprise. Hooray for pocket tomatoes!

Monday, October 10, 2011


The results of a lovely morning spent canning with friends. 



We are a little family living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest: a mama (known here as A) who loves baking, growing food, crafting, and reading; a papa (B) who loves tea, music, and good food; our three-year-old daughter (C) who is sweet, sensitive, and goofy; our one-year-old son (D) who is curious, active and happy-go-lucky; and our extremely patient cat M.

We live in a tiny, nearly century-old house that we recently christened Chickadee Cottage. Inspired by books such as Radical Homemakers, The Urban Homestead, and Simplicity Parenting, we have begun to work toward producing more of our own food and other products (toys, clothes, cleaning supplies) on our own land. Last summer, our homesteading ideals were put to the test when B lost his job. We quickly found, however, that there was a huge benefit to this unexpected event--all of a sudden, we had so much time together as a family. Time that could be spent doing meaningful and productive work for our home. For work that has a purpose, that is done with mindfulness and engages our creative and artistic spirits, does not feel like work at all. In fact, these have been some of the most joyful months of our lives, and we are thrilled that there is so much still to learn.

This blog will be a chronicle of how we spend our days, of who we are right now, of how our lives evolve. We may not have much money, but we recognize the riches we do have. Through these months, we have noticed how so many things can transform from straw to gold, with the aid of a little intention, time, and love.