Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Cleaning

We've been doing some spring cleaning around here, clearing out a lot of clutter--which feels great! I have been wanting to move some recipes from my old blog over here for a while... so over the month of April I will be posting 3 recipes per week. All the recipes will be cataloged under the "Recipes" tab, so they should still be easily accessible after the month is over. I will also pop in from time to time with news about our activities and projects; I have a feeling that it's going to be a productive month!

In other news around the house, we applied last fall for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Though the initial process (application and energy assessment) took a while to be complete, crews started work this week and our house has gone from being cool and drafty to being snug and cozy, all in a matter of days. What a difference good insulation makes! We are so pleased with this program--it is well worth applying if you meet the income requirements.

And a quick epilogue to an earlier post: On the first day of spring, we enjoyed a coconut cream pie (almost raw, except for the toasted coconut I sprinkled on top). It was incredible and I can't wait to have an excuse to make it again. The recipe is from Cafe Gratitude, available here. (I did add a little water while processing the crust to help it stick together, but other than that was faithful to the recipe.)

Hope you enjoy the month of recipes--feel free to leave a comment if you give any of them a try!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Fairy in the Window

Look at this little fairy who landed on our window! Isn't she lovely?

(Drawing by C, with parent-sanctioned window crayons)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In the Sun

We have been enjoying some lovely spring-like days (finally!) and have celebrated by spending lots of time outside. Some photos from this afternoon:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!

Today is the vernal equinox, and we welcome in the spring... even though our weather in the past week has involved a little too much of this:

With all this late snow, I am a little behind on my garden plans. I have planted some seeds, but we'll see what will survive all this crazy weather. At least the kale is going strong (it's even putting up flower buds now, which we are harvesting and using like broccoli--yum!). The overwintered favas are flowering, too. And I'm happy that I recently planted some wintergreen because its delightful minty berries are such a treat!

Wishing you a very happy and productive spring 2012!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Girl and Her Doll

Last week at school, C celebrated "Doll Day," where each child chose their favorite doll to join them for class. At first she wasn't sure which doll to choose. Then one day, with absolute certainty (and without any prodding from me, I assure you), she declared her favorite doll of all to be Celeste, whom I had made for her last Christmas. (It was the first time I had ever attempted making a doll, so she is a bit... rustic, shall we say.) But the fact that she chose this over all others really warmed this mama's heart! Here she is, with Celeste giving a happy little wave, on Doll Day.
(Photo taken by the school's photographer, Craig R.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

We spotted this rainbow yesterday afternoon. A little early for St. Paddy's day, but we'll take it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Helping Hands

One of my many goals as a parent is to involve the children as much as I can while doing my work around the home. Since this does mean that completing the task is much slower (and often involves more cleanup), it doesn't happen as often as it should. But today, both C and D pitched in at various points in the process of making dinner. D mostly helped to put veggie scraps in the compost, but C was eager for jobs that were slightly more involved. So, she helped me crumble tofu for the scramble we had tonight, and arrange chopped broccoli onto a pan so that we could roast it in the oven (which was delicious, by the way). She took both tasks very seriously, and was very proud of the nice pattern that she made with the broccoli:

 Engaged in her task

 A beautiful circle of broccoli

 Modeling her new shades

 My other little helper!

And afterwards, she used her "helping hands" to clean up a big pile of toys that had accumulated during the afternoon... all by herself. All in all, quite the successful afternoon!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Luscious Lentil Soup

Lentil soup, how I love thee. You are such a fabulous empty-pantry meal, for even when there is little else to eat in the house, we almost always have some dried lentils, potatoes and carrots on hand.

Here's how to turn these humble ingredients into a hearty meal.

Luscious Lentil Soup
Serves 6-8

2 TB olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup port or red wine (or water)
2 cups French lentils (red lentils would also work)
2 bay leaves and 1 tsp whole black peppercorns, tied in a cheesecloth sachet
1 tsp each thyme, rosemary, and sage
1 bouillon cube or 2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
Salt to taste
1 tsp cider vinegar or 1 TB fresh lemon juice

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add carrots and mushrooms and saute a few minutes more.

Deglaze the pan with wine or water and heat a few minutes until the alcohol begins to cook off. Add lentils and cook a few minutes more before adding water and/or vegetable broth to cover by about 2 inches. Add sachet and herbs.

Bring to a boil, then add bouillon cube (if using) and lower heat. Let simmer for 45 min-1 hour, until lentils are cooked, adding more water if needed. Remove sachet and add salt to taste, then stir in vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Picture of Rainbows

Yesterday, C drew a picture. To my knowledge, it may have been the first time that she has sat down and said (in this instance), "I'm going to draw some rainbows." Which she did. And they were awesome.

I snapped a photo when she was busy with something else, thinking I would probably post it here. I'm glad I did, because afterward I had the audacity to hang it up on the fridge and compliment her on her lovely rainbows. She then promptly took the picture down, ripped it up, and said (in her most dramatic of voices), "No! It's not nice. I'm never drawing rainbows again." Well, hello little 4-year-old! (I think she may have a slight predisposition towards perfectionism... sorry about that one, C!)

Epilogue: Today she drew another picture of rainbows. This time, I didn't say a word ;)