{31 Days} Intentional Living - Welcome

Welcome to Townsend House!  This month I am joining in with The Nester for the 31 days project.  I will link up my posts in this blog post each day.  Thank you for following along!

I am also linking up at Blogtoberfest, Hip Homeschool Hop

what i am eating #9

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post from your blog.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

This is my first soup of the season.  I have been looking forward to soup for the past few weeks since it has cooled off considerably.  However, the kids and I being sick the past couple weeks really pushed my need for soup to the forefront of my mind.  The soup I made is my take on corn chowder.  I feel like it is probably a lot healthier.  It doesn't have bacon, and there is just a dash of milk added when you serve it at the end - if you want.

Corn Chowder

6 cups vegetable stock
4 medium potatoes, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 lb sweet corn, fresh or frozen
salt and pepper to taste
cream if desired

Saute onion in a little extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper until they start to become translucent, add corn and cook for a couple minutes.  Add vegetable stock and potatoes.  Cook until potatoes are tender.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.  When serving put a teaspoon of cream or milk in and stir.  Mine is obviously with my trademark red pepper flakes!

This is a super simple soup meal, and it can be completely vegan by omitting the cream.  It is a delicious filling soup too.  Serve with some biscuits, and it will warm you up on a cold fall day.

What are you cooking up this week?  Please leave a link below!

Newman's Own Organics Review & Giveaway!

Did you know that Newman's Own Organics is a separate company from Newman's Own?  I did not until very recently.  Newman's Own Organics was started by Paul Newman's daughter Nell, and her business partner Peter Meehan in 1993.  The company started out with pretzels, added chocolate in 1995, and then cookies came into the mix.  Now there is a wide variety of snack foods, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, organic coffee and pet foods.  I was lucky enough to try a selection of their snack foods, which I am sharing with you today.


The first is the amazingly delicious Newman-O's.  These are creme filled chocolate cookies and they come in six different varieties.  We tried the Hint O' Mint and also the Peanut Butter, and they were awesome.  These did not last long in my house at all.  The chocolate cookie was just the right amount of chocolate, and the creme fillings were mouth watering.  I don't know how else to explain how good these were.  If you combine chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and mint, it is hard to go wrong in my book!  These will definitely be entering our snack food rotation again...soon!


The next snack that we tried were the Chocolate Alphabet Cookies.  These are a great snack, and a great way to work on letters with the kids!  After rest time, my two kids will choose 2 cookies each.  Then they would look at the letter, tell me the letter, and a word that starts with the letter.  OK, mainly Emma did this.  Jack only wanted O's, and he never came up with any words :-)  Overall, a great game to play, and they were still getting something that they really enjoyed eating as well.


Finally we tried the Mighty Pretzel Minis.  My husband declared these were his new addiction...which is good since we were out of all the chocolate cookies :-)  They were a perfect snack with some dried fruit for the kids as well.  Something that we could easily bring out with us that wouldn't make a mess.  There is a hint of salt, but not overpowering, which is nice in a pretzel.  They were crunchy and delicious!

Now for the fun for you, my readers.  Newman's Own Organics has been generous enough to offer one of each of the four products I reviewed to one of my lucky readers!  Sorry, only US residents everyone :-)  Please use the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am linking up at Giveaway Day and Your Green Resource

The Christmas Post - Part Two

Yesterday I talked about the lists that I make for Christmas planning.  Today I am going to talk about filling in those lists.

Last year was the first year that I really started using Pinterest to help me plan for Christmas.  I was looking for craft ideas, food ideas, ideas for presents.  It really worked out well to see these beautiful pictures while I was figuring out what I wanted.

Last year I mainly had a Christmas board and a Crafts board.  This worked out really well for last year.  But, I definitely was having trouble figuring out where everything was.  If you only pin a couple of ideas, it would not be a big deal, however, I really like to pin...a lot!  My plan for this year is to better organize my boards.  I will be going through my old boards first.  I want to figure out what I made last year, what I wanted to make and never got to, and what I attempted and realized that I am not as awesome as I think I am ;-)  I can move some of pins to new boards that I have planned.

I know that I am going to have a Christmas Eve party this year, and I know that I will be providing all the food, drinks and activities for the kids.  So, I am going to have a specific board for Christmas Eve.  I also know that I have 3 beautiful little girls, a little boy and a newborn that I will be making for this year.  I will have a board for the girls and one for the boy (or boys!).  Then, when I am looking for a pattern, I can easily find it without having to scroll through a million other ideas.  It will be the same with decorations, and then again with Christmas crafts that I will do with the kids.  Pinterest can definitely help you to get organized, and stay organized throughout the holiday season if you stay organized.

I think another aspect about Pinterest is that it keeps you motivated.  At least it keeps me motivated.  When I go in and see the beautiful pictures, I want to recreate what I see in the picture.  Now, I know that I am not a professional chef/knitter/decorator/fill-in-the-blank, so I don't expect to see everything exactly as it is.  But, I do like to go in and look at the pretty pictures and then re-interpret it to my own family and situation.  It is mainly for inspiration, but when I am having trouble getting through one more craft or recipe, going there helps to motivate me to see the end result.

the green is where the thumb will go :-)

One of my goals this year is to knit a hat and pair of mittens for everyone (it started out as a sweater for everyone, but with only one done for Emma, it just won't be happening this year!).  The pattern for the mittens actually came from the newest issue of Taproot, so I won't be pinning that, but if you have the magazine, try that pattern.  It knits up pretty fast - this coming from a knitter with many interruptions :-)

Joining up with Ginny at her yarn along! And also at The Mommy Club

The Christmas Post - Part One

You may not want to hear this right now, but today marks just three months before Christmas.  I know that a lot of people can't think about Christmas until at least after Thanksgiving, and some not until December.  I am not like that!

Christmas is my favorite season, I have written about that before.  I have so many fond memories of the traditions that I grew up with, and I want to make sure that my kids are able to have wonderful memories as well.  Christmas for me has always been a big Christmas Eve party, a quiet Christmas morning with leftover kugel for breakfast, opening presents, lobster and steamers for lunch, and a movie out in the afternoon.  Seems easy enough!  But, it isn't just my mom, brother and me anymore.

One of the main reasons I start so early is because I try to do mainly homemade/handmade gifts.  And to be honest, there are several things that I come up with around December 26th for the following Christmas.  Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean that the Christmas spirit immediately leaves me!

But, where should you start?  There are a lot of wonderful resources out there for planning.  Mandi from Life Your Way has an awesome series that she does called 101 Days of Christmas.  You might want to check that out.  I like to start with lists though.  Lists seem to give me some peace of mind and I get to dump everything out f my head so I don't need to continuously think about it for the next 3 months (although I may still do that...).

My lists are relatively basic.  I make a list of people we will give gifts to.  That includes everyone, whether it is someone that Matt works with, or my own children.  Then I make a list of people we send Christmas cards to.  The ones that will get a picture and the ones who we don't give pictures to.  Our church sets out a card table every year, so we end up putting cards out for our local church family, but we don't usually include a picture since they see us all the time as it is :-)  The last list that I make right now is the food that I must make during the holiday season.  There are a few foods that mean Christmas to me, and I want to make sure that I have them!

The next step in my process is to sit down with A Greener Christmas and my computer to poke around pinterest.  I will be back tomorrow, hopefully, with how I use pinterest to plan for Christmas, and what other resources I use.

Linking up at the Hip Homeschool Hopthe Mommy Club and Holiday Craft Along

apple picking and preserving

Well, this weekend we finally were able to get out apple picking.  I was really concerned that we would be late.  Typically, in Maine, you can pick right through the middle of October.  The past couple of years though, the season has started and ended earlier.  Luckily, we were not late, not by any means.  There were tons of low hanging apples for the kids to pick.  In fact, we were able to pick a bushel of apples in about 15 minutes :-)

I wasn't sure how many apples we would want to pick, but decided to pay $35 for two 1/2 bushel bags that we could then fill as much as we wanted.  I am pretty good at packing the apples into the bag so they are very over filled, but not falling out.  I think we ended up with around 50 pounds or so of apples, so I was happy with that price.

Now, this week will be all about figuring out what to do with these apples.  We will definitely be making some apple jelly and apple butter, and most likely apple sauce.  However, I am not sure what else we should do with the apples.  I am not big on apple pie, so I don't think I want to make apple pie filling...although the rest of my family would probably be happy!  I was thinking about attempting to dry some apple rings, but I don't have a dehydrator, and I don't know how that would work.  Does anyone have any experience using a regular electric oven to dry apple rings?

So, please, let me know what I should do with all of these apples?!  We will go and pick again towards the end of the season.  Those apples tend to store better for us than the earlier season ones.  We like to have fresh apples available all winter, and I find that doing the pick your own is so much more economical for the amount of fruit we eat.

Have you gone apple picking yet?

Linking up at the Barn Hop, Backyard Farming Connection, Rural Thursday and Your Green Resource

what i am eating #8

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post from your blog.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

It is definitely cooling down, and I am looking for comfort food!  I haven't started cooking soup yet, but I did just order a bunch of root veggies from the co-op so that I can make some vegetable stock to have in the freezer - so much easier that way!

Instead, I have been making a lot of fried potatoes with onions and peppers and then putting it with scrambled eggs.  So incredibly delicious and super easy.  There is something about freshly dug potatoes from the farmers' market (or from your own home!) that makes them taste better to me.

It is pretty easy to make as well, just takes a little while to keep stirring and stirring and stirring.

3-5 medium potatoes, diced
1-2 red onions, chopped
1-2 green peppers, chopped
4 Tablespoons of butter
6-12 eggs - depending on how hungry you are :-)
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Put butter in the pan to melt down, add all the veggies and salt and pepper.
Cook until the potatoes are browned and tender.
Remove veggies from pan.
Whisk eggs in a bowl and add milk (whole milk is better) mixing it all together.
Put eggs in pan and cook until done.
Put veggies back in pan and mix with the scrambled eggs.

Can't wait to see what you all are eating!

I am linking up at Frugal Food Thursday, Your Green ResourceRural Thursday, the Barn Hop, and the Mommy Club

Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff & more life review and giveaway!

If you have been reading here for any length of time, you know that I am trying to live a much simpler life than what is typically American.  Of course, it isn't easy to do.  I sometimes wonder if simple is the right word!

I have had the wonderful opportunity to be part of the launch team for Lorilee Lippincott's new book Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff & more life.  This is a continuation of her first book, 321 Stop - stop running and start living.  If you are looking into simplifying your life, getting rid of clutter, physical and emotional, this book is for you.  It is 30 short chapters which can be completed in a small amount of time to really understand what you want out of your life, and what you should be surrounding yourself with.  This isn't a book about cleaning!  This is a book about getting rid of the baggage that stops you from being able to live the life you want.

I asked Lorilee if she would share her story here with you.  This is what Lorilee had to say!

Thanks so much Heather for the chance to guest post on your blog. Really, I don't think our family is that crazy or different... but if we had seen where we would be now about 3 years ago I am sure I would have thought it was crazy. I am a wife to an amazing man, mother and teacher to two cute children (ages 8-girl and 5-boy). Writer, dreamer, minimalist, and now author. Back before my kids were born I worked in management in a company with offices in several countries around the world. I loved it. Now, I am sitting here typing in a small 1-bedroom apartment with very few posessions, getting ready to launch my third book this year (Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life), and planning our 5 week road trip around the southeast coast of the United States. My kids are sitting and reading beside me waiting for their history lesson in a few minutes.

Most people see our life as crazy when they see how little we choose to own. We used to have a house full of all the normal stuff. ...we still have the house, but without the stuff to fill it we are renting it to someone else. Over the last 18 months (ish) we have gotten rid of most of the stuff we owned.

However, that really isn't the biggest change. The biggest change is always the head changes. Not only are we living with less we are loving it. Between the lack of stuff, not worrying about or taking care of a house, and spending less we have experienced so much more freedom. The lack of stuff and all the work necessary to maintain it has helped us grow closer as a family and the children have watched as my husband and I have been able to work on growing our hobbies.

Making the step to really embrace minimalism was something we did for ourselves, our family, that didn't make sense to people around us. It was scary and we did it. After making this choice (and surviving to tell about it) it is easier to think about other areas where society expects different things and evaluate them against our family as well. We are choosing to live an intentional life in many ways and our kids are watching, learning, and participating.

Simple Living and minimalism has been my main writing topic because I see how much of a barrier material possessions make in peoples life. It isn't about the stuff. Instead it is about the time it takes to maintain and clean, the money it takes to get, and the emotional energy it takes to dream about something 'big' and 'shiny'. All this time, money, and emotional energy is being taken from other areas of our life.

So simple living really has little to do with stuff. The focus is to remove stuff so it doesn't take away the resources we have from the life we want to live and our true priorities.

In my book Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life I go through 30 different areas of the home and life. This is a book for people wanting to simplify but unsure on how and where to start. This is not a reading book, this is an action book. After reading through and doing the assignments you will have a simpler life and will know areas you need to keep working on.

Now for the fun part for you!  Lorilee is letting me host a giveaway for her new book!  Just enter with the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was given a copy of this book free in return for my review, the opinions are my own.

Linking up at Giveaway Day! and Your Green Resource

family mittens

Don't forget to enter to win one of three copies of you can do it too! 25 homeschool families share their stories and a great giveaway from Kashi!

My first issue of taproot arrived in the mail this past weekend.  I was very excited to see that because I had read over at soulemama (and also in the comments here!) that there was an excellent mitten pattern in the magazine.  That is on my agenda for the rest of this week.  I haven't even cast on yet, but the pattern looks manageable.  And, since I have finished "the longest scarf ever" I am ready for a new project :-)  I am also still knitting the little green bookmarks, and they are coming out so cute!  When I have a few done, I will take a picture and post it here.

For reading I have been looking through magazines, taproot and whole living.  I am ready for fall, and looking through the fall issues is solidifying my desire to dive into the next season!  It seems like I am always ready for the next season, no matter what it is.  I have always thought that summer was my favorite season.  I love fresh good food, I love being outside in the garden, I love to eat salads all day long and not need to cook anything substantial.  However, I am now realizing that fall is really my favorite season.  With the pulling out of sweaters and scarves, to be able to go outside and play without needing to take a shower immediately after we come in the house, and to settle into a nice slow routine for the fall and then the coming holiday season (slow, ha!).

As for other reading, I finished up Yes, My Darling Daughter yesterday.  The writing style was different, and it didn't end exactly how I was expecting, but it was a very good story, and I definitely would recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of mystery.  I am waiting on a few new books to come in the mail, hopefully soon, so I will have something else to write about!  Tomorrow I will have a review and giveaway of the new book Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life, so stay tuned for that!

I am linking up with Ginny at her yarn along!

figuring out a schedule

I have been trying to figure out a good schedule over the past few weeks for homeschooling.  Our homeschooling "day" does not take a lot of time to complete.  We typically will get a good 2-3 hours of dedicated time for homeschooling before everyone loses interest and wants a snack.  Our homeschool curriculum only takes an hour or so to complete, but we usually end up reading more, or doing more math pages, or practicing writing letters for a prolonged amount of time.

My kids wake up early, and they both seem to need 3 breakfasts, so our breakfast time is typically a long one.  This is what we have come up with for a rhythm.

4am - I am awake and immediately looking for a pot of coffee, I realize that the coffee fairy has not magically dropped off a fancy starbucks coffee, so I put on the tea kettle to heat water for my french press.  This is my time to be on the internet, to sit in the quiet and prepare for my day.  It is ridiculously early, but I always feel better when I get up at this time.

6am - Everyone is awake and looking for food.  I am still drinking coffee and hoping that I can watch a little bit of Squawk Box before I really need to feed them.  Then we make oatmeal, and when oatmeal is gone I make eggs, and give them some fruit.  My kids eat a huge breakfast and the meals tend to get smaller throughout the day - perhaps because they prefer what I make for breakfast and not what I make for dinner!

8am - Breakfast is done and the kids play while I get a load of dishes in the dishwasher and get bread mixed up so it is rising or beans going on the stove.

9am - School starts:

Circle time - circle time for us consists of saying a thank you prayer, doing some stretches/yoga poses, singing a few songs, looking outside to say what the weather is like, and saying another prayer for our day

Bible time - Read our Bible story and then sing our Bible verse for the week from the Sing the Word From A to Z.

History - read what we are supposed to for the day for history, do our timeline.  Our main history book is the Usborne internet-linked Children's Encyclopedia, which is a really great book and has links to more information to explore online.  My kids love doing that - anything where they can play on my computer is a big hit with them :-)

Read-aloud - There is typically one chapter book that we are reading, and then a few short stories and poetry to read.  We almost always read more chapters than are scheduled.

Math - I let Emma do as many pages as she wants in our math book each day.  Sometimes if she is struggling and wants to move forward, I will try and come up with some similar exercises for her to work on and put the book away.

Science - Our main science text is also the Usborne internet-linked Children's Encyclopedia.  We haven't really started doing any of the science experiments yet, we are still outside quite a bit, and we tend to find bugs in the garden and then look them up online to learn more about them.

Language Arts - I am still up in the air about language arts.  Emma is struggling a bit on the writing end of things, and that is fine with me because she is 4 :-)  She is really good on identifying the letters, knowing which pictures start with the letter we are working on, sounds etc.  But, the writing isn't quite at this level, so instead we make copies of the letters over and over again, and then decorate the pages during "art"

Depending on how everyone has been doing during the listening portion of "school" dictates when we finish up.  Sometimes Jack is really great and will sit and listen through all the stories.  Sometimes he will talk through all the stories asking questions constantly, which means it takes a little longer.  I tend to give him a book to look through while I am reading, sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.  I have tried giving him other things to work on while I am working with Emma, but he mainly wants to do what Emma is doing and gets upset if it is something different.  After we finish all of Emma's school stuff, we read a few stories from the P3/4 curriculum that I bought for Emma a couple years ago.  Then it is free play while I fix lunch.

After lunch there is more free play and then I put on a show for Emma around 1 while I take Jack upstairs for rest time.  Once Jack is asleep I then bring Emma up for rest time as well.  Most of the time she will talk for about 15 minutes with me, and then I will start reading my "boring" books to her (Jane Austen, CS Lewis, whatever homesteading book I am currently reading) and she falls asleep.  They wake up between 3:30 and 4 and then get to have craft time while I fix dinner.  I will set up their little craft table in the kitchen and give them some water color paints, and they will entertain themselves quite well.  Unfortunately, a lot of that entertainment is painting each other, but I have learned to deal with that because it keeps them entertained for over an hour :-)  Matt gets home around 5:30 and that is when I try to have dinner ready.  Sometimes he is late and we eat before he gets home.

Overall this schedule has been working really well.  What I like about the school stuff is that each subject doesn't take a huge amount of time, and then we move onto something different, so the constant change is interesting for the kids, and it keeps them engaged.  Jack will sit with us while I read, and that is nice because I am sure he is absorbing something, if nothing more than good literature, and he ALWAYS has to have whatever worksheet Emma is doing.  Now I make sure to make copies the weekend before of all the different sheets we will use.  Then when she is doing the worksheet, I give Jack his box of crayons and markers and he works on the worksheet as well :-)

I am still trying to figure out how I am going to be able to do school with two when Jack gets a little older, not sure how that is going work out, but I am hopeful!  And I still have a couple years to think about it!

How do you schedule your day?  I would love to hear about schooling multiple children as well.

I am linking up at the Hip Homeschool Hop.

moving chickens

Don't forget to enter to win one of three copies of you can do it too! 25 homeschool families share their stories and a great giveaway from Kashi!

This weekend it was time to move the chicken fence from one side of their house to the other.  When we put them outside this summer, the other side of the chicken house was full of grass, now, not so much.  You can somewhat see the line of where the fence had ended before!  I wish that I could truly let the chickens be free range, unfortunately they take that to a whole new level.

Our street has a bit of a steep drop off right next to it, going down to a path that leads downtown.  Well, last week four of our chickens decided they should check out the path.  I really didn't want our chickens wandering around downtown...I knew that they needed more grass to scratch up, so we decided this weekend would be the time to move the chicken fence.  And they were so excited to have the new space to dig around in!

I tried putting them out on the garden to rip up the rest of it, but they just continued running away from it, perhaps the bugs that I want them to eat are not as tasty as I had hoped :-)

They all still really enjoy hiding under the chicken house.  This one brought a green tomato with her for a snack.  They also tend to lay their eggs under there, but they lay them in the corners, so I can easily grab them.  It seems to be working out fine, and I am sure they will figure something else out once the snow is halfway up the chicken house.

We also found a few eggs in the compost pile when we were moving things around.  So at least now I know that all of my white chickens are indeed laying one egg per day.  There have been several days in the past week where I have only had 5 white eggs, and I couldn't figure out why one would stop laying when they just started laying a month ago!  Our egg count since they started laying on August 17th is 156 eggs, or 13 dozen.  That's a lot of eggs :-)

Linking up at the Barn HopRural Thursday, Your Green Resource

what i am eating #7

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post from your blog.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

This past week we got out first eggs from the easter egger chickens that we have.  You can sort of see in the pictures that one is a lighter green and one is a darker green.  I was hoping for a green and a blue, but I will take two greens :-)  And the most common question I get about these eggs is whether they are colored on the inside as well.  No, they are not, they are regular eggs, taste like regular eggs, but they are pretty!

With the addition of the easter eggers laying we get between 6 and 8 eggs/day.  We have given away some eggs, but mainly we use all these eggs.  Crazy, right?  I never knew we would eat so many eggs.  My kids love egg on english muffins, and so they eat that for breakfast regularly.  And then I inevitably make some type of egg dish for dinner a couple times per week.  So what we are left with are not many eggs to sell, unfortunately.

This week it was frittata.  Although, it isn't called a frittata in my house anymore.  For some reason when I made one last year, Emma was not pleased about it. So in order to get her excited, I instead called them oven eggs.  Now, it is her favorite meal, and the name just kind of stuck.

Oven Eggs

2 medium zucchinis
1 red onion
3 medium green peppers
2 tomatoes
12 eggs
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Halve and slice zucchinis, chop red onion and green peppers.  Add to a large oven-proof fry pan with sides.  Saute in a little oil (or butter) until soft.
Whisk eggs and milk together, pour over veggie mixture and let the eggs set around the edges.  While the edges are setting add in your chopped tomatoes on the top.
Transfer the fry pan to the oven and bake until a knife comes out clean.

This made a lot, and fed us for two days, but I would rather have more than not enough :-)  You can easily add cheese to this dish right before you put it in the oven.  I didn't happen to have any cheese to use today, and my daughter prefers her eggs without cheese.  And we will use whatever veggies are available for this dish, sometimes it is just onions and garlic, sometimes we add potatoes and peas.  Whatever works for you!

Now, onto the linky!  What are you all eating this week?  I'm looking forward to finding out!

I'm linking up at the Barn Hop

Kashi Chocolate Soft-Baked Squares review and giveaway!

As someone who is committed to simple living and the food that my family puts into our bodies, I am constantly looking for recipes and snack ideas that meet my idea of healthy.  I spend a lot of time making snacks from scratch, but sometimes I need something quick.

That is where Kashi Chocolate Soft-Baked Squares come in.  I was lucky enough to be sent a box of these to try with my family, and my goodness they did not disappoint!  They were just the right amount of sweetness and rich chocolate.  My kids (like most I'm sure) love chocolate, and having these available to try was a great treat for them.  With only 9 grams of sugar in each square, I was seriously impressed.  By combining cocoa, sweet potatoes and black beans, I felt like I was providing something other than a brownie to my family!  I will definitely be going back to these again and again!

More about Kashi:

-Founded in 1984, Kashi is a pioneering natural food company dedicated to providing great tasting, nutritious foods that help people feel their best so they can do the things they want to do. As a natural lifestyle leader for more than 25 years, Kashi is on a mission to help people feel healthier and happier.

-Kashi foods feature a signature combination of seven whole grains and are natural, minimally processed, and free of highly refined sugars, artificial additives, and preservatives.

To find out all the latest news from Kashi you can "like" their facebook page here.

Now onto the fun part for you!  Kashi has been generous enough to offer one of my readers two vouchers for free Kashi products and one reusable lunch tote.  Please enter using the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

I am linking up at giveaway day!

searching for my very warm cowl

Goodness it is chilly here!  When I woke up this morning it was a very warm (ha!) 47 degrees.  Hmmm...that seems a little too cold for me right now.  Especially when I am still picking peppers off my sweet pepper plants!  It is supposed to warm up over the next few days, which I am thankful for, but I don't think it is going to last long.  I do live in Maine after all.  But, this cool weather is making me think about knitting more than ever, and specifically finding a pattern for mittens that will stay on my kids' hands.  Any ideas?

Right now I am still knitting the world's longest scarf.  It is for a lovely tall girl who can pull it off, otherwise I would have stopped by now.  I do love the pattern though, and working with the cotton is definitely refreshing.

I actually love the pattern so much that I started making some little bookmarks with some leftover green yarn that I had.  Green being my favorite color, and this green specifically seems to find its way into my cart at the yarn store more often than not.  I am making the bookmarks as little gifts to have on hand, and also I think for a couple stocking stuffers and small additions to Christmas gifts.  I never thought to knit a bookmark, but considering the amount I read, thought it might be a good idea!  Much better than what I do now, which is to just take the book and lay it face down at my stopping point...hmmm...

Which brings me to reading.  Currently I am going back through the book You Can Do It Too! - 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Story to check out all the very cool links in each chapter.  I did a review of that book here and you can also enter for a chance to win 1 of 3 copies, so go enter!

I am also reading Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which I won from the blog Penny Lane Writes.  And goodness I was glad to get this book.  I think mainly because I have no idea how to teach my kids to read.  I was a very early reader, and so was my mom, and I have no idea how or why that happened.  What I do know is that I love to read, and I love reading to my kids, but I want them to also love reading.  So any help I can find on the subject is worth looking into!  I have heard a lot of great things about this book, and it seems like it is easy enough to follow, so we shall see!  And don't worry, I am not pushing my kids to read so young, but if it does happen in a happy manner, I will continue to move forward with it.

The last book on my reading list right now is Putting Food By.  I typically use my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for all of my canning, but I bought this other book at the beginning of the summer, and I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes in there.  It is the beginning of apple season, and since my strawberry plans were a bust this year, I am very hopeful for apples.  Although, the fact that March brought 80-90 degree weather and April brought a frost...I am slightly concerned.

Linking up with Ginny and her yarn along.  What are you all knitting and reading these days?


Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the new book you can do it too! 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Stories.

Have you heard of swagbucks?  If you haven't, you have got to look into it.  It is essentially a search system that rewards you for searching for something you would use another search engine for.  I hadn't heard of swagbucks before this spring.  I was not sure how it would work, but since I google pretty much everything and anything...daily...I thought to myself "why shouldn't I be rewarded for all of those searches?!"

How does it work?  Well, you go to swagbucks and sign up for an account, and then you start searching away.  It really is that easy.  Up in the right hand corner you will see your "swagbucks" total.  You don't get swagbucks for every single search that you do, and I don't know if it is totally by chance or based on what you search for, but it adds up quickly!  However, swagbucks isn't just a search engine.

There are other ways to earn swagbucks.  There is a TV channel where you can go and watch movie trailers, or entertainment clips (or real news clips too!).  You can print out coupons and be rewarded when you use the coupon.  There are daily polls and surveys and games.  It really depends on how much time you want to put into it.

What types of rewards does swagbucks offer?  They offer a lot of different things, gift cards to cash, electronics to kid's stuff.  It seems to be that anything you would want, you could find it as a reward.  Each reward has a different amount of swagbucks required in order to redeem it.  For me, I always go for the $5 Amazon gift card.  I like that it is only 450 swagbucks, and I can usually get to that amount every 10 days or so, if I am trying hard enough.  And since I love that Amazon offers so many products at such good prices, it seems like a no-brainer for me!

So do you use swagbucks?  Does it sound like something you would use?  Do you use another "rewards" type site?  If so, share in the comments!  I think at this point with the economy the way it is, any way to get something extra is helpful.

I am linking up at the Hip Homeschool Hop and the Mommy Club this week!

homemade deodorant

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the new book you can do it too! 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Stories.

When I was pregnant with my first baby I knew that I was in for it.  All of a sudden I was concerned about things I had never thought about before.  Organic food, the chemicals in body products, whether or not I should use disposable diapers, it was enough to make my head spin.  But, after I had her, and I started nursing, one of my biggest concerns was deodorant.

I always used a regular deodorant and antiperspirant.  I had heard about aluminum dangers before, but whenever I looked at ingredient labels, aluminum was always on the list.  I decided to write it off and hope for the best (this was my prior life - before I turned into a complete freak when it comes to food and everything green).

When I started nursing my daughter, I all of a sudden had a huge fear of wearing deodorant.  I didn't want her to put her hand in my armpit and then stick it in her mouth, and I was concerned about the proximity of it from where she was nursing.  I didn't want the chemicals to be near her, and then I realized I didn't want them near me either.

For a time I just stopped wearing deodorant.  If I smelled, no one mentioned it, so I will pretend that I didn't!   Of course, during those first months I wasn't getting out all that often and was not so concerned about needing deodorant.  However, there did come a time when I figured wearing deodorant would be a good idea again!  And back I went to the grocery store looking for something natural.  I ended up, again, not finding anything that I was happy with.  Instead I came home and started to research.

What I found was that you can make your own deodorant, so that is what I did!

Homemade Deodorant

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 Tablespoon grated beeswax
1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
4-6 drops tea tree oil (or other essential oil)
3 Tablespoons corn starch (or arrowroot powder)
3 Tablespoons baking soda

Melt coconut oil, beeswax, Vitamin E oil, tea tree oil in a double boiler.  Add corn starch and baking soda until combined.  Let cool and then spoon into an old deodorant container *or* put in a glass jar and store in fridge if your house is warm.

Do you make any of your own beauty products?  Are you concerned about chemical exposure in deodorant or other hygiene items?

Linking up at the Barn Hop and Rural Thursday

what i am eating #6

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post from your blog.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

This past week has been quite the spectrum as far as weather goes.  It was hotter than anything at the beginning of Labor Day weekend, and then it started raining, then the cold came.  I am officially calling fall at our doorstep here in Maine.  What better way than to make a veggie pot pie!

Now, I don't really make pot pies.  Not because I don't love them, I do, but I just don't ever make them, especially from scratch.  I didn't follow a recipe for this, so no real recipe to share.  I chopped an onion and some garlic and started to saute in some olive oil.  I chopped up some of my purple carrots - which are quite the pretty vegetable; purple outside with orange inside and then a yellow center - and some red potatoes with the skins still on and added them to the pot.  I let them saute until they started to get tender.  Added seasonings and water - maybe 1/2 cup.  Then I added some flour to the mixture to thicken it a bit, and some more water to make a bit of a sauce.  Finally I dumped it all in a 9x13 pyrex and made a recipe of drop biscuits and plopped the batter all on the top of the veggie mixture.  I baked at 400 degrees until it looked like it was done :-)  It turned out delicious, and the kids ate it up!

So what are you eating this week?

Linking to Rural Thursday the Mommy Club and Frugal Food Thursday

you can do it too! review and giveaway

You have probably gathered that this is my first "official" year of homeschooling - since I have said it everyday this week!  Maybe this is your first year of homeschooling too.  Or maybe you have been thinking about homeschooling your children and want more answers, or perhaps you have been homeschooling for several years, but want to know what else is out there for philosophies and approaches.  If any of those descriptions sound like you, than you will most definitely want to read Lorilee Lippincott's new book You Can Do It Too! - 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Story.

You Can Do It Too! - 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Story is about exactly what the title says, 25 families sharing their homeschool story with us.  Each contributor was given a set of questions to answer, they answered the ones they felt relevant to their story (and some added extras as well!), and then Lorilee compiled them all into a very neat little package for our benefit.

When I first started thinking about homeschooling (and even today as I have started homeschooling myself), I was interested in what other people do.  What does homeschooling look like for other people.  In my head it was an old school desk/chair combo with a lot of books, and boxes of office supplies.  Perhaps that was because I love office supplies and old school furniture, but more likely it was because I didn't know what else to think of besides "school at home."

I love that this book has so many different ways to look at homeschooling.  From a family who spent 3 years traveling on bicycles from Alaska to Argentina to missionaries to homesteaders, and everyone in between.  It shows me that my family does not need to fit into one specific "homeschool" category.  It is all about the individual attention that we can give our children, which is one of the biggest reasons I decided to homeschool.

I really appreciated reading this book, and plan to go back and look through it as our journey continues.  There is so much wisdom, things that worked for someone might not work for us, but there are so many ideas that can be tried and tested.  I want my kids to have the best possible education, it is what all parents want, and to be able to have all of the experiences of other families put into this book, well that is extremely helpful for me as someone who is just starting out.

Now for the fun part!  Lorilee has given me THREE copies of You Can Do It Too! - 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Story to give to three of my readers.  How cool!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am linking up at Giveaway Day.

I received this book free in order to review on my blog.  The opinions are my own.

back to the yarn along

I have been missing the past few weeks.  Not because I wanted to be gone, but life happens, and sometimes it is easiest to step back from things like the blog to live the life I write about :-)  And more importantly, yesterday was our first official day of homeschool.  We are very excited to be starting this journey!  And the day went wonderfully - well until my kids decided their typical rest time wasn't needed.

I am currently working on a scarf in a lovely cream colored cotton yarn.  It is a skinny type fashion scarf, and is knitting up quite nicely if I do say so myself!  I don't have anything else lined up to knit after this, so I am hoping to get serious about my Christmas knitting and crafting and make a plan...the plan that I have been attempting to put together for the past month!

Which brings me to the book I am reading.  I am currently reading, A Greener Christmas.  It is one of my go-to books every Christmas season.  There are some wonderful recipes, as well as ornaments and gift ideas.  It also has a lot of ways to use nature in decorating and making quality gifts.  I definitely recommend it if you are looking for something that is more "green" for Christmas.

I did receive a book in the mail from Lisa at Two Bears Farm called Yes, My Darling Daughter which is a gothic type novel.  I haven't started it yet, but it looks really interesting, I am sure I will have more info about it next week!

And that is what is going on here.  What are you up to?  Joining in with Ginny and her Yarn Along.

First Day of School!

Today is the first "official" day of school for Emma this year.  I am planning on homeschooling year round.  It seems like a good fit for us, being able to take time off when we need it, but also allowing for learning opportunities all year through the different seasons.

Today is also the first day of the public school's 4 year old program.  There is a little group of girls that are the children of people that I went to high school with, and they are all starting the program this year.  It makes me a little sad that she won't be having the same experience that I had in public school (I actually really enjoyed public school!), but I know this is the best choice for us.  

I have a few fun things planned for us today.  It will start out with a special breakfast and also will probably include a trip to the library since everyone is back in school today.  I am going to take "1st day of school" pictures, of course, and do little interviews with the kids (which should be interesting with a 2 and 4 year old).  I want to have the special "first day" experiences that I had growing up, and I don't want her to miss out on anything!  I foresee a lot of trips to the museum/library/beach in the coming months.  All places that I would prefer to visit when they are not so crowded!

We received Emma's new school curriculum in May, and started immediately.  Who can resist new books after all   We had several weeks of going strong, but then the outside started calling to us.  More specifically the garden.  So we put a lot of the book learning on hold in favor of learning through experience.  I think that schooling all year will help us work through the seasonal rhythm that I enjoy living in New England.  It will also be easier once we start reporting to the state, which we don't need to do until Emma is 7.  The portfolio review is due at the end of August each year with the letter of intent to homeschool for the next school year.  I figured it would be easier to run our school year along the same lines instead of trying to start when I receive new curriculum books.

Are your kids back to school?  Do you have any start of the year traditions?

I am linking to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

Petit Amuse giveaway winner!

The winner of the sample box of artisan treats from Petit Amuse is Penny!  Congratulations Penny!  Please e-mail me your address information at hello@townsend-house.com and I will pass on your information so you can get your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered.  If you didn't win, and are interested in subscribing to their sample box program for $10 per month, you can sign up here.

Sorry that I have been missing the past week!  I have been trying to get ready for our first official day of homeschooling, which starts tomorrow!  Add to that a couple of big tumbles the littles had last week, I have been busy :-)  Full content to return tomorrow!