Just Dance Kids 2014 review

We absolutely love dancing in our house.  It is something we do daily – although not entirely well!  I think that exercise is so important for children (and for adults as well!), and having a very long and cold winter does not make getting outside for exercise easy!  Luckily we have a large enough house to give us the space to move around.  It is hard to continuously figure out activities for the kids to burn off energy though.

Sometimes we need something other than just the radio to get us going.  Enter Just Dance Kids 2014!  My kids have entered the video game phase of childhood.  However, due to their ages (5 ½ and 3), they tend to have trouble with most of the games.  Just Dance Kids is absolutely perfect for them.  My five year old absolutely loves dancing, and to have a game that shows her moves, and plays songs that she loves, is incredible!

When a mama needs some downtime in the afternoon, but the kids need to get out some of their energy, this is a perfect diversion for them.  This is something that will encourage them to be active, burn off some energy, and have a blast doing it.  Plus, it is highly entertaining as a parent to watch your kids bust out to some Yo Gabba Gabba. 

Luckily there are songs that the parents and kids can get in on together, and this Ubisoft game is sure to become a fun activity for all of us in the future!  Perhaps we will replace movie night with dancing night instead.

Where to buy?

You can pick up Just Dance Kids 2014 at Amazon or Gamestop.  I highly recommend this game for under the Christmas tree this year!  I think that any kid would love it, and parents will a well – especially after all the delicious holiday treats we are all sure to have!

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!  I would love to know what your favorite dish is.  Mine is definitely stuffing, yum!  Don't eat too much!

what happens when...

What happens when your computer decides to take a little vacation (aka my laptop screen is totally broken)?  Well, you realize posting by tablet is not the easiest thing to do.  Then you decide to take a blog break and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday of course! Hopefully I will be back soon. Enjoy your family time all!

Sunday Quotes

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.
~Irv Kupcinet

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 would love it if you could grab the what i am eating badge below, include it in the post you are sharing, put it on your link page, or put it on your side bar.  Thanks!

what i am eating

I am not a big sandwich person.  I’m not sure why, because I definitely love bread, but I have never been a huge sandwich person.  There is one that I really love though, chicken salad.  Several years ago, before I was married, we had a big potluck where I worked.  One of the women I worked with brought in chicken salad, and it was delicious.  What she had added, that I never thought to add before, was dill.  Since then I have become a huge dill person.

I also am a big cheat when it comes to the chicken I use for chicken salad.  I use the rotisserie chicken that you can get at the store.  It is delicious, and we can get organic ones at our supermarket, so I feel better about buying it.  I strip off all the meat from the chicken and then add a lot of chopped cucumber, green pepper, and onion.  Then I add a little bit of mayonnaise (real mayo!), garlic powder, dill, a little lemon juice and some salt and pepper.  Put it on some bread with some lettuce, and you have a delicious lunch.  I actually love to put this on salad as well.  Yum!

I can’t wait to see what you are making this week!  Are you gearing up for the big meal next week by eating only lettuce – I should be!

preparing for holiday craziness

I would love to say that I have some amazing tips for not getting stressed around the holidays; unfortunately, I don’t have anything profound to say on the subject.  I realize that every year I get super stressed in December.  We have a lot of family commitments, as well as other smaller things that we want to do, and it all turns out to be very busy and stressful!  Every year I say that I am going to make this season better, less stressful.  It has been a slow process.

I think this year I am giving myself a lot more space to do what we want to do.  This year we will be celebrating Christmas after Christmas with my husband’s family, which is a big relief, especially with Thanksgiving being so late this year.  When there are only 2 weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas with my husband’s family, it gets a little insane trying to finish everything.

This year I am also backing off on homemade gifts.  I love homemade gifts, but unfortunately my wrist issues during the summer put me way behind on the list of knitting projects I had.  I will still be trying to make some things, but definitely not as many as I would really like to make.  I think that in order to make all the things I would want to make, I would have to start on January 1st and go through the whole year!

What am I going to do about all the craziness?  Breathe.  I have to remember that I love the holidays.  It is my absolute favorite time of year.  So I will be doing deep breathing when I realize that I have nothing wrapped, and half of my presents are still in the store yet to be picked out! 

What strategies do you use when the holiday craziness begins?!

knitting and reading

I am happy to report that I have made significant progress on Jack's hat.  Actually, I think if I could sit down for longer than a few minutes at a time, I would be able to finish it up.  I do love how fast hats knit up!  There is something very satisfying about a quick knit!  I hope to finish it up this week and get working on Emma's hat.

I was also able to go up to the yarn store a couple days ago and bought some new yarn.  I have not bought yarn for a long long time.  Actually, I think it may have been last winter that I last bought new yarn.  It was fun to take the kids and pick out what they wanted for hats and a couple other small Christmas presents.  Granted, Emma wanted to buy all of those fancy textured yarns that I have trouble knitting with...but we were able to settle on sparkly yarn instead.

As far as reading goes, I am looking at a lot of recipes at the moment - as I am sure a lot of people are with the Thanksgiving holiday coming next week.  I also just finished a great series with the kids called Travels with Gannon and Wyatt.  You can read my review here, and if you are interested, there is also a giveaway!  Great Christmas gift for kids!

I can't wait to see what everyone else is knitting and reading this week!

Linking up with Ginny, Nicole, and Tami

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt review

Travels with Gannon & Wyatt is a middle-grade adventure series, written by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet.  I have to say, I love adventure books!  I have since I was young.  There is something about a crazy adventure that always has me on the edge of my seat wanting to read more.  Luckily, my kids inherited my love for adventure!

This series definitely does not disappoint.  It is written in a journal format, following brothers Gannon and Wyatt as they travel the world.  One of the most appealing parts of this book for me (besides the content, which was wonderful!) was the fact that these boys are homeschoolers.  They have gone above and beyond what they study by traveling to these places.  Learning anything and everything they can along the way.

The three books in the series follow their travels in Botswana, the Great Bear Rainforest, and Egypt.  My kids were most excited to start on the Egypt book because we have been studying Ancient Egypt during the past couple of months. 

Egypt starts off with Gannon and Wyatt being accepted into the Youth Exploration Society’s Egyptian Antiquities Fellowship.  They, along with their parents (a flight attendant and artist) all make the trip to Egypt together.  I really enjoy the motherly vibe I get from the book, stressing the importance of learning and being grateful for the opportunities that we have.  The beginning of the book concentrates on their learning about Cairo and some of its history.  Then the adventure begins!  I don’t want to give too much away, but the kids really enjoyed the fast pace of this book.  And, again, the journal format was easy to read to them.  They felt like they were really in the story.

Overall I think this is an amazing series.  It is incredibly wholesome and has many wonderful underlying messages like the health of our environment and education in general.  I would definitely recommend this book to parents for their kids!

If you are interested in trying these books out for yourself, I am lucky enough to be able to offer all three of the books in this series.  All you need to do is leave a comment below telling me which book you are most excited about!

Also, I want to mention that the Travels with Gannon &Wyatt facebook page is giving away 3 kindle fire HD’s this month, so you might want to head over there and get in on the action!

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

no winter CSA this year

Several years ago when we started our journey to more local and seasonal eating, I was able to find a winter CSA share.  I think a lot of areas now have summer CSAs, but I think winter CSAs are not as common.  It is an amazing horse powered farm that gives us root vegetables, canned and frozen vegetables, and other preserved goodies (tomatillo salsa? Yes please!).

This year we decided not to do the winter CSA, not because we don’t love it, but just trying to save a bit of money.  I love the CSA model, but sometimes it is difficult to come up with a large sum of money at the beginning of a season.  So we are going to back off this year from the CSA.

I think that if it had been a couple years ago, I may not have been able to continue eating locally past what we preserved and stored for ourselves.  Luckily, that is not the case for us anymore.  Over the past year we have had a small local buying club sprout up in town.  The purpose of the buying club is to eventually become a store front downtown, a local market that offers an alternative to the grocery store.

Right now they have bi-weekly orders and pickups.  I really love the format though.  There is a website that we can go to and look at all the products available for this buying cycle.  Then we are able to put it all in our online basket.  When the order cycle closes, they take all the baskets of everyone who has ordered, and place the main order.

We have also seen a new local food market open up in our downtown area.  It is made up of local farmers.  They drop off their goods to the market, and a manager sets everything out.  It is pretty much like a grocery store, but on a much smaller scale, and with all local foods.  They also sell locally made crafts

I love to see how the local food economy has developed in my area over the past few years.  It started out with me searching for a farmers’ market within 30 minutes of my home, and now there are several CSA farms available, both summer and winter seasons; the year round farmers’ market, and the local food buying club.  We also have a couple of markets that carry local food as well; a fish market and a meat market.  Overall, I am really pleased with the amount of choices available, and it seems like there is an obvious demand – at least where I live – for locally produced food.

Have you seen your local food economy expand recently?

Linking up with Homestead Barn Hop

Sunday Quotes

Even though we're a week and a half away from Thanksgiving, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
~Richard Roeper

By Grace Alone by Derek Prince review

"Do you long to lay hold of God's grace and mercy?"

I think one of the hardest aspects for people in whether or not they go to church is legalism.  There are certain rules that need to be followed, traditions that you must not break from.  And from someone outside of the church it can look incredibly dull and stifling.  Even for some people in the church, I think it is incredibly difficult to realize that the reason we are saved is by God’s grace, not because we eat a certain way, or dress a certain way, it is all about what is in our hearts.

By Grace Alone is a book by Derek Prince about finding freedom and purging legalism from your life.  He explains that legalism is not adhering to Moses’ law of the Old Testament.  Instead, it is the laws that man has created to get the righteousness that God promises to the faithful.

As Christians, we are not held under the Law of the Old Testament.  We are saved by grace.  Yet, for some reason, many churches today feel the need to incorporate laws that they have made in order to bring you closer to God, but all it ends up doing is putting a barrier between you that doesn’t need to be there. 

Derek goes through the Bible and points to scripture to show us that we do not need to be concerned about these laws.  Of course there are societal laws that must be followed, but religious laws are not necessarily the same thing.  I think that it would help a lot of people that are in the church to read this book, to know that if someone decides to eat meat on Friday, or if they want to wear jeans instead of a skirt to church, they are still going to be OK with God.  Instead of these outward laws, we should be concentrating on the inward state of our hearts.

This is a great book that I think would give a lot of people in the church something to think about, and it may help to bring others into the church if we let go of some of the religious laws and traditions that scare people away.  

I received a copy of this book from Chosen in return for an honest review.  The opinions are my own.

Pray the Scriptures by Kevin Johnson review

"When you don't know the words to pray, God provides them for you."

As a Christian, prayer life is incredibly important.  I have to say that I have always excelled at reading my Bible, but praying is a completely different story.  We are commanded to "pray without ceasing."  However, I definitely feel that when I start praying, I go down all of these paths, and at the end am wondering if I even made any sense with all of my ramblings!

Pray the Scriptures by Kevin Johnson, is a wonderful way to help concentrate on what your prayer life should be.  It is a 40 day commitment, which takes you on a journey through the scriptures and uses them as a primer for prayer.

Each day has a short devotional.  It then has a few different Bible passages, and after each Bible passage there are "prayer prompts" to help you move into the right direction as far as how you should be praying.  At the end of each chapter there are reflection questions which can help further the depth of your prayers.

I really like this book.  I haven't made it all the way through yet, but I am looking forward to completing it.  I want to have that deeper relationship with God that praying allows, and this is a great option for those who need a little prompting to find God's will for their life.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher, Bethany House, in return for my 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 would love it if you could grab the what i am eating badge below, include it in the post you are sharing, put it on your link page, or put it on your side bar.  Thanks!

what i am eating

I absolutely love pasta.  Actually, I don't know any people that do not like pasta.  There is something amazingly comforting about a baked pasta dish.  I have been trying to think of new ways to make pasta – which seems to be a staple meal in our house.

We typically buy elbow noodles.  It is what the kids have always preferred, they are not quite ready for spaghetti, or maybe I am not ready for the mess it creates!  I decided to buy penne pasta though, for a little change.  And also because I wanted to make a baked pasta dish.

Baked Penne Pasta with sausage peppers & onions

1lb penne pasta cooked
1lb hot Italian sausage
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped onion
Minced garlic – however much you like, I use a couple of cloves
½ lb cubed mozzarella
1 quart tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.  Brown sausage in a pan with a little olive oil.  Add in chopped onions, peppers and garlic.  Continue cooking until peppers and onions are softened a bit.  Add sausage mixture and quart of tomato sauce to drained pasta, mix together.  Mix in cubed mozzarella.  Put in a baking dish and stick in the oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

The kids absolutely loved this, which I was surprised by.  They are not big meat eaters, and I wasn’t sure how the sausage would go over, but they loved it.  I think it might have had something to do with them putting the penne pasta on their fingers and calling it “finger noodles,” but I was happy that everyone ate the meal!  That seems to be rare these days. 

Now my favorites from last week:
I can’t wait to see what you are cooking up in your kitchen this week!

it is a balancing act

Something funny happened this fall.  We became insanely busy.  I think it was a complete shock to my system.  We went from having most days/evenings/weekends genuinely free, to activities almost every night, Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Something had to give.

I talked last week about my small blogging break.  And it was much needed, especially considering how busy we became.  Add the activities to homeschooling and trying to prepare meals and keep the house clean, well it was a little crazy!  Nothing like just jumping in!  Perhaps this was a point where I should have thought more about baby steps.

I realized that I need to be better about balancing everything.  It seems like I have a constant list going of things that need to be done.  Usually I love my “to-do” lists.  I like to cross things off and feel like I accomplished something.  Unfortunately, the time was getting away from me.  I was entirely unsure of where I could fit in some of the things that were being neglected (meal planning, quiet time), things that I still needed to do but could not find the time for.

I am not a big “day” scheduler.  I like to have a general rhythm and my list of what I need to do.  Unfortunately, I did not realize that my rhythm might need to change!  So I am in search of a new rhythm.  I definitely do not want to get down to an hour by hour schedule.  Things come up too often to be able to do that, but I needed to change some of the things we were doing. 

We have always done school first thing in the morning.  It is what works best for my kids.  They are fresh, and ready to go early in the day.  That makes me happy because I would rather get it out of the way when everyone has a good attitude!  What I didn’t expect was how much longer school would take this year.  Instead of just an hour or so, we have about four hours of dedicated school.  Of course some days it is shorter, but that seems to be the average.  Also, school time is all about me being fully engaged with the kids.  They are not at a level where I can say “here is what you need to read and work on today.”  They are obviously small, and need all the direct teaching I can give them.  Which means I can’t get up as easily to go change laundry over or clean the dishes, or start preparing a meal. 

I’m not upset at all about being busy, I love it.  But, I do need to work on a better rhythm for us.  I spend a lot of time preparing for school, doing school, trying to clean up school because it is incredibly important.  But, I also need to be able to do all the other things that involve running and keeping a house (and my sanity!).  So I am working on new strategies.  Maybe spending a little less time engaging with people on Facebook, staying up a bit later, preparing more meals in advance; I am sure we will get there soon!  I think that the craziness of the holidays coming up has really showed me that I need to get down to business to get a new working rhythm for us.

Do you ever find that your old rhythm is a little too stale and needs freshening up?  I would love to hear from experienced homeschoolers, can you accomplish everything or does something always fall by the wayside?

winter hats

Every year, since they were born, I knit my kids a hat.  Every year it is the same hat.  And I love the pattern.  Super easy to make, and easy to make bigger for when their heads grow!  This year is no different.  I am knitting them hats again.  

One thing that I have not totally loved about the hats that I knit is the ear coverage.  It seems like no matter how long I end up making them, the hats do not cover the ears that well.  I think that is more from my husband’s point of view, but I decided I should try to fix it.  What is my solution?  Making a hat with ear flaps.

This is not something I have tried before, but it can’t be that difficult, at least that is my hope!  I still would like them to be able to wear these hats this winter.  And considering it is already cold out, and the hats from last year are pushing it size wise, I better get down to business!  My plan is to knit my hat as usual, and then attach some ear flaps to it.  That is something I think I can manage...whether it will look good, well I'm not certain yet :-)

Reading this week is Pray the ScripturesSo far so good.  Of course I have quite a few books to get through if I am going to make it to my 100 book goal by the end of the year (ha!).  Actually, I think that not updating my book list has made it a little harder to track.  I know that I have read books that I don’t have on my list, but I can’t remember every single title…maybe I need to keep a paper list instead of an online list.  No matter how much I love technology, sometimes paper is the only way that I can keep things straight!

Sharing with Tami,  Nicole and Ginny

paper mache

Ah Paper Mache; the incredibly messy craft that children love.  I haven’t done a lot of Paper Mache with the kids, actually I have not done it at all.  Matt did suggest they do it one Saturday afternoon, and I told him how to do it, and he did it – albeit we did not have all the right supplies at the time, but he made it work!

What you need:

Strips of newspaper or other paper

You will want to make a paste with the flour and water.  I have read different things, but what seems to work best for us is a thicker paste, about the thickness of pancake batter.  Then you will want to dip your strips of newspaper into the paste, and then smooth them onto the balloon.  You can also use cardboard for this, or any other type of sculpture you may want to Paper Mache.

This would be the part the kids enjoy the most, dipping the paper into the paste.  Sure, you could be a lot neater at this by using a paint brush, and a bit thinner paste.  But, the kids really enjoy getting messy, and I figure I might as well let them.  It keeps them occupied for longer J

Once you are done covering your balloon, you will want to hang it up and let it dry.  It can take a long time to dry.  Then when it is dry, you can pop the balloon and paint away.  Another extremely messy activity for my kids, but one they absolutely love.

Do you make paper mache?  What projects have you made with it?

Linking up with Hip Homeschool Hop and the Mommy Club

putting the garden to bed - 2013

I think it is probably time that we put the garden to bed, don’t you?  It does seem a bit late in the season to be doing this now.  We had such a fantastic October that it was not even on my radar to close up the garden.  Sure, there were occasional afternoons where I would go through and pull some of the plants.  Mainly the tomatoes, because they all go in a trash bag – I am still very concerned about blight after the past couple of bad seasons with regards to tomatoes.

This year is going to be a bit different because we have the 4x4 boxes to work with.  Typically, we will get a truck load of horse manure from a friend, and Matt will just spread it all over the entire garden space.  But, this year, we don’t really need to fertilize the pathways where we will not be planting.  Matt had suggested pulling up the 4x4 beds to hopefully avoid them rotting over the next couple of years, but I think we will leave them there this winter and instead just put the horse manure, and also the bedding from the chickens, into the beds.  We will be expanding the garden next year, so I will also be spreading manure and chicken bedding where we will be digging up next year.

I have been utilizing the chickens’ wonderful ability to scratch up and eat weeds and bugs as well.  Every year I have trouble with bugs in the garden.  This year, the one spot I didn’t have trouble was where the chickens had pecked and pecked the previous fall.  I do not quite understand why some of the garden would have bugs, and other parts wouldn’t, but I am not questioning it.  Instead, I am hoping that my chickens were the reason, and I am unleashing them on the rest of the garden.  It is a bit of a slower process because I have to move fencing and put a new top on so that the chickens stay in the dedicated area for longer than 30 minutes.

I am not entirely sure what I will do about the pathways.  It seems this summer I spent more time weeding the pathways of the garden, than the actual garden beds themselves.  I would love to put rocks down in between the boxes, but if we ever decided not to garden and wanted the grass back, it would be a little complicated to remove all kinds of rocks.  We also do not have a ton of money to spend on beautiful garden pathways, so any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

When do you put your garden to bed?  Are you happy with how everything turned out this year?

Linking up with the Homestead Barn Hop and Clever Chicks

Sunday Quotes

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.  Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling.  Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
~Henry Van Dyke

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 would love it if you could grab the what i am eating badge below, include it in the post you are sharing, put it on your link page, or put it on your side bar.  Thanks!

what i am eating

Typically I think of coleslaw as a summer BBQ side dish.  But, it is something I have been eating a lot more of recently.  Why?  Well, because cabbage, carrots and onions are all fall season, and storage crops.  I absolutely love coleslaw, I know not everyone does, but I do.  I especially love spicy coleslaw.

This is one that my sister-in-law wrote about a long time ago on her blog, spicy coleslaw.  It uses chipotle in adobo – one of my favorite spicy seasonings!  My take was a bit different, mainly because I cannot follow a recipe.  I finely shredded a large head of cabbage, a couple carrots, and finely sliced an onion (yes a whole onion – we like onion here!).  I sprinkled it all with a bit of sea salt.  Then I mixed up equal parts mayo and sour cream (I think probably ¼ cup each) added a bit of lemon juice, maybe 2 teaspoons, a couple chopped garlic cloves and one finely chopped chipotle in adobo.  I mixed that all together and then added a bit of milk to thin it out.  Then I poured the dressing over the shredded veggies, and voila! coleslaw.  It was amazingly delicious.  While most treat it as a side dish, I ate it as my lunch, sharing some with the kiddos, who seem to love anything that is mixed with mayonnaise.

Now for my favorites from last week:
I can’t wait to see what everyone else is eating!  Please link up your recipes and other food related posts below!  

my little blog break

Can I let you in on a little secret?  I took a bit of a blog break during the month of October.  I was not completely out of the loop, still online a little bit.  However, I totally scaled back my social media presence, and spent a lot of time scheduling posts out for the week.  I have to say that it was an amazing break. 

For years I have struggled with technology usage.  I have such a strong desire for older times, times when things were not so complicated, there was less stress, fewer distractions.  Of course, I realize that times were also extremely difficult back then as well.  There was a lot of disease, people were actually working to feed themselves, not to get the latest gadget.  It has been a struggle for me to figure out how I really feel about the internet.  Funny coming from a blogger, I know, but it is still something I think about.

I did not want to completely disappear from the internet, because I really value the community I have in this little space.  I love my hello mornings group on Twitter, I like to be able to find out if soccer practice is cancelled through Facebook; but I definitely felt a bit burnt out.  I needed a break.  I needed a better routine with my kids.

So I was not around much in October.  The verdict?  I loved it.  I absolutely loved it.  I loved not thinking about what I would blog about, and I loved having the time in the morning to just drink coffee and not think about all those blogs I should read and comment on, or link up with.  At the same time, I missed it.  I missed the conversation and the community.

Where does that leave me now?  I have no idea!  I think that I have gotten a better handle on blogging over the past month.  I realize that I do not have to completely remove myself, but that I should probably have better time management when it comes to blogging.  It is so easy to get lost in it, it really is.  I have a lot less time for that now though with more formal schooling for Emma, and also all of the activities that seemed to jump out at us this fall.

I will definitely still be here, but maybe the format will be different, or maybe I will not blog every day.  I have not quite decided yet.  However, I do know that this is a busy time of year, the holiday season, and it is also my favorite time of year.  I hope to share some of that with you.  Who knows what will happen come January!  Maybe I will be completely refreshed and able to turn out a bunch of great blog posts.  For now, I hope you will bear with me as we go through some growing pains at Townsend House!

Have you taken any prolonged internet breaks lately, blog or social media?  What strategies to you use to keep it all in check?

knitting and reading

I have not blogged much about knitting as of late.  Mainly because I was busy with my {31 Days} Back to Basics postsBut, I am back here with some knitting!  And maybe a little progress on my shawl.  Actually, I am almost done with it, and that makes me incredibly happy.  I know that I have been working on this for months.  I think the entire summer was just about a wash when it came to my knitting.  I ended up having a nasty bout of carpal tunnel show up, and it was not fun to try and knit through that.  Instead I rested, I gardened, I read, played with my kiddos – all very worthy activities.  Now, my wrist is feeling much better, and it is a lot cooler outside.  All of which cause me to want to sit and knit more!

Luckily, this will be a Christmas present, so I guess all is not lost.  In fact, I am very much early in the whole scheme of Christmas knitting, so yay for me!  I have a lot of ideas of what I will do next.  Probably my very long list will end up being shortened quite a bit – slow knitter and all.  But, I am seeing that I can accomplish a lot more, especially with the kids spending more time occupying themselves and needing me a little bit less.  Also, during our read-alouds for homeschool it is a little easier to spend time knitting while the kids listen to me read.  I may have finally hit that sweet spot for accomplishing “stuff” while still spending a great deal of time with my kids!

As for reading, I have a large back log of books that I am supposed to be reviewing, and I am eyeing them all right now.  I think the next book on my list will be By Grace AloneIt is a pretty short book, although I am sure it will be very fascinating.  Anything that talks about the grace of God has a great start in my mind!

What are you knitting and reading this week?

voting with kids

Today is Election Day!  No, not that one.  The Presidential election is not until 2016 – although I am pretty sure they started talking about who would be running on November, 7th 2012, the day after the last Presidential election.  It is not even the “midterm” elections we have been hearing so much about lately.  Nope, today is just a regular old Election day; a day where we can voice our opinions on issues that probably hit a lot closer to home – local elections.  It could be bond issues, people’s veto, direct initiatives of the State Legislature, and even more local issues related to your specific town or city.

I vote every year now, in every election.  It was not always that way for me.  When I turned 18 I was able to vote in my first Presidential Election, and I did.  And I voted at the next Presidential Election, but that was as far as I took my voting.  I did not familiarize myself with the local issues until I became pregnant with my oldest.  After my month of Back to Basics I realized that I could pinpoint almost all of my life changes to being pregnant with my first child, funny how kids can do that to you!

When my daughter was born, I took her with me to vote.  I wrapped her up in the Moby and I walked to my polling place.  And since then, every election day, twice each year, I take my kids to vote.  I explain exactly what we are doing and why.  I also let them know that it is a great privilege to vote, but also our duty in order to *try* to make our country a better place.

I try not to be political in this space, trust me, you do not want me to go there, but I feel like I am unable to instigate change if I don't at least exercise my right to vote.  Showing my kids the great responsibility we should all feel in voting is extremely important to me.  I want my kids to grow up to have a voice and to be able to say what they believe through their vote.  If you do not bring your kids to vote with you, I highly recommend it.  It is a great experience for them, and another learning opportunity – we all know that we, as parents, are constantly looking for those learning opportunities for our children!

Do you take your kids to vote?  Have they become interested in the goings on of your local community based on what they have seen through voting with you?

planting garlic - 2013

Do you plant garlic?  I have for the past couple of years, and I have to say it is probably the easiest thing to plant.  You plant it in the fall, cover it with mulch, and let it sit over winter.  Then uncover it in the spring when you see the green coming up.

Last year I planted my garlic the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I guess that might seem late, but the ground was not frozen yet, so I was not too concerned.  I read somewhere that you should plant in mid-October, but considering the CSA farms I frequent do not seem to follow that time line, I figured I would be fine, and I was. 

All of my garlic grew really well last year.  Some of the heads were smaller than others, but I think part of that was the type of garlic I was growing, and also that I may have pulled it a little early.  The other issue I had was that the soil seemed to be a little more clay then I had realized when I was planting.

This year I am planting in a different location.  It seems like every year I dig up more of the yard for garden space, and this year is no exception.  I just hope there is enough sun in this spot.  I am planning on using the chicken bedding as part of the mulch, I think it will work out really well.  At least that is my hope.  I figure everything with gardening is an experiment at this point.  Maybe when I am older I will feel like I have a handle on planting, but for now I am just winging it!

To plant the garlic, break the cloves up from a head of garlic, and plant the garlic with the pointy side facing up.  Cover the garlic with dirt, and then with a thick layer of mulch.  Let it sit until spring.  You will end up pulling the garlic in mid to late July.  There are not a lot of pests for garlic either, which is a nice bonus!

Have you tried planting garlic before?  If you haven’t, you should!  It isn’t too late!

Linking up at Clever Chicks and the Homestead Barn Hop

Sunday Quotes

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
~Oprah Winfrey

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 would love it if you could grab the what i am eating badge below, include it in the post you are sharing, put it on your link page, or put it on your side bar.  Thanks!

what i am eating

After a beautiful October, it has definitely started to cool down outside.  Typically this happens during October, but for some reason we had a very mild month.  I am definitely happy about that!  Especially considering how expensive oil is, and unfortunately that is what we use to heat our (very old) home.

One of the ways that I try to combat the cold weather, and keeping our home warm, is to bake – a lot.  Of course that can go one of two ways, you can bake a lot of sweets, or you can make more savory meals in the oven.  One that seems to satisfy both for us is bread.  I love to make homemade bread.  I do not bake a lot of bread during the summer; it is not what our bodies crave.  But, once it cools down, we are ready for bread again.

This week I tried to switch up my normal bread baking.  I have always loved cinnamon raisin bread, but have never made it myself from scratch.  I have made it in a bread machine, and that makes it easy.  I was not sure exactly when I should add the cinnamon and raisins - probably could have used a recipe at this point, but that would be too easy.  

What I ended up doing was taking my basic bread recipe (find that recipe here), and just adding in a bunch of cinnamon with the dry ingredients, and then adding a bunch of raisins when I was kneading the dough.

I did not know how it would turn out, but it really turned out awesome.  It was not super sweet, but it was just sweet enough with the added raisins.  The kids loved it, and have asked for it every day since I made that one loaf.  Apparently I need to buy more bread pans…

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!  And I will be bringing back my favorites next week after I took a bit of time off in October during {31 Days}.