Monday, January 31, 2011

This Is The Way We Wash Our Clothes, Wash Our Clothes

Rising Bread

Our day was filled with chores today :) There was bread making to be done, leftover turkey to be transformed into turkey pies for the freezer, vacuuming and dishes to be caught up on and the never ending need to wash laundry *grin*.

In the winter months I actually have to pre plan when I want to schedule a wash day or two into my week. We have an older home and for some reason the plumbing into our laundry room freezes. The first winter here I didn't know the washing machine pipes would freeze solid with ice and of course when the washing machine went into the spin and drain cycle the water backed up and flooded the floor soaking everything in its path. Not so fun but the floor did get a good impromptu scrubbing *grin*.

So to thaw the pipes we have a hole in the floor directly behind the washing machine with a fan inserted in it so that I can plug it in and the heat from the basement will go into the laundry room to thaw out any ice. It usually takes about an hour, sometimes two hours if the weather is really cold and I have to run our second smaller woodstove upstairs to keep the temperature up in our living area because the fan sucks all of the downstairs heat out of the house into the laundry area.

I can't tell you how many times though that we've been in a pinch for something specific out of the laundry that I forgot to wash when everything was unthawed and would give my right arm to be able to pop a load in immediately! LOL. On days like that warmer spring days can't come quick enough *grin*.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Model Train Show

Model Train Show

When my uncle passed away a couple of years ago he left quite a few model trains, tracks, buildings and all sorts of oddities to my oldest son and this has sparked an intense love of trains in my son. So much in fact that he is in the middle of constructing a large raised platform in his bedroom that he is converting into a miniature mountain and lakeside scene for his trains to run on!

I was a little worried when he started bringing lumber and plywood into his bedroom and the hammering and sawing began but he promises he won't damage any of his walls so I'm letting him have full creative control of turning half his bedroom into a train station *grin*.

Model Train Show

So when I found out Saturday morning that the museum in the city was hosting the North Island Model Railroaders Club I just knew he would love to go as it would provide a wonderful opportunity for him to really study in detail some of the construction that they use to create their scenery and backdrops. Plus it was a great excuse to sneak in a little sleep over at my sister's house again. Nothing like a mini holiday!

The amount of detail that goes into the background scenes and all of the little houses, people, roads and trestle bridges that these fellows constructed and painted was amazing. I must have taken at least 50 pictures for K so that he can go over them later for ideas as he continues to build his set.

Model Train Show

It was fun for the younger two as well as they watched the trains lap around and around in front of them. We had a few close calls when my little guy's hand went wayward and tried to play with the little vehicles but thankfully I managed to stop him before he actually touched anything! So much temptation was nearly to much for him. LOL

Model Train Show

I don't know how many times the one train went past me before I finally noticed the little red and white MacMillan Bloedel cars. It always makes me so nostalgic to see that logo as we were quite the booming company town in our hay-day.

Old Time Sense of Humor

Oh, those old timers cracked me up! You had to pay careful attention to their displays as every once in a while you'd spot something like this little sign bringing attention the demise of the logging companies here on the island :)

Model Train Show

I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it as much as I did but we actually had a really nice time watching the trains and I know my son's head is just bursting with new ideas :)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Nature Walk ~ Seal Bay Swamp Loop

Earlier this week we met up with our neighborwoodie buddies and headed out into one of the nearby trails again for some more good outdoor exploring :)

The Lineup

We were heading to the Seal Bay Swamp so rubber boots were a must. Knowing my crew, boots are probably the best bet any time they are outdoors *grin*.


The trail led us through towering trees, salal, fallen logs and stumps....


and along the winding bends of the stream leading to the swamp.


Once we made it to the swamp the kids had fun looking out on the observation deck as the water rushed beneath it and out the other side. Of course there was a shallow portion of the stream that they could jump and puddle away in and each one had their turn splunking and splashing through it :)


All along the trail were these great wooden signs with arrows and trail names tucked in amongst the mossy tree trunks to show you which direction to go in order to get back out. It was just like Alice in Wonderland as some of them like the very first photo pointed in both directions which the children found quite amusing!

Toothy Knots

This was one of my favorite finds along the trail. The entire center of this log was rotten leaving behind a hollow full of spiky knots. They looked like monster teeth or nails that had be driven through the outside of the log but it was actually the knots in the wood that hadn't decomposed just yet. Very cool!!


There were loads of fungi all along the trail to. Despite it being a bit of a damp and dark day it was so nice to get outside again and enjoy exploring the forest with friends :)


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentine Handprint Cards & One For You

Valentine Handprint Card

Valentine's day is just around the corner and every year we make something special to give to Omi and Opa. Last year we made valentine paper bag books and this year I thought it would fun to get really messy and make handprint heart cards :)

Valentine Handprint Card

No kid can resist having their hands completely coated in paint!

Valentine Handprint Card

The trick is to get them to keep their hands on the paper and not their faces, walls, chairs, oh and hair... hair is a really good one to keep sticky paint covered hands out of *grin*. Why is it that as soon as they know that they aren't supposed to scratch a body part it becomes mysteriously itchy??

Valentine Handprint Card

With our watercolor paper folded in half and each hand thoroughly covered in red paint we then placed them onto the paper doing our best to keep our thumbs slightly bent and our pointer fingers touching to make a lovely handprint heart :) To be fair we did a couple of practice runs on scrap paper before doing our 'good' cards so that we could perfect our heart making technique :)

One tip before getting your little one to stick their hands to the paper is to make sure that you have your card upside down or the opposite way that you would want it to stand when it is complete. That way your heart will display right side up. We made that mistake the first time and when we stood the card upright to dry we realized that the heart was actually upside down *grin*. Still cute but my little guy was not happy his heart didn't look quite right!

Valentine Handprint Card

To give each of our cards a little shimmer we sprinkled glitter over the wet paint and then using our alphabet stamps my daughter stamped 'Be Mine' and 'I ♥ U' in the center of the handprint hearts for sweet little Valentine messages :)

Valentine Handprint Cards

I just love how cute they look all lined up on the table drying :)

We got a little carried away with making handprints and ended up with more cards than we actually need so if you or your children would like a little surprise Valentine card sent to you in the mail just let me now in the comments below :)

The first five commenters will have one personally sent to you by my little heart handprint creators *grin*.

All of the Valentine cards have now been spoken for :)


PS. Looking for more crafty ideas or inspiration? Pop over to Natural Suburbia's Creative Friday and see what others are up to :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

right now, I AM

Bald Eagle awe of the magnificent bald eagles that grace our presence on a regular basis.

Today on the way home they were literally everywhere! The kids and I were able to watch them soaring through the air on giant wings, observed a group of them sitting on a log of driftwood calmly surveying the ocean before them and another appeared to be bathing in a stream leading into the ocean as other onlookers quietly watched from a distance. Of course my camera battery was blinking and I was unable to capture any of them on film but they will be forever etched on my mind's eye :)

During Hubby's last trip south an old friend came calling though and I thought you might enjoy seeing a photo. This is Boomer, a rather tame bald eagle that loves to come and check out what they are up to. He comes very close to the tug boat and isn't skittish when they take photos. How cool is that!


right now I AM
Click the frog to learn more!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yarn Along

A post of my current read and what is cast on my needles ~ Inspired by Ginny over at {Small Things}


The days since last week's yarn along seem to have just flown by and I really don't have a whole lot of knitting to show for them *grin*. I finally got into the city to the yarn shop and picked up some of this lovely brown wool by Smart Superwash for the gloves I'm making for my son's birthday :) I was looking for something that would wear and wash up well while still being wool and this was what they suggested and I have decided to go with the vintage Red Cross pattern for Gloves for Service Men.

I thought it was really cool to be knitting something that they would have made for all those men years ago and I think he'll find that really interesting to :) I think I'm going to need longer double pointed needles though as the stitches are just barely staying on as I go round and round and I've got to pay careful attention so that I don't accidentally push a needle out to far and drop a stitch or two when I'm not looking. Other than that so far the pattern is easy to follow and knitting up quickly. I just need to find more time! I don't even have a book to share this week :( I think it's all the baking I've been doing LOL. To much time with my nose in the cookbooks.

Can't wait to see what you all are knitting this week!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Flax Bread ~ Recipe

Pumpkin Flax Bread

The cold and darker days of winter make me want to bake and cook up a storm! I love to create yummy homemade food for my family but it's also a great way to help keep the main floor of our house nice and toasty with the extra heat coming from the oven :) So when I ran across a new recipe for a pumpkin flax loaf of bread I just had to give it a try using some of the pumpkin I canned in the fall.

The recipe does take a bit of preparation as it requires a sponge but trust me it only takes a minute or two to prepare it!

In a glass bowl mix:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour from freshly ground hard wheat berries
3/4 cup of lukewarm water
1/4 tsp yeast

Mix it all together well, cover and let sit on your counter top over night at least 12 hours. In the morning you will find that it has grown and bubbled in the bowl.
***If you are using home canned pumpkin like I am you will also want to place it in a strainer and into the fridge over a bowl so that any excess liquid can drip out of it overnight before using it in your bread in the morning :)

Canned Pumpkin Spears

Now that your sponge has sat overnight and is nice and bubbly it's time to start making your bread!

You will now need:

2 1/2 - 3 cups whole wheat flour from freshly ground hard wheat berries
3/4 cup all purpose white flour (provides gluten for a good rise)
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp. flax seeds

Mix your pumpkin, water, ground flax, whole flax seeds and yeast into your sponge and stir until it is nice and smooth. Stir in your white flour and half of your whole wheat and again mix until smooth. Continue to add the remainder of your whole wheat flour a little at a time until you have incorporated all of it. It makes quite a sticky dough and I found that I needed to use the entire amount of flour.

A little tip for working with a dough that is a little bit on the sticky side like this one is to rub a little bit of oil onto your counter top where you will be kneading your bread and onto your hands so that you can knead it for the 8 minutes without having to add any extra flour which can make your finished bread dry.

Once you have finished kneading your dough, cover it with a cloth and allow it to rise until doubled. Roughly an hour.

Pumpkin Flax Bread

Now that your dough has completed its first rise, punch it down to release the gas inside the dough and divide it into two equal pieces. Shape your dough into two nice balls and place on a baking stone or parchment covered baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover your dough again with a cloth and let them rise until doubled again.

Once your loaves have finished their final rise you can create a pretty top to your bread with flax seeds by beating an egg white until it is frothy and brushing it gently all over the top of your loaves. Your flax seeds will now stick to your dough. You can also use a sharp knife and gently slice an X onto the top of each loaf which will create a nice look as it bakes as well :)

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped on their bottom side.

Pumpkin Flax Bread

Oh my goodness is this bread delicious!!!
It is so nice and soft and if you are worried about it having a pumpkiny taste it doesn't at all. It was a huge hit with the kids so I know this is going to become a family favorite. Now I only wish that I had more of my canned pumpkin as this is really going to eat through my stash *grin*. Guess we're going to have to make sure we grow a whole bunch this year!

This recipe was adapted from this Harvest Squash Bread recipe using regular whole wheat flour and roasted acorn squash so you can definitely make this recipe even if you don't grind your own flour! Also if you don't have an acorn squash substitute in what you do have on hand. Sometimes the best breads come from those you change *grin*

Happy Baking!

PS. Looking for more yummy recipes?? Check out this week's Hearth and Soul blog hop :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cleaning Out The Freezers

Making Beef Stock

I've been trying to clean out my freezer a bit before we butcher our cow this winter so I've been boiling up ribs for beef soup stock today to make room :)

I always seem to end up with a ton of ribs and soup bones at the very end and not a lick of hamburger, sausage or roasts and since I never know exactly when it will be cold enough for the cow to hang and age before we cut and wrap it I thought it would be best to get a jump on it before it was to late *grin*.

Making Beef Stock

One thing I always find though is that the ribs Hubby cuts are always so fatty and after they simmer all day there is quite an oil slick on top of the stock. A fantastic way to get rid of it is to put your pot of stock after you have strained out all of the meat, bones and veggies into the fridge for a couple of hours and all of the fat will firm up nice and solid right on top so you scoop it out without loosing any of your delicious stock!

Beef Vegetable Soup

Now that I have lunch taken care of for the next couple of days I can focus on tweaking the new bread recipe I've been trying. I found one that I can use the canned pumpkin I made in the fall along with my freshly milled flour but it needs a wee little adjustment. I can't wait to share the recipe with you :)

Happy weekend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Her First Apron

Her first apron

As I was tidying in the kitchen this morning my little girl kept running by with pieces of fabric from my scrap bag showing me quickly and asking my opinion on how I liked the owls, or did I think the trees were a pretty shade of blue and to express her sheer excitement that she had found two pieces of matching gingham large enough for her project :) It's not often to find larger pieces in the scrap bag so this was a major find for her but she still wasn't revealing just what it was she was making *grin*.
I so wanted to go and peak in the doorway to her room and see just what it was she was up to but I didn't want to spoil her fun so I waited and watched her slip past with more fabric as she gathered and returned ones that didn't fit her needs :)

Her first apron

After a while she didn't return again and I could hear her humming softly in her room. When she finally reappeared she was grinning from ear to ear as she walked proudly out with her brand new apron that she had made for herself :) And what a magnificent job she did!

She had found strips of apple fabric long enough to be the sash and there were two large pockets along the bottom which she explained were for her recipe cards and her measuring spoons and she was ready to bake.

I just love her creativity. She had a vision of what a special apron of her very own would look like and she snipped and stitched until she had created it just like she had imagined :) I can't wait to do more projects together with her. I think that she may be just about ready to start learning how to use my sewing machine and use a real pattern! Oh are we going to have some fun *grin*.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nature Walk ~ MacDonald Wood


Earlier this week we had a chance to meet up with some great friends and head out into the woods for some nature exploration. Sunshine, blue sky, brisk air... who could has ask for a better winter day :)

Through the Trees

A short stroll through the wooded trails led us to this great boardwalk leading to the beach where the real exploring began.


There were empty clam shells to be examined, barnacle clad rocks to be rolled...

Attach of the Crabs

brave fingers willing to pick up smaller crabs whose pinch had no bite...

Moon Jelly

and the fun of packing around a moon jelly or two with their see through bodies and jello like texture :)


All of the children so willing to share their finds as they clustered around in the shallows of the ocean. Anytime there is water involved that seems to be where they all end up *grin*. Case in point, I reminded my youngest two that they were in snow boots and wellies with a few holes in them and that going into the deep water might not be such a smart idea but of course they filled their boots literally. Just in case you're interested it takes two full days in front of the woodstove to dry out a sopping wet snow boot full of salt water LOL.


My oldest son, very much the senior of the younger neighborwoodie crew enjoys these outings tremendously :)

Beautiful Scenery

I wish we could have spent longer taking in the scenery, scents and sounds but I know we'll be back. I love to pop out to one of these spots during a busy day in the city to let the children run free and burn off some of that pent up energy that grows while being cooped up in the car for much of the day.

It really makes for much happier and well behaved children I find when I take that extra minute or hour to go exploring with them before grocery shopping. I just make sure to bring along extra clothes in the event of a very wet child! LOL.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

right now, I AM

Love me

...chuckling to myself as I go through my latest photos :)

Only in a logging community would it be acceptable fashion wear to strap on a pair of cork boots and those trademark wool socks with the lovely red stripe and head out into public *grin*.

I remember as a little girl balling up those exact same socks for my dad on laundry days. I don't think that he even owned a pair of regular cotton socks. It was wool ALL the time and not just in the winter. He even wore them in his sandals in the dead heat of summer LOL. So when my mom joined us for a walk down to the mail with the above footwear all I could do was have a good laugh and see that those good old socks were still being put to good use :)


right now I AM
Click the frog to learn more!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yarn Along

A post of my current read and what is cast on my needles ~ Inspired by Ginny over at {Small Things}

Yarn Along

I'm finished...
Two socks, a complete pair and one very happy little girl *grin*.

The second one went SO much quicker and the kitchener stitch did work out much smoother this time around :) The only thing that I'm wondering if I could have done differently is if there would have been some way to get the colors on the second sock the same. I actually really love the quirky look but the leg portion of the socks are definitely different. Anyone knit with multi colored yarn like this before? Is this just what happens?

A pair of socks

Aww heck, who cares if they are a little different. All that matters is that there is one huge smile on my daughters face as she parades around the house in them *grin*.

I think my next project is going to be a pair of gloves. My oldest son requested some for his birthday so how can I say no. I did let him know that I have never made any before and that I couldn't be held responsible if one ended up with 6 fingers!! LOL.

I'm completely itching to get started with some seeds. I always get the gardening bug at the beginning of the year even though I know it is way to early to actually do anything just yet so to feed my planting need I borrowed a copy of Fresh Food From Small Places by R.J. Ruppenthal. I've just started looking at it but so far I have found a little plan on creating self watering containers and there looks like there might be some interesting info on vertical planting which is such a great space saving idea :)

Can't wait to see what you all are knitting this week!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Soaked Fruity Oats ~ Recipe

Fruity oats

Oatmeal is a main staple during the winter months and to keep the children happily munching away on it without growing tired of it I like to spice it up with fruit :) I use steel cut oats which can take considerably longer to cook than quick oats and since I usually don't beat my children out of bed I needed a fast track cooking method!

Soaking the oats the night before provides this. By popping them in a bowl with water right after dinner (so I don't forget to do it) I have soft oats first thing in the morning that cook up in a matter of minutes :) The perfect solution when surrounded by a pack of hungry monkeys as soon as my feet hit the floor each day *grin*.

You will need:

3 3/4 cups of water
1 2/3 cups of steel cut oats
(rolled oats or quick oats can be substituted)
Assortment of chopped fruit
Maple Syrup
~ Serves 4

The night before place your oats and water in a glass bowl or jar, cover and let stand until you are ready to use them in the morning. Like I mentioned above, I like to do this when I'm cleaning up after dinner so that I don't forget and then they get a chance to soak a little over 12 hours :)

When you are ready to make breakfast in the morning, transfer your oats to a pot, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir continuously as they cook for 5 - 10 minutes. The shorter cooking time will provide a chewier texture. Remove from the heat and stir in some yummy maple syrup to sweeten it. I usually use 2 - 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and find that it is sweet enough. Pour into bowls and top with chopped fruit.

Fruity Oats

Right now we are using an assortment of kiwi, pomegranates, oranges, apples and banana :) After Christmas the pomegranates came on for a super good price so I couldn't resist buying some and since not everyone likes the same fruit I like to have a few different kinds in the fridge.

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are other delicious additions to your oatmeal to. Oh there are so many different ways to spice up your breakfast... literally! Try adding cinnamon with your apples or a touch of pumpkin pie spice with pumpkin seeds :)

Enjoy making your oatmeal a little more exotic the next time you cook it and don't forget to sing *grin*.

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old


PS. Looking for more yummy recipes?? Check out this week's Hearth and Soul blog hop :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Weekend Linky Love

My House :)

The kids and I had a wonderful little getaway at my sister's house this weekend :) We headed off on Saturday morning did some shopping around the city and then met up with my mom and dad at a great little restaurant for my mom's birthday. It was such a nice treat as we very rarely go to a restaurant. We usually pack our lunches and snacks with us to save money :)

Our evening was spent catching up, watching movies, sleeping over, and laughing at each others crazy bedhead in the morning *grin*.

Our little house is still engulfed in snow and traversing our long driveway has been a bit of a challenge with melting slushy snow and hard ice underneath but the sun came out for a bit and the gravel below is starting so show up in some of the tire tracks. Maybe tomorrow it won't take me two tries to get up the hill and out :)

Still White

Below are some of my favorite links that I have come across in the last couple of weeks :)

A delicious looking version of a Fig Newton Bar that I want to try

I am in love with the glow of these Dodecahedron Star Lanterns. We're definitely going to be making some of these!

Definitely need to keep my eyes open for an old folding basket so I can recover it like this one for my knitting basket. LOVE the half dresden plate :)

If you haven't seen this Children of the Forest Playset then you really must check it out. So inspiring!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!