Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Frederick J. Fosher, Aug. 28, 1932 - July 31, 2017.

Yesterday we interred the ashes of my grandfather, who passed two weeks prior. 

My head is swimming full of half-formed sentences of what to say about this beloved grandfather, great-grandfather, husband, father, and friend.

Instead I find that words have left me and the tears have come. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

WIP Wednesday July 19th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

WIP Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:


We had a marvelous family meal yesterday, and started helping cut out a path through their massive raspberry patch.

Monday, July 3, 2017

July Challenge - Buy local

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While I didn't post about it much, our June challenge of eating clean was such a success (we feel great!) that we're going to keep at it.

In addition, we're doing a month of Buying Local.

July Challenge: Buy Local


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Picky Eaters, Family Meals, and Phrases We Use to Encourage Healthy Eating

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I was at our local garden supply store the other day and after a bit of small talk with one of the women working there, she asked me how I get my girls to eat real food. After a bit of a conversation, as I turned to chase down a certain little one she smiled and told me that I should be on the radio. While I have no aspirations to be a radio presence, I do have this space to share.

Here's what we've found works:


1.) "You don't have to like it but you do have to TASTE it."

This is from French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. I don't remember if I read the book or just an article or reference to it, but the phrase has stuck.

Taste science (aside from being fascinating!) has learned that it takes a ridiculous number of times of trying a new food before it becomes a familiar flavor. While I don't recall exactly it's somewhere in the vicinity of 10 to 15 times. 

Especially for small children, foreign/weird flavors = bad. In general we want them to eat food, not whatever random thing they may pick up off the ground. We do however, want to expand their palates out of soft sweet white foods that are so addicting to our bodies.

They don't have to eat it, they certainly don't have to like it, but they do have to taste it.

Once they've tasted it enough times, it's just food. It might not be their favorite, but it's still food.

That leads us to:

2.) "You don't have to like everything you eat."


We all eat food that's not our favorite.

Of course we want to eat the foods we like, and of course we all have preferences. 

We put a lot of thought and effort into the food we put in front of our children. 

I once read a humorous tutorial for how to make a grilled cheese sandwich for a toddler. After about forty steps trying to satisfy the demands of the child, it ended with the parent eating the sandwich while crying over the trash can.

I am not a short order cook.

I will not make four separate meals so that we each have our favorite things in our favorite ways. 

Some meals are made because Daddy loves them, some meals are made the way one or the other of the girls prefers. We all eat the same food at the same time, together.

At the same time, there are easy ways (like black pepper, nooch, etc.) to make the same meal suit each person's taste. 

It's better to be grateful for what we have and that we are together, than whine and complain that it isn't something else.



3.) "If you are hungry, you may eat."

Food tastes better when you're hungry. Put a plate of fresh cut vegetables in front of hungry kids piling in from outside? You betcha. Serving vegetables first, while people are especially hungry, and they'll taste better, go down easier, and be enjoyed more.

A little cousin once came to visit, took one look at their plate and asked if they could have some crackers. Nope. This is what we are eating. If you are hungry, you may eat. After a surprised moment, they tucked right in. 

If you would rather be hungry (or just even aren't hungry) you don't have to eat. You won't get something different later, and certainly not in about ten minutes, my dears.


 4.) Food tastes better the first time.

Not a phrase, but more a mindset, a resolve.

If you want it warm, eat it now.

I'm not heating it up later, nor will you get something else. If you don't finish your meal, you may have the rest at snack. Girls (we have two) who don't finish their food don't get a different snack at snack time.  

It's better the first time.

This is not to pressure them into eating too much, nor do we have the "clean up your plate" club. We start with tiny portions (see 5.) ) and they may ask for more. Occasionally it's as little as one or two bites of something new (see 1.)


5.) Serve them less than you think they'll eat.

I've found, time and time again, if you put too much food on a kid's plate, they'll get overwhelmed and maybe pick at their food. It's daunting, and sometimes overwhelming. Even if it's something they like.


A few choice bites is something they can do, something they can accomplish. And if it's a food that's new or strange? It's not going to scare them off as they can taste it and move on to everything else.

Then you get the feedback of allowing them to ask for more of what they like while having finished the parts they didn't prefer. (see 2.) ) 

Small portions, small dishes and utensils work wonders.

I have a few condiment/food prep bowls that at most hold a couple tablespoons worth of anything.

Every once and a while, especially in the summer, the girls have ice cream or dessert. With tiny bowls and espresso spoons, they have a FULL bowl - containing one or two large grownup-sized bites of ice cream. 


6.) Have rituals or pretty things that make meals special.

Humans are social beings by nature, especially surrounding food. Every culture and family has different rituals that make certain meals more special than others. It's pretty simple to make even ordinary meals into a sacred space. 

Regardless of your family's belief systems, it's easy to add ritual and reverence to your meal.

Pretty napkins, flowers, lighting a candle, a moment of gratitude or song of thanks are easy ways to tell our children and ourselves that this is a special time to be together.

There's something about lighting candles that brings calm, and a sense of "this is special" to the meal. I don't know about yours, by my girls behave better when we take the time to make even a little snack something valuable.

What phrases do you use in your family? Where are your sticking points? Anyone have any thing that surprised them by being so effective?

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Five Things I Will Not Be Doing This Summer - Thank Goodness!

It's Midsummer's eve - tomorrow is the mid-way point of the year, in the summer (hence, Midsummer) and the the beginning of Summer. 

We live with a constant pressure to be busy, to do more, and to feel as though we "aren't living up to our potential" if we slow down to savor our lives as they are, if we take our bites slowly to make them last.

So here are: 

Five Things I Will Not Be Doing This Summer

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thirty-five for years

"Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years." Oscar Wilde, The Importance Of Being Earnest

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WIP Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:



We're using up some more of the stumps from the downed trees at the side and edging another garden area. This time we're widening the driveway a little and making it easier to clear the snow in the winter.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mom-Fu - Parenthood as Ninja Training

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So, you'd really planned to become a Ninja... But then you had kids.

Fear not. You are being trained well little grasshopper.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cardinals in the Stick House

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Anyone who has been to our house has seen our stick house. 

Big enough for most adults to stand up inside (although you'll have to crouch to get in.

We've been watching a pair of cardinals working around there picking out just the right pine needles for a nest. More and more often I would see them fly in through the branches and then not fly away.

There's a red fellow on the back left garden bed in the photo below and the side of the stick house at the right.


Without invading their space, we tried to see if there were any nests.

A couple days ago C pointed it out to me - for whom a clear view was blocked by sprays of pine needles.

Today I grabbed my camera and headed over while the pair of parents were busy at the suet feeder.


A couple of quick photos revealed two baby cardinals in their cozy nest. 

What hunger to feed! 

No wonder we see their parents back and forth from the feeder all day long.

Cardinals, you are most welcome to use our stick house as long as you need!
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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Branch Hooks - Satur-DIY May 6th, 2017


This past week, we got to work on a couple of projects, using a downed maple branch from last year.

First, we made branch hooks. Another time I'll show you the natural edge blocks we are making together.


We cut pieces off the edge of the branch where smaller branches were sticking out. 

We smoothed all the rough edges with sand paper and used our own homemade wood butter/polish (recipe to come!) 

With a fair amount of help, both girls helped with the sawing, and with less help the sanding.

Even a 2 year old can polish well.


I used some self drilling/self tapping screws - the same kind I used for my Twig Trellises - instead of having to drill pilot holes with a drill. I used the screw itself to start the hole.

We hung the hooks on the side of a cabinet, with the screws behind a drawer.


To have invisible hardware, I put the screws through from the inside - the head of the screw staying inside the cabinet.


Because I'd done a pilot hole with the screw itself, we simply twisted the hooks onto the screws until they were tight against the cabinet.


Now the girls' cutting boards and aprons have a home. Having beautiful real tools, in a place they can access, allows them to learn real skills, contribute in a valuable way, and learn to appreciate so many things!

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May Challenge 2017 - Off-Screen Reading

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My friend Spartan came by this morning to do a walk-through before they start work on putting in ductless minisplits. That will replace our ancient propane furnace and let us do a whole avalanche of ensuing projects once we can shift things around.

We loved the mini split at our old house and were sad to leave it behind. 

While we chatted, he asked what this month's challenge is and I just sort of fumbled saying that with HandsomeJoe gone for a cumulative half of this month we hadn't really chosen one.

I'm here to remedy that.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

WIPWednesday - Inkle weaving April 26th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:



I was recently given an Inkle loom (for making straps, ribbons, laces, etc) by a dear friend. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mountain of Soil - Happy in the Gardens

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Last week we got a delivery of loam/compost mix.


For the first time in my life, I have had as much dirt as I want.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How to Clean a Mouse - In Six Easy Steps

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Sometimes you have a beloved toy that's not exactly the same color it used to be. 

Many handmade toys can be gently washed in a jar with soap and water.

 How to Clean a Mouse in Five Easy Steps

1.) Put mouse in jar.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April Challenge - 100 miles

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In March we focused inward and challenged ourselves to give or sell at least 124 things. We didn't want to just add things to a landfill, and didn't count anything repurposed to something else - like old clothes cut up for rags or a rug

Monday, April 3, 2017

March Decluttering Challenge - Week 4 and Final

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I know I know, it's April.

But when you haven't cleaned up, you still have to finish the job.

unrelated but beautiful picture

We finished strong! More than doubling our goal number!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Homemade Cheese Popcorn - SaturDIY April 1st, 2017

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First of all, this popcorn is no joke.

It's DELICIOUS.

Our girls love cheese popcorn, cheese puffs, and more.


I'm not a huge fan of the extra ingredients, the price, and certainly not the large plastic bag that will sit in the landfill forever. Our snacks are not that important.

Here's a Closer to Zero option, additive free, and delicious for those crunchy-cheese-snack cravings. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WIP Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:

We're still getting rid of thing for our Decluttering Challenge where we've more than doubled our number since last week! I'll post a final post after the last of the month. Here's what else we've been up to:

Last July I posted about buying "not so perfect produce" and having spent $5. 

This past week we spend $22.50

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Decluttering Challenge Week 3

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Another week into our March Decluttering Challenge, and things feel like they're starting to shift. We've decided to extend the challenge past the end of March and keep going until we really feel like there's little else to move along.

Here's what we've moved along this past week:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Welcome Spring.

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Even though we still have snow, the first "official" day of spring is always so welcome. We have been reading "The Root Children" throughout the winter and excited that it's finally time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March Decluttering Challenge Week 2, 2017

Yesterday we celebrated Pi day by having Spinach Pie, Cowboy Pie (shepherd's pie with beef), strawberry rhubarb pie with fruit from the freezer, and a chocolate porter pie - think chocolate mouse pie with a hint of porter flavor. Yum!

We also celebrated a snow day with hours of shoveling.


In spite of all of that,

Here's what we've moved along this past week:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WIP Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:


Monday, March 6, 2017

March Decluttering Challenge 2017 Week One

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I kind of alluded to it before - For our March Challenge, we're decluttering and getting rid of things

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Missed by Inches - Three Big Trees

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I was all set to excitedly announce our March Challenges today and recap last month's challenge.

But... At 3:45am HandsomeJoe and I were awakened by a loud-house-shaking-BOOM!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Divided Mason Jar Tote Bag Insert - Satur-DIY February 25th, 2017

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A couple weeks ago, I took an old "gift with purchase" bag and retrofitted it to carry mason jars. 

When I go grocery shopping I always bring at least a few jars to buy products more cheaply by getting them from the bulk bins. Not wanting glass jars to smash together, I looked around online for a solution. You can find cheap plastic wine bottle bags or really high end custom divided bags. Neither were a good solution for me, so I came up with my own.

This basic divided bag has been so lovely to use every time I've shopped since. I've even discovered that the 1/2 gallon glass milk bottles fit! 

Here's how I did it:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Four Articles That Have Challenged The Way I Think - February 2017

I read a lot of articles. Every once in a while I come across one that really makes me think, that challenges me in a new way. 




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WIP Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Homemade Sauerkraut and EcoJarz Fermenter Review - Satur-DIY, February 11th, 2017

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Homemade Sauerkraut Satur-DIY and EcoJarz Fermenter Kit Review
**Disclaimer: I have been given the fermenter kit to review but have not been compensated in any other way. I receive no commission on sales. All opinions and experiences are my own.**

In the fall, I received a glorious box in the mail from EcoJarz. Along with my order of more small-mouth drink tops and stainless steel (rustproof!) jar bands, they slipped in a few things for me to review. A couple of small-mouth PopTops (review here) and one of their new Fermenter Kits.


The kit contains a recipe booklet, bubbler airlock, a stainless steel lid with grommet and silicone seal, and a stainless steel jar band. The band alone is worth the kit! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

WIP Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

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Creating is my passion, my sanity, my sense of being "up to something", my way of contributing a little bit. I always have a few projects going, many left to the side for months or even years before I pick up the best and carry on. Here's some of what I'm working on this week:


Friday, February 3, 2017

February Relationship Challenges - 2017


Challenges for February

Family Challenges: 

As a family, we are focusing on Relationships this month.  

We are going to go on a media diet - strongly limiting our use of social media, our intake of the vitriol being vomited out of Washington D.C. and focusing on supporting and strengthening our relationships and our community. Even though our girls spend very little time in front of any kind of screen, we are going to purposefully let them be bored instead of plugging them in.


We are going to make Valentines Day Cards. We are going to intentionally cultivate family time for fun. We are going to step outside the busyness and be together.

HandsomeJoe and I are going to go on one date per week this month (thank goodness for Grandparents) and continue our weekly check in meetings.

A lot of these will not become posts as we will be focusing on living well together.

We will be practicing self-care, reorienting ourselves, seeking balance, and looking for ways to love and care for each other better.

Personal Challenges:

I did marvelously last month re-dedicating myself to my personal food/eating rules (no dairy or sweets except on "cheat/feast days" and special occasions, etc.) and I'm excited to continue getting healthier this month.

I missed only one January day of practicing my french using the duolingo app. I'm having to re-learn some of what I'd picked up before and hopefully every time I go back, I make a little more of an imprint in my brain.

For my February Relationship Challenges I am committed to making eye contact and smiling at each of my girls at least once per day, and purposefully making each of them laugh at another time per day. Even though we know these little ones of ours are marvelous and we feel the full weight of our responsibility of raising them, it's still too easy to fall into negative patterns, feelings of being burdened, and negativity born out of poor mindsets and lack of personal care. But we need each other. Sometimes it's just simple little shifts that can change our mindset allowing us to make big changes in the lives of those around us.


February's Fitness Challenge: 
In January I challenged myself to work up to 50 kettlebell swings in a row. On the 11th, I was so bored that I knocked out 50 kettlebell swings with my 20lb kettlebell. 

Having completed the challenge in less than two weeks, I shifted my focus. After putting the girls to bed, before being "allowed" to leave their room, I started doing air squats. The first week I did 45 each night working my way up to 65 per night by the final days. I can tell that my back is noticeably stronger.

For February, I've decided to do 100s - originally from Pilates, they're a minute movement that you do 100 times in a row. I'm changing it up a bit. Inspired by January's air squats I'm challenging myself to do 100 of some exercise per night. Last night I did 100 tricep extensions just using my own bodyweight, the night before it was 100 butterfly lifts.

After doing such a difficult challenge last month, we are going to focus our energy outward, breath out slowly and breathe life back in.

How are you strengthening your relationships these days?