Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas: Painted Cookies

As Little G painted her toenails, Little buddy came to me begging to paint, something...anything!
I didn't feel like getting the paint out. It was the end of the day and dinner had to be made. I was able to compromise with making cookies instead. We found a cool idea in an old Betty Crocker kids cookbook that I thought I would share. Painted Cookies. He was in heaven, not only did he get to make cookies but was going to get to paint them too. He couldn't be more excited.

So all one needs to make painted cookies is a simple butter or sugar cookie recipe which I will share below, and an egg yolk, with a little water separated into different containers with food coloring added. Its genius really, if you think about it this is the same as adding a nice glaze to a loaf of bread, but colored.

Here is a basic butter cookie recipe that I have written in my own recipe book (I don't know where I got it.)

2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 1/3 c confection sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond flavor

mix everything well and chill at least 30 minutes (which we didn't have time for)
roll out with plenty of flour and cut out with favorite cookie cutters approx. 1/4-1/2 inch.
Set them all on cookie sheets.

While they were rolling and cutting I prepared the 'paint'.
Blend 1 egg yolk with approx. 1/4 teaspoon water.
divide this into different little cups
and add desired food coloring to make bright colors
I added 4-5 drops per cup, (you may add more water if it thickens will waiting for the kids to finish.)
We used red, blue and green. The blue came out more green than blue though, because it was mixed with the very yellow of the yolk from our own hens. I don't know if this would be a problem with store bought eggs. Next time I am going to try this with egg white and see if we get the results we are hoping for, as an experiment.
Once all the cookies are rolled and cut out. We preheated the oven to 375.
I gave the children the cups with the "paint" a clean paintbrush for each cup, so color mixing wouldn't be a problem. And they painted to their little heart's content.


Bake for 8-10 minutes and this is what the finished product looks like.

Mind you this is kids art.


2 days later, my little guy is begging me to make painted cookies again!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

October and November Photo Update

 Winter in upon us and I'm still wondering where summer went. We have too many chickens, 27 or 28, soup to be made soon out of our many roosters. And we are finally getting into the homeschool groove again.
There are blessings to be found everyday.

 The girls help me every morning feed the animals while S. helps gather firewood for the day. We love greeting our ladies in the morning.
I had a bad cooking month, what I would call a food crisis. I was so sick of cooking and felt like I forgot how. I was strengthened by friends on Facebook when so many wonderful moms gave me advice.
In addition to so many great tips, I started a new thing before our meals. The last few weeks, while preparing dinner, I put out some cut veggies or salad for everyone to munch on.  If they are really hungry they will eat the veggies; it keeps them satisfied until dinner, because dinner often late around here. Also, I don't have to fight with them to eat their vegetables during the meal because I know they've already had their fill. 

We harvested the Swiss chard and Dragon carrots that we had planted in our raised bed. Jamie made a cold frame out of it before the frosts came. It was wonderful having garden veggies, fresh picked, in November!
P. has been wanting to learn to spin for some time now. We had planned on looking for a used spinning wheel for her for Christmas. Well, God had other plans to bless our daughter; her spinning teacher, Rhonda, Home Spun Girls at Wild Wind Farm told us an anonymous person wanted to give her a spinning wheel! It was even the exact Ashford spinning wheel we wanted to get her. Jamie and I were so excited but we didn't tell her. 
When we went to pick it up, the only thing I told P was that we were going to buy some pumpkins at their Farm. Rhonda presented her with the spinning wheel when we got there and P turned white and almost fainted in surprise. It was precious and couldn't have been more special in any way.
Her first full spool, ready to b plied. I love the color. I can't wait to see what she will knit with this! 

Our sweet little angora bunnies, putting up with much love and dressing up.

Jasper the kitty in kitty love heaven.
We have had more of an art focus this year and have been having fun getting together with friends, going to special art events at the local Christian school and doing it more at home than we have in the last few years. There's nothing I like better than to see our table look like this.
Still life of a spinning wheel by S.
Veggies by G.
Spinning wheel and fireworks by Sean

After about 4 years of growing, A friend chopped my hair off for me last month when I asked her for an emergency hair cut, I was so frustrated with brushing it for so long every day.
I haven't missed it one bit, I love having short hair again. 
My little kindergartner is doing so well, with his writing and drawing. He colored the dragon picture below and then wanted to draw his own picture from it. I love the knight. He's also picking up with his reading quite well.

We have gone on a few hiking type field trips to the nearby coast and no matter how cold, or foggy ...we can never keep the children out of the water.
These were taken a month ago at Roque Bluffs State Park.

He was so happy to climb up this giant rock.

We also had a chance to take a field trip to the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, which we found out is the easternmost point in the US and this particular one was built in 1858.  



Nature's playground

G. found her favorite thing to collect when at the ocean, seaweed.

The boys were pretending the rocks were their castle and climbing all over them.
The water was unbelievably clear... and cold. And he still managed to get his shoes wet.
 The trails were absolutely breathtaking, the most beautiful place I've been in Maine yet.
Last week a treadle Singer sewing machine made it into our lives, I've always wanted one and I was so blessed to have the chance to buy this one from a friend. It works beautifully and my little G is so excited about it, she got to work learning how to treadle right a way and is now making a "quilt" out of our fabric scraps.

 Little G is also saving up for a microscope, not just a cheepy either she already had it picked out.  She has been diligently working around the house doing extra chores to earn money.

She emptied all this kindling wood from Daddy's truck, carried it and
 stacked it into the wood room.
All finished.


I love taking pictures, the beautiful, the blessings, the simple, and the mundane; whichever they are, I look back over what seemed like a crazy busy few months, feeling like we haven't accomplished much. I'm reminded of the blessings in them all and am thankful for everything.
 Its so good to take some time, sit still, and see them in our lives.
                               We all have so much to be thankful for.
We hope you have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving next week!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Haiku Hell

Sometimes our days are not all sunshine and roses with homeschooling. I had a simple lesson planned for Language Arts there were many interruptions, and no one was into at first but, it worked towards our growth in the end. Here are my notes from my journal entry a month ago:
 Its a beautiful day, as we head outside into the early October air. Crisp, clear blue sky.
This will be fun!
The kids are grumbling, making jokes, as they stumble out with notebooks and pencils in hand.
                      "Haiku is... poo-poo," one says (while counting syllables on his fingers).
                      "This is... so stu-pid," the other replies (again counting syllables).
                      "How many of these are we supposed to make anyway?", says a whiny voice.
                      "As many as it takes to do your best and be serious," I say.
                      "Awwww...!" I hear.
                      "I don't want to", from another....complain, complain, grumble, grumble.
We each find a place to sit (except for the youngest who finds it more interesting to play in the dirt.) 
I announce, "Lets read again what a Haiku is and how we are to make one." I read a quote from the lesson book and remind them of the 5-7-5 rule to get them thinking again.
We settle in with notebooks in our laps -me included. I take a deep breath.
There's a quiet rustling of leaves, a gentle breeze and some sighing from the children.
Daddy comes out and I pass his notebook to him. Yes, he's joining us for school today.
P. has one immediately:
Brook tumbles down
Reflections casting lovely
water dashes past rocks
 I tell her she is capable of making another maybe even three.
                    "Keep going."  More sighs and grumbles.
The youngest has now begun to play by the open kayak, that has been sitting in the yard, now filled with standing water.
And suddenly Little G's lost toad has emerged from his hiding place.
She drops her notebook to hop after it and imprison it again, while I try my best to bring everyone back to the task at hand.
After another reminder she dusts off her notebook, and sits back down, with the toad bucket, near the kayak and Sean, who is now "catching bugs".
He is filling various containers up with the water from the kayak.
G, now much too distracted to think about the lesson, sees what he's doing and is getting perturbed.
                   "He's collecting mosquito larva!" she announces in a disgusted voice.
                   "Its okay," I say trying to bring back the focus, "just make the Haiku honey. He's not hurting anything"...."What about making one about your toad?"
                    "No!"....arms crossed, "I don't want to make fun of my toad!"
I realize, because of her older siblings response, all this time she thought that Haiku is supposed to be a degrading joke poem of some sort. Do I have time to correct the error?
I begin to explain but, Sean has found, filled, and is now carrying a very full drinking jar of the said "mosquito larva" to add to his collection.
Little G is too bothered to listen to me. She is worried about the ridiculousness of her brother catching such foul creatures.
She is overcome. 
And without thinking, she stands and pushes the jar out of his hands...
It falls
on rocks.
Glass shards 
and bare feet. 
Daddy Bear jumps, in one protective motion he picks them both out of the glass. He carries Sean to the safety of a bench and G to bed, correcting as he goes--reminding her about not being controlling over what other people do.
Sean is crying.
No, Screaming. His beloved bug pets are now gone.
After consoling him, I begin picking up bits of glass out of the gravel as I tell the others to get back to work. He goes in sniffling to play with Lego's.
Reluctantly we all sit down again, trying to bring diligence to the task at hand.
S. has one:
Hey, look a big toad
that will eat bugs as it goes
It's a load to hold
He's getting it but, he could do better. We see that he has the: "I will just give them what they want and get this stupid haiku done, so I can finish school and go do what I want to do" attitude.
No, we will not settle for that, we are trying to teach them to do their best in everything.
We ask S. to make another. Daddy gives him an exercise to get ideas.
S. is the next one to have the meltdown today and is sent inside to work at the table.
I finish mine and go in to share it with G. I want to see if she can guess what animal it's about.
peeping angrily
guarding his territory
furry friend perched high
She takes a minute and guesses. I get a sweet moment explaining that creating a Haiku is not a joke but a way to express ourselves simply.
                      "Will you come out now and see if you can make one?" I ask.
                      "I already have one," is her reply.
We sit together on the bench outside. She gets one with some help and rearrangement:
 Chickens cannot fly
try to fly over the fence
sometimes they escape
 P. has quietly done well writing several. Inside she goes to rewrite her story, from a previous day. 
I send G in to write one more. So in she goes as well, complaining, "I can't!" 
I remain out, I am exhausted. 
I ask the age old question that keeps popping up: 
Why are we making ourselves crazy with this homeschool thing again?
...An hour later:
Everyone has finished beautifully and are now playing joyfully together.
Lunch is prepared.
I call in the kids and Daddy.
We pray.
We eat.
We laugh.
We love each other
we love homeschooling again
and....I wouldn't trade this for the world. 
Sky so lovely blue
clouds pass by, white downy fluff
green trees frame the sky
Spinning on its wings
a dead fly in the water
traveling no where
Fishing at the brook
we had gone to do today
came back with no fish
We went in the woods.
we found a huge rock with moss,
our house was mis-sing
the enemy struts
rock held ready for release
chickens run, victory

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Apple picking, Cider pressing, Jelly and New pink Tattler lids

Last week we were busy partaking in an art festival at the local Christian school. We had a great time seeing different artists come in and share their craft. The kids doing many hands on activities from dance to woodworking to pottery. Oldest Daughter taught a classes on polymer clay and I did a day with paper making. The kids got a taste for regular school life and I got a taste
 for working mom life--All I have to say is:
 Kudos (praise and honor received for an achievement) to all you working moms!
You are amazing, I don't know how you do it!!
This is the first chance I have gotten to share about our apple expeditions from two weeks ago.
The fields are burning around here with beauty.We have been enjoying the foliage which is quickly leaving us and we made it just in time for the last of the apples.
My oldest son took most of the pictures on our apple picking day, while I was beating trees and getting 4 ft. sticks stuck in my hair crouching under unkept hundred year old trees to retrieve apples. Sweating and itching and ... they were eating and exploring, climbing and finding. They did help a lot especially in the end when I was getting cranky. It was a great day.

We came home and got to work to make our apples into cider, with a press our friends generously let us borrow. What fun!

The kids did all the work for this. So what was I complaining about?

And the cider? Nothing like anything you have ever tasted from a store!

Our friends whom we borrowed the press from pick hundreds of pounds of apples a year just for pressing cider and freeze it so they can have it through the winter.

We picked about 50 pounds of apples and ended up with close to two gallons of cider.

We picked these lovely crab apples and what goes better with bright pink crab apple jelly than bright pink canning lids?

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I found out that Tattler Lid was running this special for pink lids, and 35% of all proceeds go to Munson Medical Center Women's Cancer Fund. I found out about this fundraiser through Tattler and missed the deadline to officially participate. But I still wanted to, I needed more lids so I bought them. I love the pink and that such a generous amount of my purchase went to a great cause and am glad I that there is still half the month left to share about the fundraiser :) So again I haven't received anything from Tattler, I just really love this product.

I used this recipe : from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I'm usually all worried about adding too much sugar to my jelly and trying all these ways to naturally sweeten my jelly but this time I just followed the recipe and guess what happened? It actually came out right!!! My first jelly that is amazingly perfectly jelled.

I can't give following the recipe the only credit though; I received some great jelly making advice from a real farm girl friend who has transformed my jelly making ways. Part of my problem is knowing when the jelly is done because that drippy spoon method does not work for me. My friend Rhonda, at Wild Wind Farm (to visit her fb page) told me to just keep a saucer in the freezer, drip some jelly on it and stick it back in the freezer to cool it down and then run my finger through it. If it stays separate then I know it is done. If not wipe the saucer clean stick it back in the freezer and cook a while longer. Also make sure not to make jelly on a wet or rainy day because boiling sugar in the rain or moist day it grabs moisture from the air and the sugar can crystallize because of it.

You can click here: Women's Cancer Fund for more information, on the fundraiser for this October.
I also have a more detailed post about how to use these reusable canning lids you can read about it here:

I was able to make 12 pints, every jar sealed beautifully. Love it when that happens.

I love these fall days!

Be sure to hop over to this farm girl bloghop.
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