Saturday, March 30, 2013

vegetable dyed easter eggs

Sadie and I tried out some vegetable dye ideas for our Easter eggs this year--I love the way the colors came out on these.  They really aren't hard to do either; they just require a smidgen of patience, because they need to soak in their color baths for about 15 hours.  But it's so sciencey and fun--and the unveiling of the final colored eggs was well worth the wait!
The basic dye "recipe" which is really more of a process is this:
2 cups water 
1 T. vinegar
coloring agents:
blue: 5+ red cabbage leaves, 
yellow: 3T. Turmeric, 
Purple & Grey (same dye, one egg was white, one egg was brown to start) 
2 whole beets+1/2 cup wild blueberry, 
Khaki Brown: 1 red onion skin +2T. Dill seed, 
orange (light & dark): 3 yellow onion skins, plus 4 green carrot tops

Add water, eggs, vinegar and plant material/spices together in a sauce pan, bring to boil, simmer for 11 minutes.  Carefully pour all of the ingredients into a mason jar.  Add eggs in last, with a spoon so they don't crack.  Let sit on the counter till cool, then put in fridge for the next 15 hours or so.  Open jars, scoop out beautiful eggs.  Let dry on paper towels (don't scrub or wash!)

Have a very happy Easter!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

signs of spring?

8 inches of new snow...
tomato sprouts gazing rather forlornly out the window...

and I just finally unpacked a box labeled "fragile" and found these. 
must be springtime in Alaska, right?

Monday, March 25, 2013

this week...

Loren had impromptu surgery from getting an almond stuck in his esophagus...
I tell you, its the little things that make or break your week sometimes.
We cut up two caribou.
 We discovered two more good uses for bacon: 1) wrapped around a fresh caribou tenderloin stuffed with blueberries and blue cheese.  OMGood, and 2) baked inside muffin cups with a cute little egg inside.  Such a perfect little breakfast nest!
 I crocheted a hat for a sweet baby boy

 We enjoyed some good company...some of the best, in fact.
We knocked some more items off the git-er-done house punch list.
We furminated our poor shedding hounds.  
After a snowy adventure outdoors we ended this quiet Sunday with hot chocolate and snuggles. 
All told, not a bad week really.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

green day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  It was a green day for us which started out with a delicious Paleo Eggs Florentine, and commenced with many long-overdue house projects, and a few cute kid cameos thrown in for good measure.  I hope your Irish eyes were smiling today.  I know ours were.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

growing up, up, up

I think kids have comparable growing habits to plants, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.  The more sunshine, fresh produce and exercise they get the more they grow.  This explains why when we got home from Hawaii both my children seemed to have outgrown everything they owned.  It happens--the only thing I shed a tear for is the handmade-sweaters & gifts.  and the shoes---hard to be thrifty when your kid goes through 3 shoe sizes a year, and you can't really cheat by getting their shoes way to big because then they trip all over the place, not that I' tried that or anything.
   I love my little hobbits.
This little guy is now crawling all over the place, teething like crazy, and needing a lot of "mama re-charging" in his not-crawling time.  I guess I am a docking station for my kids. And this girl...
So sweet, and sassy, and silly. 
Sometimes I look at these two and it's like a part of my most secret heart has grown a life of it's own, walking around outside me and becoming something more beautiful, more complex and vulnerable than I could have ever imagined.
And the things this girl says. 
oh, my.
When trying to open a sealed freezer ice pack with a wooden spoon: "Mom, we need a different tool for this job.  I know, let's get dad's chainsaw!" {eek!}
At bedtime when we snuggle she pets my hair and tells me that I'm her "most special mom in the whole world." 
When she gets a time out she says, "weeeeel, mom...I'm frustrarated about this."
The other day she told me she was lonely, and that I needed to grow a sister in my tummy so she can have someone to play with...
and when a sister comes out we can put Eli back in there. 
And the final verdict, after much deliberation on her part is that we should keep Eli--which is good, because there is no way he would fit back in my tummy now.
Just sayin.'
besides, I think he will make a pretty darned good friend.  He just needs a few months to learn to walk, and talk, and keep up with the girls, right? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

a week in the Paleo

I have officially finished my first week of the Paleo challenge.  I haven't been perfect--I can say I've honestly eaten about 85% paleo but totally gluten free this week.  I was a little worried because it seemed like I had a little dip in my milk supply after a couple days, so I added in a few more good carbs like chocolate chips sweet potatoes, potatoes dates and bananas.  Things seemed to level out just fine after that.  I still have plenty of milk to feed my giant baby, in fact he seems to be less fussy and gassy in general. 
I know they call this a challenge, but honestly, after mourning the dissapearence of my breakfasty carbs for a couple days I feel totally fine.  I really am not missing anything, and since this isn't really a diet in the sense that you can eat however much you want, I don't ever feel hungry.  It is a strange phenomenon that if you are eating the right things your body actually doesn't have any weird cravings and you end up eating less but feeling fuller.  That's how my week has been, and we have enjoyed some delicious meals as a family: bacon & eggs, hawaii-style caribou ribs & greens, chicken & spinach coconut curry, bacon-avocado & mushroom omlettes, moose sausage breakfast skillet, shrimp and broccoli in dill butter...come on, who wouldn't want to eat this stuff? For snacks I've been having apples & almond butter, cashews and dried fruit and lots of fresh veggies.  I feel awesomely energetic, and the few times I've slipped up and eaten something that wasn't part of the plan I didn't get all down on myself--I guess because this isn't a diet, it's more of a lifestyle change and it just feels natural to ease in to it.  I've also lost five pounds, which seems crazy to me because I've eaten so much bacon.  I'm not complaining though. Excited to try out some new recipes next week and keep on with this bad mamajama!
Be back next Friday with more unapologetically sloppy food photography.  Be well!

sweet potato soup with ginger and vanilla

As queen of the kitchen, I have decreed that here-to-fore Thursdays will be soup days in our house.  Anyone who doesn't like it is welcome to cook dinner...anyone, anyone?
Well,  since we have no takers, let me tell you about the soup I made today.
This soup was downright serendipitous.  I stumbled upon the recipe on foodgawker this morning, and since I miraculously had every single ingredient for it in my CSA box that I picked up today, I was thinking this soup and me...well... we were just meant for each other. The author of this soup {recipe found here} describes it as, "vanilla bean and ginger holding hands in a field of sweet potato, with pretty bursts of lime lighting their way, and just a touch of heat."

Now isn't that real nice? You know what else is real nice?  This soup.  Seriously, my taste buds can't decide if it's dinner...or dessert.  I think I might just need to have another bowl so I can make up my mind.  You should make you some too.  It is really quick and easy and aside from vanilla beans there are no fancy or shmancy ingredients. Happy soup Thursday, from my kitchen to yours {which is probably a lot cleaner than mine}

Monday, March 4, 2013


This past January, when I blew the candles out on my very delicious, very non-paleo tirimisu joint-birthday-with-my-husband cake I wondered what it is that a happy mom of two beautiful, healthy children could even wish for.  It has taken me a couple of months to come up with it.  This year, I want to simplify our material world so we can spend more time with each other, and less time being distracted by our things.  It's funny, because when we moved from Nome we got rid of so much stuff-but we still have so much stuff. How does that work?
The cincher on my decision to do this has really been this book:
This book is really good. 
I would say it is a must-read for every intuitive-minded parent who feels like something is just not right with the way our society approaches childhood, and child-rearing.  I could go on for a long time about all the awesome things that are in here, but for simplicity sake I will stick to the topic at hand--see how I tied that in? Im already meeting my goal!

A large section of this book is dedicated to ways that you can enrich your children's (and really your own) time by simplifying both your family's material possessions as well as schedules.  My hope is that we will be able to enrich our family's time by paring down in the following areas:

Simplifying what we eat:  The paleo diet does this beautifully.  Not only does buying no packaged and processed food reduce the amount of garbage and waste we make, but the meal choices are very simple and nourishing.  Allowing Sadie to help (legitimately) with meal preparation--doing things like washing vegetables or stirring & seasoning has almost eliminated her fussy eating...except for mushrooms.  She very politely informed me that, "I don't care for mushrooms, mom, but you and dad can go ahead and eat 'em all up." I'll take it.

Simplifying what we wear: Can I just say that the laundry situation in my house has become REE-donkulous.  Between all the clothes that the kids receive as gifts/ hand-me-downs, and what we buy them there. are. piles. It's hard when they are little and go through sizes so fast.  I swear 2/3 of Eli's clothes are two small for him, so there they sit in random spots while I dig through the unfolded laundry to find that one pair of pajamas I'm looking for.  I am never caught up on laundry. And me--I have a ton of clothes just sitting around in piles and I always wear the same five old outfits, so why do I need them all? To make matters worse, we seem to have a bazillion sheets, towels and blankets that always need washed because a diaper blew out or a baby puked, or something.  Kids are messy. I get it. But I have this thought, that If I can reduce the over all amount of textiles in our house there will be less washing and more importantly, less folding and putting away, which is the part of laundry that I can never seem to get to.  I would also like our things to be good quality.  Nothing worse than a cheap shirt for your kid that shrinks up to nothing the first time you wash it-- or seams that fray and come un-done.  I don't have time to mend that stuff, so when I do buy new for any of us, its going to be fewer things of more lasting quality.  I will also try to make stuff myself, whenever realistic.

Simplifying our schedule: This is pretty easy for me, I stay home with the kids, so have a little more flexibility in setting the pace for our days---but still, I need to observant of not rushing my children from enriching activities so I can drag them along on this or that errand that needs run, etc.  My one major goal is to be able to sit down for dinner together at a reasonable time, as a family with no interruptions.  Every night.  I think that is becoming such a lost art, but it's so, so important to the heart and soul of family.

Reducing screen time:  We don't have t.v. but the computer can be just as bad.  After seeing how Sadie's imaginative play began to flourish, and her less-desirable behaviors drastically decreased when our computer was broken for a month I am a firm believer that less=more when it comes to time spent on electronic devices--for all of us.

Downsizing the toy collection: We have really tried to keep toy clutter to a minimal amount in our home, but it creeps in.  Payne recommends the following approach to reducing the amount of toys (there is some sound research behind this--and it very true in my personal experience as well) in your home so your children are not overwhelmed and can use the things they have imaginatively, and care for them.  The process is to gather up all your toys and get rid of half of them.  Keep only toys that you know can hold your child's interest for multiple play sessions.  Fixed toys (items that only do one specific kind of play) get chucked.  Toys that encourage corrosive play--in the garbage, toys that are broken and unfixible...garbage.  When you are down to half your toys, divide that pile in half again.  Those are probably all the more toys a child needs.  At this point you can take the second half of the toys and create a toy lending library, so that your child can periodically swap out a toy for one in the library which is like getting a new toy with no net gain.  I would also like to make sure that for the most part, the toys we do have our made out of natural materials like wood, wool, and other things that aren't ridden with chemicals that are toxic to youngun's body's (and souls.)

Reduce the amount of plastic in our lives:
I don't think there is much more to say about this.  The only true way to reduce the amount of plastic in your home is to step back from the consumreistic rush of buy, buy, buy. If we absolutely need something and it contains plastic then we will get it--but it needs to be essential to the functionality of our household.

So there it is.  I read somewhere once that by writing it down (or saying it out loud) you make it so.  Well this is my manifesto for 32--it seems like it should be simple enough;)

Friday, March 1, 2013

making a good life goes paleo

If you know me, than you are probably rolling your eyes about my title, because I am kind of a geek about nutrition--as in, for fun I read hoards of literature ranging from the very scientific to the, ahem, extremely fwowed out, hippie fabulous, on what is the optimal diet for the human body.  I should have probably been a dietician.   Vegan, vegetarian, Raw food, slow food, juice name the movement I've probably done it or at least read about it.  I'm kind of a Michael Pollan groupie, and when I was teaching I even made my students watch the documentary food Inc. and write about it.

 I guess that I've had this nagging feeling all my life that it is extremely important what you choose to fuel your body with, and that the status quo (aka the SAD diet) is not the best one to follow.  You would think with this attitude I would be the model of health and fitness, but as I sit here writing this I can tell you that I am not.  In fact, I have struggled with eating disorders since the time I was a teenager (probably before that) and for me, finding balance in my food choices is something I wrestle with every day, and I probably will for my whole life.

When I was several months preggers with Eli, I bought these shoes--Merrel barefoot running shoes.  They made my feet and legs feel so good I started researching minimalist running, and in doing so stumbled upon the Paleo diet and gave it a whirl for a month.  I was surprisingly impressed with the results I experienced, namely AMAZING energy (which isn't easy to come by in your first trimester of pregnancy, I assure you.) I read all kinds of info from the internet, and then I read Robb Wolf's book and it really was food for though, no puns intended. I should have gone paleo and never gone back then and there, but then a series of events kind of got in the way.  Pregnancy, teaching, lots of travel, chasing my child, having another baby, moving to a new city, holidays, vacations, you

I meant to get started up with the Paleo diet this January, and it just wasn't happening.  I was in a major food rut.  Dinner time (both the preparation and consumption of) was a time I dreaded and loathed.  I was frustrated because Eli would fuss and Sadie decided this was the time of day she needed to terrorize the house, leading to many cooking distractions, excessive messes and burned or soggy food.  To top it off, she (always a good eater in the past) would barely touch anything I cooked.  Then there was the puzzle of my husband not always knowing when he would be home from work or class, and you add all that up and I was literally crying big crocodile tears into my cooking pots as I fixed dinners that I knew I would be the only one eating.  It was like a scene straight out of Like Water for Chocolate.  Deeepressing.  Especially for me, because I love to cook. But I wasn't loving to cook anymore.

Then a series of random, or not so random, events began to crop up in my life. I like to think of this as the way the universe likes to nudge you back onto your true path, and when you don't listen the nudges become more like roundhouse kicks to your consciousness.  They began gently, and subtly, and incresed in frequency and obviousness until I finally had to say, "okay, okay universe...I get the point. I really needed to give this Paleo thing another try." And in doing so, I need to revamp the way our whole family approaches food--and observes the rituals of mealtimes--before we miss out what I believe is probably one of the brighter spots in in quality time a family can spend together.  Without boring you with all the tedious details that led me to that decision--I'll save those for future posts, yo--I would just like to state for the record that March will be the month of the Whole 30 Paleo challenge in our house, and I will be posting recipes, and observations regarding said challenge, on Fridays, if you wish to follow along, or even join in the fun.  So fix yourself some bacon and eggs, and hop on over to Marks Daily Apple for some great stories and info, and I will see you next Friday.