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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Please check out Little Acrorn Learning.  Owner Eileen Straiton encourages you to sign up for her monthly e-newsletter, all the while receving a FREE 23 page guide to March.  I cannot begin to describe all the books, wonderful ideas, crafts, menus and inspiration all piled into one.  Good stuff here for Spring!

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You are in for a picture-rich post.  If you want more information on this Maple Syrup Festival, please visit here.  For homeschool or enrichment communities there seems to be a unit study on this very topic, right on the website.  My kids are not old enough to go into that amount of detail.  Also, click on the pictures that tell a story to enlarge and read.  Enjoy! 

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When speaking about wild foods one must do more research on wild crafting.  I am speaking on the herbs available around us, urban and rural.  When you harvest a wild food, you must take into account depleting your resources.  I am not sure one could deplete dandelions.  Do leave some plants for the animals and be gentle and kind to the plant as you harvest.  Thank the little plants for being abundant and healing.  This just may insure a return of the plant next time around. 
Also listen and breathe deep in your time with the plants.  These plants may have a story to tell you.  If you have any ailments, try a simple meditation.  Meditate on what your body tells you.  Then, take a walk.  See where you are drawn.  Is it a patch of red clovers?  Is it a patch of Wild Carrot?  Is it a patch of Yarrow?  What do you think your ailment and that plant have in common.  It could be the need of red clover to purify your blood. 
Please feel free to listen to Susun Weed having a discussion with Linda Conroy about Wild Foods.  This MP3 discusses:
~Urban planning and green space around 23 mintues.
~Increasing animal poplulation while harvesting.
~Urban maple sugar processing.

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We have added bread making to our rhythm.  Finding a good recipe and having good results has always been my hardship.  BUT, I have finally found the best recipe.  We will experiment more in the future, but building this rhythm into our schedule once a week is our goal.  Today we made some bread as well.  Wolfsion and River enjoyed kneading their own dough, watching it rise, punching it down, and baking it after naptime.  I watched the boys as they exercised their little hands, squishing and working the dough.  As we went outside for archery they each got to take their homemade bread snack with them.  The love that was put into the bread boosted their spirits, along with the weather.  Tonight we will have the lovely large loaf you see below with homemade chicken noodle soup.  YUM!  Here is my recipe.  I got it from Mother Earth News, December 2010/January 2011 Edition.  Page 38.  When making the bread in steps, and placing those steps throughout our day, it really wasn’t a big deal at all.  Next time we are gonna make double the recipe and refrigerate, or freeze the other portion for another time.

Ingredients and Supplies:

3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour (We used King Arthur)
1 tbsp softened butter
1 egg, (our own ofcourse)
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp dried yeast
1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature
1 bread tin, buttered
1 egg, beaten and thinned with water, for brushing (0ptional, we actually brushed melted butter over our loaf straight out of the oven.)

NOTE:  If rehydrating yeast with water, subtract the amount of water you added to the yeast from the 1 3/4 cups of milk.

Put flour in a mixing bowl along with the softened butter.  Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until no large pieces remain.  Next, add the beaten egg, salt and yeast.  Holding the bowl with one hand, stir in enough warm milk to form a dough.  At this point, the dough should be raggedy and rough.

Turn onto a lightly floured board, wash your hands of dough, and with wet hands knead a few times to be sure the dough is well-mixed, then place in a clean, lightly buttered bowl and let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place.  After it has doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours), turn onto a lightly floured board.  Gently press out the gas and form dough into a rectangle to fit into a buttered bread tin.  Cover, set in as warm a place as you have, and let rise until nearly doubled.  In the meantime, preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  When the bread is ready, brush the top of the loaf with a beaten egg thinned with a little water (this step is optional).  Bake until crust is golden, about 1 hour (I only baked mine 30 minutes!)  Remove from the oven, turn out of the tin, and let cool on its side for at least 3 hours before cutting.

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Gung Hay Fat Choy everyone! (Wishing you happiness and fortune in your new year!)  I want to give you a link right off the bat.  Have your speakers and volume ready.  http://www.nancymusic.com/Gunghayplay.htm  
You will hear a song about Chinese New Year!   The song is perfectly calm and went right along with all the creative processes we were taking part in. 

When I first meditated on doing a block about Chinese New Year, my first instincts were to enter into the immediate Now.  I began cleaning my home.  I began sweeping out the old, and making room for the new.  We went through our clothes.  We went through our kitchen cabinets.  We went through our supplies, art and food.  Somehow I found myself living this process.  Then, I got to take a trip to San Antonio and really let go.  I thank Creator for arranging all this for me.

Upon returning we picked up our children.  They had spent the first couple days of February in a blizzard, up north, with Grandma.  My goal was to pick them up and ground in to our home.  Warmth, baking, soft music, aromatherapy, warm baths and beeswax candle dipping.  Transitioning from travel with children I have come to realized is an art form.  Especially if you are homeschooling.  And, even more so if you are presenting life to your children holistically.

The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (prints one page)

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/the_story_of_the_Chinese_zodiac.pdf

Here is a coloring page to go with the story.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_zodiac_story_coloring_page.htm

Anything Chinese New Year here.  Look for the Rabbit though.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_new_year_coloring.htm

I had fun watercoloring a silhouette of the rabbit, along with the sign for double happiness.  I did notice Wolfsion writing on our foggy kitchen storm door the chinese symbol for Happiness.  He was inspired by a stone sculpture we have.  And, we made a paper chain of red and purple.  Here is a picture of us dipping the beeswax candles together.  Dad captured the moment.

I don’t know if you can see what I can see, but there’s magic in this picture.  The magic of the candle making in the background.  The secret, the chemistry.  And in the front, River is just full of Light.  Filled with magic.

Ok, I can show you the candles now.  We are so proud of our discoveries.  I mean aren’t we bringing light to our lives?  The cool thing about all of this is being creative and happy with the mundane.  That aspect of the journey is very hard.  It is the only way to joy though, because it is a part.

Our faithful bookmobile lady also brought us the book Chinese New Year~Cultural Holidays, by Katie Marsico.  I most like the circular illustration of the moon phases.  We discussed the celebration beginning on the new moon, and ending on the full moon.  Wolfsion has already expressed the moon phases in his drawings and sketches.

To explain, I use a soft approach with this information.  The kids have been around the wheel a few times, but they are slowly waking up.  At this point, I work with their observation aspect in a soft way.  I don’t delve too too deep yet.  However, they come to me with very deep and simple findings.  Today we painted each others faces after nap time.  For Samantha she was the perfect bunny-girl.  A super hero.  And River was doing his bunny hop.  Which makes me happy and I note his movement development.  Joyful Movement is the name of a curriculum resource I have by Christophorus.  I have just began to peek inside and really integrate more movement to assist with developement.  Everytime there is new movement or strength, there is an immediate transferrence to their waking up…the brain.  It is amazing being a Witness in this human pathway.  Ok, so here’s some little bunnies.  They are far happier than they look, they are only in fear of smearing their paint.  Ayla Bear, our beautiful black dog licked Samantha’s paint right off!

The Year of the Rabbit is our destiny this Chinese New Year.  We have a nice nature table set up with white silk fabric draped over wood chunks forming a den for our rabbits.  Wolfsion has been long friends with one rabbit, who goes by Bunny Rabbit Dance.  Well this is Bunny Rabbit Dance’s family.  We take care of them by checking their stores, and even adding a stone sculpture with the Chinese writing of Happiness.  Thanks Magic Man!  The boys great uncle gave that to us at our wedding.  I would show you a picture of this landscape, but Bunny Rabbit Dance and his family are off making tracks.  It is the wrong time of day, they aren’t home.

If you don’t mind e-books though, here’s the link. 

http://www.starfall.com/n/level-c/chinese-fables/load.htm?f

We enjoy different kinds of presentations, because our world is filled with many mediums.  In traveling, I like to expose the children to low/moderate amounts of things.  We do not over-expose tv, computers, or phones, but it very much is in this world.  I do believe I am protecting the boys senses, but also slowly opening them up to things that exist.  I can’t imagine traveling to Seattle, or Germany and the boys not having been exposed previously to any of those three categories.  Storytelling, free-play, crafts, music, baking, nature and community, with the thread of Spirit ,weave together the majority of what we are made of.

Have you ever thought you wanted one thing, but when you got there, you realized that you already possessed the truer sense of what you were searching for to begin with!?  If you like wonder, magic, dragons and faraway places then you will like the book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  I got it from a beautiful blog.  This lady is an awesome teacher and student of life.  There is much inspiratation here for the family in 2nd grade.  I realized after receiving this book from my AWESOME bookmobile lady, it would only be a preview for my eyes only.  The book is just not quite for Kindergartners.  I didn’t know that, but I am very glad I had the opportunity to read it myself.  Timing is everything.  I felt able to apply the story to my life in the Now.  I hope you get to read the story about Minli too.
http://ancienthearth2.blogspot.com/2011/02/chinese-new-year-year-of-rabbit.html

“D” is for Dragon.

 In our journey we also watched a video of the Lion and Dragon dance.  We give Microsoft a shout out, because Uncle Thomas works there in Seattle, and we found this video by accident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzvmzfxx3pA&feature=related

One of the funnest things we did though was sit at a low table on pillows.  The menu was fish and rice, chopstick style.  We happened to pick the chopsticks up in San Antonio, so the boys were happily suprised…perfect timing.  We decorated our table with a bright red tablecloth in honor of the celebration.  Nian the dragon would not be stopping by for dinner, but the Ancestors would, so we left a Spirit Plate out.  Our centerpiece was a dipped beeswax taper, set in sand.  And, there you have it.  We took about 3-ish weeks to move through all of this process.  Thanks for stopping by~

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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In teaching my boys everything about everything I look around myself, and ask, What is right before me?  Well, one day I was at the grocery and a bag of salted peanuts in the shell was staring at me.  I envisioned them living in this beautiful wooden bowl of my husbands.  Wabi-Sabi style.  I envisioned the boys having snack time and manipulating the nutty center right out of the shell.  What I came to see in reality was their little hands working, squeezing, popping, and cracking the yummy-ness right out.  I could see how this little activity would play its part in strengthening their hands, to ready them for holding and using crayons and pencils and paintbrushes.  The boys are already holding these utensils, but it is truly a matter of dexterity, and fine motor skills.  Of strengthening and training.  So, it is therefore my job to trick with clever ideas.  The fact that I could mix snack time and handwork is a bonus.  

The boys had already been with me to Whole Foods to purchase peanut butter.  We watched the machine grind the whole peanuts into butter.  So again we talked about how that little nut makes peanut butter.  With children you must repeat, repeat, repeat.  It is good to use the same approach many times, but then to also come at something with another angle to give them perspective.  This was another one of those times I like to call “this is where it comes from.”  “This is where it comes from,” has developed into a series for us, which teaches sustainability.  This series for our family is about CHOICES, as well.  So many people have no clue life is filled with Choice. 

What Choice is before you right now?  What are you gonna do about it?

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Here I am publishing 2 of 3 posts of Shamus River’s 4th birthday party with his friends.  I let him decide who to invite, as it was his first friend-party.  Most everyone was local to us, and had multiple siblings, therefore the total kids added up to 14!  Were it an outside party, he could have invited a few more friends, but 14 was a lot as it was, especially inside.  It all went off without a hitch, with my handy-dandy schedule.  As everyone arrived we had over an hour to visit and free play. 

Then, I rounded everyone up to listen to the story Snowflake Bentley.  Shamus got to open this book~present up this morning, so I could read it to his friends.  I read most of the story, but realized that I should have chosen something simpler.  I found a nice spot to end the book though, and moved on to the snowflake craft. 

Right before we got out the snowflake craft I let everyone peek in their favor bag to discover treats.  We all tried on our compass necklaces and learned the direction of North, which is the Winter on the Medicine Wheel.  I also wanted the kids to have their bags to put their finished crafts in as well.  Inside the bag an American Buffalo pencil was also waiting for them.  How fun!

The snowflake craft was found in the Christmas time isles, and everyone was able to make two snowflakes.  We chose the snowflake as part of our party visual, because it is truly in line with Winter, and snowflakes are very dimensional and beautiful.

Next we headed to the kitchen table, so as to bring out the goodies!  As we were singing Happy Birthday, Wolfsion brought out a set of Melissa and Doug wooden cookies on a tray pretending it was Shamus’ birthday treat.  Shamus likes a good joke, but really wanted his real cupcake.  So, we lit up his 4 year old candle and he made a wish, on a german chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing.  Everybody dug into the cupcakes, the angel food cake and the heart shaped chocolate cake I had made.

Next up was presents, but that will be the next post I make.  I will include pictures of all his presents, which were mostly books, some wooden traditional folk toys, handmade presents and art supplies.  I had asked everyone to follow along those lines with presents, because we had just gone through 4 Christmas’ and Shamus had a family birthday party on his birthday night.  So, we had plenty of plastic or toys otherwise.  He really needed some different meaningful items.  I really appreciate those who came taking the time to color the buffalo picture we included in the invitation and all the other handmade items.  Very meaningful.  There are 3 pictures of the birthday party, and my husband had taken them, because I was otherwise busy hosting.  The rest of the pictures are of all the details that went into the party.

Once the treats were eaten and presents were open we were closing in on
5 pm, with a start time of 2:30 pm.  So, we headed outside to cast wishes in 5 pounds of black-oiled sunflower seeds.  We cast them around the fairy tree, and all the other trees, including our Grandfather Tree.  This activity has been a nice lasting treat for us, as we have gotten to see all the birds enjoy themselves, especially during the several inches of snow we got the week after the party.

Thanks again for everyone coming and thanks to my husband for being the drink coordinator, as well as keeping an eye on the children.  Not to mention clean-up time afterwards.

Here is the recipe for Wassail!  It was a warm delicious drink for the day.  The kids got to enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows with candy canes in the drink.  YUM!

Wassail

2 qts apple juice
1 tsp whole cloves
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
18 oz pineapple juice
*Heat in a crockpot for at least an hour and a half before event, if not sooner.

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