Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dragonfly Wishes

We found this dragonfly craft over at Twig and Toadstool and I thought I'd share it here.

They are made from sticks and maple keys that we gathered while walking one day.

So pretty and sparkly.  We glittered the bodies as well as the wings because we like glitter.  I didn't know.  (After using glitter, the boys what to glitter everything.  My world is becoming sparkly and glittery and I like it!) 

Here they are...(well...some of them.)
dragon flies 134

So sparkly...
dragon flies 141

I really like blue...
dragon flies 148

Do you see this one hiding?
dragon flies 138

Now go make your own crafts from found nature objects and come back and share them with us. Add a link in the comments please so we can see what you've made.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fermented Rice Milk

Being unable to get raw milk in Canada, we are left with little choice but to drink what is available.  Unfortunately, my husband, Monkey and Little-E all have a food sensitivity to pasteurized milk.  Using purchased analog milk, I learned last week from Kelly, is just another possessed food with no real "food value."

So what is a mother to do?

She makes her own milk analog, of course. (I want to make milk kefir but I don't have the grains.)

Almonds cost too much (especially when they are raw) to be throwing away most of it.  I like to do things without spending much money.  So how about rice milk. Rice is cheap (for now.) Cheap is good. This recipe is also fermented. Fermented is great!

I found this in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (seems I'm always using this book) but I put it together a bit differently.

Fermented Rice Milk

You will need:
*1/2 cup brown rice
*8 cups spring water
*1 1/2 teaspoons celtic sea salt
*1/4 cup whey
*1/4 cup raw honey or to taste (I'm thinking of trying another "good" sweetener because of the anti-bacterial properties of raw honey. Might be killing what I'm trying to grow.)
*vanilla to taste

Place the water and rice in a pan and simmer, covered, on low for about 2 hours. I know it sounds like a really long time, but it needs to be very very soft.

Whizz it in small batches in your food processor and pour into a glass bowl. (Add the salt in with one of the batches.)
Rice Milk 3
A food mill can be used or maybe even a blender. The resulting mixture should be thick and white.
Rice Milk 5
Cover the mixture and let it cool to about body temperature.  Add the whey and stir well. 

Cover again and let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days.

After 2-3 days strain the rice mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  It's not necessary, but gives a nicer texture.

Warm the honey in a sauce pan just until it is melted,  (This time I used half honey half maple syrup.)

Stir the melted honey into the fermented rice milk and add the vanilla (or whatever flavouring you wish) to taste. 

Add spring water to get the desired consistency. 
Rice Milk 1
Store in the refrigerator in a glass container.

I hope you enjoy your rice milk.  It is possible to buy fermenting cultures in the US if you do not want to use whey, but I have not researched them.

Also, if you like this post check out some of my other fermented recipes:

Easier Fermented Salsa
Beet Kvas
Fermented Dill Pickels

This is part of Fight Back Friday and Monday Mania.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Insight

I should not try to assess my life when I'm suffering from a three week head cold.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lime Green and Brown Jelly Bean

My little girl has been here for over six months now (like I've mentioned before) and it has been killing me that I haven't sewed any clothes for her.  After 12 years of boys, you would think I'd get right on the "sewing for girls" wagon.  Ruffles and frills and lace...oh my!  The problem though, not that it is a problem, is that as a mother, I still have to look after the little girl and four boys.  What should only take an hour takes days and I'm grouchy the whole time because, darn it, it should only take an hour.

So, Friday I decided to try to sew a dress for Jelly Bean.  A T-shirt dress.  I thought about taking pictures to do a tute for it but I was making up a pattern as I went (using a pattern but changing it to work for me,)  it would take forever to finish, if I ever did finish it and it wouldn't turn out how I wanted it to anyway.  (Perfectionism rears it's ugly head again!) 

Well, 2 hours later (sure the baby cried a bit and I unfairly wrangled Monkey into carrying her around for about 20 minutes) it was FINISHED!

Hurray for me!  I used this tute to change my t-shirt pattern from Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby into a lap t-shirt pattern.

Get a load of the cuteness, dipping like honey, off this little girl!

Anita's Creations 016

The pictures are a bit dark...

Anita's Creations 017

...but she is so cute! She's helping me with the laundry.

Anita's Creations 018

That's Monkey holding her up.

Anita's Creations 003

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rock Monsters

From the Veggie Tales movie Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie (Widescreen) comes the idea of Rock Monsters. 

(I could tell you all about how the rocks were picked and looked over for texture and pleasing colours, shape and size.  But to be honest, we didn't do any of that.  The boys were loud and I've got a head cold.  I sent them outside to find rocks to give them something to do so I could have some quiet.  Isn't necessity the mother of invention?)

So lets make Rock Monsters!  Grroar!  (The boys are better at the roar than I am.)

You will need:
Rocks of all shapes sizes and colours.  You could even explore and talk about them....
Low temp glue gun (mine is a high temp)
Paper to protect the table

Wash your rocks if they are dirty or dusty.  We didn't and I've had to do some re-gluing.

Find two large-ish rocks with flat bottoms for the monsters feet. 

From there just glue and build.  Children tell the parents where to put the glue then the children place the rock (unless they are very young.  You can judge your own children skill level.)  It's best if you keep them balanced so they will stand.

Rock Monster 041

I wanted them to look sorta natural and peaceful, forest-y with birds singing in the background.

Yah...do you think there is a disco in the forest?  Maybe the cute little gnomes and elves have a disco ball.

Rock Monster 039


I've added this post to Natural Suburbia: Creative Friday. Go Check it out for some great ideas.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beet Kvas

Beet Kvas

(Photo taken by my son C-Rex.) 

We love Beet Kvas.  All it rooty goodness.  Salty and earthy.  Yum!

When I was pregnant with our last child I had some serious salt cravings. Chips were high on my list of necessities. I also had some uncomfortable indigestion and bloating. Kvas hit the spot for both.

My husband has been eating to heal his gut for about 17 months and kvas has been part of his daily routine. He also will drink some when ever his stomach feel a bit uncomfortable. It's very healing for him.

Beets are full of minerals. The beets root reaches deep into the soil to pull nutrients and minerals from the way down in the earth. These minerals are stored in the root ball that we then eat. Fermenting the beets adds wonderful probiotics to the mix.

To make Beet Kvas you will need:
-a 4 litre jar
-4-5 beet medium beet roots
-3-3 1/2 litres of spring water
-2 tablespoons of Celtic sea salt
-1/3 cup of whey (from yogurt)

Peel and chop your beets into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the chopped beets into your jar.

Boil 1 cup of the water and dissolve the salt into the water. (It will look dirty with floaties in it but that is the nature of Celtic sea salt.)

Then add the salt water into the jar with the beets.

Pour about half of the remaining water into the jar. The water will cool off the salt water so the bacteria in the whey won't die when added.

Now add the whey.

Fill the jar with the rest of the water until it is 2-3 inches from the top and stir it well. I love the way the red of the beets colours the water. It gets darker still as it ferments.

Put the lid on the jar and set it some where cool-ish (better flavour) for two days. White foam forming on the top is fine. Just spoon it off and don't tell anyone. People can be squeamish.

Strain out the beets and put the (liquid) kvas into glass jars in the refrigerator. I've read you can make a second ferment using the same beets and some previously made kvas instead of whey, but it isn't as strong. I've never tried it.

Occasionally, the kvas is very thick, almost like strange yogurt.  It fine!  After straining just whizz it with a stick blender to loosen it up.  I think it gets thick when the beets are sweeter and the bacteria have multiplied like crazy.  BUT I'm just guessing.

Drink 4 oz with meals or when ever you want to.

This recipe is adapted from Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.  It's a fun book.


Sunny Sunflower

Photo taken in our backyard by my son C-Rex. Thanks boy!

This post is part of Fight Back Friday.  Come and join us to learn some more about healthy food and preparation.

I've also linked up to Monday Mania

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Little Bloggers

Two of my boys have decided to join the blogging world. It's taking a whole lot of my time and I'm stressing a bit about what isn't getting done by me.

It's learning how to blog that takes the most time. Not to mention they want to add pictures which takes even more time. And I'm only just learning.

So here they are.
C-Rex's blog Little Toes.  He is 9 years old and did all the photography himself.
Little-E's blog Little-E's Blog-E.  He's 7 and had help from C-Rex with the photos.
Stop in and say Hi.  They'd love that.

Now that they have both posted for the first time, the questions/fears I have are starting to edge to the front of my thoughts. How do I make sure they are protected? Will they consider each others feeling when writing? Will this just be another excuse to use the computer?

But then I think about the possible good that can come out of their blogs. First off, they are writing! Anything that can get them excited about writing can't be that bad. Plus spelling practice, which we have never really worked on. (Spelling comes with reading and writing. Using the language.) Communicating, getting your idea across to others (isn't that the reason for communication?) Plus, they want to teach. (I love it.) Either that or they want to tell others what to do but isn't that what we all want? ;) AND lets not forget computer skills.

They are reading and re-reading, editing, trying to make what they write say what they mean for it to say. Boy, can I relate. Building the skills needed in the real world and having fun doing it.

In school, I remember writing essay after essay that had no purpose. Just another essay in the pile of essays on my teachers desk. They were trying to teach form and grammar, punctuation and spelling but in the end I felt a failure for not jumping through the hoop well enough. Now look at me! There is spell check! Why did I have to go through hours of drills to only just get by? I spell much better now, thanks to my children learning to read.

If my children are not yet able to grasp some aspect of "school," at some mile stone age...so what! Sure, we will work on what they don't get, but not to the point that they think somethings wrong with them.  They'll get it later or there will be a new "spell check" that will render the inadequacy unimportant. Writing for the purpose of communication is what is important.

What a great way to communicate...a blog.

My fears have eased a little.  I'm almost excited.  Wish I had a blog when I was young(er.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

What Toy's for Our Girl?

Well, our little girl has past the 6 month marker. She's almost sitting-up by herself and trying to get her arms and leg working together in order to crawl. Not to mention the cutest little Jelly Bean I've ever seen.

She is always content. Laying quietly, being held quietly, in her saucer quietly, but at the same time very aware and attentive. She takes in everything.

On Saturday, her brothers were away at my in-laws for the day and my little girl wasn't so content. She didn't lay quietly or play in her saucer quietly. She missed her boys! She needed something to play with (which her brothers aways provide with their presence.)

Looking around I noticed that we don't really have toys for babies. I know that the boys had toys when they were little but somewhere along the way the plastic keys and plastic rattles and plastic rings have disappeared. But then again, I really don't want my little one chewing on plastic.

(It's amazing how we as people grow and change in a never ending, sorta, exhausting way. What is ok for one baby seem to change for the next, then change again when the third child is born. I'm not a purest when it comes to toys for this little girl but I'm going to do the best I can with the funds available. The idea of have just a few toys for a child really becomes apparent when you have five. Just look around my basement. WOW! It scary and the boys have know idea as to how to clean it up, and neither do I!)

So I asked myself what to do. Earlier in the day I had written down a few rules for myself and my life. One of the first rules is to not buy anything new. (It's all particle board and plastic anyway. No heart.) I do, however, have an unending supply of t-shirts coming from a local family who we get hand me downs from.

A little cutting, a little sewing, a little rice and 20 minutes later Jelly Bean had her first handmade toy from her mother. There is heart in that bean (rice) bag.

I cut the arms off of a t-shirt.
Bean bag

Then I placed them right sides together and cut as large of a rectangle out of the material as I could get.
Bean bag

Then I sewed, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving 2 inches unsewed so I could turn it. Filled it with rice and hand sewed the opening closed.
Bean bag, Ellenora sitting, Caleb's story 298

Finished! She loves it, not that you can tell (would it kill her to smile for a picture?) and it cost nothing but my time, and not much of that.
Ellenora with her new bean bag

Friday, August 6, 2010

How to Make Sprouted Wheat Flour



This is a post for Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade. Real Food is a passion of mine and I love to help others learn about Real Food, too. This is my first post to Fight Back Friday so I hope I'm doing everything right.  (I'm a little nervous.)

To me, real food means old food, traditional food. Food that my Great Grandmothers would have made to feed their families. Kinda connects me to the past while at the same time with the future. By feeding my children good food, their young bodies are gaining a great foundation to build the future on.

After borrowing (hee hee) my Mothers grain mill and finding an organic wheat supplier I started to grind wheat for all our cooking and baking needs. Then I heard the benefits of sprouted wheat but couldn't find any information on the web as to how to "do it." Wouldn't it clog up my grinder? I had heard that the Vita Mix blender could grind grain but with that price tag, it just wasn't an option. (Not to mention I'm also wanting to be frugal so I didn't want to buy anything.)

Then I had a huge "TA DA" moment.

Why couldn't I sprout then dehydrate  wheat berries?

(Long pause...light bulb...on!)

I could...I could sprout then dehydrate wheat berries! When dry, it would still grind in my flour mill. So now, I sprout my wheat and grind it in my mill...and I want you to do it too!

With all the tasks we do everyday, why would we spend the time and effort to sprout grain?

1. Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats has a few pages about the reasons to sprout grains and seeds. She has done a much better job than I could ever do, so if you haven't read it, borrow it from your library. (It's really awesome.) The short of it is because it's sooo much better for you and your body is able to absorb more of the nutrition from the grain.

2. Sprouted Wheat flour is really expensive.

3. Products made from sprouted wheat are really expensive. Here a loaf of sprouted wheat bread is $5.00. I am not going to spend $5.00 on a loaf of bread! I don't care how good it is for me.

This is how I do it.

You will need:

-One large glass container.
-One large, strainer with a fine mesh (mine has expendable arms that reach to either side and sits flush with my counter top.)
-A long handled spoon
-One dehydrator with small screen so the wheat won't fall through as it dries and shrinks. (I read that tulle from the fabric store can be cut to fit and works just fine.)
-Water, spring is best, but I'm "frugal" and use tap water.
-Organic Wheat berries

First, take a berry and bite it. You need to know what a dry berry feels like for later.

Fill your glass jar about 5/8 to 2/3 full with the wheat. Rise and clean the wheat the best you can/feel like.

Fill the the rest of the way with water. When sprouting, you usually add some whey, lemon juice or some other acid. Somewhere I read that it isn't needed with wheat berries. I've never used any and it has always sprouted.

Sit it on the counter and stir it every few hours to help separate the grains. It's not really necessary but I feel better about it if I do.

When the grains are very plump, (12-18 hours) drain through your strainer. (I'm sure this water would be wonderful for your garden.)

Rinse the wheat well and leave it alone to drain...and sprout.

Rinse and stir/move things around every 12 hours until your sprouts are about 1/4 inch long.

Spread the sprouted wheat berries on your dehydrator trays about 1/4-1/2 inch thick and turn it on. The little "sprouts" will dry, so just ignore them. They will grind up just fine later. If your dehydrator has a heat setting go ahead and use the setting for seeds OR you could crank it up, because your going to cook with it anyway and kill the enzymes then, so why not dry it quick.

Check them frequently and stir them up or change tray positions if drying is uneven. You will know when they are done when you bite into one and it is just has hard and dry as before you did anything with it. Could take 4 hours or 36, it depends on how much you are drying per rack and how high your heat is.

Let the berries cool then use as you would un-sprouted wheat berries.

Look to see if there are little bits of the dried "sprout" laying on the bottom of your dehydrator. Brush them out into your compost before putting your machine away.

It only takes a few minutes here and there to sprout than dry wheat, so give it a try. The ground sprouted wheat works just like regular ground wheat and it only takes a few minutes here, a few minutes there to make. Nutritionally, it packs a much bigger punch so the effort is well worth it. Please, let me know if you try to sprout your own wheat berries. That would make my day.

I've also linked up to The Health Home Economist's Monday Mania. Go have a look at the wonderful and informative post over there.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yard Sale

The boys have been asking and asking for us to have a yard sale. I've been putting it off.

Too much work, I'd tell myself. Don't I have other more pressing matters to take care of?

Wow, I'm surprised at how easy it actually was! Easy peasy!

Not only was it easy, the boys did most of it. It was their idea. They gathered, sorted, priced and sold their own toys to earn their own money. (I refuse to give an allowance. "In the real word" people earn their money, it isn't given to them.) They took out the tables and set everything up themselves, even the few items I had out there. They collected the money and gave out change. They even kept track of how much money they each made.

During the slow times (and sometimes when busy,) they played with bubbles, their baby sister, friends and neighbours. We read books on a blanket and tried to keep the mosquito's away...then we counted the mosquito bites.

Talk about school! But isn't life school?

It is in this house.

We do do workbooks...sometimes...but this is so much more fun. Learning, while applying what you have learned, in real life, make so much sense to me. An over simplification of what I'm talking about would be the abstract concept of 2+3=5 vs. harvesting apples from the apple tree you and your family planted together; your asked to pick 5 and you already have 2 so you pick 3 more to end up with 5. Then you take the same five apples and make them into other groups (4 and 1, 5 and 0, 1 and 1 and 3) but you see, there are always 5.

Then you take the 5 apples and either pass them out to your family (1 and 1 and 1 and 1 and 1 is 5) or take them inside to make an apple pie from scratch. This means measuring ingredients, thinking about how many more apples you might need and so many more things to learn.

For us, we learn much more with real life math than workbook math.

Now I want pie. Time to teach. (Too hot to bake were going to the store.)

p.s. I'm hoping to add a picture. Need to figure a few (more) things out first.