Fairies

This is a fairy garden party
This is a fairy garden party

We had an incredible day today. This in spite the fact that there were many conditions stacked against us:

  • I was tired
  • The kids were tired
  • We were mostly stuck inside inside because of the rain
  • I was determined to do a full school day – I like to get some basic formal school in a couple times a week at least

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DIY Breakfast Cereal

Cereal
I love my cereal with homemade yogurt on top

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with breakfast cereal for quite a while. On the one hand I really hate processed food. On the other hand my kids really love cereal – and it is a quick easy breakfast. So every once in a while cereal comes home from the store from the natural food section. And the kids are overjoyed, and I have mixed feelings. Then I started making granola occasionally. And I liked it a lot, a little too much actually. Eating it felt a bit like eating candy. It also wasn’t a hit with everybody. Sam didn’t like nuts, Mark didn’t like coconut, so really it was almost entirely me eating it. So I was searching around online one day and I saw this post. It hadn’t even occurred to me that homemade breakfast cereal was possible. We didn’t end up using the recipe from this site, but the idea of everyone mixing up their own breakfast cereal was genius!

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March Break Plan

Since I’ve started babysitting I’ve found March Break terrifying (the summer even more so… but I’ll worry about that later). Eight kids (plus visitors of course – this house is kid central), one week, chaos. I’ve done it before, it is always fine, but the anticipation…. So this year I’ve created a plan. It helps me feel the illusion of being in control. I have no intention of planning every minute – they are all quite good at just playing. But I want to have one craft each day, and I want to plan food.

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So here it is – my fabulous MARCH BREAK PLAN:

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Roasting Coffee

Every week, without fail, we roast coffee.

All done
There actually is nothing more comforting than the smell of freshly roasted coffee

We do it for a bunch of reasons.

  • Our coffee is always freshly roasted – and believe me until you compare the smell of freshly roasted coffee to coffee someone else roasted for you, at some unknown time in the past, you cannot imagine the difference. You need to wait about 5 hours after roasting and then take a whiff and it smells like everything in the world will be alright. A very comforting smell.
  • It saves us money. We order our green beans from the green beanery. We buy it in 20 lb bags so we get the bulk rate, and because we are not coffee connoisseurs we get whatever fair trade coffee is cheapest. Last time we ended up getting organic fair trade coffee from Peru for $127 including taxes and shipping. This works out to 6.35 per pound – less than half what we would spend at the grocery store. And since you can store green beans for a very long time without issue (they only start getting stale once they are roasted) it works out perfectly.
  • We have total control over the darkness of the roast -we like our coffee at a lighter roast than we can typically get.
  • Bottom line really is we like doing things ourselves

So – are you convinced? Do you want to roast your own coffee? There are lots of different ways to do it. You can roast it outside on the barbecue, you can roast it in a frying pan, you can apparently roast it in a popcorn popper… or you can roast it in the oven – that’s how we do it.

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Unschooling

I’m giving unschooling a stab – and a good hard stab too. I’ve flirted with it before but always gotten nervous and gone back to my comfort zone – the knowable zone where I decide what we are doing and we do it. But not this time – no sirree. I am going to give unschooling a good ol’ college try this time.

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Taking Time

I have a big problem.  As you may have gathered I am somewhat busy.  I’m not a great multi-tasker and yet I always have about a hundred things on my mental todo list.  Ok – this might be a slight exaggeration but it definitely feels like the right number.  I often feel totally overwhelmed.  In some ways having a really long mental to-do list is great for me because I am a procrastinator.  Luckily I’m a structured procrastinator (read what this means here) so this means that I have constant motivation to get things done.   My big problem is I don’t leave enough time for this:

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Guilt Reduced (delicious) Brownies

I do a lot of baking here – I have my three kids, plus we babysit after school kids and I feel like I should provide them with home made treats as often as possible because really, that is an important part of childhood memories.  Seriously, how do you feel when you close your eyes and picture yourself with a plate of cookies still warm from the oven and a glass of milk.  Well – maybe your picture is different, but for me that takes me right back.  So what I do try to provide is a warming, soothing, healthy-ish after school snack and then lots of unstructured playing since I think that is what is missing most from kids lives these days.

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Peaches, Peaches, and a few more Peaches

I haven’t done much canning for two years now – no coincidence – we adopted our youngest daughter in May 2012 and I am not a great multi-tasker when it comes to babies.  I worry far too much.  And Lilly is definitely quite good at getting into trouble.  Constant vigilance is the watch-word.  But this year I decided NO MORE EXCUSES.  The pay-off is definitely worth the hot sweaty hours.  When we open a jar of peaches there is not a complaining voice in my house – and that is saying something.   This year I decided to use only honey to make my syrup.  Mmmmmm…. delicious.

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Chocolate Honey Beet Cupcakes

I have decided that I want to get out of the habit of using refined sugar and flour.  But it isn’t as easy as just substituting in honey and stone ground flour – lots of experimentation is required.  I happened to have a bunch of beets and I was too lazy to figure out a way to cook them so that none of my children would complain.  But I knew that beets are great in chocolate cupcakes, so I got looking for a suitable recipe to start with.  This is the one that I found: http://minimalistbaker.com/fudgy-vegan-beet-cupcakes/

This is a really good recipe – I made it the first time as written (except with milk since that’s what I have).  I wanted to see how it should turn out.  Then I worked on substitutions and this is the result:

Chocolate beet cupcakes

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