Sunday Quotes

A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world.  It was a perfect act.
~Mahatma Gandhi

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
~Matthew 28:6

Your Beautiful Purpose review

Your Beautiful Purpose: Discovering and Enjoying What God Can Do Through You by Susie Larson, is a wonderfully thought provoking book about finding the will that God has for your life.

When I first started this book, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it.  I mean, who doesn't want to know the purpose of your life?  Obviously it is something that we all want.  Direction.  To know we are making the correct choices, to know that our lives are moving in the way that God chooses.  But, how do you figure out God's purpose?

Well, that is what this book shows you how to do.  It is wonderfully written, has personable stories from the author, and my favorite part - real hard questions at the end of each chapter.  They make you take a real hard look at your life, and what you are doing.  What direction are you moving in?  Is it really the direction you should be moving?

What struck me the most about this book was how Susie showed us that we have to give up our own dreams in order to figure out what God wants us to do.  Maybe we are clouding our minds so much with what we want we are unable to hear what He wills.

It was a big eye-opener for me.  I thought that the questions were really great for a group setting or for individual reading.  This would be a wonderful book to work through with a women's group in your church.  But, I think reading it on my own, and really being able to think about the words of this book was what worked for me.

I would love to offer my copy up to someone else who is looking for their beauitful purpose.  Just leave a comment below.

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

what i am eating - Guest Post Crazy Dumplings!

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 am excited to welcome Amanda Roberts to Townsend House!  Amanda moved to China in 2010 to live out her dream of becoming an English teacher.  Little did she know, the hardest adjustment to life in a new country would be the food!  After three years, Amanda is ready to release her first cookbook, Crazy Dumplings.

Cooking Abroad with Amanda Roberts

Before moving to China 3 years ago, I had lots of concerns. How hard will it be to communicate with people? What will the apartment be like? How will we deal with the limited internet access? One thing I didn’t worry about was the food. I love Chinese food. I was a regular at the Chinese buffet in my college town. People told me that authentic Chinese food wasn’t like Americanized Chinese food, but surely it would still be delicious, right?

While authentic Chinese food can be really good, I ended up in Hunan; the spicy food capital of China. It isn’t that I don’t like spicy food, but Hunan spicy food is far more spicy than anything you might find in America. I quickly found that there were many restaurants that I simply could not eat at because the food was just too spicy (even if I told them to make it bu la, not spicy).

Another problem with the food here is that Chinese food isn’t very diverse. In America we have American food, Chinese food, Italian food, Mexican food, and so on everywhere. In China you pretty much only have Chinese food. That can get old pretty fast. 

Finally, sometimes you just miss a good old home cooked meal. Could you really live the rest of your life without a bowl of cheesy potato soup? I know I couldn’t.

After a couple of months I set my mind to learning how to cook all over again. I started with simply learning to cook local Chinese food so that I could at least make it less spicy. After that, I started trying to find ways to make simple American dishes. I was so proud of myself the first time I made chicken noodle soup (out of a whole chicken!).

My first pot of chicken noodle soup

I began toying with the idea of writing a cookbook just for people living abroad. But every time I got started, it would get a bit overwhelming.  I have hundreds of ideas that all need to be broken down into individual steps and everything measured out exactly. I also didn’t know just how much of a need there was for something like that. Does every expat have the same struggles I did?

I finally decided to start small with just dumplings to help get me into the frame of mind for writing a cookbook and to gauge the interest for a larger, but more targeted, work. Thus, Crazy Dumplings was born.

Crazy Dumplings is a food fusion cookbook. The outside is a traditional Chinese dumpling wrapper, but it is used as an amazing vehicle you can fill with whatever your heart desires. I have come up with ways to make curry dumplings, taco dumplings, cheesecake dumplings, and much more. One of the biggest things I miss back home is Mexican food. So I have decided to include the recipe for burrito dumplings below along with how to make the beans from scratch in case you want to make your dumplings more organic or, if you are like me, live in a country that doesn’t have canned goods.

Dumpling Wrappers

3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup boiling water
Dash of salt
Flour for dusting

1)      Mix flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.
2)      Drizzle in water, mixing with a chopstick or fork.
3)      Leave in bowl, covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.
4)      Gather dough up into a ball and kneed on counter for a minute or two (until the dough is smooth)
5)      Pinch off small portion of dough and roll into a ball (about 1 inch in diameter). Roll out into a flat circle on the counter, dusting with flour to keep dough from sticking.
6)      Put small amount of preferred dumpling stuffing mixture into the middle of the flat dumpling wrapper. Pinch the dumpling closed.
7)      Cook dumplings.
a.       To fry dumpling, preheat oil for 30 second then lower heat. Cook dumpling on each side for only about one minute or until golden brown.
b.      To steam dumplings, place in a steamer or on an elevated plate in a wok over water for about 10 minutes.
c.       To boil dumplings, place in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
8)      Always cut a dumpling open to make sure it cooked through.
9)      Serve!

Burrito Dumplings

12 ounces of refried beans (canned or homemade)
½ cup shredded cheese
2 tablespoons chili seasoning
2 tablespoons ground cumin
½ tablespoon garlic seasoning
Salsa, cheese sauce, guacamole, sour cream (all possible optional dips)
12 dumpling wrappers

1.       Mix beans, cheese, and seasonings together in a bowl.
2.       Spoon mixture into dumpling wrapper.
3.       Fry dumplings in oil for about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown.
4.       Serve with favorite dip.

Refried Beans from Scratch
1 cup dried pinto beans
lots of water

1)      Soak beans overnight (about 8 hours; one cup of dry beans will yield about 3 cups of soaked beans)
2)      Boil beans for about 4 hours on medium heat
3)      The water will boil away, so be sure to add more water to the beans about every hour.
4)      Add 3 cups of beans and ½ cup of water to a blender and blend until smooth.
5)      Pour beans into a pan and fry for about 5 minutes on low heat.

You can find all these recipes and many, many more in Amanda Roberts’ new cookbook Crazy Dumplings, now funding on Kickstarter.  This cookbook will contain 30 original dumpling recipes plus 5 recipes from various backers, and several different sauce and dip recipes.  Amanda is self-publishing this cookbook, and there are some great reward levels for supporting her!  You can also find Amanda on Facebook.

Please link up your food related posts below!

Spring Cleaning Series - Week Three : Kitchen

Over the next several weeks I will be talking a bit about my spring cleaning.  I would love for you to join me!  Please add your link from your dining and living room posts below!

How did last week go for you?  Do you have a super clean living room and dining room now?  I have to say that cleaning under the furniture is always a sad process for me.  No matter how many times I think I have swept the floor, I constantly find remnants of something.  But, it is nice to have it all cleaned.

I also took this opportunity to rework the armoires that I have in my living and dining rooms.  They have served many purposes over the years; clothes closets, school closets, closets for each child.  Now they are specifically for storage of blankets and games in the living room and canning supplies other kitchen supplies in the dining room.  It is nice to have a bit of extra storage!

I also decided to move my microwave from the kitchen counter into the armoire.  I love to have clear counter tops, and I have moved the microwave into several spaces over the years.  This one is completely out of the way, and I am really happy with it!  It isn't the most convenient, since it is in the dining room and not in the kitchen.  However, I don't use the microwave that often, so it doesn't bother me!  Plus it gave me a head start on this week's spring cleaning.

Living Room Armoire - Before

Dining Room Armoire - Before

Living Room - After

Living Room Armoire - After

Dining Room - After

Dining Room Armoire - After

This week we will be working on the kitchen.  It seems like the kitchen is easiest to get cluttered for me.  We have a large kitchen, but not much in the way of a pantry, so food tends to be put wherever there is free space.  Add in the counters, and we have a cluttered mess!

I want you to go through your spices today, get rid of what is old or what you don't use.  Look through the cupboards and see if the setup is working for you.  Would it be better to have glasses next to the sink or the fridge?  Do you keep pots and pans in your oven or in a cupboard?  Are the least used things put up out of the way?  Is there anything you really don't use that you could sell or donate?  Do you really need 6 pie plates?

I will also be going through my fridge this week.  I seem to have been overcome with condiments again.  Take anything out that is old, and throw it in the compost pile.  Clean all the shelves. Vacuum the coils in the back to make sure it is running as efficiently as possible.  Trust me, you will be happy to have this done!

Green Tip:
If you have old spices, dump out the spices but keep the jars.  Then dry your own herbs this summer and put in the old containers for later use.  And remember all those old t-shirts you cut up to use as rags?  Keep them in a drawer in the kitchen and stop buying paper towels!

spring sweater progress

I honestly was hoping to be finished with this sweater by this week's yarn along post, unfortunately, not the case.  This past weekend we spent a good bit of time with friends tapping trees and boiling sap (and eating a lot of pancakes!).  It was a lot of fun, but not the best place for me to be working on my knitting!

I am done with the front and back and one sleeve.  I just need to finish this one sleeve and then knit the hood.  It is so simple, as far as knitting goes.  Not the most adventurous pattern, but I love how it is coming out.  And I know that this color is going to look amazing on my daughter.  Now I am thinking about a non-hooded one I could make for my son...but that probably won't be until the fall!

I am still reading Your Beautiful Purpose: Discovering and Enjoying What God Can Do Through You.  It has been a really interesting read so far.  Being able to humble oneself enough to take God's direction, and not let your own hopes and dreams get in the way of His plan; it is a lot to take in!  Watch for a full review this weekend!

Looking forward to seeing all the other projects others are working on!

Joining in with Ginny Tami and Nicole

Making Playdough & a Recipe

My kids absolutely love playdough.  I think that is pretty common for most kids though.  Unfortunately, playdough can get expensive.  My kids tend to forget to put it away, or by the time I start cleaning it up, the playdough has already started to dry out.  Not to mention the mixing of kids seem to only want to play with multi-colored playdough!  What is a mama to do when all the playdough has dried out or severely mixed to a yucky brown color?  Make your own of course!

Making your own playdough is a great activity to do with the kids.  It is relatively easy (except for all that stirring!), and inexpensive to make a huge amount of playdough.  We keep our old playdough containers to store the playdough that we mix color into, and then the remainder I put in a ziploc bag to save for later.

The uses ingredients most people have in their kitchen and makes quite a bit!

Homemade Playdough recipe

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 Tablespoons oil
3 cups water

Mix all ingredients in a pot and stir constantly over medium heat until dough forms a ball and starts to pull away from sides of pot.  Turn out dough and knead until it has the consistency of playdough 2-3 minutes.  Take dough and put in plastic bags and add your favorite food coloring to dye the dough.  Done!

My kids absolutely loved this activity.  They liked picking their own colors to mix in, and then squeezing the bag and watching the white dough turn to the color they wanted.

Emma decided that she was going to construct a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  I was pretty impressed with what she came up with.  Can you tell?  Here is another picture.

It may be that I can only see it :-)  The multi-colored part at the top of the picture is the head.  Can you see the green circle that is the eye?  And the orange tongue?  She made it complete with small arms and large feet and tail.  I thought she did a pretty good job, and am sure the reason she thought of a dinosaur was because of the dinosaur book she has been reading with the LeapFrog TAG Reading System.

Do you make your own playdough?  Are there other crafty supplies that you make from scratch for/with your kids?

Linking up with Hip Homeschool HopMilk and CuddlesYour Green Resource, Clever Chicks

seedlings and children

A couple of weeks ago I planted tomato seeds.  This is the first year I have attempted starting any seeds inside - well, not exactly, but that is a story for another day!  They all seem to be doing well.  I found that if I kept the seed trays right above my dishwasher, I didn't need to have a seed warming mat.  The dishwasher (which runs constantly in our house) warms the counter top enough to help the seeds sprout!


Unfortunately, as I soon realized, my youngest really thinks seedlings are beautiful.  So beautiful, in fact, that he continues to pick them and bring them to me as little bouquets.  Those poor seedlings that were doing so well, to be plucked from their little tray and brought to me.  At the same time, how incredibly sweet of my 2 1/2 year old to think to bring me some "pretty plants."


I still have several seedlings, and I plan to transplant them to larger pots so that they can get their true first leaves, but I haven't gotten to that yet.  My sweet peppers and jalapenos are also sprouting - although those took much longer than I expected.  What is left of the spinach seems to be doing ok as well.  I had hoped to really get a head start on the greens, but again, two year olds and seedlings don't necessarily mix :-)


Emma is mainly concerned with getting the peas planted.  She asks me every day, even though we still have snow on the garden (which will hopefully be gone this week!).  The coral shell peas from Fedco are by far her favorite thing to grow.  And I can't complain with my girl eating all those fresh peas, her uncle and I were the same way when we were little!

What is going on in your garden?  Were you hit by this latest snow storm?

Linking up with the Homestead Barn Hop, Clever Chicks

Sunday Quotes

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

~Helen Keller

To Honor and Trust Review & Giveaway!

The year is 1913.  Callie has gone to Bridal Veil Island resort with the Bridgeport family. They employ her as a governess, although that line seems to be blurred most of the time.  She is constantly looking for God's guidance as to whether she should be there with the family, or if it is time to move on.  But, maybe she is avoiding God's calling because she isn't quite ready for the commitment that comes with being a missionary.

She meets Wesley Townsend, who is on vacation with his wealthy family, but is trying to escape his already laid out in front of him life.  They are drawn together, even though there are secrets on both sides.

To Honor and Trust is the third book in the Bridal Veil Island Series.  It was a really interesting read.  I knew that it was a historical romance novel, but there were so many mysteries involved, which I loved. The twists and turns were numerous.  There seems to be something for everyone.  It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once I was a few chapters in, I was hooked!

I would love to offer up a copy of this book for one of my readers!  If you like historical fiction/mystery, you will love this book!  Just leave a comment below letting me know you are interested!

I was sent a copy of this book by Bethany House in return for an honest review.  The opinions are my own.

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 been making poached eggs this week.  I am not a poached egg eater, but my husband is.  Actually, I have never tried one, and although I am quite adventurous when it comes to eating new things, the runny yolk is not something I can wrap my head around!

Until this week I had never even attempted poached eggs.  However, after learning a lot more about poached eggs and their benefits in my Whole Food Kitchen workshop, I decided to make them.  Did you know that the yolk contains choline, which is a liver detoxifier?  A lot of people shun egg yolks because of the cholesterol they contain.  Honestly, I think everything in moderation.  And I wonder sometimes at what the difference between fresh eggs (like the ones I get from my chickens every day) and the commercially produced and sold eggs of chickens who never go outside.

The other new thing I made this week was peanut noodles with broccoli, inspired by this recipe.  They were seriously delicious and my daughter gobbled them up.  *Note to self - make a double batch next time.  We didn't include the chick peas in the recipe, because we are not fans.  Strange, isn't it?  Considering we eat a wide variety of beans and legumes.  Chick peas are not in my favorites category though!

Also, I wanted to point out that I have started a Facebook page for Townsend House, which is funny considering I deleted my personal Facebook account a while back.  You can find a link on the right side of the page, the button with the f. This one is purely blog related.  I am planning to share more of what I am eating throughout the week, and other *hopefully* interesting information.  I would love for you to like my page!  And if you have a Facebook page, please leave a comment so that I can like you as well!

Onto the linkup!  What are you eating this week?  Any ideas for Easter, which is just around the corner?  I am planning a vegetarian Easter dinner, with the eggs from our chickens being the main fare.

Linking up at Fit & Frugal Friday

The Da Vinci Code - Free for Kindle!

I just wanted to let all of my readers know that right now Amazon has The Da Vinci Code for free on Amazon Kindle!  This is one of my all time favorite books, and I had to pass it along as soon as I saw it!  You don't need to have a kindle in order to get this great deal, you can just download the kindle app for your iphone/ipad/android device, or even get kindle for your computer!  Seriously, this is a great book, and if you haven't read it, or if you have only seen the movie, you have to get this book and read it!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Thursday!

Sharing at Giveaway Day

Spring Cleaning Series - Week Two : Living Room & Dining Room

Over the next several weeks I will be talking a bit about my spring cleaning.  I would love for you to join me!  Please add your link from decluttering below!

How did you all do with decluttering the easy stuff (winter clothes, unused toys, etc.)?  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly this process was for me.  I think that because I have been decluttering regularly for a couple years now, it has made the process a lot more streamlined.  My kids were actually excited to go through their toys and re-organize.

We didn't have a lot of toys to get rid of.  Once we went through them all we realized that the kids do play with them all, they just have a lot of pieces!  I think most open ended toys are like that though.  You will notice that in the picture with the clothes to consign, the boys clothes are lacking.  That is because I have already passed them on to my brother and sister-in-law for my cute little nephew!  But believe me, there were a lot of pieces I got rid of!

kids closet before

kids closet after

clothes to consign and winter things to put away

"friends" bin in living room

toys that stay downstairs in dining room

This weeks challenge is a little more labor intensive.  We are going to work on the living room and the dining room.

Now, my living room seems to be a catchall for toys, blankets, pillows, and goldfish crackers!  The first thing we are going to want to do is make sure that everything in the living room is supposed to be there.  For me, that means just furniture, and one bin of toys in the corner.

The same can be said for our dining room, for some reason we like to leave a trail of toys in every room of our house.  Luckily, last week I worked on getting the toys slightly more organized.  I will go into more about our toy organization when we get to the bedrooms.

This is the time to take the cushions off the couch and chairs and vacuum them.  If you have a fold out couch, like we do, unfold it and make sure the mattress is clean.  I like to keep a clean sheet on it.  Move the furniture and really scrub the floors if you have hard floors, or if you have a rug, sprinkle baking soda all over the rug, let it sit for 30 minutes and then vacuum it up.  Wash the baseboards.

For the dining room, make sure your table is cleaned off, this isn't the place to store papers or books...or my computer!  Look through your hutch if you have one, dust the shelves and any decorative pieces.  Dust off the top of the hutch as well!  Are there items that are cluttering this space that shouldn't be there?

This would also be the time to wash your windows, inside and out.  My house has a lot of windows.  And because of that, I don't wash them all at once.  I try to do a couple rooms at a time, so hopefully my house always has a few clean windows ;-)

Green Tip:
Instead of using the typical commercial cleaners to wash your windows, use distilled white vinegar and a rag.  It cleans just as well, and doesn't burn your nose while you are cleaning.  If you are worried about the vinegar smell, don't be.  Once the vinegar dries, the smell with dissipate.  Plus, if you are cleaning the outside of the windows, you will let some of the vinegar smell go outside!

I am looking forward to seeing all of your decluttering posts and pictures, so be sure to link up below!

How did the decluttering go from last week?  Were you able to get rid of a lot of stuff?  Are your winter clothes and toys all packed away for next year?  Were you surprised at what you were able to get rid of?

Linking up at Mommy Club

An Epic Playdate Weekend {giveaway}

This post is brought to you by The New Santa Fe from Hyundai. Click here for information on how to win a trip for four to Los Angeles to attend Hyundai's Epic Playdate Weekend!

As parents, we know how important playdates are.  They give kids the opportunity to do something outside the norm, really get to dig into something fun and interesting.  I think that it also allows all the mamas out there (and dads too!) the opportunity to regroup as well.  When you are doing the same routine every day, it can get boring!

What if you had the opportunity to have an epic playdate with your kids, what would you choose to do?  For me, I think a weekend of hiking and camping in the woods would be a great time.  It involves a lot of the activities my kids enjoy, but in a new location, so it is exciting and fun!

Having the opportunity to get out into nature and just let go of the technology, play with the kids and watch them explore, would be amazing.  If you add in a lot of trees to climb and a lot of dirt, perhaps a stream to play in, and I think that my kids would be in heaven.  What is it about dirt that is so appealing to kids?  Is it that we just don’t want them to get dirty?  It would have to end with us roasting marshmallows around the fire and enjoying the company of each other, laughing and talking.  That is my definition of epic!

Hyundai is holding their own Epic Playdate Weekend on April 27th from 9am-5pm in Santa Barbara, CA.  There are going to be a ton of awesome bloggers participating; Dooce, Mighty Girl, Girls Gone Child, and How to be a Dad - just to name a few!  They will be camping out on the beach and hosting a bunch of cool activities for the kids like the ultimate ice cream sundae bar, hula hoop workshops, paint fights and more!  I know I would like to go to that!  And luckily, you could win a trip to Hyundai's Epic Playdate Weekend for your family!

You have to have a pinterest account, but you can find out all the details here.

Most important part - This is an invite only event!  You must choose Clever Girls Collective when the form asks "How did you hear about us?"

And seriously, if one of you guys win, please please please come back and let me know!  I would be so excited to hear that one of my readers won!

What would your epic playdate be with your kids?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Linking up at Giveaway Day

yarn along

I can't believe how fast the progress has been on this spring pullover I am knitting for Emma!  I was able to spend quite a bit of time on it this weekend, and surprisingly I am making quick work of this pattern.  I still have to finish the front, make the sleeves/hood/pocket and put it together.  However, the bulk of the body is done, and that makes me happy!  Maybe instead of a birthday sweater, this can be an Easter sweater!

As far as my reading, I just started Your Beautiful Purpose: Discovering and Enjoying What God Can Do Through You.  I feel like every time the seasons change, I start to re-evaluate what I am doing in life, what I want to work on, what I want to do with the time I am given.  I am really excited to dig into this book and see if I might find some answers to questions I seem to constantly ask myself!

What are you working on this week?  Any new books?

Joining in with Ginny and Tami

about those signs of spring...

It has been warming up quite a bit, and with that, the snow is melting.  But, don't tell my kids that they can't go sledding anymore because of no snow!  No, I spent a good part of the morning dragging my kids in sleds over our still frozen ground.  They had a blast, and I got a great workout in!

Of course it seems like my talk of spring came too soon!  We look to have a nice big snow storm today and tomorrow!  But, the sun is warmer, and I know it won't stay forever.  My kids are probably going to get their wish for one more romp in the snow!

We will continue to start seeds indoors this week.  Emma has picked out several types of flowers that she wants to plant, so we will get working on those!  She should have a beautiful flower garden this summer by the time she is through :-)

What are your kids doing this week?  Is winter still hanging on in your area?

Linking at the Hip Homeschool Hop

Signs of Spring!

The snow is finally melting away, which I am incredibly happy about.  I was taking a walk around our house and saw that all of my daylilies are starting to spring out of the ground.  My irises are still buried under a little pile of snow.  When we first moved into this house several years ago, I thought I would pull up a lot of these daylilies.  I wanted to have other flowers mixed in, of the pink and purple variety.  But, as the time went on these beautiful orange blossoms started to grow on me.  I don't have to do anything to them during the year and they just keep growing every spring!  They are a great cutting flower to freshen up the inside of my house during the summer as well.

With the melting snow, unfortunately, comes the mud.  It has been kind of warm, kind of rainy the past several days, and because of that, the chicken run is becoming a mud pit.  I think they are looking for dust baths, but instead are just taking mud baths...I plan to pick up more straw at the store to put down and hopefully that will combat the wetness in the run.

Do you have signs of spring at your house?  Any tips for mud season and chickens?

Linking up at Clever Chicks, Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Living Wednesday

Sunday Quotes

Irish Blessing

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Weekend Links

Here are some interesting links I have been reading this week.  Not necessarily the happiest of links, but I like to keep it as real as possible here :-)

Yes, You Can - Sheryl Sandberg's 'Lean In'

Erin Callan: 'I Leaned In Far'

Deadly Bacteria that Resist Strongest Drugs are Spreading

Whole Foods GMO Labeling to be Mandatory by 2018

Obama 'Energy Security Trust' Pushes Green Research and Natural Gas Development

Are you reading any interesting articles this week?  I would love for you to share them in the comments.  I am kind of a news junkie :-)

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 was our last winter CSA pickup for this season. *sigh*  I often talk about all the wonderful root veggies that we get during the winter, and what I make with them.  However, I don't talk a lot about the canned goods that we get from them - usually later in the CSA season as the root veggies grow fewer and far between.

The thing that I really like about the canned goods we receive is that it gives me a clue into what I should can for myself in the coming season.  As my kids get older, their tastes develop, and there are some delicious and healthy home canned foods that they both really enjoy.

In the middle is the favorite of both of my children - dilly beans.  They love them.  And honestly don't eat green beans any other way.  We receive both fermented dilly beans and regular canned dilly beans from our winter CSA, and my kids like them both.  We find that the fermented dilly beans are a bit crunchier.

All the way to the right are the much loved sweet pickles.  I have never canned pickles, but will definitely be doing it this year.  I never liked anything but the kosher pickles you get from a sub shop until I had these sweet pickles.  Now, one of my favorites.

On the left of the dilly beans is ruby kraut, which I eat with my salad every day, and on the right, fermented carrots - which I haven't tried, but I am sure will replace the ruby kraut when that is gone.  I tried kimchi for the first time a few years ago, and realized that I loved fermented foods, especially spicy fermented foods.  Now I try to eat some fermented veggies every day.  Fermented foods help aid in digestion and build up the immune system.  They also contain huge amounts of probiotics, which are helpful in healing your gut.

That first jar?  All the way to the left?  Well, that is the coveted tomatillo salsa.  That will be for dinner tonight with nacho chips and black beans.  I have never attempted growing tomatillos, but every time I have this salsa it makes me want to try.  So perhaps that will be a new plant in my garden this summer!

What are you eating this week?

Linking up at One Project at a Time

Spring Cleaning Series - Week One : Declutter the Easy Stuff

Spring is in the air!  Can you feel it?  Well, we can't quite feel it in Maine yet, but considering the snow is mostly melted, I have decided to start spring cleaning!  There is something about getting the house all cleaned up in the spring.

Over the next several weeks I will be talking a bit about my spring cleaning.  I would love for you to join me!

This first week my focus will be on decluttering the easy stuff.  What a task that is.  I am not sure why, but we seem to accumulate a lot of stuff.  I think it has to do with the extra layers of clothing that need to be out during our very long winter, and then of course the hold over from Christmas presents.  I try to go through the kids' toys before Christmas, but inevitably I do it again at the end of winter.  As the kids get older, they are no longer interested in some toys, and I feel better about packing those up and either selling them at a yard sale or consigning them - or giving them away!

I know that most of you won't be able to completely declutter your home in one week, but try and work on the big things.  Switch out your winter clothes for spring/summer clothes and pack up any kids clothes that no longer fit.  Switch out some of the kids toys. Which ones are they playing with and which are getting tossed aside?

Get rid of old magazines and newspapers.  Are there random pieces in your house that you don't like?  This week is all about easy decluttering.  The stuff you know you should be parting with.  If you have to think about it for more than a couple seconds, don't get rid of it.  You can look at it when we go through individual rooms!

Green Tip:
If you have clothes that are too stained to sell or donate, cut them up into rags.  You will be saving the clothing from being sent to a landfill, and will have some rags to work on the rest of your spring cleaning! 

Next week I will have a link up for everyone to link to posts and pictures about their decluttering process and I would love for you to come back and link up!  Good luck!

Have you started your spring cleaning?

Linking up at the Mommy Club and One Project at a Time

yarn along

Don't forget to enter my current giveaways!  A LeapFrog Prize Pack; The Briarpatch Gospeland Green Woman Magazine!

After finishing the shawl last week, I immediately wanted to cast on for another shawl.  But, instead I took some time and finished the wristlets I have been working on for my mother for a couple years :-)  I finished those last weekend, and then realized I needed something else to do.  Before I could knit something new, I had to go to the yarn shop.  When I got to the yarn shop I found this lovely super soft cotton yarn in a beautiful sea foam color, and realized that my daughter was destined to have a spring pullover for her birthday.  As you can see, I have made incredible progress on those first 8 rows.  Goodness, it took a lot out of me ;-)

I am still reading the three books I started last week.  I am especially enjoying Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet considering I have been thinking about local foods and how to sustain a plant based diet locally where I live in Maine.  Really interesting reading!  I also just picked up the four volumes of The Story of the World to start reading to the kids.  So far, I absolutely love them.  The stories are not too long, and are incredibly interesting - to my kids and to me!

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Joining in with Ginny and Tami!

LeapFrog Reading Month & giveaway!

Reading aloud to my children is one of the most important activities that I do every day.  Before I had my own children, I knew that reading would be a large part of their childhood.  I think it is because I love to read so much.  I attribute that to my mother reading to me every night when I was growing up, and showing me such a great love for reading.  My brother is actually the same way, always reading something.

Reading aloud to your children just twenty minutes each day increases their literacy later in life.  It helps to give critical early reading skills, so when they start school, they are used to hearing a variety of words and phrases.  I read a statistic in the Washington Post a while back that if you read to a child just 20 minutes each day they have a vocabulary of 40000 words, and have heard over 3 million words.  But, if a child is not read to often, or even not at all, their vocabulary is only 10000 words, and they have only heard 750000, many of which are most likely commands and discipline.

Reading helps in the natural curiosity of children.  When you read to a child, it sparks their imagination.  They begin to wonder why the characters are acting a certain way, they learn about character development, and using their imaginations to see a picture in their mind of what the story is telling them.  It makes them ask questions, and when they ask questions they learn.

My oldest is on her way to five years old *gasp* and she is starting to read on her own  What a wonderful stage to watch.  The amazement of a child sounding out letters to make a word, and then to see their face when it finally clicks for them.

One of the tools that I like to use is the Tag Reading System by LeapFrog.  It is amazing to watch my children sit and read books for prolonged periods with this amazing technology.  Anything that makes my kids engaged with the books they are trying to read is a huge plus in my book.

LeapFrog is raising awareness of the importance of reading with your child for twenty minutes a day to help kids reach their potential.  Discover how to keep your little learner engaged in reading on LeapFrog's Reading Month page, where you can get tips, videos, activities and printables.

In honor of Reading Month, LeapFrog is donating $2 million of books to America's schools, and you can help!  Go to Facebook and share the "Read 20 Minutes a Day" pledge, and LeapFrog will donate 5 books for every pledge!

LeapFrog is offering special deals on reading products all through March, in honor of Reading Month, including $3 off of Tag and Tag Junior books.  You can find the discount here.

I also have the opportunity to giveaway One LeapFrog Prize Pack to one of my US readers!  All you need to do is enter using the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective but content and opinions expressed here are my own. To take the LeapFrog Reading Month pledge, please visit their Facebook page. #LFReadingMonth #spon

Linking up with Hip Homeschool Hop, Giveaway Day

Is it possible to eat a local & seasonal plant based diet?

Over the past several months my family has been moving more in the direction of a plant based, whole food diet.  We rarely eat meat, but it still makes an appearance once in a while.  We do have our chickens for eggs, and I don't foresee them leaving anytime soon - my kids absolutely love their eggs!  But, what I am wondering, is whether or not it is possible to eat a mainly plant based diet and still eat locally?

I know in the summer we have access to an abundant amount of fruits and veggies through our farmers' market - and until recently, our summer CSA.  But what about all the other months?  Is it possible to grow enough and preserve enough and not eat meat?  I really don't have the answer, but it is something I have been wondering about for a while now.

There are so many different philosophies when it comes to food, and unfortunately, I find that I fall into several competing ones.  Eat a salad every day?  Absolutely!  Except for the part where lettuce is not growing most of the year in New England.  Should I be eating beans/legumes/grains to bulk up all the veggies?  Definitely!  But, I don't know of any farmers in my area that are growing rice.  Can that be replaced with potatoes for a starch?  Yes, but are they as healthy?  I don't know.

I try to eat locally first, and then organic as close to home as I can find.  Unfortunately, living in New England, most of the year organic is from very far away.  I am lucky that we have a local co-op that carries a large amount of these foods all year round.  I can buy local flour and oats, I can even get local organic soy products - if we actually ate tofu, that would be a good thing!  But, I know that it is not economical.

I know that  you need to vote with your food dollars.  I am all for that.  However, I also don't know how sustainable it would be for everyone in our state to eat like my family, and still be able to buy locally.  And those late winter/early spring months when most of the root veggies and fermented and canned foods are gone, but the fresh vegetables aren't growing yet, what do you do?

These are the thoughts that are constantly going through my head when it comes to food.  I'm not sure having more meat in our diets would balance everything out, but I also wonder if I could get enough vegetables locally to feed us through the winter and into the spring.

Are these questions that you ask yourself?  Do you eat a primarily plant based diet and eat locally?  I would love to hear what you do!

Linking up at the Homestead Barn HopClever Chicks, Backyard Farming Connection

Sunday Quotes

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island, and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.

~Walt Disney