Sunday, February 22, 2009

Perfect days

Perfection is subjective, but for us, at this time in the year, I think we had just about the perfect weekend. But, there are two funny things with this: one, we didn't do anything out of the ordinary, but the time just felt perfect. Two, Dave was gone for the whole weekend. I feel so bad saying that, and it certainly was not part of the perfection of the time. It would have been better if he were here, none the less, we had a great weekend! Please don't judge me...

Corrina and I hit our children's museum on Friday morning. We decided to buy a membership pass because they are very well priced. I think we have payed it off already with the 3 or 4 times we've been. At this age Corrina just doesn't get bored with it. In fact, she get's more excited about it every time we go. Love that!

I think the most perfect thing was making it through the grocery store without any fits or run aways. Corrina is the type of gal who just loves a good chase. It's just thrilling to her, and once she gets going she is the hardest little thing to catch because she's pretty sure it's a game, right down to the very upset momma assuring her that I do not feel the same way. But, this did not happen on our last shopping trip, and I still can't believe it. After helping me bag all the produce, she walked along, holding the side of the cart for the rest of the grocery trip. I'm sure she was sick of hearing me say "Corrina, it's good that you are holding the cart while we shop! I feel happy when you hold on and stay close." (They say praise the good behaviour you want to see more than the bad you don't want. She doesn't like this change, it's just not as thrilling at the troubmle attention, which means it works!) Anyway, I am defining moments like that as making my weekend perfect!

On Saturday night we had our little friend and his family over for an impromptu birthday dinner for him, and my gosh was it delicious. I made my own ricotta cheese for a roasted vegtable lasagne. We followed this up with the most amazing carrot cake I've ever had, topped with whipped cream-cream cheese frosting. The cake recipe came from my looney spoons cook books, which if you haven't checked out (ie. read, or checked-out from the library, either one) after hearing me rant about them for at least 3 posts, than I don't know what to say to you. Maybe I'm doing a bad job at convincing you... you tell me! Anyway, lovely super, lovely cake, and here are a few recipes.

Ricotta Cheese
2L Milk (whole, 2 %, I used 1%)
1 cup heavey cream (whipping cream, 35%)
1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp lemon juice
Mix together first three ingredients in sauce pot over moderate heat until this comes to a rolling boil. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. This can take a long time if you're bringing it up to a boil slowly. Be patient, it will pay off.
Once boiling, add lemon juice. Reduce heat to low, and stir for 2-5 minutes, until the mixture has curdled. Line a sieve with cheese cloth, or thin, clean, tea towel, and place over a bowl to catch the drippings/whey/butter milk. Slowly pour all contents from pot into lined sieve, and allowed to strain until all liquid has dripped through. In the sieve you have your ricotta cheese, and in the bowl you have buttermilk. Ricotta cheese lasts for 2-3 days. Not sure about the holding time for the butter milk.

(I think we are eating yogurt on our valentines pancakes, so it relates!)

Hope you get a chance to try this out. I loved the results, plus the money saved (at least here in MB, ricotta cheese is ridiculously expensive). I am still meaning to make yogurt, (or here) but keep forgetting to buy a thermometer to get the temps right. I don't have a yogurt machine to keep things at a consistent temp, but I have read some different ideas about ways to incubate the yogurt. I have one friend who rigs up her crock pot in a funny way to create her own yogurt maker machine. Might try that, or this. Yogurt making, and maybe ricotta cheese making too, seem like the easiest homemade things to do in the WORLD. If only I had a cow, I would be set! But then, it wouldn't be so easy, would it!? (I heard on the radio that someone has combined !? into it's own punctuation mark called the interrobang... what do you think? )

Dave gave me a beautiful, fragrant hyacinth earlier this week. It has fully blossomed and is such a lovely reminder that in certain places of the country many people are about to enjoy the new life of spring. We won't for a more months outside, but at least I can enjoy the colors and smells in my kitchen!

I think the weekend will end in perfect as well, when Dave returns home tonight (and I have to shove him off because I am working on my overdue homework!) At least he will be home.
Ha, gotta love life!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This May Work

I thought Dave would like this template, and then as I starred at it I began to like it too. Very different than what I set out looking for.

The title: It's weird to change a blog title. It's the name by which everyone recognizes us online. But, here's the deal. I heard the phrase "hello star shine, the earth says hello" in the Willy Wonka Movie with Johnny Depp, and thought it was hilarious. I did not know it was part of a song (that I don't really like at all). I think there was sorta a second title to our blog as well, or maybe it was the first and the above was the second. Whatever it was, Growing Like the Lilies, was neat, but I am a creature of change, so I thought I would take advantage of the overall change to throw a new title out there too. Hope I don't mess any of you up too much, trying to change your links and such. We are still here, just with a different name (until I get restless again!). My link list is totally suffering from this change too, so if you don't see your blog listed, and feel a little hurt by this, please know that I am adding more blogs and have not intentionally taken you off the blogroll.

The title may sound intergalactic, but I assure you, it's not. It's actually literary. It's the name of my favorite book when I was 12. Wow, its strange to look that far back in life and realize how impacted I was, at such a young age, by this piece of literature. I think the book really awakened, or maybe spurred and encouraged, my interest in truly learning to know people for who they are. If you have an evening (because seriously, as an adult, that is all it will take you to read this book) give it a shot. It's cute, insightful, hilarious, and a little sad. It might take you back to a certain age of identity development too, when some of your very own values began to surface.

The poem I've stuck up under the title also comes from that same year in life. My grade 7 teacher asked us to memorize a few pieces of literature. I was the only person in the class who did. I've always had a knack for memorizing poems. This is it, and to this day I cannot express my gratitude for the experience of knowing this poem.

I think, for me, the collaboration of the book and this poem encompass some of my deepest values in life: to know, and be known, non-judgmentally, gently. This is how I approach most things I do: work, marriage, parenting, friendships, sustainable living. If you can name it, I am probably trying to get inside of it, to see what it's like to walk two moons in another mans moccasins. If I can do this, than I believe change and hope are boundless.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Happened

My pretty, self created, learned-html-just-to-do-it, template is gone now, and dots are in it's spot. I loved my old template, but it was in the old blogger style and I really wanted to update to the new style that has fun widgets, rotating blog lists, and just way more options. So, it had to go for the time being. For now, until I can get something else happening on here, all my side bars are gone. Looks pretty boring in this space! But, something fun is coming, I hope!
I spent way too much precious time trying to upload a new template, but I kept getting error messages. So, by the time I went to bed my blog template was still not up and running, my dishwasher was not emptied, my laundry was not put away, and my homework was not done. Oh, to have endless time to watse without consequence. But, then, if had nothing else pressing to do the act of wasting time just wouldn't be enjoyable. I really only enjoy time spent procrastinating. Anyone else out there like this? Where can I get help!?

Last night Dave had a friend over to play a game. It was fabulous, and I think we really ought to make more time for him to play games with friends. This may sound altruistic of me, thinking of my husbands needs for social interaction and friendship, but I will reveal that my motives are actually selfish. Dave was sleeping on the couch, the house was a mess, and his friend was coming over in 2 hours. I decided that I would let him sleep (headache) and take Corrina out to the thrift store with me. I wondered what might happen while I was away... but said nothing as we left.
When we came home the house was clean, laundry put in it's proper place (ie down by the machine or upstairs in the bedroom, as opposed to the middle of the living room floor), dishes cleaned up, toys picked up, pretty lights alit, and Dave waiting calmly on the couch with time to spare! Yes DAve, I see many more game nights in your future!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm pretty sure that Corrina believes she runs an orphanage most days. Like many little people, girls and boys alike, Corrina loves to play with other children, alive or plastic. Her favorite thing is to put them to sleep. She lines them up, pats their backs, sings songs, reads book, and then gets comfortable and sits to make sure they stay asleep. Dave got caught up in the fun this one afternoon, and like any good little baby he had a nice long nap while Corrina and I moved onto more important things like hanging pictures and making music. Who says only deaf babies sleep through loud noises!
We have made it out ice skating on the world's longest river trail only once this year. Corrina did very well on her skates, and managed to hold her own weight most of the time. She tried gliding on her own, which of course looked more like a walk-shuffle-fall, but she tried it on her own!

We have officially declared Monday to be Soup Day at our house. We have so many things going on that day, with different people coming and going at different times thus needing to eat at different times. I was tired of trying to squeeze in a super time, so we just decided on take-it-when-you-need-it soup. We have tried tons of fantastic soup recipes, mostly from this book (so I don't think I can write them out here, copy right laws and all). This just might be the best change we have made this winter. I want more soup nights! Easy to prepare, nutritious, mostly light on the budget, and comfortingly warm.
Just last night I made a Roasted sweet potatoe with ginger and orange soup. We made sour cream heart designs in the thick, flavorful puree.
I think my favorite so far has been a soup called Thai One On. It has lots of vegtables, including sweet potatoes (did you know the Canadian food guide recommends eating at least one serving of an orange vegtable and one of a dark green every day. That's hard to do some days, but not with soup!) red peppers, celery, coconut milk, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, some pureed, some left chunky. To finish it off you add shrimp! Wow, this is the most delicious (and one of the more costly) soups we've made! If you have the Eat, Shrink, and be Merry cookbook, you'll find this recipe there. If you are just dying to know how to make this, leave me a comment and I can email you the recipe.
So, if you are making soup, you most definately need to have some sort of warm bread to accompany it. Sometimes we make our own Tortilla dippers by cutting up flat bread, brushing it with a mixture of 1tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp butter mixed with garlic and herbs, and baking the pieces at 350 for 10 minutes. Amazing! Other times we just grab buns from our local organic bakery. And of course, when time allows, we mix up our own home made biscuits.
But, you see, I've always struggled with biscuits. I either don't like them because they are all white flour, have too much butter and fat, come out tasting like baking powder, are just a little too crunchy, or are perfect and soft on the outside, but soggy in the middle. Wow, it must sound like I am an awful buscuit maker! Some days I am, most days it's just the refined aspects of buscuits that gets me down. But, turning again to our faithful friends Janet and Greta, Corrina and I wiped up what will now be the go-to buscuit recipe in our home. This one I will share...with full credits to Crazy Plates cookbook.
Takin' Care of Biscuits (melt in your mouth whole wheat and cheddar biscuits)
Preheat oven to 425
Gather all children who enjoy dumping, stirring, rolling, cutting and making a mess

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix this together in a large bowl
Stir in 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (i used parmesan because we were out of cheddar)

Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers:
cut in 3 tbsp butter of margarine

Next combine:
1 cup buttermilk (to make mix 1 tbsp lemon juice and fill remaining space in measuring cup up to the 1 cup mark with milk)
1 tsp honey

Add this to dry ingredients. Using a fork stir to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, form into a ball, and roll out to 3/4 inch. Cut into circle (or hearts!). Place onto sprayed cookie sheet. bake for 10-12 minutes or until biscuits have puffed up and are golden.
These biscuits turn out very soft and moist, almost like a freshly made bun, while at the same time retaining the ease and size of a biscuit!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A New direction

I have often wanted to take this blog in a new direction lately.  As many of you know I am in school, studying social work.  I have decided not to be at home full time with Corrina right now.  I do feel that this is what God has called me to do with life right now, but the sacrifice is challenging, even painful some days.  I am thankful that I still have the majority of the week in and around the house, but even those days are filled with attempts to read, study and write.  You know how school is, you can never consciously escape the work lingering in your mind.  This is the most challenging balancing act I have ever attempted, but I like it.  It is building character, knowledge, patience, and respect.    

I have been doing a wonderful practicum at a local agency that focuses on supporting families in a number of ways.  Through my practicum experience I have been exposed to/ taught some of the most wonderful parenting/living theories I have ever encountered.  They just fit, they make sense with every child development and growth idea, and take a holistic approach to relationship development.  I've been given the opportunity to attend fascinating workshops and seminars, and in general have had a new look at the social and political world around me.  It's hard to contain the new information I have learned as just 'school', 'training' or 'career related' because the majority of it has to do with the struggles of parenting, living in within a minimal means, and coping with life while taking steps to change ones situation.  All of these things apply to my family!  The ideas move from being theories to becoming personal experiences of life.

I have been contemplating incorporating some of the perspectives, ideas, and theories that have impacted me at a personal level through the work I do into my blog posts.  I wonder if anyone would read it, how it might be perceived, if I could really explain the depths of ideas in my mind, or if I would be snagged for plagiarism (oh, don't worry I know how to properly cite other authors works, however when you've just finished a 25 page paper the last thing you want to do it make another proper reference!).  

I really don't have very many 'mothering' stories to share, play dates to post about,  or beautiful house pictures to post these days.  I still love all those parts of life but for me they are not a part of life right now, and that is just fine!  That's just not where I am these days.  (Although I do realize that a Corrina speech update might be appreciated by far away family... that will be coming! ) 
So, I've been thinking of going in a new direction.  At this point I will just keep thinking and see what develops.