Friday, April 03, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I saw the idea for bird nest eggs on a childhood friend's facebook and made them myself. Big hit with my kids!
First make homemade hash browns. Boil potatoes--as many as you'd like. (I did this the night before.) Grate or shred. Salt and pepper, then brown in a skillet in coconut oil or butter. My cast iron skillet resulted in a nice crispy crust.
Separately, fry eggs over easy (remember, these need to be from pastured chickens for optimal healthfulness...I'm working on finding a source of healthy eggs). You'll want one egg for each person, per serving.
Arrange a pile of hash browns on each person's plate in the shape of a nest. Place a fried egg in the dished-out center. Now you have an egg in your nest!
You could also add some kind of yummy, healthful meat to your hash browns if you'd like. Ideally, this would be served with fruit and yogurt on the side, or something along that line.
My kids loved bird nest eggs. They were getting sick of scrambled eggs, so this was something that tasted different, as well as having an imaginative name!
On a totally different note, my kids are not picky at all and they love veggies. They really do. The other day my warped children were begging their daddy for the squash he got at the restaurant. They eat things other kids won't touch.
I've asked myself why. I think it's due to a number of things.
1. I exclusively breastfeed for 6 months. No solids, not even rice cereal.
2. I don't use baby food. From day one on solids, my kids are fed mashed up real food, fruits and veggies at first. (I avoid high allergy foods, of course.) They never know that Gerber Pineapple Delight exists. Their first food experiences are real food.
3. I don't fix "kid food." When we eat chicken, the kids don't get chicken nuggets, when we have spaghetti I don't order them pizza.
4. They don't have to eat what I fix if they don't like it or aren't hungry, but I don't fix special foods for them if they choose not to eat what is on their plates.
5. They have grown some of their own food. They might not like squash if their only experience had been the store variety, but when they had ownership in growing it, it became special. They watched and waited for it to be ready to eat, and since they grew it, of course they thought it was good!
Check out more great ideas at Cheeseslave.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
That said, last week was so very nearly perfect and full to the top with amazing blessings that I think words without pictures will be OK today. Here's a list of all the things that came our way...(and I'm probably forgetting some)...
Bags and bags of clothes and shoes in my size, many still with tags. Things I needed!
Lovely papercrafting gifts from my husband
A swing set for the kids--with a fort and slide
A see-saw for the kids (from a different person)
Information about where to obtain raw goat's milk locally, as well infor about local honey, organic apple cider vinegar, and real olive oil. WOOHOO!!!
Lunch with a friend at Copeland's.
A supper date with Billy to celebrate our 9th anniversary at Outback, redeeming a gift card from Christmas
Free babysitting for said date
A trailer full of compost for the garden we're planting
A library book sale...We got around 200 children's books for 75 cents and inch
And I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
I'm not so much thrilled with the physical gifts themselves (although I'm full of gratitude for them), but more amazed at the love of my heavenly Father Who pours His blessings out on me. What an amazing week.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
You cannot receive affection unless you will also give it. You cannot find others to love you, unless you also will love them. Love is only to be obtained by giving love in return. It is important to cultivate a cheerful and obliging disposition. You cannot be happy without it.
I have sometimes heard a girl say, "I know that I am very unpopular at school." Now this is a plain confession that she is very disobliging and unamiable in her disposition.
If your companions do not love you, it is your own fault. They cannot help loving you if you will be kind and friendly.
~The Original McGuffey's Eclectic Third Reader, 1837
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Still, I couldn't wait for us to finish making garden beds. We had a few herbs growing experimentally in a little strip outside the front door. I threw a packet of lettuce seed out between the herbs and watered them a time or two.
There's something about growing veggies themselves that makes kids want to eat them. This morning we read about the Garden of Eden and I asked them to describe their ideal gardens.
Elizabeth (8): "My garden would have a silver and golden wall all around it and lots of flowers inside, with a secret gate. There would be a pink sparkly mail box and a castle in the middle."
Sarah (3): "My garden would have a pink sparkly couch in the middle. And carrots and celery. When the rabbits came to eat the carrots, I would shoot them with a BB gun! And there would be a fort around the outside to keep bugs and rabbits out."
A side note: My computer's on the blink, so posting may be light for a few days!
Recently I was looking for a good all-around cookie…somewhat nutritious, makes a lot, fast and easy, not crumbly…And this recipe fit the bill. Plus, they are man-pleasin’! I adapted it from one I found online and I’ve been really happy with the results.
Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Bars
1 1/2 c. coconut oil OR 3 sticks butter (Billy and I like the taste of the coconut oil better, but butter works fine too)
3 c. brown sugar (if you are really going for healthful sweets, I’m sure rapadura or sucanat would work just as well)
3 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. vanilla
1 T. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. soda
1 t. salt
3 c. old fashioned oatmeal
2 c. raisins
Cream oil or butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in oats and raisins until well mixed. Mixture will be very stiff. Turn mixture into greased jelly roll pan and pat evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool, cut into bars.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
...Making your home a place that sustains you and your family is one of the most important jobs you can do. Times are tough, there are all sorts of things going on in the world that are difficult to understand, but if you make your home a place that comforts, a place where you can relax and be your true self, a place where your children feel safe and warm, a place where you show your family the joy of living simply, then you are doing a really significant and essential job that takes the hard edge off the outside world. So when you shake open the sheets to make up that clean bed, when you set the table with knives and forks, water glasses and a flower in a cup, when your beef stew and dumplings is slowly bubbling away welcoming your family as they come home with the smell of home cooking, when you sit with your tea, when you sweep the floor, when you sew or knit or cook, I hope you find happiness in your home, because I know it's there. You might not have discovered the mother lode yet, you might just be picking up fragments every so often, but keep at it and you will be rewarded.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
A few weeks ago I was in need of extra pillows for guests. At the dollar store, I found these cute little things for just $5 each. My house is mostly traditional, but I'm a fan of cottage decorating...So a pretty pillow is the perfect way to sneak in a little cottage flair!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Cheeseslave is hosting Real Food Wednesdays this week with the theme of bone broth recipes. Having grown up making foods from scratch I thought everyone knew how to cook a basic soup. like this one. The other day when I was talking to a friend, I realized this isn't the case. So here's my contribution! Hope it's helpful!
Simple Homemade Chicken Soup
1 roasted chicken (free range if you can get it--I can't so I use what I have)
6 stalks celery
1 small bag frozen green beans (or fresh green beans)
salt and pepper to taste
Debone chicken and refrigerate meat. Use bones to cook stock according to Nourishing Traditions or one of the great recipes available online. Strain out bones.
Now you have lots of delicious, nourishing stock!
Chop onions, carrots, and celery into pieces as large or small as you like. You are doing this because you want to cook your harder veggies first--they take longer. I like to cut my onion fairly small and slice the carrots and celery in slices about 1/4" thick.
Bring stock to boil (I start with at least a gallon) and add the veggies you've already chopped. You want the broth to be cooking your veggies at a nice steady boil, but not a violent rolling boil. Medium heat should do it. They should be done within 30 minutes. You want them crisp-tender at this point, like crispy stir fried veggies. Truthfully, I just boil away until they are done. Check your soup periodically to make sure your stock is not all boiling away.
Cut potatoes into 1 inch chunks and add to soup. Add green beans. Add chopped fresh garlic to taste...Or I use minced garlic from the jar. I don't know if that is NT kosher or not!
Continue cooking till the potatoes and beans are soft. Add meat.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
My kids beg me for this soup when they are sick. Turns out chicken soup really is good for what ails you! It's great to keep broth and cooked chicken in the freezer for quick soups...When I am sick and unable to take all the time to make stock, debone chicken, etc. it's nice to be able to put it together quickly!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Nourishing Gourmet is having a carnival of healthful chocolate desserts in honor of Valentine's Day. This was a popular post when I first ran it, so I thought it would be worth posting again.
This one is a great alternative for those who must avoid dairy or who don't have access to raw milk from grass fed cows--or in my case, both.
Peel and freeze a bunch of very ripe bananas. I freeze them on a cookie sheet so they don't stick together and then tranfer them to a ziploc bag.
When you're ready to make the "ice cream," chunk a couple frozen bananas up and blend in the blender with a little water or rice milk or whatever liquid you have on hand. Just pulse it slowly till it's nice and creamy, and I promise you, it will have the exact consistency of soft serve ice cream. You can eat it plain...Add a little vanilla...a glob of nut butter...a few frozen strawberries (as pictured)...a spoonful of carob powder...Lots of possibilities.
Of course, since this is a chocolate/carob carnival, I will advocate the carob version! Some nut butter and carob powder really compliments the banana flavor and gives it a nice rich smoothness. I haven' t tried it with cocoa powder but I would like to some time. It's been soooo yummy every way I've made it.
I was amazed at how good it was. We served this to friends one night, and they later told me that their freezer is now full of frozen bananas, too. You don't have to be a health food nut to enjoy this.
Oops! I forgot to draw for the handknit wash cloth yesterday! I'm sorry!
The winner is Jennifer who blogs at Strangers and Pilgrims. Congratulations, Jennifer! If you'll email me your snail mail addy I will send it right away. If I don't hear from you in the next few days, I will draw for another winner. So don't forget to let me know! :)
Monday, February 09, 2009
Welcome to the Carnival of Simple Craft! I'd love for you to join me in sharing about easy, beautiful things to create. The rules are flexible--Just post about a simple craft you've made. It can be as elaborate as a tutorial or as simple as a picture of something you've created. The one guideline is that it should be easy enough for a beginning crafter, or one like me who doesn't have a lot of time. I've posted a journal tutorial, which you can see below.
One last thing: Please link back to the carnival in your simple craft post! Thanks!
Sunday, February 08, 2009
This journal is an easy, inexpensive, pretty craft that also makes a great gift. My girl and I made this one for a birthday party a few weeks ago.
Here's what you'll need:
A blank composition book (10 cents at back to school sales)
scrapbook paper in one or more colors (50% off at Hobby Lobby)
Scrap fabric (stash)
opaque trim, such as ribbon or ricrac (stash/cheap at Big Lots)
ribbon for ties (same as above)
6 large buttons (stash)
Glue--preferable some kind of paper glue, a glue stick, and hot glue...Although I'd encourage you to use what you have to make it work. It's not about perfection!
But wow, that is a lot of supplies. Maybe I didn't choose the best craft for a simple craft. It's not hard if you can make it through my instructions. Hang with me!
First we are going to trace and cut a strip for the contrasting paper on the front. You can skip this step if you are going to use just one paper to cover the whole front. You don't have to use 2 papers, you know. I trace on the back of the paper because it looks neater and shows up better for cutting.
You are just making a strip. It doesn't have to be the whole width of the book. Your goal is to make sure it's the proper length.
Cut the strip however wide you like. Mine was about 3 inches, I think.
Make sure it's the right size.
Glue it on.
Trace around the edge of your notebook to get the right size and shape for your contrasting color.
Again, it shouldn't be big enough to cover the whole book. You want to leave enough room for the brown paper to show, right? Unless of course you decide to do the easy thing and just use one color instead of two.
Cut it out and glue it on!
Cut a piece for the back. We used the same brown as the brown strip from the front. It tied it all together nicely.
Glue it on.
Cut a strip of fabric to cover the ugly black binding. Fabric has more give than paper and will hold up longer. The strip should be 1 3/4 inches by 9 3/4 inches.
Carefully glue it on. I used Elmer's glue. Fabric glue would probably work fine too.
Here's a wonky picture of the lettering I printed for the front. "Journal" and then a quote:
"Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted." Jules Renard
I find that's a really good quote for chatty little girls!
Cut out your words--I used pinking shears but you don't have to. Affix them to the book wherever you'd like.
I hot glued buttons to each corner of the "Journal" piece because I thought it looked cute.
So as not to burn my fingers, I pushed them down with a plastic knife.
Then cut a piece of opaque ribbon or trim. This is velvet ribbon, but ricrac is my favorite. The idea is to cover up the raw edge of the fabric that you used to cover the binding. Yeah, we covered something ugly and now we have to cover that. It's crazy, but it works.
I hot glued it on. Fabric glue would probably be a better choice, or even Elmer's glue might work.
I did just a bit at a time and used the plastic knife again. No burnt fingers!
Cover the seam on both front and back of the journal, and trim the ends so they don't hang over.
Now I need to do what Pioneer Woman does since she is so cool. See this blank space?
Imagine there is a picture of me hot gluing the ribbon ties and buttons on. This is the one thing I really needed pictures of that I didn't get. Basically if the ribbon is kinda wide, I pleat/fold/bunch it up so that the button covers the entire end. Since the ribbon I used is sheer, I glue the ribbon and button on at the same time. We are using the button to cover up the raw end of the ribbon. Brilliant, hmmm? Does that even make sense?!!!!!!!
Knife again! Push those buttons down!
Now it's beautiful. And I just accidentally deleted my final picture.
So I could go back and re-do the whole tutorial, or I can be content with it as it is, since I hope it inspires you. The possibilities for this little project are endless.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Jen is the winner of the teapot paper giveaway! Congratulations, Jen! If you'll email me your snail mail address I will get it off to you right away.
Recently I read a post by someone who wanted to craft but found that it was "so expensive." I could spend ALL our money on crafting supplies, but as it is I spend very, very little on my hobbies. Here are a few crafty tips that might inspire you.
Get on Hobby Lobby's email list. Weekly you will learn about their sales, and they frequently include a 40% off coupon for any non-sale item. Their sales are great!
Hand in hand with above, wait for sales. This may be obvious, but do you know how much scrapbook paper you can get for $5 if you wait till it's 50% off? A lot!
Join Freecycle. I often see craft supplies being given away.
Shop thrift stores. Recently I have seen knitting needles, fabric, yarn, embroidery hoops, and other items for sale at my local thrift store.
Make sure other people know you enjoy crafting. I'm not saying to fish for giveaways, but if people know you love to craft, they will often unload their excess on you. Sort through it and get rid of what doesn't work.
Big Lots ribbon. Big lots sells generous spools of ribbon for $1 each. Their craft aisle is tiny but yields great rewards.
Buy small quantities. Almost anyone can shake out their change jar and buy 1/4 yard of fabric or a spool of thread. If you can only afford a small amount at a time, you'll be surprised at how quickly it adds up. Soon you'll have an overflowing stash and you'll have to find someone with whom to share.
Friday, February 06, 2009
P.S. I will draw for Sunday with Stevie in a little while. I haven't forgotten that!
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
On one hand I feel like a very beginner to the notion of nutrient-dense cooking a la Nourishing Traditions. On the other, I've been doing this to some degree all my life.
I grew up on a large hobby farm. My parents loved the country life and they felt it was a good way to raise kids. It was! Many nights we sat down to meals where we'd grown/cooked/preserved almost everything ourselves...Raw milk, fresh raw butter, homemade yogurt, garden veggies, grass fed beef, free range chicken and eggs, wild fruit at times. Once we even grew our own wheat for fresh homemade bread. We were amazingly healthy. I didn't go to the doctor from the time I was four till the time I had my first baby at age 22 (with the exception of a tetanus shot at age 12).
Now I live a different life. I live in a neighborhood outside town. Although I want to garden this year, I'm limited in how much food I can grow myself, and I live in an area that's a virtual wasteland for natural living. The only cow share farm in the state was shut down, I understand. I don't know of any CSA's and it's over and hour to the nearest health food store. (Is it coincidence that we also have one of the lowest breastfeeding rates and one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation?)
So at this point in my life, feeding my family healthfully is a challenge. Even if you have very limited options, I'd like to encourage you to make healthy steps too.
One thing almost anyone can do is make slow-cooked bone broth. I can't get organic chicken right now, so I use what I can with the goal of doing better as I'm able. I use it to cook rice and beans and make chicken soup. My kids beg me for this soup when they are sick. I crave it myself. It truly is healing!
My parents raise a grass fed beef for us yearly. We arrange slaughter so we can pick it up when we are home for the holidays. Do you have a friend, neighbor, or family member who might allow you to pasture a beef on his property for a reasonable fee? If they are local, perhaps you could have a part in taking care of the animal if necessary. Think outside the box.
A rural neighbor has been furnishing me (off and on) with bright-yolked brown eggs. I hear a rooster crowing early in the morning from another direction, so I know other neighbors have chickens too! Drive around in the country. Go slowly...You just might spot a "fresh eggs" sign or a chicken tractor in someone's yard. You might find someone who's willing to sell you fresh eggs.
Square foot garden in your flower bed or grow something in pots. You can grow a lot of lettuce in a big flower pot!
Don't be discouraged by lack of opportunity. Do the best you can with what you have, and don't allow debilitating worry to take over when you can't do as well as you'd like! Remember, "A joyful heart is good medicine!"~Proverbs 17:22
Check out more awesome tips at Real Food Wednesdays, hosted this week by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
This sweet little cotton wash cloth was handknit by me in just the right colors for Valentine's Day! It can be used as a wash cloth or a dish cloth. It's super soft, but has great scrubbing power! Just leave a comment to be entered. I'll draw a name Monday.
Remember, I have two other giveaways still open: teapot paper and a vintage children's book.
And the Carnival of Simple Craft is Friday!
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
1. A place for everything and everything in its place.
2. Don't put it down, put it away.
3. Leave every room better than you found it.
Cliches? Maybe. But cliches often come into being because they are true!
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Forgive the dark photos...I am working on learning more about photography but I am determined to not be such a perfectionist that it stops me from sharing before I get it just right.
I'm giving away this charming set of teapot note paper. Tea and creativity just go together, don't you think?
Excuse me, creativi-tea.
To enter this sweet little giveaway, leave a comment. And if you mention it on your blog with a link back, I'll put your name in the hat 3 times. Just leave a note to let me know since I am too ignorant to figure out when someone has linked to me. I'll draw a name next Saturday! Check back!
Don't forget, the Carnival of Simple Craft is coming up Friday!!!
If you do feel encouraged to make or bake or grow something, the wonderful thing about the gentle arts is that they are totally manageable and achievable.
There is constant pressure today to have the perfect house/body/children/relationship, and we can only fail because the standards set in the media are so ridiculously unrealistic. But the joy of knitting or stitching or baking or homemaking lies in the fact that there are no rules, there are no levels of perfection that we need to attain. The whole point about the gentle arts is that they are noncompetitive, soothing, and utterly pleasurable. Anyone who tells you otherwise should be tied up with her acrylic yarn and deprived of her knitting needles for a very long time.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Welcome to the re-lauch of a new, improved Charity Grace!!! What better way to start re-launch week than with a giveaway?
One purpose in my simple giveaways this week is to prove (to myself and others) that giveaways do not have to be time-consuming, expensive, or big to be fun.
Now you need to know that I am very stingy with my vintage children's books. I don't usually give them away. However, somehow I ended up with two copies of this little treasure that tells about Stevie's day in Sunday School. You will love the charming illustrations and sweet text.
To enter for a chance to win Sunday with Stevie, leave me a comment. If you mention this giveaway on your blog, I will put your name in the hat 3 times! Just leave a comment to let me know since I am too ignorant to figure out trackbacks and all that jazz. I will draw the magic name on Friday.
A new, improved Charity Grace will re-launch on February 1! I will have simple mini giveaways almost every day that week, and the week will culminate in a carnival of simple craft on Friday, February 6! I’ll post a tutorial for one of my favorite inexpensive, simple crafts and in addition I want to hear about YOUR simple crafts!
You can post a tutorial, a story with a picture of a simple craft, or just a picture of something you’ve made. As long as the post revolves around the idea of simple craft, the guidelines are relaxed. You can even recycle an old post if you like. The only qualifications is that the item you post about needs to be a beginner-level craft—something simple and easy!
I’ll post a Mr. Linky so that you can link back to your post and we can all read about it. I am so excited! I know we will all get many wonderful ideas from you talented people!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Well, this poor little blog is dying on the vine lately due to my deplorably inconsistent posting.
Not that it was every really thriving anyway. The main reason I blog is for myself, but this little pink place has turned into a mishmash of whatever was on my mind, veering wildly between theology, art, and personal musings with no real center.
It's all important, but a successful blog needs a narrower focus.
In that spirit, I've decided to distill the purpose of Charity Grace. Its main reason for existence will be to serve as a place for my own creative discipline as I explore some of the beautiful things in my life--crafting, cooking, homemaking and so forth. I've learned so much just by blogging. It's the only thing I do purely for fun (with the exception of an occasional craft), yet it's benefited many areas of my life.
That said, I've been enormously encouraged and influenced by the beautiful blogs others write. I hope that in limiting the focus of my blog, I might be an encouragement to someone in simple creativity.
For the 3 of you who read regularly, here are some things you can look for during my re-launch, which will begin
Greater focus. Charity Grace will revolve around homemaking and simple craft, which will encompas cooking, gardening, and decorating as well as uncomplicated creativity in home and art.
More consistent posting. I'm aiming for 3 times per week, even if it's just an inspiring photo or quote. However, my goal is for posts to be meaningful and fit the new creative focus of the blog.
A seriously pared-down sidebar. Even though I've tried to categorize, my blog roll is an alphabet soup of blogs I like to read, many of which have no unifying element. Don't worry, if I've linked to your blog I am subscribing to it via google reader. I love all the blogs I've linked to, and I want to keep up with each one! (This will also be a time-saver for me which will hopefully enable me to produce more quality work.)
Giveways and carnivals during re-launch week. My giveaways will be in the spirit of vintage inspiration and simple craft. I'm also planning a carnival of simple craft.
Do come check it out!