27 December 2012

Pea Soup

Serves 6

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds freshly shelled or frozen peas 
1½ quarts chicken stock 
½ teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed
sea salt and pepper
piima cream or creme fraiche

This delicious soup can be made in less than 15 minutes and will satisfy the most exacting gourmet. Saute onions gently in butter until tender. Add peas and stock, bring to a boil and skim. Simmer about 15 minutes. 


Puree soup with a handheld blender. Season to taste. Ladle into heated bowls and garnish with cultured cream. Good with round croutons.


Recipe from "Nourishing Traditions" cookbook

25 December 2012

Happy Birthday, Jesus

Our goal in the Christmas decorations in our house (aka Chrissy decs in Australia) is to remind us constantly that Christmas is all about Jesus.  Everywhere we turn we hope that the nativity toys, magnets, scene all around us continuously point each of us to Jesus.  It's easy to get lost in "traditions" or in our case, making traditions. Or perhaps get distracted by so many other things happening in December.  Every moment of every day we desire to keep striving to point our own hearts, as well as our children, to Jesus.  December is a great opportunity to do that.

Last night before bed, I was able to put "Baby Jesus" in our manger, which has been empty all month long.  It seems perfectly fitting for the girls to wake in the morning to find Jesus in the manger.  Yes?

We have also been singing "Happy Birthday Jesus".  The words are:

Happy Birthday, Jesus
I'm so glad it's Christmas
All the tinsel and lights
And the presents are nice
But the real gift is You.

Happy Birthday, Jesus
I'm so glad it's Christmas
All the carols and bells
Make the holidays swell
But the real gift is You.

Happy Birthday, Jesus
Jesus, I love you.

The girls picked it up within a day and we've been singing it all month long.  It's been a sweet time to hear them singing that the presents are nice but the real gift is Jesus... except that's not quite what they believe yet. :)  They do believe that the presents are everything, and could they have more?!

It was also a special moment this morning after breakfast, instead of doing our usual family devotion, we read the Christmas story, directly from the Bible (Luke chapter 2).  And then sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" which fit in perfectly, giving the two oldest girls a greater understanding and depth to the songs we sing at Christmastime.

 I forgot to make a birthday cake for Jesus this year.  Me oh my, how did that happen?  Couldn't possibly be because of having four children ages four and under!  Especially that we had the joy of staying home and relaxing all day without having to dash off anywhere.  In fact, I'm not sure all of my children even made it out of their pyjamas today.  Next year, I tell myself, the cake will be more meaningful anyway.  So, stay tuned for Christmas 2013. :)

08 December 2012

Christmas Countdown

This year I found a wonderful idea here that I decided to quickly throw together. Having four children, and one of them being an infant, it is challenging to put much time into anything... at least for me. I think about something for a time, and before I know it, the day is upon me-- leaving me feeling as though time came upon me faster than I had anticipated.

So while I *loved* this idea I knew ahead of time that I was not going to be very creative and fancy with it at all.  It was going to be the thought that counts. 

It is a Spouse Christmas Countdown.  I printed the free printable from the link above to make 24 cards, I wrote the days from 1 through 24 on the back and began to write something for each day.  It was either something that I love about my hubby, or something I would do for him, or something that we would do together with our children.  I hung up some ribbon that I bought last year from the Dollar Tree and pegged 24 cards.

Each morning sometime either before breakfast, during, or immediately as we finish I have him read the card.  While we haven't bought gifts for each other in a long time this was a perfect way for our children to see our love for each other.  I coincided the days to go along with certain things that I knew were more possible-- driving and looking at Christmas lights would happen on a Sunday night a lot easier than perhaps during the week.  A favourite meal for my hubby on a certain night.  A wrapped gift. Or just a compliment.

I'd like to take a little more time next year and make it a little more creative, and seeing as I have a year to prepare, one might incorrectly think that I will have ample time.  We will see.  I'd love this to become a loving tradition in our home as we countdown to celebrate Jesus' birth, and our children being witness to our love as husband and wife.

Squash & Sundried Tomato Soup

Serves 6

1 butternut squash
2 mdm onions, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 quart chicken stock

¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
2 tablespoons finely chopped basi
sea salt or fish sauce and pepper
piima cream or creme fraiche

Cut squash in half lengthwise and place, cut sides down, in a class baking pan with about ½ inch of water. Bake at 350°F (180°C) until tender, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, saute onions gently in butter until tender. Add tomatoes, stock, and chile flakes. Bring to a boil and skim.

Scoop cooked squash out of skin and add to soup.


Simmer about ½ hour. Puree soup with a handheld blender.


Thin with water if necessary. Add basil and season to taste. Simmer gently about 5 minutes, ladle into heated bowls and serve with cultured cream.


Recipe from "Nourishing Traditions" cookbook

07 December 2012

December 2012

For our Christmas season, we are learning the song "Happy Birthday Jesus" and we are listening to this rendition to learn it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rur534Yzb-g.  It's a little different than I had imagined we would be singing (a traditional Christmas hymn) but it's a lovely, easy tune with wonderful words for Possum age 4¾, and Twinkle age 3½, even Sweetness age 2 is "singing" along quite easily.

Our favourite storybooks to read are:

Next year, I'd love to start a "tradition" of wrapping 25 books in Christmas paper, and each day opening one, and reading it that day.  Well, our Christmas library currently has 3, and I doubt I will have 21 books added to our collection by next year.  But we can at least start.  These books really are my favourite so far, all pointing to Jesus.

On that note, we do not incorporate Santa into any of our traditions.  We have felt for a very long time that for our family it is important to focus on Jesus during the Christmas season, pointing our children to Him, making everything we do about Jesus' birth.  We felt very strongly about this before we even had children, and felt even more strongly after they arrived in our lives.  However, I learned from a friend a great idea that we may begin doing next year, and that is to recognise exactly who Saint Nicholas of Myra was, and to celebrate St. Nicholas Day (which is 6th of December thus getting this out of the way to allow us to continue to focus on Jesus the remainder of December), teaching our family about St. Nick, and able to address why Santa is everywhere around us, opposed to my first inclination which is to avoid the topic altogether-- not so easy with inquisitive young minds.  Last year Possum then aged 3 thought that Goliath was the man in the big red suit.  We never corrected her.  This year, however, we have had some explaining to do.  Ahem.  The twisted story of how "Santa Claus" actually came about is really a s-t-r-e-t-c-h from St. Nicholas, and so we will still not do anything to incorporate Santa Claus but in fact concentrate on Nicholas of Myra, his life, and add some fun traditions to remember him.  This will be the day that our blossoms will receive their Christmas stockings, and chocolate coins in their shoes!

And in my looking up ideas for celebrating St. Nicholas Day, I read about a tradition on a friend's blog that sounds fitting... because Jesus received three gifts have our children receive three gifts on Christmas morning.  I have an entire year to solidify and plan how these new "traditions" can begin and bring good solid teaching to our family.  What fun!

We began a tradition that we have just loved from the moment Husband and I heard about it- to give gifts on Thanksgiving morning and share why we are thankful for each other.  This has been absolutely one of our most favourite times of the year. And for us, it feels like a beautiful way to kick off the Christmas season.  This, we felt, was fitting to keep December more about Jesus, and especially Christmas morning itself.  And thus, adding new "traditions" as we grow as a family is going to bring such fun and fulfillment, and just as we strive to do with everything, point ourselves and our children to Christ- whether that be at Christmastime or the rest of the year.

04 December 2012

Truly, *The Best* Cinnamon Rolls

Here is a family favourite.  We have these on birthdays and Christmas morning.  I have the pleasure of making them the night before, popping them in the fridge before they rise, then pulling them out the morning of and leaving them to rise about 60 minutes before I bake.

Makes 12-15 in an 8x13 baking dish

1⅓ cups warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast (2 packets)
⅔ cup sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
about 5 cups bread flour, divided

cinnamon sugar: 
2 tsp. cinnamon mixed with ½ cup sugar

caramel glaze: 
 ½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup whipping cream
1½ cups packed brown sugar
½ chopped pecans (or more to taste)(I omit these)

1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water in mixing bowl and allow to soften for a few minutes.
2. Add sugar, oil, salt and 3 cups of flour, beating well.
3. Switch to dough-hook on mixer (or by hand) gradually beating in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
4. Knead dough until smooth & springy, about 8 minutes.
5. Put dough ball into an oiled bowl and turn to oil top of dough.  Set in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

 6. Stir cinnamon and sugar together.
7. Prepare caramel glaze by melting butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring in brown sugar & cream.
8. Pour glaze into 9 x 13 baking pan and sprinkle with nuts.
9. When dough has doubled, roll out on a lightly oiled board to a large rectangle, about 12 x 18”.
10. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar & roll up from long edge.
11. Slice with large serrated knife into twelve or more 1” to 1-1/2” slices and arrange rolls in the glaze in the pan. 
12. Allow rolls to rise until doubled, about 30 – 60 minutes, OR cover pan with greased foil and refrigerate overnight.  After being refrigerated, it is best to allow pan of rolls to return to room temperature and rise about 30 minutes before baking.  However, this can be accelerated if you’re on a tight schedule.

13. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until  golden brown and rolls in center no longer look “doughy”.  
14. Remove pan from oven and invert onto a heatproof serving tray, if desired.  The caramel glaze will be fluid, so they may be served directly from the baking dish.  
If transporting, loosely cover with aluminum foil and do not seal or the rolls will steam themselves soggy.  These rolls are best served warm.  Enjoy the treat and be prepared for rave reviews!

29 November 2012

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This really is an easy recipe and very tasty.  It needs to be made ahead of time so it has plenty of time to cool and then chill in the refrigerator.

16 oz. cranberries fresh or frozen (I used fresh)
1 Bartlett pear, peeled and diced
¼ cup water or apple juice (I used apple juice)
¼ tsp. dried orange peel
tsp. ground cloves
¼ cup maple syrup, grade B
*½ packet gelatin

Directions / Method 
For lumpy sauce: 
1. Over medium heat in a medium sauce pan heat berries, diced pear and water. Stir to combine. 
2. Whisk orange peel and cloves into a ¼ cup maple syrup, but do not add until berries begin to burst open and pear softens. 
3. Continue to stir pot frequently.   

4. Once berries begin to burst open and the pear softens, stir in maple syrup mixture
5. Simmer for 10-15 mins, let cool and transfer to serving dish then chill until ready to serve.
*For smooth sauce:
Follow steps 1-4 above:
5. While sauce is still hot, add in a packet of unflavored gelatin and puree using food processor or immersion blender (I used a food processor).
6. Let cool and transfer to serving dish and chill until ready to serve.

The original recipe can be found here: http://b-eingpaleofabulous.blogspot.com/2012/11/cranberry-sauce.html

13 November 2012

A Year of Singing

Last November during our morning "Bible Time" with my then three girls, Possum age 3, Twinkle age 2, and Sweetness almost 1, we began singing "Give Thanks".  Being November it seemed fitting to teach them a song that we could sing together on Thanksgiving Day.  My girls have always loved music, singing, and dancing, so each morning, we'd sing "Give Thanks" and slowly over the month, the girls would join in and sing as well.  By Thanksgiving Day we, as a family, were able to sing together along with my in-laws- my girls grandparents, who also knew the song- making it a very special moment around our Thanksgiving dinner table.

December we continued, and we sang "Joy to the World" every day in December.  I began to notice that Possum would take about 3-4 days to pick up the words and be able to sing alongside me.  Twinkle took a little longer, about 1-2 weeks.  And Sweetness just joined in with her babbling singing, which was adorable.

January we learned "To God Be The Glory" being that a new year has begun and what a fitting song for this month.

February- "Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God"
March- "I Love You, Lord"
April- "Jesus Paid It All"
May- "Amazing Grace" (verse 1, 5)
June- "Amazing Grace" (verse 2, 3)
July- "Amazing Grace" (verses 1-3, 5)
August- "You Are God Alone"
September- We didn't learn anything new. Handsome arrived Sept. 6.
October- We sang a medley of all the different songs throughout the year we've learned.
November- We are reprising "Give Thanks".

November 2012 Book List

We are a family that loves to read.  I have piles of books for the children, and we've often tried to create a "reading nook" of some sort to encourage reading.

Whilst there have been times in our family that we have used the television to occupy us; say, after the birth of a baby, or during the first trimester of Mum's pregnancy when she's feeling crummy, blah, and nauseas, or when one or more children are sick and lethargic and the best place to hole up for the day is in front of the television to just rest, most of the time I prefer to encourage reading.

Of late, I have allowed the two older girls to watch a DVD during quiet time seeing as they don't always need a nap, especially if we haven't done much of anything to get rid of their energies in the morning (quite often the case after the arrival of a baby and the establishing of a solid routine means we stay home a lot! in the first 3 months of the baby's life).  This also gives the Mum some down time too... to rest or catch up on some household to do's like necessary phone calls etc.

We plan to follow the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method / curriculum when Possum begins school in another couple of years.  For now, we just concentrate on some of her (her, being Charlotte Mason) living books (here's a good description of what a living book is) and read from them as time allows, with not any real agenda, except to read and Possum learning to narrate.  While Twinkle sits and listens, she isn't showing signs (yet) of comprehending all that I'm reading.  But I certainly don't discourage her presence and joining in.  Even Sweetness will sit on my lap for a good while and join in reading.

Our current book list is:

The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne


The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, by May Gibbs (a book I started reading on my own at age 7- and I still have that copy)

A Treasury of Dr. Suess Classics

The Jesus Storybook Bible

And just this past weekend we began reading Anne of Green Gables the abridged version, by L. M. Montgomery

Our current book list means that we may not read from each of these books every day, but every day it is a goal to read from at least one, if not more.  The girls so far show great interest and our reading times last about 10 minutes at a time.

Possum has begun to narrate; this is part of the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method.  In essence, I read a short while, perhaps just a page or two, then ask her what's happened so far, to which she'll narrate to me what she has heard. It is not my opportunity to correct or change what she's heard, but to allow her to process and take in what she hears.  After all, this is her story to develop in her mind and world of imagination.

As a family, our devotion time each morning is centred around:

Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade.  While this may seem that it is "over their heads" we are finding they are learning much, and we are going to stick with using it, especially that is is based on the Shorter Catechism.

And of course this is read alongside the Bible, English Standard Version.