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Friday, January 29, 2010

Knitting and Ice Skating

Lastnight was the last Knitting 101 class. I will miss going to them. I'm in awe that the teacher had us knitting such cool things in 4 classes! I've been wanting a burnt orange hat for a few months now, and I fell in love with the sheep wool/alpaca yarn I found. At first I was all thumbs and then some. It is starting to be a relaxing thing now. I'm planning to make Laughing Water and I matching hats and scarves. I'll probably have them done just in time for summer! ;-)
Mr. Blueberry Eyes is ice skating on our driveway. It is in a shady spot and tends to make quite a little lake on melty days. It is quite a pain to live with, except when it comes to skating!
Laughing Water is with Granny flash, working to make some $ today. The Wood Artist is working on taxes. He is a meticulous soul and our accountant can be mighty thankful I'm not the one preparing the taxes. He would get a paper sack full of receipts and check stubs! I'm not a tax kind of person. As for me, I would eagerly support the abolition of property and income and death tax in favor of a flat sales tax. Less paperwork for me!
As for me, I'm cleaning and cooking today. I'm grieving the loss of friends that are moving away and wondering why life has to be so full of change. I'm looking for a recipe for brocolli cheese soup. And I have to come up with a game about the human body for my son's class at church tomorrow.
TTFN - Nanette

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Living High on a Budget

One of my greatest fears is deprivation. I spend my life trying to figure out how to insure myself against it. I'm sure psychologists would have a heyday speculating why I'm like that. But whatever they would conclude wouldn't change the fact that I despise even the thought of having to do without.

I've said before that the downturn has hit our business hard. We have high hopes for the future as we seize this opportunity to reinvent what we do and morph with the times to remain a viable entity.

But, in the meantime, socks and underwear may garner a few more holes than we would like, and we are looking for ways to live frugally - without feeling deprived. On good days, it is a scintillating challenge! On bad days, well, we won't go there!

We've been coming up with some freaky cool ideas to save on the food budget. We're working on designing a hanging garden in my tiny kitchen. We'll keep you posted on this. Imagine the $ you could save by growing all the greens you could eat in the dead of winter! Can't wait to try it!
Pictured here is some cinnamon swirl French toast that we made for just pennies. The other night, The Wood Artist and I had these parfaits made from huckleberries we picked and froze last summer and raspberries his parents grew and froze for us. The treat was rounded out with Cool Whip and homemade granola and a little milk. No deprivation here!
I made the coolest discovery tonight. I made a crock pot stew for supper and put some of my dehydrated green beans in it. After just a few hours of cooking, the green beans are as tender and more delicious than canned green beans. There wasn't even a hint of rubberiness. I've pretty much mastered the art of food dehydrating since my Dad has been teaching food dehydrating classes for years. But the trick can be finding a practical and delicious way to use the dehydrated food. I'm thrilled to add this to my bag of tricks! It is so much easier to dehydrate than can. You save more of the nutrients, and if you can make it this yummy, it just deserves a five star rating!
Here's to living frugally without feeling deprived! - Nanette

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Muffins, Muffins!!!

A few weeks ago, my best friend sent me a cookbook. It is a huge hit in our family! It is called "Vegan Brunch" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It is imaginative and scrumptious! I'm not a vegan, but I do try to feed my family healthy food. These recipes definitely qualify. You can find it on To whet your appetite, I'm going to share a couple of muffin recipes that have taken us by storm.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t. salt
(I would also add 1/3 -1/2 c. ground flax seed)

3/4 c. soy milk (or almond or rice)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. canola oil
2 T lemon zest
2 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a muffin tin. (I just use paper muffin liners.) In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar,baking powder, poppy seeds, and salt. Make a well in the center and add milk, lemon juice, oil, zest, and vanilla. Mix just until all wet ingredients are moistened.

Fill the muffin tins three-quarters full and bake for 23-27 min., until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, trasfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Toasted Coconut and Mango Muffins

1 1/4 unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 c. almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 t. apple cider vinegar

1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour OR 1 c. w.w. flour and 3/4 c. white flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 T baking powder
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice

1/3 c. canola oil ( I used safflower)
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. coconut extract (opt; you can also use another t. of vanilla

3/4 c. chopped dried mango (pieces should be pea-size or therabouts)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a muffin tin. ( I use paper liners.)

First, toast the coconut. Preheat a large pan over medium-low heat. Pour in the coconut and, using a spatula, move it around slowly and consistently for about 4 minutes. The coconut should start browning almost immediately; if it doesn't, then turn the heat up just a bit. Remove from heat when toasted (it should appear honey brown to dark chestnut in color).

Measure milk into a measuring cup and add vinegar. Set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and allspice. Create a well in the center, and add the milk mixture, oil, and extracts. Mix together until just combined, then fold in toasted coconut and mango. Fill the muffin tin three-quarters of the way with batter and bake for 23-27 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted through the center comes out clean. Let cool a bit until you can loosen the muffins and transfer them to cooling racks to cool the rest of the way.

When you get the book, you have to try the Cranberry Orange-Nut Muffins and the Cherry Sage Sausages!

TTFN - Nanette

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In the Dead of Winter

Life has taken a monotonous turn for us. Winter is in a yucky phase - bleak, no new snow, not enough snow to ski or snowshoe on, too much snow/ice to run freely. The result has been a growing laziness in getting out. Couple that with a few stressors and I've been downright grumpy!

But today is a new day and the endorphins are beginning to flow again. The last two days, I was more than willing to sell my children to the gypsies. Today I think they are fabulous, intelligent and so cheerful and helpful!

Here is a picture of Laughing Water reading to Mr. Blueberry Eyes and The Mighty Hunting Hound. This was the denouement of a huge fight between them. They learned much about forgiveness, kindness, and brotherly affection in this episode!

I took Old Faithful into the doctor today for his final checkup after his absessed tooth was pulled. He has gained 2 pounds in 10 days and is one happy doggy! So glad.

Mr. Blueberry Eyes has had two days of excellent progress in his reading lessons! Laughing Water is becoming a screaming machine on the Mavis Beacon typing software.

After some really tough times in our business, due to the economic downturn, we are excited to be pressing ahead with a project that will allow us to do reading therapy online. The next few months will be full of writing curriculum and working with a software developer. Hard work is ahead, but it all feels o.k. when there is hope!

I'm reading one of my favorite books, "A Charlotte Mason Companion" by Karen Andreola. If you are a parent grandparent, or work with children in any capacity, I highly recommend this book! I'm finding that it is time to pull it out and delve deeper into the application of certain aspects of the philosophy.

What are you doing to combat winter blues? - Nanette

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Let My People Go

I had a little fun today. It was my turn to teach the Bible lesson at Mr. Blueberry Eyes' class. The story was of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. I dug in my sewing closet and found a cut of rustic-looking fabric that was perfect for a drape. The Wood Artist had a spruce pole that had 75 years of growth, but had been constricted because of a vine growing around it. It made a perfect, lightweight staff. The head teacher had a great beard and turban to complete the look. I must say, I had fun!
I think it looks good with GAP jeans, don't you?!
Laughing Water is excited because her Sabbath School has a party planned for tonight. Her ride will be here in 1 1/2 hours. She is practically counting the minutes.
The weather here in the Northland is melty. I would like to go for a ski, or a snowshoe, but, alas, there is little snow left! I do hope this isn't the end of winter!
I'm reading a new book by Henri Nouwen called, "In the Name of
Jesus". It is a compelling take on what the life of follower of Christ should really look like. I dare say that if Christians had gotton this right from the beginning, there wouldn't have been the crusades, the bigotry, fake morality, and religious abuse and coercion that has been like a canker sore on the face of Christianity. It is a good read. I went to the library to read it today while my family was in church. I needed a some quiet time for my mind. I came away with provoked thoughts and a glimmer of hope in my heart.
This has been a week of stretching my spirit. There's been a lot going on and a lot of pondering. I'm going to crash for the rest of the weekend and hope next week is a little more mellow! :) Mellow is good, right?! - Nanette

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Have and To Hold

Yesterday was a whirlwind day. My Brother MP got married to his long-time sweetheart. It was a civil ceremony with a wedding to follow in the summer. I'm so excited to have a new sister. I'll have to think of a blog name for her. She is a wonderful lady and I love what she does for my brother! He leaves for Army National Guard training on Monday. I know the next few months will be tough for them, but I'm glad they have each other!

Mr. Blueberry Eyes is consumed with delight. He talks about his new auntie constantly and has even hidden her phone number in his room! Before the ceremony he speculated constantly as to whether they would kiss. When they did, he blushed! What a funny boy!

Lastnight her family and our family got together at our house to get to know each other better. We ate pizza and salad and cake.
The kids were pleased to find out that their ski instructor from

last year's homeschool ski days is married to her sister. They really liked him.

Today was crazy. I had to visit all three towns in our valley and one of them twice! Laughing Water and I needed some bloodwork done for an upcoming Dr. appointment. It was her first time and she was brave during it, but rather dramatic about the pain later! I took some huckleberry jam to our vet, who skillfully operated on Old Faithful yesterday. (Old Faithful is recovering very well and is expected to live a good while yet!)

My second trip out for the day was for Laughing Water's piano and guitar lessons and Mr. Blueberry Eyes' violin lesson. Then we drove to the third town to take measurements on a bridesmaid. I'm sewing for a May wedding and need to get a good start on it. I'm making two bridesmaid dresses and hemming the bride's dress. I may help with the veil, too.

I'm definitely ready to crash for the night! But first, I'm going to whip up some lemon poppyseed muffins for supper. My dear friend sent me a fantastic cookbook that I can't wait to try out. It is called "Vegan Brunch" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I'm not vegan, but cook that way quite a lot. TTFN - Nanette

Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome to New Followers

I've noticed lately that several new followers have joined that I do not know. I just want to welcome you and tell you that I'm delighted you've joined. I'm in awe that anyone would want to listen to my ramblings!

Just so you know, I love your comments. My dream for this blog is that it will be a community to share ideas, trials, joys, lessons learned, in everything from organic gardening to literature. So, do say hi from time to time - or every time! Share with me your knowledge, anecdotes and correct my mis-perceptions (I can handle it!). Lets be friends!

Some Creative Projects from the Past

I was talking to a friend the other night and promised I'd post pictures of these doll outfits I made for Laughing Water's doll last Christmas. She is an avid doll girl and started collecting "A Life of Faith Dolls". She dearly wanted a Christmas outfit for "Elsie" last year. The Christmas outfit, however was around $50. I figured I could do one just as lovely for a whole lot less. This is what I came up with. It was so much fun! There is a little hand muffler to go with the cape, but we could not find it when I took the picture. The cape is made of a crushed velveteen and looks quite rich. The dress has a lovely overlay, making it festive enough for a princess!

The other picture is of a project that The Wood Artist and I both contributed to. When we lived and taught school in Hong Kong, I did a lot of counted cross stitch. That was before I had kids! When The Wood Artist saw the finished project, he said, "I have an idea for displaying that. But, it will have to wait until I find just the right piece of wood."

So, the bears traveled back Stateside with us and sat in the closet for about 10 years! One day, The Wood Artist came home from an explore and said, "I've found the right piece." And he had. He painstakingly crafted a natural looking frame for my cloth/thread picture and this is the result. It has been hanging in my living room for a couple of years, now.

In other news, I'm taking Old Faithful to the vet tomorrow to get his absessed tooth pulled. He is really suffering from it and I wish they could have done it sooner. It actually started seeping through his muzzle a couple of days ago. The antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds are definitely helping.

Tomorrow is also a joyful day. My Brother MP is getting married. It will be a quiet affair at the courthouse as they are having a wedding in the summer when he gets home from boot camp and other training. The children are bursting with excitement over getting a new auntie that they love!

Today, I took a trip down memory lane. We are selling our old Kindershuttle, a sled to pull small children behind their parents while skiing. It was quite a job to vacuum and wash the storage dust off of it. I had fun remembering both of my munchkins riding in it. Mr. Bluberry Eyes screamed his head off the first time he rode in it! As soon as they were three, we got them on skiis of their own. They enjoyed being able to move about on their own, but I still have fond memories of my babies all bundled up in the covered sled! TTFN - Nanette

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pathfinder Investiture

I was mopping my floors the other day and had the chairs in the living room when I notice that Mr. Blueberry Eyes was taking advantage of the situation. He was cushin' while working hard on his math.

Yesterday the kiddos had investiture with their Scout Club. Laughing Water was transitioning from the younger Adventurer Club to the Older Pathfinder Club. She also got to talk about the club's trip to Oshkosh, WI, last summer.

It was fun to review all of the activities the kids have done over the last year +. Somehow, Mr. Blueberry Eyes wiggled around so much that by the time he stood up to receive his badges, his sash was completely upsidedown! What a hoot!

It is snowing lightly now. I should try to get out and ski or snowshoe a bit.

Old Faithful, it turns out has nothing more wrong with him than an absessed tooth. He is on antibiotics and anti-inflamatory meds. to get him through until they can operate on him Tuesday. Lastnight, the absess starting bursting out the flesh on his muzzle. I feel so bad for him! Hopefully he will recover quickly.

TTFN - Nanette

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bean Planting Preparations

So, how can I think about my garden when we are struggling though snow drifts?! In the case of my beans, I have to. We have a terrible problem with cut worms and I plant my bean seeds in a little cylinder made of toilet paper/paper towel rolls. This keeps the cut worms out (for the most part). So, this is the time of year that I have to start saving them. Brother Schnicklefritz got me off to a great start by bringing me his Christmas wrapping paper tubes.

This picture of our cat, Lucky Tiger, cracks me
up! She looks like how I feel today - Blah and
grouchy! I'm struggling with intense interuptions and my thoughts are going in a bazillion different directions.

Old Faithful is not doing well. He has swollen spots on his muzzle that I think are his gingival tumors flaring up. I'm worried that his days are numbered.

Homeschooling is dicy today. Grumpy, peevish and needy kids don't mix well with a nervous and tired Mommy! Mr. Blueberry Eyes, usually quick at his math, took an hour to complete it. Laughing Water's verbal learning style is causing her to talk herself through her math at a very loud decible. Reminders from me for quietness last for about 1 minute. ARRRGGGGHHHH!

O.k. I'm quitting before I cast a cloud on your day, too! - Nanette

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A World Wrapped in White

We awoke to a beautiful sight this morning - a world wrapped in white. This is what our business classroom looked like from our home's deck this morning. We received about 8 new inches of snow. This afternoon, it started blowing and is quite a mess right now. The Wood Artist is attempting to come home from town. He has to negotiate about 1/3 mi. of very drifted driveway if he makes it over the icy, wind-blown roads. He keeps calling to give me updates. The landlords will be coming close behind him as they just finished watching their daughter's basketball game at the highschool.

I love snowstorms, but I will be glad when everyone is tucked snuggly in their homes.
I've been busy altering a bunch of clothes from my wardrobe. I even dyed a couple of blouses that didn't work for me, color wise.
I'm learning at every turn to scrimp a little tighter and watch pennies a little closer. I even got brave enough to cut Mr. Blueberry Eyes's hair a couple of nights ago.
Sometimes its fun to scrimp. Most of the time I really don't like it! I like to be a little bit cushy!
Well, The Wood Artist just blew in. Glad he made it! He said he hit a drift that was four feet tall on the side. Everything went black and then, somehow, he came out the other side and was still on the road! What a laugh! TTFN- Nanette