Gratitudes

This week I am grateful for;

The flexibility that homeschool offers. We’ve been able to sleep in, take naps and take whole days off as needed.

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Elena’s helpful nature and curious mind. Even when we take the day off, she never stops learning. When others are sick or having a hard time, she loves to nurture and take responsibility.

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Ronan’s little potty. If I was changing and washing diapers full time I don’t think I could keep up when I get sick or just overwhelmed. As it is, he uses his potty most of the time and I am so glad. It makes any extra effort in the earlier days totally worth it.

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This cheerful little face. Even when he’s feeling awful Ronan is such a happy little dude. He brightens up my every day.

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What are you grateful for this week?

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Baby giggles

We’re all sick today. Kinda’ cranky, moving slow. I’m sure you know what it’s like. In between mopping brows and mopping floors, smoothing blankets and soothing tempers, there has been a little ray of sunshine.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, being sickest of all Ronan has been super ticklish today. He loves tickles but most of the time he would rather give them than get them. Today he is delighting in being tickled. And delighting me with the resultant giggles.
Sometimes I think that baby giggles must be what pure joy sounds like. Today, they make it easier to cope with the less joyful things occupying my time.

What is brightening your day today?

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Around The House

Around the house this week;

The plants are blooming

Tomato blooming

Pink blooms

And setting fruit

Baby blueberries

Unripe strawberries

The kids are reading together

kiddos reading

And I made a batch of laundry soap. Hardly picturesque I know. I make laundry soap once or twice a month, it only takes a few minutes. It is so cheap and easy I thought I would share. This is a recipe for a liquid laundry soap, which I prefer over the powder. I found a version of this online somewhere, but I don’t remember where. You can find many similar recipes all over the internet.

Laundry soap setup

Liquid Laundry Soap

3 Tbs washing soda or baking soda

3 Tbs Borax

3 Tbs liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronners)

1 gallon water

Optional: a few drops essential oil

In the microwave or a kettle heat 2 cups of water, you want it hot but not boiling. Add the Borax and the washing soda to a small heatsafe bowl (I actually use a 2c pyrex measuring cup). In your chosen laundry soap container (I use half gallon mason jars, but just about anything will do as long as it’s big enough) pour the liquid castile soap.

Laundry soap mixing

When the water is hot, pour it over the Borax and soda, then stir until completely dissolved. The water will be cloudy to start, then will clear when all the powder dissolves. (see second photo) Next, pour the hot water/soda/Borax mixture into your laundry soap container and stir gently to mix with the soap. Fill container the rest of the way with water and give it a final stir. That’s it, you’re done!

Laundry soap done

In the photos I am making a half batch, which I often do because it exactly fills one jar. A half batch of soap lasts me about 2 weeks, and I am a cloth diapering mama doing laundry every day. It would likely last you even longer. We use 1/4 cup of soap per load of laundry.

What about you? Do you make any household products yourself? What’s happening around your house this week?

 

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The Sweet Spot

Our regular breakfast routine is mostly oatmeal when it’s cold and granola when it’s hot. (I’ll be sharing my granola recipe soon) Sometimes I like to mix it up and make something special. A special breakfast often means I am in the kitchen for over an hour cooking while everyone sits around listening to their bellies growl. It can be worth it, and I do enjoy the more elaborate meal.

Lately though, I’ve found a breakfast that hits the sweet spot. Breaks up the monotony of oats-every-morning, only takes about half an hour to cook, looks (and tastes) fancy enough to be fun. Best of all, it’s easily adapted to be gluten and sugar free! (so Elena can eat it)

German Pancake

This wonder food is a german pancake, and it’s so simple it feels like cheating. Lately we’ve been eating as pictured, served with a dollop of plain yogurt, some fresh sliced strawberries and hearty splash of maple syrup. We also like it with spiced apples. I believe it’s traditionally served with powdered sugar and lemon, but really just about anything works as a topping.

German Pancake

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk *

1/2 cup all purpose flour **

1 Tbs sugar or honey

1 Tbs bacon grease

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and scoop the bacon grease into a tall 10 inch round cake pan. (A 9 inch pan should work fine as well, provided it’s at least 2 inches tall. The shorter ones will overflow.)

For mixing this I use a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup and a fork, it really minimizes the dishwashing. In your pyrex cup (or a mixing bowl if you prefer) break and beat the eggs, then mix in milk, flour and sugar. Let the batter rest at least 10 minutes (it’s ok, the oven is still warming up and you haven’t started the coffee yet) or up to 30 minutes. You can mix this the night before and let it stand in the fridge, but it’s so fast to whip up I never bother.

When the oven is up to temp put the pan with the glob of bacon grease in, just for a couple minutes. You want the grease to melt and the pan to get hot, but that’s it. After a couple minutes give your batter a final stir and, using an oven mitt, carefully swirl the melted grease around the bottom of your hot pan. Then pour the batter into the hot pan and close it back up in the oven.

Let it cook for about 20 minutes – until the edges are puffed up, the center is fully set and the top is just starting to get golden brown. Then it’s done! Remove the pan from the oven and flip upside down over a plate, your pancake should come right out. If it sticks, loosen it a little with a silicone spatula and try again. Cover with desired toppings and serve immediately. Serves one, or two if you feel like sharing.

* Coconut milk works well here as a non-dairy alternative, just add a Tbs of water as well.

** To make gluten free I use Gluten Free All Purpose Flour from Bobs Red Mill, and I add an extra Tbs of sweetener as I find it has a bitter aftertaste. Other gluten free flours may work, but the ones I have tried don’t rise properly.

What is your favorite breakfast food right now? 

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Flower Walking

Ever since Elena learned to walk, 9 years ago now, we have taken “flower walks”. This is just a walk around whatever neighborhood we’re in, or sometimes a local park. It is just a walk, often over the same ground we’ve covered every other day that week.

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What sets a flower walk apart from any other walk is the pace. We take our time, go slow. We literally stop and smell the roses. And the peonies, and foxglove, and lavender, cedar, poppies and mint. We look, touch, smell and taste as appropriate.

Vibrant purple flowers

 

We talk about what is budding out, or blooming, or setting fruit. What has changed since the last time we walked this way. And along the way we talk about other things too; books, dreams, early 20th century politics & propaganda, ancient mummification practices, farming, babies, what to make for dinner, whatever comes up really.

Green apples

Recently, Ronan started being able to touch plants without mangling them. And he learned how to “sniff”. (he’s getting there) Soon he’ll be walking alongside us. For now he rides in the carrier content to listen, point at trucks, wave to the neighbor’s chickens and examine whatever we pick for him.

Peony

I love this time spent with my little ones. Soaking up the sun, or rain – it is Oregon, taking the time to slow down and pay attention. I hope it is a habit they continue on their own. For now we all enjoy this time together, flower walking.

Poppy on path

What about you? What helps you slow down and appreciate your surroundings?

 

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