Archive for February, 2009

King Cake

Sometimes it’s fun being a grown up and getting to make the decisions.  I like choosing holidays and making traditions for the kids.  So, although we never grew up celebrating Mardi Gras, yesterday I figured, why not? My oldest has always liked to drape herself in beads on this particular day, so I decided to make a little cake to go with her purple and green bling.   Now, I didn’t create a traditional King Cake, but we just made a little gluten free coffee cake, filled with nuts and cinnamon, and then when the kids weren’t looking, I tucked a whole cranberry inside (instead of the traditional baby).  Lucky Ryland! she got the piece with the treat! King for a day! Declan wanted to make a paper crown, but it was bedtime.  Next year…

Lucky girl! she was overjoyed...simple pleasures.

Lucky girl! she was overjoyed...simple pleasures.

the cranberry

the cranberry

we ate half last night, the rest for breakfast!

we ate half last night, the rest for breakfast!

Everyone needs a little spontaneous fun, especially in February.

gluten free cornbread

You would think by the name of it that “corn bread” would be gluten free.  No so! Almost every recipe I know of has wheat flour in it to bind the corn together.  So I thought I’d give you my current favorite recipe for gluten free cornbread.

I've had this skillet since college. I just keep seasoning it with oil now and then, and I don't have to worry about teflon flaking into my food!

I've had this skillet since college. I just keep seasoning it with oil now and then, and I don't have to worry about teflon flaking into my food!

I adapted this recipe from one I got last summer when we went camping on the Cherokee reservation in western North Carolina.

Cornbread

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups corn meal (I buy it in bulk from the local health food store)

1/2 cup gluten free flour mix *

1/4 cup melted butter

preheat oven to 425 degrees.

mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  mix buttermilk and eggs together, and stir into dry ing.  stir in melted butter.  pour into a 9″ cast iron skillet coated with cooking spray (or a square pan works just fine, too, but it’s more fun to use a skillet – you’ll feel like an old homesteader!) Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  cut into wedges and serve it up!

My family likes it with honey dripped all over it, but I like it plain.  It’s great the next morning split and toasted with butter on it.  You can also pour this batter into muffin tins and make corn muffins, which is fun.  sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese on top, then bake for about 15 minutes.  this is great if you have to get dinner on the table really fast.

*Here’s what I use for Gluten free flour mix.  This comes from an old Bette Hagman cookbook – the first gluten free cookbook I ever had.

2 c. white rice flour

2/3 c. potato starch flour

1/3 c. tapioca flour

Mix up a bunch of this in a canister and you will always have it on hand – it is a fairly good substitute for wheat flour in many recipes.  Alternatively, you could buy some gluten free all purpose flour mix right off the shelf.  I like Pamela’s or Bob’s red mill. Arrowhead mills is fine, too.

Make some cornbread tonight, with a pot of pinto or black beans.  A cheap, healthy, homemade dinner…

Frostbite 5K

Well, I’ll just take a moment to brag about my cute 10 year old who ran another race yesterday.

her feet don't even touch the ground!

her feet don't even touch the ground!

How does she do it? She asked us if she could run in this 5 K race near where we live, and so off we all went to let her run.  She is a marvel to watch.  I have run 2 5Ks with her in the past, and it amazes me how fast she runs.  She picks a pace and stays with it, uphills, downhills, whenever – it’s like she has a little metronome inside of her.  Jeff ran with her this time – it’s hard to give my spot up but it’s nice for her to run with dad, too.  We had snow yesterday, but the sun came out and it was a beautiful, brisk day.

finish line! look closely at that time - 26 minutes?! at age 10?!

finish line! look closely at that time - 26 minutes?! at age 10?!

run 3 miles, eat a big cookie

run 3 miles, eat a big cookie

just a side note, see these cute fleece leggings? those were mine for years but never fit right, so recently I recut them to her measurements and they are perfect running tights! I love repurposing old clothes.  The fleece jacket is made from scraps from my friend Alicia's fleece blanket business.

just a side note, see these cute fleece leggings? those were mine for years but never fit right, so recently I recut them to her measurements and they are perfect running tights! I love repurposing old clothes. The fleece jacket is made from scraps from my friend Alicia's fleece blanket business.

dsc_00621So this last picture shows a little handmade mug made by a local artist and it was her trophy for winning first place in her age group.  I’m amazed by her speed, and so grateful that she has found something that she is good at and truly likes to do, but do you know what makes me most proud? When we got home yesterday evening, she was looking at this simple little mug, and said “mom, I just love this prize, it is so much more special than a cheap plastic trophy.”

That’s my girl!! Go handmade!! I’m so lucky to have not only a fast girl, but an appreciator of the arts as well.

She never once gloated about her 1st place finish, either…..

a sweet valentines weekend

conversation hearts!

conversation hearts!

So ever since I had 2 girls, Valentines Day has been pretty fun around here.  We just get into the pinkness of it all! On Saturday we made our (once a year because they are sort of a pain to make) gluten free sugar cookies, made pink frosting, scrounged around in the cabinets and found not only the red food coloring we needed for the frosting, but also pink and colored sprinkles! I don’t know why, but I bought those conversation hearts this year, like I do every year.  Have you had one of those lately? They are terrible! But I never remember, and I assure you, I will forget next year and buy them again.  Here’s the decorating:

yummy

yummy

I love these fingers...

I love these fingers...

these fingers, too

these fingers, too

I’ll also show you the outfits I made the kids this year.  This tradition started with my mom – one morning when I was 6 or 7 I remember waking up and hung on the end of our bunk beds were 2 little dresses, one was red with white hearts, and the other white with red hearts for me and my sister.  When I had 2 girls, I started the tradition back up, and my girls find it just as exciting as I did.  Here they are:

Ryland is my pink girl.  this wrap pinafore is pink and white seersucker, and the leggings are recut from a new lands end dress I found at goodwill this summer.

Ryland is my pink girl. this wrap pinafore is pink and white seersucker, and the leggings are recut from a new lands end dress I found at goodwill this summer.

pocket detail

pocket detail

Holt really needed new jeans, and she is very hard to shop for as nothing seems to fit her skinny waist.  somehow I got these jeans pretty close, I wish I had taken a detail pic of the back pockets to show you, I think they are super cool and, unbelievably, my 10 year old agrees.  The tshirt is recut from a goodwill tshirt, and then I did the fabric paint and embroidered flower on the front:

she likes it! she likes it!

she likes it! she likes it!

Declan gets a stripy boat neck T, recut from 2 salvation army tshirts, and a new pair of much needed jeans.  these kids grow like weeds.

Declan gets a stripy boat neck T, recut from 2 salvation army tshirts, and a new pair of much needed jeans. these kids grow like weeds.

We had a pretty warm weekend and the kids were outside a lot.  Here are some activities:

I love this photo.  They are, of course acorn bowls filled with food for the fairies. Looks so inviting!

I love this photo. They are, of course, acorn bowls filled with food for the fairies. Looks so inviting!

At the climbing wall near our place.  Pretty pink dresses dont slow her down! (day 2 on the dress, you'll notice.  I'm supposed to wash it tonight so she can wear it to school tomorrow)

At the climbing wall near our place. Pretty pink dresses don't slow her down! (day 2 on the dress, you'll notice. I'm supposed to wash it tonight so she can wear it to school tomorrow)

he works so hard.  This has been his favorite place lately.

he works so hard. This has been his favorite place lately.

always, always unconventional

always, always unconventional

sigh. so cute.

sigh. so cute.

ok, here I'm just playing with the camera and the light.  But I love the sun on her hair and her cute new earrings.

ok, here I'm just playing with the camera and the light. But I love the sun on her hair and her cute new earrings.

thanks nonnie and paka for the pretty valentine's bouquet!

thanks nonnie and paka for the pretty valentine's bouquet!

Somehow, I just love this little collection of photos.  Hope your weekend was just as sweet…

where I’ve been

pretty bolts of fabric

pretty bolts of fabric

The days are flying by! Does this happen to you? I turn around and a week has gone by.  Things are getting done, kids are getting homework done (mostly), they haven’t missed swim team practice, I’m getting food on the table (so tonight was grilled cheese but it was warm and I did steam some broccoli to go with it!), baked GF bread, made granola, got most of my excersize in for the week (including one pilates class this morning – super awesome), got Holt to the dentist for a tooth extraction (she survived), sewed valentine’s outfits for the kids (what to do for Jeff, though??), sewed for Hazel Anne, did some (painful) bookkeeping, Jeff’s making it to class on time and even learning a song in Portugese (?!).

Hmmm, how did I not have time to fit in writing to you?

Wanna see my sewing room in full working mode?  I stepped back a bit today and snapped a few shots so you can see the lively mess I haven’t even considered straightning up…..

this is my straight stitch industrial, my workhorse.  and a lovely mess behind it.

this is my straight stitch industrial, my workhorse. and a lovely mess behind it.

someday I'm going to take the time to reupholster this little chair, it is the comfiest thing ever. that bulletin board in the back is my latest attempt at getting organized - notice I still haven't figured out how to use it.

someday I'm going to take the time to reupholster this little chair, it is the comfiest thing ever. that bulletin board in the back is my latest attempt at getting organized - notice I still haven't figured out how to use it.

wovens, jerseys, fleece, elastic, cds, what else can I fit on these old shelves of my grandmothers'?

wovens, jerseys, fleece, elastic, cds, what else can I fit on these old shelves of my grandmothers'?

my industrial serger.  I cropped this photo so you didn't see the piles and piles of scrap fabric on the floor under the cutter.

my industrial serger. I cropped this photo so you didn't see the piles and piles of scrap fabric on the floor under the cutter.

Next time I show you my space, I’ll have it all dolled up and swanky looking.  Then we can pretend that it’s always like that, right? You’ll back me up, I know it…

a better snow day!

Another snow day down south.  I promised myself I wouldn’t get all bent out of shape this time, so I changed my attitude and decided to have fun with it.  There wasn’t much snow, but there was enough for sledding with plastic sleds (our gorgeous wooden toboggan from our New England days needs REAL snow to work).  Look at this great hill we have! dsc_0185

most of the neighborhood was braving the cold!

most of the neighborhood was braving the cold!

I'm cold, mama!

I'm cold, mama!

He could do this aaallllll day...

He could do this aaallllll day...

Then we came home and I started a fire in our living room.  All that kindling we collected last week really came in handy!  So we sat by the fire and made valentines for hours.  It’s a nice feeling to know that we got a head start on that project.  The kids were really into it! We have always made our own valentines, but this year I found these (reissued) vintage punch out valentines on line at Amazon, and they were so inexpensive and so cute, that I bought a bunch.  They are easy enough for the kids to assemble all by themselves, which is always a plus. Here we are:

in our long underwear after shedding the wet snow clothes

in our long underwear after shedding the wet snow clothes

I just can not get enough of these cute little hands working away

I just can not get enough of these cute little hands working away

same thing - these hands!

same thing - these hands!

remember these? they are so cute - originally created in 1945

remember these? they are so cute - originally created in 1945

is there anything better than a little fire on a cold day? It forces me to slow down and stay put.

is there anything better than a little fire on a cold day? It forces me to slow down and stay put.

So, I got absolutely no work done today, and that will be tough tomorrow, but at least we all relaxed today.

natural cold remedies

We are all passing around a lovely, lively cold here in our house.  Seriously, it is a coughing chorus!  I really hate the over the counter medicines, they make me feel wierd, and frankly, they just don’t work.  My internet-sleuthing husband read many, many pages on line about herbs that help with cough and cold, and he came up with a tea that we made.  This is such a good recipe, it really works for us, to dry out runny noses, and especially helps coughs.  We went to the bulk section of our local health food store (you know, where you can scoop up cinnamon and cumin?) and bought equal parts of these 5 herbs:

Licorice root, Thyme leaf, Mullein, Wild Cherry, and Hyssop.

Just mix them up and put some in your tea ball or basket in your tea pot, and steep some tea.  Apparently, thyme is really good for coughs.  My parents have thyme for a lawn instead of grass – it’s so pretty in the summer when it blooms, but it frustrated us as kids, because it was scratchy, and you could very easily step on a bee! But boy, they could make some serious tea!

Here are my other simple cold survival tips:

Give the kids a peppermint tea bag to stick in their pocket as they head off to school with a stuffy nose.  They can just put it to their little noses and sniff in deeply – it really helps!

A spoonful of honey works better to quiet my kid’s coughs in the middle of the night than any cough medicine I’ve found.

One of my friends taught me this one – Boil some water in a saucepan, then throw in some green tea leaves – make it double strength.  Then tent a towel over your head, lean over the pan (after you’ve taken it off the heat!) and inhale really deeply.  Green tea is anti-microbial, and I swear it helps clear out a chest cold.

You know those breathe right strips that they make? get the ones for kids from Target or someplace like that for nighttime.  They help my kids sleep when they are all stuffed up, and they contain no medicine.

I’m no doctor, but I feel like as a mom, I need to have some tools in my belt to help the kids out when they are not well.  It’s so nice that we have these natural remedies to turn to – it makes me feel so much safer than giving them what’s in the stores these days, and also makes me feel clever when I can help the kids (or us!) with such simple ingredients!

Here’s to amazing plants…