Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Easter at last! Holy Week photo faves

Christ is risen! I am so glad lent is over. And we had the best weather I can honestly remember ever having on Easter Sunday.
Kitty joined her big sister in the children's choir for holy week liturgies, and on Easter was up and dressed bright and early. She asked for help curling her hair. It looked so cute in these hot rollers! And then she had to run out the door in them because they had really not had enough time to cool. She had her sister help her take them out in the car when they were almost to church. It turned out so cute! This was a fun trial of what she wants to do for her first communion coming up.
First time in curlers!
 We took holy week off homeschool so we could make food and crafts, and enjoy the spring weather at last. We tried these floss eggs from pinterest. They turned out very cool, I think. Liquid starch was easy to work with and gave a nice result.

Liquid starch beat Modge Podge for making these fun things
 Too bad the window with that drab view is right in the middle of my shot!
Here's a little Leia in her Easter dress.
dancing in her Easter dress

Hermione wanted me to document this lovely result before I ate it
 We ate eggs, of course. And chocolate. Of course. One fun item was this big chocolate egg I bought at Aldi. Really good chocolate, with little chocolates inside, and the bonus of looking like a big dragon egg!
Ahhhh! Put it under water, quick!
Here's my son opening the egg, and releasing the deafening screeches of mermish, a la Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
I didn't take that many photos, really. But we baked, and crafted, and celebrated. And I am so tired.
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seder! That means Lembas Time! (Gluten Free Matzo Recipe)

Yay! Bilbo is so excited.
 Haldir says we're making Lembas. Oops, he meant matzo, but I like it! So, here comes my own recipe for gluten free unleavened bread. 

The Waybread of the elves

I have made GF matzo a few times over the last ten years, and each time I seem to have to search for a recipe. Well, this time, I actually found two of the recipes I have used in the past and, with my ideal unleavened bread in mind, adapted them to make a recipe of my own. I love how these turned out. 
Here's Haldir with the tortilla press.
 I can't show a pic of the dough, because we had cooked all of it but the last ball when I decided to make this post. 

I was inspired by a flatbread recipe by Bette Hagman, who has many excellent gluten free cookbooks, and one by Jules, of the wonderful Paleo Comfort Foods (cookbook of gorgeous photos and yum recipes).
Here's what I did:

Claire's Lembas (Gluten Free Matzo).                             
Makes 16, 4-inch flatbreads 

2 cups gluten free flour mix. Mine is made in bulk and kept in a big jar. *Recipe below.
1/2 cup almond meal. I made this myself in the food processor. just put in a heaping half cup of whole almonds and process til fine but not almond butter!
1t baking powder
1t salt
4 T olive oil
2/3 cup room temperature water

Combine ingredients. Will become too thick for a wire wisk, finish blending with wooden spoon if needed. Can be refrigerated at this stage to cook later. It is very helpful if the dough is cold.
Roll into two inch balls. Roll out between two layers of plastic wrap or in a tortilla press to 1/4 in thickness. (You may need to experiment to find the thickness that is the perfect balance between too thick to be yummy and too thin to handle without going crazy)
Bake on hot griddle, turning when browned. I prefer griddle to oven.
Best served warm or at least the same day.

Tortilla presses are super fun to use with kids!

* Here's my GF flour mix, inspired by those others, but this version is my own:
2 cups sorghum flour. This has a pleasant flavor reminiscent of wheat.
2 cups brown rice flour. I don't know why, but brown rice makes good baked goods.
2 cups white rice flour
3 cups tapioca starch. (Corn starch or potato starch works, too.)
Mix well and keep on hand. Can substitute 1-1 for all purpose flour; sometimes it's good to add 1/2t xanthan gum per cup of mix.

This is for Beth and Gina, and anyone else who may find it helpful. Enjoy! 
Don't forget to save a place for Elijah!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WWRW: Wolves of the Beyond: Lone Wolf

                                                        Linking up with Housewifespice!

 Hermione here, today I'm reviewing Wolves of the Beyond: book 1: Lone Wolf, by Kathryn Lasky. I liked this book because it is an interesting story, and wolves are my favorite animals.
     This book is about a wolf pup named Faolan who is taken from his mother and left to die because he has a splayed paw. Then, a bear mother, whose cub was taken by cougars, rescues Faolan and takes care of him.
      I like how the wolves of the Beyond respect the animals they hunt, and how Faolan has the instincts to act like a clan wolf, even though he has never seen another wolf before. I also think that it's good that there's FINALLY a book series in which not all the wolves are bad!
     I recommend this to people who like wolves and interesting adventure stories.


Concrete Baptism Candle Holder; How To DIY

I have six children with baptismal candles that are hand decorated and beautiful, and also tall and unwieldy. They are about 1.5 inches diameter and about a foot tall, which leads to a beautiful result when hand painted, but it took me twelve years to figure out how to create something that can safely hold one of these babies upright! Encouraged by the approaching baptism of baby number six, and by recent conversations among fellow Catholics, prompted by our beloved holy father Pope Francis, about remembering and celebrating the anniversaries of our baptisms, I decided to find a way at last. So, naturally, I turned to pinterest. I link my pinterest board here. I determined quickly that concrete would be a great solution to my tall, unwieldy candle problem, and after looking at some ideas, here's what I did. (And after I blog this post, I will pin it to my board! My first pin made by me!)
 Here's a candle exactly the diameter of the baptismal candles I needed to stand up. I took it with me to my fave store, Goodwill, to look for a mold.

 I must have prayed before I went, because boy did I score! Then I bought this stepping-stone concrete from Hobby Lobby. 
The box says this is enough cement for one 12 inch stepping stone, or two 8 inch. It turned out to be exactly the right amount for this mold! I mixed it up according to the directions in this old ice cream bucket.
 I just checked, and the mold holds nine cups of liquid. I greased it well with Crisco, because my number one worry in this project was that the thing might not come out of the mold well.
 I left it completely undisturbed for 24 hours, and joy and rapture! Frabjous day, it unmolded like a dream. I put a section of tp tube inside to help the candle snug in and not scrape against the concrete.
 I also cut out a piece of craft foam to keep underneath to protect tabletops. It appealed to me more than felt, for some reason.

This project worked just as I hoped. I toyed with the idea of the paint-dipped look, or some other painted decoration, but decided against it. I like the natural look. 
Hope someone finds this interesting and helpful!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's Somebody's Birthday!

Our great little Luke is five! Wow. That night five years ago is still so vivid, I'm amazed it's five years, and two more siblings since then. He is a joy; and he's full of joy today, because his birthday is finally here!

But sheesh, is it hard taking pictures of five year olds.
Especially with siblings who have just learned about 'photobombing'
How many fingers is that? It was supposed to be five...

We had blueberry pancakes, for the blueberry boy.

The three sisters made them. Here's Kitty, finishing them up.

Now it's time for morning prayer, and Luke gets to be the leader. It will probably involve a lot of percussion instruments, and maybe his favorite song, We Three Kings.
I'll update this later. No school today!

Here's the birthday party. We had Grandma and Grandpa Barrett over for hot dogs and cake.

Have a great sixth year, buddy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Some reflections on the weekend

Some images from the weekend.
I took some selfies with my little Bilbo.

Then Leia wanted to be in one with me, too.

She is so darn cute. But it worries me how often people tell her so.  I have some very pretty, very cute girls, and I don't want them to be too self conscious. I want each of my girls to have a strong self image that is not solely based on appearance or 'cuteness' in looks or behavior.
Grandma and Grandpa, Fyodor's folks, stayed with us this weekend. We had a good time, considering the fact that the length of the visit was due to their car breaking down! I really felt the grace of God in how peaceful our time was. Ten people in a three bedroom house!
 Leia found a little costume and wanted to put it on. It was a very cute clown outfit, and we put some red lipstick on her cheeks, lips and nose. She really looked adorable (not like those scary clowns). Then she got all self conscious and took it off before Grandma Kurdelak could get a picture. I got these:

Heard the saying 'Life imitates art'? Sometimes. In this case, a Japanese screen printer captures the essence of the cat:
Our kitties love to hunt bugs, when they can. 

Here's Minty with a shield bug.

Our little guy has been goin to town in his 'jumpy seat', i.e Johnny Jump-up. Look how much his siblings love him:
Thank you, Lord, for the everyday joys of family life.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

{p,h,f,r} Contentment and Pretentiousness

round button chicken

Linking up with LMLD again for {pretty, happy, funny,real}.
Its cool and rainy today (not complaining, though! I'm thankful it's not snow), and I will really enjoy this pause for appreciating and sharing the beauty and humor of life; as Auntie Leila says, "capturing the context of contentment in everyday life".

Pretty spring sunshine coming in the dining room in the morning, and these items that I find beautiful. This room is painted the same color as my blog background, isn't it? I like to paint the color of sunshine; we have a lot of cloudy days here in northern Indiana. This color is called 'butterfly bush', a fact that has always delighted one of my children.


Haldir has the freedom, as a homeschooled kid, to spend most of his day reading. We are letting him read the final book of the Harry Potter series. (My husband and I discuss what we think each child is ready for. The later HP books require some maturity, but we think they are excellent). Nothing like the joy of reading a good book! and there are three other people in this household always asking him what part he's on, dying to discuss it.
Also these guys, playing together. It makes me deeply happy to see my children being friends. Luke there has a lego creation he's using to play alongside the girls. Legos make him happy. (I don't know why he's winking, but I bet he's proud he can!)

Hermione and I decided this pic needs to be extra large so y'all can read this for yourselves. Yep. I'm the proud owner of a 'gourmet spoon rest'. I wanted a spoon rest to help in my quest to keep my kitchen moderately clean (nod to Auntie Leila), and when I saw this at the Goodwill I couldn't believe it; people may have wondered what that woman kept chuckling about! Seriously; a gourmet spoon rest? The pretentiousness of these words on this humble item still cracks me up.

Real nails. 'Nuf said.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday; Hawksmaid!

Linking up with Housewifespice for What We're Reading Wednesday. I just read my first whole book in months! Thanks to Housewifespice's recommendation to try Kathryn Lasky, I checked out Hawksmaid. (Actually, my choice may also have been influenced by 'how to plan a robin-hood-unit-study-kids-will-complain about'). The jacket says this narrative is an untold part of the Robin Hood story.

I loved this book! It was a very engaging story, and I am so very impressed with the amount of research that must have gone into it. The main character is the daughter of a man famous for his skill in falconry. Something most of us know nothing about, I bet, but which provides the flavor and structure of the whole story. Matty, who will become 'Maid Marian', has a gift for falconry, which is more about respect and relationship than just training. She also has a level of connection with her beloved birds which enters the realm of sci-fi fantasy at the climax of the book. But for most of the story, we have a pretty realistic scene of suffering under the evil Prince John and his co conspirators; of growing friendship, respect and love between Matty and 'the boys'; of a young girl finding support and consistency in a really messed up land and growing up into a brave, kind, clever woman. I was impressed with Lasky's treatment of the Church, another point which she researched well. It may concern some parents that one of the bad guys, a truly evil woman, is an abbess. The last good, just man in England is a bishop, though. And we have Friar Tuck, too. So I think Lasky's treatnent of the church is fair, especially considering the times. The concept of leprosy is addressed in the book, in an abstract way and in a very literal way, with some description of the physical suffering involved and the social ostracism they suffered. However, our heroine makes a deliberate choice to treat the lepers with kindness and to reaffirm their dignity. At one point a leper woman says "my name was Helena" and Marian tells her "your name is still Helena", and treats her with the deference and respect due an older, honored woman.
There is a romance in the story, of course, but it is the sort we would all hope for for our daughters. Friendship, respect, forgiveness, self sacrifice, faithfulness and not one kiss! But many moments of chemistry and a final avowal of faithful love.
I would recommend for sixth grade and up due to the violence of the times, the evil abbess and the lepers. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Busy-ness, Good Attitude, Good Fun

What's going on here lately? More busy weekends than ever. I have vowed not to let my life get as crazy as those of some moms I've seen; unsmiling and grim as they do a million things. But I also pray constantly for good opportunities for our children to develop their talents and good relationships. Maybe rather than the schedule itself, what I must refuse to do is to lose my joy and my ability to see what God may be doing in the ongoing packed, fast paced family life.
This week, Leia was heard to ask someone to stop singing a certain song, because it was 'ear-a-hating'.
Haldir had a trombone solo evaluation and a baseball tryout on the same day this Saturday! Both went great, and he told me he was 'elated'. I was elated for him, too!

Fyodor and I went to a celebration at Trinity School at Greenlawn, my alma mater and the place where he has been working for 13 years. They have received a very impressive award for the fourth time, and made this fun video with alumni.

Here's little Minty, sleeping on my bed. She is a new kitty, Hermione's Christmas present, and very, very intrepid. She gets along well with the other two cats, especially Jeffrey, our very active boy. That has turned out very well. But, this little girl does not care too much about our rules! She is very friendly, and doesn't mind our little ones patting and grabbing her. I just hope she catches on soon, so we don't have to keep a 'super soaker' at the ready all the time. This pose, with her little paws stretched out, just charmed me.

Here's Jeffrey on my lap with little Bilbo. Jef is so sweet. (Never mind how dorky I look.) Notice that little hand on the kitty's fur! 

I took five kids to a rollerskating rink on Sat. It seemed the same as it was thirty years ago, when we used to go there for parties as kids. But the noise! I was so exhausted just by the loud music and so much activity. It was fun, though.

I haven't taken many pictures in the last few days, but the sun has been shining and it really seems like spring is here! Here I am, happy blogging with the sun shining and the window cracked open here in the sunroom.

We had some April fools silliness today. All in good fun. Here is Hermione with some 'fruit punch' and 'apple juice'

We have an amaryllis that we have been keeping going for a few years. We let it dry out and have a 'winter' after it blooms and has some greens for a few months, then pot it in lent and try to get it to bloom by Pentecost. Fabulous red, trumpet shaped flowers. Here's the growth so far.

Til next time!