Monday, November 10, 2014

SNOW?!?! And hot cross buns...

Alex and Justin came running into our room this morning at 4:30am.  "Mama, Daddy, there's SNOW on the ground!!"  Indeed, there was...

After our first outside playtime, we decided to get to work using our new flour.  We made some hot cross buns (Justin's weekly story had his gnome, Juniper, making the same things in preparation for Martinmas).  We decided to attempt them completely from scratch.  This included making the butter.
A few years ago, I picked up a reproduction Daisy hand churn from an antique store.  I didn't really know if it would actually work, but I got it out of my 'present box' and we tried it out. 
I still don't know if it would really work, because we quickly switched to using the blender--- which did.  Much faster.  But it was still fun to try. 
 The verdict:  Alex and I loved them!  Justin wasn't much of a fan (I think the grinder got loosened a bit when we were processing our wheat berries, and they were a bit 'multi-grainy' for his taste).  He did manage to lick the icing off a few, though, before declaring his indifference to the bread itself.
The perfect project for our first snowy day!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Something new at Mill City Farmer's Market

A while ago, I learned that many people who are gluten-sensitive (or gluten-intolerant) CAN tolerate heritage wheat.  I've been thinking about that for a while, and since Alex seems to be able to have "real" wheat in small doses (with prophylactic prunes and probiotics), it seems like the right time to try and reintroduce something like an ancient grain.  Sunrise Flour Mill is a Minneapolis-based mill that carries Ancient Red Fife.  I contacted the owner and found out that they were getting ready for a farmer's market this weekend.  To save on shipping costs, the kids and I checked it out on Saturday (it was a Daddy in Conneticut weekend, anyway).
 The market was inside the foyer of the museum, so it was a warm spot to look at all the beautiful produce and goods.  There was also a boxcar.  Enough said.
 We purchased an assortment of yummy looking veggies, and 10 pounds of wheat berries.  I could have gotten the actual flour, but I really want the kids to start milling our flour again as part of our homeschool rhythm (which, by the way, has gotten completely off-track, but I'll save that for another post).
 We have a very nice hand mill by Victorio, so we got to work.

 Look at that!  Some beautiful, low-gluten flour!  Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Early November Randomness

Just a few random images from our first week of November.  We did some watercolor paintings-
 Alex constructed her very first doll dress (completely her own design, modeled after the one and only Elsa....) successfully!
 And my dog is stunning, if I do say so myself. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Our Halloween!

What started off as having some friends over (Emma, Sadie and family) ended up with an impromptu Halloween bash!  We are SO lucky to be surrounded by our family and friends.  What a treat to be able to host such a fun group. 

GranMama and GranPapa made it up in time for Trick-or-Treating.  They were our 'surprise' guests of the evening.  Brad, Auntie Carrie, Uncle Sam and Baby Vera were also able to join us, too!  It all made for a spectacularly fun (and crazy) few hours.
(Justin in his 'box turtle' costume.  This was the one he designed and constructed HIMSELF.  However, he decided at the last minute that being a construction worker would be more fun.  At least I have this one documented!)
Justin wasn't the only costume change.  Alex designed and sewed herself an angel costume, but quickly changed her mind when this STUNNING Egyptian queen costume and Grandma Mary-made cape arrived in the mail.  It was perfect for a chilly night!  Who could blame her?  Plus, my Mom was quick to point out that I was Cleopatra for Halloween when I was seven, so it was absolutely perfect!)
In order to save on trying to fix something fancy, I made it a grilled cheese bar--  a loaf of nice Italian bread (and a loaf of gf stuff too!), and a tray of assorted fancy cheddar cheese from Sam's Club was perfect.  I also served tomato soup, clam chowder and lots of chips/dips for our appetizer-driven horde.

The Mulders came up and brought their own pumpkin to carve (throwback posts- 2010,2011, 2012,  such a fun tradition!?!).  The girls and Justin got to work.  Then it was time to get dressed and hit the streets.
A blurry but accurate picture of the activity level in the house!
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This year we were a teal pumpkin house-- we had an assortment of early reader workbooks (thanks, GranMama) and small pumpkin erasers as a non-food alternative for all of those kids with food allergies (and Mamas and Papas who would rather not bring candy home), along with the requisite candy for the traditionalists out there.
A note about Kolachi:  I was so impressed with her behavior.  Even with a house full of people, she was polite and non-obtrusive.  She behaved appropriately with the little ones and was a complete joy to have underfoot.  We had a minor setback the first time the door rang.  She hurried to her "place" on the stairs to greet our guests, but was completely shocked and alarmed when the guests turned out to be a gang of masked 4 feet tall 'spidermen'.  She went into full-out 'protection' mode.  It was way too intense for her.  So, as Dave and the other adults got our kids ready for trick or treating, I armed myself with a baggie full of steak and chicken tidbits and took her out to the street.  Pretty soon she was able to relax and see that all the masked kids were 'ok'.  I am so proud of her!  She not only joined the family walking door to door, but also appropriately greeted (and kissed) quite a few kids who stopped for a visit.  Whew!  Raising a well-adjusted puppy is a LOT of work!  Also, I dare you to show up at my doorstep wearing a mask.

 The final four:  Ready for Halloween. 
 And my God-daughter.  Because she crawled away during the porch pic, but she's too cute to not include!  I love how her pacifier matches her petals!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Nature Expedition

Justin hadn't yet seen our new favorite fall spot, so we all headed to Sunfish Lake Park this morning for a nice nature walk/ picnic/ foraging exercise. 
We're having a Halloween party tomorrow night, so we gathered some more sumac berries to share with our guests.

 Alex found some interesting fungi to sketch while Justin and Kolachi tried to flush out some more frogs (to no avail).  We sure had fun trying, though!

 They're predicting some winter weather in the next week.  Looks like it might happen a bit sooner?  Let's hold off for Halloween, okay, Mother Nature?

 Picnicking in the wild.  Dog wants the Doritos (leftover from our grocery store trick or treating-- what a treat!).


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sewing-- Halloween prep!

My two trick-or-treaters ready for a practice round at the local Grocery Store.  Justin opted for his costume from last year, as to keep this year's work under wraps until the big day...

 They were hard at work sewing this afternoon.  Alex put the finishing touches on her angel costume and  Justin is obsessed with making pillowcases. 
I need another simple project that he can do on his own, though....he has made about seven different cases already!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sumac Lemonade

On our nature walk the other day, Alex and I foraged some sumac berries.  According to my wild edibles book, we could make a sumac lemonade from them.
 These are most likely Staghorn Sumacs, and although we are technically beyond the 'prime harvesting' season, we decided to give it a good try.  I'm glad we did!  They were delicious!

After consulting both my book and this website, we decided to just infuse the berries in cold water.  Alex and I took turns hand 'bruising' (smushing) the berries and then we let them sit for the duration of our morning excursion (about 45 minutes).

Strain with a cheesecloth and voila!  Sumac Lemonade.  I tried it straight up and enjoyed the tart berry taste.  The kids definitely preferred a spoonful of sugar in theirs.
 I think if we harvested closer to 'prime time', we'd get a much deeper pink color.....we were pretty conservative with our 'bruising' as well.  The taste is reminscent of rosehips-- lots of vitamin C!