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.

Clothing Stain Remover

I am always up for trying anything.  And seeing as I don't really have anything in my home that is chemical-based, it was wonderful to stumble upon this idea for a clothing stain remover.  While the author uses it for arm pit stains on shirts, I use it for every single peice of clothing that has any type of stain on it.  Chocolate stains- gone forever!  Grass stains- gone.  Tomato sauce/Ketchup stains- gone.  Stains on clothes that you can't bear to throw away from this time last year- gone!  It's amazing.

The three ingredients for this concoction mixture are:  

2-4T hydrogen peroxide
1tsp Dawn dish soap
2T baking soda.

I mix all three together in a dish, using a 1 tsp. measuring spoon, I use it to scoop it out and dob it on, and then use the back of the measuring spoon to give it a light rub in, if needed.  I wait at least 30 minutes and then wash as normal.

I can't say it has got every single old stain out, but has nearly every one.  I would say 99.5% of the time it gets it out.  And now, if this doesn't get out a stain, the clothing is tossed to be disposed of. No point keeping it.

Before.... (I have no idea what the stain is or how it got there)

and, after!

07 November 2012

Chores for (My) Children

Last July I talked with a friend who has children older than mine and has her children do chores.  I had begun to contemplate how this would work with my children and had danced around the idea because of a new baby coming in September.  I decided to take the leap and start the beginning of August.  Simply.  And if it didn't work, then I'd nix it until a later date.

The girls had been showing great interest in wanting to help, and I just needed to get a bit more organised and structured in how this would work.  I wasn't sure if it would feel as though it were actually more work on my part having little ones under my feet helping, or if it would in fact lighten my load.  I figured eventually I may feel the benefits of a lighter load, but we'd at least begin chores.

So, Possum (then 4yr 5mo) was given the task of unpacking the dishwasher (after Mum had unpacked the glass and sharp knives).  Twinkle (then 3 yr) was given the task of spraying the dining chairs and wiping them down with a (clean) tea towel.  Then the next day they'd swap. Sweetness (then 20 mo) was to help load the washing machine daily, and when it finished, load the dryer. 

Immediately, I saw these tasks bring each of the girls a sense of pride, a feeling of great joy, and I was VERY surprised at how much it did lighten my load, and how enjoyable it was that we, as a family, were all helping be a family, taking care of each other.  Not to mention, I was now teaching my girls "how to" for their homemaker days yet to come!

We kept with the simple routine aforementioned until after Handsome was born in September and life, once again, seemed to settle back down into a "new" normal.  Then I expanded our household chores (adding in setting the table and vacuuming) and created a chore chart.

It's just a simple Word document that I put into a photo frame, and hung it on our wall in a prominent place that the girls can see, and touch.  Possum (now 4yr 8mo) can read everyone's names and can declare who is doing which chore (another proud feeling of independence for a 4 year old).

It has worked out marvellously thus far.  As the children grow older we will add to their list, but for now, this is plentiful.  And it works.  It just was the right time to implement.  It flows with our day.