Greenwoman Magazine: A Literary Garden Review & Giveaway

I love a good magazine!  Something that I can read through an article at a time, at my leisure.  Unfortunately, a lot of the magazines out today are more about advertising than actual content.  Enter Greenwoman Magazine.  A magazine that is definitely written for me!  Gardening, yes!  Fiction, yes!  Commentary, absolutely!  Greenwoman is exactly what I was looking for.

A smart magazine is an absolute must in my book.  With the amount of information floating around all over the place, you want something that is well written, and can challenge you.  The articles are extremely well written, and the stories are inspiring.  It is a breath of fresh air in the never-ending news cycle that surrounds us.

Greenwoman is a completely independent, one-woman owned and run publication.  It mixes wonderful articles with beautiful art work and is such a treat to sit down with.  Especially as I am dreaming of the spring gardens that I am going to plant (as soon as the snow decides to stop falling from the sky!). 

"Greenwoman Magazine celebrates garden writing in all its forms: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, commentary, biography, art, and comics!  Daring and fun, Greenwoman is for the hip gardener who loves digging into the world of art and environmental thought that underlies gardening."

And for you my lucky readers, the editor is offering up one copy of their latest issue, the Winter 2012/ Spring 2013 issue.  I have to tell you that you will not be disappointed when you subscribe!  Just enter using the rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of Greenwoman Magazine for purposes of a blog tour review.  The opinions are my own.

Linking up at Giveaway Day

if you thought the shawl would be done...

well then you are wrong!  It is not done yet, but I am so so close!  I only have 3 rows left to do!  Granted, those 3 rows each have a whole heck of a lot of stitches, but, I am close!  I think that by next week I will have it finished and blocked and ready to go for a certain niece who has a birthday coming!

I have really enjoyed knitting this shawl, even though it seems to have taken me ages to *almost* complete it.    Emma has been asking for one since this one started to take shape, so I guess it will be back to the yarn store for me (darn!).

I am also almost finished with The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places.  It hasn't been at all what I thought it would be, but I have enjoyed it so far, as long as I can get past some parts (which I easily can!).  I plan to have a full review on Saturday of it, as well as any other books I happen to finish this week!

I hope that next week I have something a bit more exciting than the same shawl I have been knitting for so long!  Perhaps a finished product, and maybe something new and fun.  Easter is coming, and I am sure my kids would love to have something fun for that - granted I am running out of time at this point!  I need to look into whether or not you can knit all of these cute little animals I always see online!  I think all of the ones I have ever seen have been crochet, and for some reason I just can't seem to catch on to crochet!

Joining in with Tami and Ginny and Keep Calm Craft On

Box Day!

I'm so excited to talk about the new curriculum we just got in the mail!  It is always such a fun time to get new materials in the mail.  Actually, I think any type of non-bill/non-junk mail is always welcome in my home!

I know this is only the end of February, and we aren't completely finished with Core A from Sonlight yet.  However, we are working a lot faster in the math then I had anticipated, and the read alouds have been a source of great entertainment for us.  I think that my kids just love books as much as me, so when the instructors guide tells you to read half a chapter, or even one chapter each day, it isn't enough for my kids, especially my oldest.  Instead, we sit down and read books in a week instead of in the several weeks that the instructor's guide intends.

We ordered the Grade One Multi Subject Package with Singapore Math 1 instead of the Horizons Math that comes with the program.  We have really been enjoying the Singapore Math K that we got last year.  Emma has taken to the instruction quite well, and is able to figure out the exercises before I even have a chance to explain them!

I think it may have been a mistake to open it as soon as it came in the door!  These books look absolutely amazing!  I think part of the draw is that most of the readers are Dr. Seuss books that my daughter already loves.  But, my husband also told me how excited he was to start reading some of the books to the kids!

I like to have the curriculum all bought and set aside for when we need it, no waiting around, we can just continue right on with our learning.  The year 'round homeschooling is working out quite well for us.  I think we end up taking a long weekend here or there, a week or so off if we are sick or feeling out of sorts.  It all seems to work out in the end though!

I am sure that as my kids get older, and their interests are more defined, I will have to start tailoring their curriculum on an individual basis.  But, as of now, the amount of reading we are doing is phenomenal.  I love to hear the questions that my daughter comes up with and the amount that she seems to recall each day.

I would like to set aside a planning weekend at some point in the next month to wrap my head around this summer and how we are going to fit in formal schooling.  As the kids get older and are more excited about working in the garden with me, I think that we will have to shift gears a bit.  I am considering doing an intensive science program this summer, instead of concentrating on as much history and other core readings.  Only time will tell if that works out!

Are you starting to think about next years curriculum?  Do you set aside a weekend to plan out what you want to do?

Linking up at the Hip Homeschool Hop

finally starting tomato seeds!

I finally started my tomato seeds this weekend.  I figured it was time.  I keep hoping for spring every single week, but for some reason this keeps on happening:

the top of the chicken fence caving in

I actually find it really entertaining (in a twisted sort of way) that I am so upset about the snow.  I mean, I do live in Maine, it is pretty much inevitable that it will snow in February.  However, I think the past few years have really shifted my thinking about what winter is like.

Last year we had some extremely warm temps way before winter is typically done in my part of the country. I was planting peas early, like the first week in March.  My gardens were cleaned out, and I only had a teeny tiny bit of snow left in the shaded parts of our yard.  It was similar the year before.  Lots of warm temps, and very little snow.

This year, it seems, winter is hanging on.  But, there are some positives to having snow and cold and not too many warm weeks.  The snow gives the ground a good amount of moisture, which helps the apple trees.  If the temperature gets warm for an extended period of time, the apple trees wake up from their winter slumber and start budding.  Of course we always get another freeze before spring really arrives, which means the apple trees don't do as well.  Budding, then dying off, and then trying to bud again isn't the best for this fruit, or any plant I would imagine!

Back to my tomatoes.  I started 36 tomato plants.  9 each of:

Amish Paste
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Pantano Romanesco

Do I need 36 tomato plants?  Well, of course I do!  Doesn't everyone plant that many tomato plants?!  Honestly, I doubt that my seeds will take off spectacularly.  I know that tomatoes are hard to start indoors, and that is why I planted so many seeds.  I think that if I can get half of each type to grow from seed, I will be incredibly excited.  Heck, if I can grow one tomato plant from seed I will be over the moon!  And if all 36 plants take off, well, I will open a roadside stand and sell seedlings to my neighbors (along with eggs if my chickens keep their production up!

Spring fever has officially set in.  Now, if only spring would hurry up and get here!

Linking up with the Homestead Barn Hop, Clever Chicks

Sunday Quotes

Winter is in my head, but spring is in my heart.
~Victor Hugo

Links of Interest

I often see people posting their "favorite links of the week."  I have always loved these types of posts because I love reading new information...probably why I enjoy blogging so much!  This week there have been several interesting things I have been reading about, and I decided to share.

Organic Spinach Recall in 39 States

Flu vaccine not effective for seniors this year

Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

5 Smart Things to do with your Tax Refund

Have you seen any good articles this week?  Feel free to share in the comments!

spam comments and comment moderation

Hello all!  I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I am going to be turning on comment moderation and the dreaded captcha for a little while.  I have been getting incredible amounts of spam comments.  In order to not spend a large portion of my "blog time" dealing with these comments.  I hope this comment moderation will put an end to the spam comments.  I don't mind a couple, but when I am getting up to 75 or more in one day, I need to change something!

I hope that it will be short lived.  I am not a fan of the captcha at all.  Mainly because I am horrible at it, taking several tries to get the right letter/number combo.  I hope that this doesn't deter anyone from commenting, but just know that it will not be long term!

I appreciate all of your comments, and read them all, even though I may not respond to them.  Thank you for participating in the community of this blog!

what i am eating

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.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

This week has been really good in terms of food for me!  We have been eating many new recipes thanks to the very cool Whole Food Kitchen workshop that I am taking right now.  Usually, when I take any type of food workshop, I tend to only make a few of the recipes, the ones that really look amazing to me, and then try to work them into my normal routine.  But, all of the recipes from this workshop have been incredibly appealing to me.

curried quinoa cakes with red pepper tahini sauce

Maybe it is because I have changed my thinking so much about vegan foods, maybe I am looking to replace more refined oils with nuts and seeds.  Whatever the reason, I have been making new things pretty much every day.

sesame noodles with red cabbage

I have to say that they are all recipes my family has loved as well, and that is something that makes me even happier.  When I make a new thing, a lot of the time I get the trepidation about new flavors, or different ingredients they have never seen before.  But with this workshop, there are videos each week, and my kids watch the videos with me, and we make the recipes together.

vegan spinach artichoke dip (made with cashew cream sauce)

Don't think it has all been healthy though.  I saw a recipe for cinnamon rolls on my walk with eden, and that made me need to immediately whip up a batch of cinnamon rolls - I used her filling recipe, but I used the dough recipe that I have had since my home economics class way back in Junior High :-)  They were delicious and quick!

cinnamon rolls with brown sugar filling

Link up your food related posts below!

food safety and my food journey

My food journey, as I like to call it, was born out of the 2006 spinach recalls.  When I first started hearing about the potential of e. coli in spinach that I would buy from the market, I immediately panicked.  I mean, people were dying because of this.  And many more were sick and in the hospital.  It didn't make sense to me, food safety was something I had always assumed was in place.  But then, my eyes were opened to the entire agribusiness of the US, and how it operates.

Yesterday, I saw that there was another spinach recall.  This one, voluntary, and for organic spinach.  Also due to "potential e. coli contamination."  I'm not entirely sure why spinach seems to be such a vulnerable plant, but there it is.  

Recently I have been more inclined to buy veggies at the grocery store.  There were a couple years where I would only get veggies from the farm, and then fill in with grains/beans/pastas, but my diet has evolved even more to include mainly vegetables and fruits, ie not as local of a diet as I would prefer. 

I have no idea what the answer is to all of this.  

I try to vote with my food dollars.  I am a member of two wonderful CSA shares, I buy food from our co-op and farmers' market, I try to grow my own and preserve as much as I can (it isn't much, unfortunately), but I find that in the winter I am constantly buying more and more fresh veggies.  .  I definitely follow the dirty dozen and clean fifteen.  I try not to buy organic produced in other countries, I don't buy strawberries in January (even though I want to!).  I tend to not buy things that I know that I can grow or get locally while in season.

I guess my largest struggle is the desire to eat a plant based diet, and then also to eat a local diet.  I don't know how to do both, at least not in the current climate that I live in.  Perhaps getting more than one winter share from our CSA farm would help, although eating roasted veggies and soup all the time does tend to get old after a while.

Maybe I need to look at it from a different angle.  I should be thankful with all the choice that I have available to me.  If I am sick one week, or don't want to cook, I can easily buy something from the grocery store, life doesn't stop that way.  Whereas 100 years ago, that wouldn't have been an option, and I would have eaten what I had preserved and be happy about it.

I think that food is such a personal choice, and I know that not everyone wants to eat a local diet, and not everyone struggles with the same food issues that I have.  I am just throwing my thoughts out there to see what others do.  But, the recalls are something that really bother me.  I am concerned about what my kids eat, will it be something that makes them sick?  How can I teach them good food habits if I don't include certain foods due to their availability in my area.  Will they be damaged if they never eat rice, and only eat potatoes (totally being sarcastic here)?

I guess that I need to be more serious about producing my own food.   

That seems to be the thing that I always come back to.  Well, you could just grow more green beans this year for the freezer, you can buy more tomatoes and have them canned and ready to go, you can find a local source of winter squash and then store them."  

Do you struggle with opposing food philosophies?  How do you determine whether the food you are buying is truly safe?  

Linking up with Your Green Resource

shawl progress

The shawl is coming along quite nicely, if I do say so myself :-)  I was able to get some more yarn, and picked right up on it.  This is my lovely daughter modeling it for me.  It is going to eventually be for my niece, so it doesn't need to be huge, which is why I love knitting for littles!  You get the most adorable finished product, and it doesn't take nearly as long.  Oh, you mean I have been knitting this same shawl for a few weeks now and it isn't done, well, you know, I don't have huge dedicated blocks of time to knit.  But, I am pleased with it so far!  And it is a fun pattern.  I wish that I could get a good shot of the detail, but alas, this is what I have for a picture!

Book reading has slowed a bit this past week.  I just started the wonderful Whole Food Kitchen workshop by the lovely Heather Bruggeman of beauty that moves.  So I have been soaking up all the wonderful knowledge from Heather and the other participants in the course.  This is the second time I have taken this workshop, and fourth workshop I have taken from Heather, and I absolutely love it!

This time around, Heather has made each module into an e-book which consists of the main topic for the week, stories from her kitchen as well as some special guests, and recipes.  Oh, the recipes!  I think that that is probably my favorite part.  Not only does she have the recipe, but a picture to go with it.  And if you have been reading my Friday what i am eating posts, you will know that I love pictures of food, and really food in general.  

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is up to this week!

Joining in with Ginny and Tami

Project-Based Homeschooling

Last week I talked a little bit about how I had finished reading Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners.  I wanted to talk a little bit more about what I took away from the book.  Mainly, providing a place for children to go and work on projects at their own speed and with their own ideas.

For a long time I have been fighting against the size of our house.  I know, totally a strange problem to have. But, it is one that I have struggled with pretty much since we bought the house 6 years ago.  It isn't abnormally large, by American standards, being around 2500 sf, but to me, it seems quite large.  With all the square footage came a lot of rooms.  Being an old colonial/new englander type home, there really isn't an open concept, just a lot of doorways to more rooms.  When we were renting out space, it was fine, but now I have all these extra rooms and I don't know what to do with them!

After I read this book, I realized that even though I have been fighting against the size of the house, I might as well use it to my advantage.

This past weekend we found out that Matt was going to have a long weekend, and because of that, we decided (well I decided) to start moving around the furniture again.  Matt actually makes fun of me saying that I can't keep furniture in one place for more than 6 months - that is pretty much a true statement :-)  I wanted to have a dedicated space for the kids to use.  We had a toy room downstairs, but the toys were getting everywhere, and it was starting to drive me batty to have to constantly move the couches to find the toys.

I know a lot of parents don't rearrange their furniture for their kids, but since I feel like we have extra space, it isn't such an issue for me.  We moved all of the kids stuff up into what used to be the studio apartment we rented out.  It isn't finished.  There are books to move, and shelving needs to be put up to hold said books, and it needs to be organized - a lot; but we are moving in the right direction.

I am excited to have a project/school/craft room for the kids to utilize.  I am excited to know that their is a kitchen in that studio that we can have snacks and space to wash paint brushes without carrying them through the house.  Having a comfy chair for me to knit in is also a bonus...

One of the big points of the book was to allow kids to let their projects sit out so they can work on them as they feel the need.  Now, building a very large cardboard castle in the living room which then gets taken down at night is a little different than building a cardboard castle in a project room that they can leave out and come back to decorate, or add a window or flowers or whatever.  I want them to be able to follow an idea through to completion.  I think it is a great learning experience; and since my biggest goal for homeschooling is to give my kids the desire to learn, this seems to be a great way to work towards that goal.

I have to say that this new room is extremely exciting to me.  It is something I would have loved having while I was growing up.  And the bonus of having the ability to shut the door and walk away is awesome as well.  I'm sure that most of our schooling will still take place on the couch in the living room, however, having this new space will probably encourage me to utilize some of the messy science experiments that came with the science curriculum!

Do you have a dedicated project or school space for your children?  Do you let them leave their projects out to come back to when they feel like it?  Is it something you would like to do, but don't have the space for?

Linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop

Homestead Happenings

We have had a lovely weekend of more snowy weather!  Luckily, this time it was mainly wind blowing around a very little bit of snow, but it did make for some not so fun conditions to get outside in.

I had great intentions of getting some seeds started this weekend, but it hasn't happened yet.  Luckily, we found out Friday afternoon that Matt actually had President's Day off.  Now, I know that most people enjoy this Monday holiday, but this will be the first time since college that Matt hasn't been working on President's Day.  Seriously exciting news!

Our chickens seemed to have weathered our crazy Maine winter quite well.  I have been nervous every night that the temps got really cold, or the wind was really strong.  Surprisingly hardy, those chickens!  And, this past week we officially had all the ladies laying eggs again.  Our two araucanas gave up laying right around Thanksgiving...apparently they needed a break.  Our 6 white leghorns gave us 5 eggs a day through the coldest parts of January and the beginning of February, but are back to laying 6 eggs each day now.  So we are back in the egg business!

My kids are itching to get outside and start digging in the dirt (as am I!).  As soon as those seeds came in the mail, Emma decided that it should most definitely be spring, and we should be able to plant outside.  She absolutely loves the snow, but I think the draw of giant sunflowers waving in the summer breeze is calling to her.

Today I plan to at least start tomatoes.  We shall see how it goes.  I haven't ever started tomatoes from seed, and I know that I will continue to rely on my lovely backup greenhouse if it all goes badly.  Perhaps I should rely less on the greenhouse...then maybe I would make sure that my seeds get started on time, and that I have good seedlings to put in the ground come spring!

What is going on at your homestead?  Are you already planting?  Still looking at a snow-covered garden?

Linking up at Clever Chicks, Homestead Barn Hop, HomeAcre Hop

Sunday Quotes

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could barely stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
~Mark Twain

what i am eating

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.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

My week started out with soup, which it usually does in the winter.  I rarely make the same soup (unless it is my take on the Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana...).  This week was a white bean and vegetable soup.  Super easy to make.

2 quarts veggie stock
1 quart crushed tomatoes
1 head of cauliflower
6 large carrots, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
4 cups cooked white beans
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

It was really delicious, my husband declared it the best soup he ever had - which he seems to do every week, so I can't really count that.  The only change I would make is to possibly put a can of coconut milk in, and more curry powder - but I love curry.  This makes a huge pot of soup, and it is great, because we eat it all week.

My husband's birthday was Tuesday, so we also had one of his favorite meals.  Pasta with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, basil and olive oil.  I have talked about this dish before on my blog, it is one of our favorites, especially in the summer with tomatoes from the garden and homemade pasta - yum!  We used to make it with fresh mozzarella cheese as well, but Matt and I have both been backing off the dairy lately, and we found that it is still just as good without the cheese!

Link up your food related posts below!

Linking up at One Project at a Time

shawl stall

The funny thing about trying to use up what you have for yarn, is that sometimes you don't have enough yarn for the project you are currently working on!  This is the case with the shawl I have been working on.  It is a common enough yarn that I am sure I can get more of it at the store, but for the time being, I am not working on it.  Instead I started knitting my purple scarf again.

I am really enjoying the simple pattern of the scarf.  And then, as I was perusing on pinterest, I found a really cool braided scarf pattern.  I thought that the scarf pattern I was using would work well with a braided scarf (which I had never thought of before!), and so now I am working on making three pieces to braid together.  Granted, I am still working on the first piece, but now I know where I am going with this scarf, and that makes me happy.

Reading, well, I have gotten several books in the mail recently, which of course I am so excited about!  Unfortunately, I still have a stack that I am trying to work through before I can start on my new ones.  I just finished Until You, which is still free for Amazon Kindle.  It is a good suspense/contemporary book, and a quick read.

I have also been reading Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home and The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places which are both kind of heavier reads.  So, it is always nice to have something easy and carefree to read when I need to take a break from all the seriousness!

I finished Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners last week, and I loved it.  I think the title is a little strange, because I felt like the author was writing to teachers, instead of homeschoolers.  The author had a lot of great ways to incorporate project based learning in a classroom setting, but also related it to parents working with their kids at home.  I think this book would be great for anyone that has kids that are in school/homeschool/will be in school :-)  It has really caused me to re-evaluate the current flow of our home, and I am now trying to make some changes to make it easier for my kids to explore what they want to explore.  Really interesting information!

Linking up with Tami and Ginny, One Project at a Time

snow forts

We got a huge storm this past weekend.  You may have heard of it, it was called Nemo :-)  My kids, both of them, are finally at the point where they would like to stay outside for long periods of time in the snow.  I'm not saying we never took the kids out in the snow, but they are more likely to stay outside now for more than 15 minutes!  And what should one do if you have huge snow drifts and a lot of time on your hands?

Build snow forts of course!  My husband actually dug this out for the kids.  I have to tell you, all of my mama instinct was saying "this is going to cave in on them!"  However, my husband squashed my fears by digging more of a snow tunnel, which I felt much more comfortable with!

The kids loved it!  They were so excited to be outside and climbing huge snow banks, I am not entirely sure it really mattered that it was a snow fort.  They then went down the street to my mom's house.  She has a huge snow bank that the plow truck made plowing her driveway.  They spent a good part of Sunday sliding down the snow bank, and climbing through the snow tunnel.

It was awesome to see them enjoy the snow so much, especially when I sometimes question the winters that we endure here in Maine!  I know it will be short lived.  We are supposed to have temps in the 40's this week.  But, while it is here, instead of wishing it away, I am going to embrace it!  Let my inner child out and have a good time.

What fun winter activities are you doing these days?  Do your kids love the snow, or prefer to watch from a window?  Or do you not have snow at all?!

Linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop

snow! snow! snow!

What a crazy weekend of snow we had!  We knew that the storm was coming, we were prepared with our food and our shovels at the ready.  Another storm that was expected to give us a dusting on Friday ended up dropping 8 inches on us, and this was before the blizzard even began!  Friday night it snowed and the wind howled, and surprisingly we all slept quite peacefully.  Saturday, it snowed more.  It was more like sideways snow, just constantly coming down.  And then Sunday, we awoke to this:

Now, this isn't a huge amount of snow in general, but considering we had absolutely zero snow before this storm, yes, it is a lot!  Luckily it was light snow.

The chickens decided they did not want to venture out in the snow, and would only stand on their little door. They did enjoy eating the snow, just not playing in it.  We were very lucky that the coop didn't get completely snowed in with drifts.  Somehow the direction of the wind and the location of the coop worked together, and there was only a little bit of snow right at the bottom of the door.

Did you weather the storm?  Are you still digging out?  Is it sunny and 70 where you live?  If so, send some of that warmth up to me!

Linking up at Clever Chicks and the Barn Hop

Sunday Quotes

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

what i am eating

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.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I have accepted that my kids eat differently than "normal" kids.  They don't eat chicken fingers, or macaroni and cheese.  Instead they choose green smoothies, green juice, and salads.  I love that about them.  I think a lot of people think I deprive my kids, but I don't.  I typically give my kids a choice for lunch.  "Would you like macaroni and cheese or salad?"  Most days my kids choose salad and then pick at the macaroni and cheese.  I have tried chicken fingers (homemade) and there is no interest.  I make pasta with sauce and salad with oil and balsamic vinegar for dinner, and my kids eat the salad.  They eat black beans and peach salsa for dinner, and eat fruit as a snack as often as they are able.  I know, it is strange.  My kids eat fruit/veggies/nuts/green smoothies for lunch, and are happy...even if they don't want to smile for the camera :-)  And I am ok with it.  At first, slightly alarming.  I mean, who doesn't love macaroni and cheese?  Apparently these ones...

I honestly am doing the best thing I can for my kids.  Giving them healthy, whole foods.  Not forcing them to eat specific things.  I find that some days they eat very little, and other days they eat the entire day, but they are happy, and I definitely think I am giving them the opportunity to learn about healthy food from a young age.  That's not to say that I don't give them anything "fun" or "unhealthy."  They frequently eat chocolate chips as a treat, and popcorn...oh the popcorn.

I'm pretty convinced that the popcorn is my fault.  I love it.  I think I could possibly live on popcorn for dinner every day.  But, I try not to make it too often for my kids - mainly because of the kernals that sometimes lurk beneath the fluffy white popped corn.  Inspired by a recipe I saw on soulemama, I deviated from my typical parmesan cheese topping - although not too far.  I would never have thought to put dill on popcorn, but I am letting you know now, you must do it.  It was absolutely delicious.  And even after I cleaned up the bowls with a bit of popcorn still in them, my children questioned as to where the popcorn had disappeared to...ummm...I thought you were done?  No?  Well, I will make some more I guess :-)

Please link up your food related posts below!

Linking up at Weekend Whatever and One Project at a Time

Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Winner!

And the winner of a quart of coconut oil from Tropical Traditions is...#168 Rachael C.  Congratulations Rachael!  You will hear from me soon!

Thank you to everyone who entered!  And stay tuned, because I have some other fun giveaways in the works!

yarn along

I am still knitting the shawl that I started last week.  Let's be honest, I will probably continue to knit this shawl for the next couple of months before I actually finish it!  And I also have to say, it started out knitting pretty quickly, and then I realized that I was going to be working hundreds of stitches at a time just to finish a row, and now it is not so quick :-)  But, it is still a fun pattern, and as long as I have a bit of uninterrupted time, I can complete an entire series of rows, and that is fun.  The yarn I am using is so soft, and anything soft is always fun to work with!

My purple scarf is also still in the works.  It is a great project to work on when I get bored of counting stitches.  I have resigned myself to not having the ability to knit one project from beginning to end without casting on something new.  So these two projects give me the variety I need without getting discouraged about difficulty (or my children ripping rows out!).

I have just finished a few books.  The first is called Finding Church: Stories of Leaving, Switching, and Reforming.  I was really looking forward to reading this book because I think we are all trying to find a good church, or more accurately, a good community.  However, I had a lot of trouble getting through this book.  Some of the stories were very encouraging, but in others the tone seemed so angry, it was uncomfortable to read.

I also just finished reading both Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, the companion book to the documentary and Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook.  I'm not sure I can really count a cookbook against my 100 books goal, but they were both very good.  The recipes look amazing.  Vegan cooking is not something I have had a lot of experience with, and I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes with the different nut sauces and other flavors that aren't part of my everyday.

On my "to read next" list, I have Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, which I just received yesterday and am anxious to get into.  OK, I have a long list of books to read next, but I always get excited when I receive a new book in the mail!  If you want to find out what else I am reading, you can click over to my 2013 book list or find me on goodreads.

Today is the last day to enter my Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Giveaway.  So be sure to enter if you haven't already!

Joining in with the yarn along and WIP Wednesday

what type of homeschooler are you?

A lot of homeschool blogs are very specific to a certain type of homeschooling.  There is the Charlotte Mason group, which is all about living books.  There are other literature based types.  The interest-led homeschoolers, the school at home homeschoolers.  It seems like there is a type of homeschooler for everyone!  Where do you fall?

I have been trying to figure out what my type is for quite a while now.  Do I love living books?  Absolutely!  Do I love books in general?  Of course!  Haven't you seen my crazy 100 books goal for the year?!  Do I think that my children should be able to explore their own interests, and take it as far as they can?  Yes!  Do my children enjoy math workbooks and sitting down for writing practice.  Yes, and yes.

How is it possible to identify with nearly every homeschooler "type" that is out there?  Where does that leave my family?  Where does that leave my kids?

Well, it seems as though we are in the "eclectic" homeschooler group.  We are the homeschoolers that like to take a little bit of each type, and make it our own.

I honestly think this is great.  Part of me wants to fully throw myself into unschooling, but the reality is, my daughter loves to sit down and do math workbooks for as long as I will let her during the day.  We can spend hours reading books during the day, and do nothing else, and my children are happy.  We can do nothing "school" related, and instead spend the entire day outside, digging in the dirt, looking at trees and leaves, planting a garden, or playing with our chickens; and that is OK too!

At first I wasn't quite sure what to make of an "eclectic" homeschooler.  Now, however, I find that we are able to take all of things that work for us from the other types out there and make it our own.

We take what works for our family and use that to guide us on our homeschool journey.  

That is the most important thing, I believe.  Finding what makes my children passionate about learning, and going head on into it.  So whether it is workbooks and flash cards, or nature studies and paint brushes, I am going to use whatever I can to give my children the love of learning that I desire for them.

What type of homeschooler are you?  If you do not homeschool, is there a type of learning that you find your children gravitate towards?

Linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop

Community Supported Agriculture

The first year I had ever heard about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was back in 2007.  It was around the time that all of the recalls on spinach were happening, and I decided to make an effort to eat a more local diet.  I was too late to the party that year, and instead relied on farmers' markets that were about 30-40 minutes from my house.  Not exactly convenient, but I knew I was making the right choice for my family at that time.

I found a farmer at the farmers' market that talked about how his farm had a CSA, and that is where the majority of his vegetables went each week.  I knew that I wanted to have the opportunity to have all of those vegetables, and decided that we would get a CSA share for the following summer.  It helped to find out that this farm was 5 miles down the road, even though the farmers' market I was visiting was 30 minutes away.

A CSA share is where you pay an amount of money up front, before the growing season even starts, in return for a basket of food that you pick up each week.  There are two different types of CSA shares that we have had.  The first is what our summer share is.  We go to the farm, and the farmers and apprentices have already put all of our vegetables and other goodies in a basket that we then transfer to our bags and bring home.  The other share type that I have run into is what our winter share does.  A selection of vegetables are set out on tables, each vegetable type has an amount associated with it, and you pick your veggies in the amount specified.

The one thing that I wasn't aware of with CSA shares was how quickly they fill up.  The farm we get our summer share from is usually full by March, and our winter share by the mid summer.  Do you know what that means?  It is time to look for your CSA share now!

If you have never considered a CSA share, you should.  Now, I know that getting the money beforehand is a difficult task, and there are also a lot of people that have a large availability of farm fresh fruits and vegetables available to them at a low price.  Obviously, if you have access to a lot of farms in your area and buy directly from them, it may not be cost-effective to get a CSA share.  However, if you don't have the time to go to many different places to shop, or don't have a lot of farm stores in your area, you should definitely look into getting a CSA share.

Where can you find a CSA share?  

The best place to start would be Local Harvest.  Not only does Local Harvest list CSA shares available in your area, it also lists farmers' markets, co-ops and other farm type shopping areas.  If you are unable to find a CSA share available on Local Harvest, I would then google farms in your area.  Even if a farm doesn't offer a CSA share, they may be willing to work out a deal with you.  I know some farms at our farmers' market that give a discount when people pay ahead of time.  If you pay $100 up front, you will get a credit for $115 at the farmers' market to spend.

The key to all of this is to look now.  Most farms are planning their spring and summer planting right now.  When you purchase a CSA share from a farm, you are giving the farmers immediate capital so that they can plan for their season, and provide their customers with the best variety possible.  Not to mention it keeps money in your community.

I find that when I joined our CSA, it was a great community builder.  It is a place that we have visited ever since my oldest was first born (picking up our first CSA share when she was just 3 weeks old!).  Every week when we visit the farm, it is an event full of visiting chickens and sheep, talking to our farmer and the apprentices that work on the farm, picking herbs and flowers, and walking around the beautiful gardens.  It gives my children (and me) a great connection to the food that we are eating.

Are you planning on getting a summer CSA share this year?  Have you considered purchasing a winter CSA share before?

Linking up with Clever Chicks, the barn hop, healthy 2day wednesday, Your Green Resource

Sunday Quotes

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.
~Thomas Merton

Courting Cate Book Review

You can see all of the books that I have read this year on my 2013 book list page.

Cate is the older sister in a small Amish family.  She is not interested in marrying, and believes that her younger sister is the one that should be married and give her father the grandchildren he hopes for.  But, then her father throws a wrench into Cate's plans, and requires her to marry before her sister can.

Courting Cate is a tad different than the other Amish books I have read.  Cate is about as different as the "typical" Amish woman as can be possible while still being Amish.  She has attitude and sass, she knows nothing about homemaking, and has an eye for business.  She is 23 and knows that because of her attitude and what she perceives as bad looks, it means that none of the men in the town want to court her.  When a new man comes to town, and he is as fiery as Cate, she may have met her match.

I really enjoyed this book.  I liked that Cate had no knowledge of being a housewife.  I loved that she was passionate about reading, constantly going to the bookmobile to check out new books.  And I felt for her during all of her struggles.  After reading this book, I realized that I may have an issue with how easily the antagonists are forgiven in Amish stories.  Although, it does make sense considering that is the Amish way.

Overall, very interesting read that takes you down to the last few pages before you know how it is going to turn out, and that, to me, is the sign of a very good book!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my review.  The opinions are my own.

what i am eating #14

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.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I probably should call this weeks link up "what i will be eating this weekend."  Because, in my world, the Superbowl is this weekend.  And to me the Super Bowl means one thing, an excuse to make some amazingly delicious recipes!

spinach artichoke dip

I honestly don't know what it is about the Superbowl that screams unhealthy food to me, but it is what it is.  Every year I make way more than humanly possible.  I think that I am always expecting people to stop by, but maybe I secretly want to continue eating all of this food for the next week.

stuffed jalapenos

We tend to do a pretty laid back party, usually just us.  It works better this way because we put our kids to bed so early.

baked buffalo chicken wraps

These are some of the dishes that I made last year, and I am glad I looked back on these pictures, because I am pretty sure I will want to make these again this weekend!  I need to get on pinterest and do a little superbowl pinning I think!  I actually have a separate superbowl board if anyone is interested in seeing what I pin over there!

Are you planning a special party for the Superbowl this year?  Do you try to stay healthy?  Or do you go all out with the unhealthy choices?