Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Knitters

Now that Christmas is over and the wood stove is up and running, I need a legitimate reason to sit close by the fire all day. So, I got out my knitting and started working on slippers for all the little feet in my house ... that's a pretty good reason, I'd say.

The other day Owen came to me and asked if he could knit something.  
What would you like to knit?  I asked.
After some thinking, he answered:  A bracelet.
So here he is working away on his bracelet ...  a little bit each day with the hopes of it one day matching the picture he has in his mind.

Then Laurel came to me and said that she would like to knit something too.
Would you like me to teach you to finger knit?  I asked (thinking that finger knitting would be easier for her)
No, I want to use knittles!  she insistently replied.  (Is it wrong that I didn't correct her?  I didn't think so.)
So she went to the drawer and chose some "knittles" and yarn.  As I was trying to figure out how I was going to teach a 3 year old to knit, she sat herself down on the floor and started to wind her chosen yarn around the needles.  After a few minutes of this, she looked at her work and proudly proclaimed:  "I am the best knitter EVER!"  
I guess that she didn't need my help after all.

As for me, I am still working away.  I have finished one pair of slippers, but unfortunately they don't fit any of the feet in my house (sigh!).  Oh well, on to the next pair ... maybe I should ask Laurel for help!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Granola Bars

Homemade granola bars are very popular in our house.  They are easy make and transport well so we often take them along on picnics and hikes. Over time we have shared them with many people and I often get asked for the recipe, but have passed it on only rarely.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I want to keep it a secret or anything (it's not like we are talking about a Caramilk bar!), but we only sort of follow the original recipe.  It also varies so much depending on what I have on hand, that I've never been quite sure the best way to transcribe it.  But for all of you who have asked (and asked and asked in some cases ... sorry about that) here is my best effort.

Homemade Granola Bars

2 cups oats
3/4 wheat germ (we don't often have this so it usually gets left out)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts (the recipe says crushed, but who has time for that ... just throw them in whole!)
* note * we often add other nuts and seeds -- almonds work well, along with chia, sesame or flax seeds have all been tried in our house with great success.

Place on a baking dish and toast them in the oven (400 degrees F) for about 10 - 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so they don't get burned.
*note* I always skip this step ... what is the point of no bake granola bars if you have to turn on the oven?!)

Put the "glue" ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly (ok, I don't stir it constantly ... how about frequently?  yes, that's sounds more reasonable!).
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter (coconut oil is a great substitute!)
1/2 tsp salt
* note * the recipe doesn't call for peanut butter, but I always add a big spoonful of it ... crunchy!)
Remove from heat and add 2 tsp vanilla.

Put the dry ingredients (toasted or otherwise) and the "glue" in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add  8 oz of dried fruit (8 oz, really?  I never measure this, just throw in handfuls of whatever dried fruit you have on hand ... raisins, cranberries, chopped up apricots or dates).  And coconut, don't forget the coconut.  Since it's not in the original recipe, I don't know how much coconut we usually add ... 1/2 cup or so? (are you seeing the pattern here?).

Now dump your granola mixture into a well greased pan (we like 9 x 13) and start spreading. You need to press them down so that they don't crumble when you cut them.  Wax paper works well, just get a sheet the size of your pan and use your hands to press them down hard ... be sure to remove the wax paper when you're done or it will stick (only made that mistake once!). A plastic bag will work too, just be sure to turn it inside out if there is writing on it otherwise the ink will come off on your bars (granola bars emblazoned with the Bulk Barn symbol ... tasty!)

Wait 2 - 3 hours for the bars to cool.  2 - 3 hours? No, no, no you can cut this time drastically by putting them in the freezer for a bit.  Warning!! if you leave them in the freezer over night and they get rock hard, they have the ability to chip off the end of your knife ... the really nice one that your husband likes (oops!)

Cut into whatever size pieces you like and enjoy!

I don't have any on hand to take a picture of  (*gasp* sound the granola alarm!), so I'm off to make some more while I ponder whether this is changed enough to call it my own ... where is that line anyway?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Already 3!

Yes, my girl turned 3 last week ... it's sad and exciting all at the same time.

I decided that this special little girl needed a special blanket -- don't all little girls? -- so I set to work.  I had heard that rag quilts were easy to make (a little bit of sewing and some clipping, easy right?) so I did some reading, and started to collect some materials.  An old quilt that I had been hanging on to got cut up for the batting, and my pile of old receiving blankets became the 108 squares to make the top.  We were given so many receiving blankets at Isaac's baby shower (over 10 years ago) and I remember wondering what on earth I would ever use them all for.  Oh, silly, pre-children me!  They turned out to be very handy ... a sun shade, a nursing cover, a play blanket, a diaper change cloth, a cleaning rag, a toy, I even turned some of them into diapers a couple of years ago (post here).  So, into the pile they went (along with a couple of extra that I found at Value Village).  Well, after a lot of cutting, stitching, a sewing machine tune up (fyi, sewing machines need some tlc more often than once every 10 years), a midnight meltdown, and a TON of clipping, it was finally done.  
So worth all the effort to see that smiling face peeking out from under her new blanket!

The birthday girl and her horse cake ...

"Am I still this old?" she asked me the other day while holding up 3 fingers (a skill that took almost a week to master).
"Yes." I tell her.
"All the time?" she wonders.
"Yes, baby girl ..." I answer, then more to myself:  "... for as long as I can keep time from moving too quickly."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A New Addition!

Now before any of you get the wrong idea, it's not THAT kind of addition.  With one working parent and 3 boys that can already out eat me if they decide to, another addition of that kind, while cute and cuddly, would not be .... well let's just put that thought out of our heads!

The addition that I am talking about is a little bit smaller, a little bit wigglier, a whole lot quieter, and very useful in the garden -- WORMS!  We now have a whole pound of red wigglers (about 1000 worms) hanging out in our house.  We give them our kitchen scraps and they give us amazingly rich soil, which will be put into our soon-to-be vegetable garden, which will produce more kitchen scraps for our new friends.  Oh, the connected-ness of it all is so exciting -- yes, I am saying that worms are exciting.

Making up their new home

Happy worms
This is the next baby step toward our own little homestead, so a great big welcome to Walter, William, Willa, Wyatt, Wade, Wanda, Waldo, Willow, Wilson, Winston, Woody, Wesley, Wendy ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

one, two, three, four ...

With all the snow that we had last weekend (okay, 2 weekends ago ... that's how long this post has been floating around in my head), I thought that I should knit up a few pairs of mittens -- one for each child was my lofty goal for the weekend.  Nice thought, but it didn't happen.  Now, more than two weeks later (ahem!) I have one finished pair.

Nothing too fancy but the wearer is very pleased with them.  Here is the pattern that I used -- it's basic and simple.  But, after finishing the first mitt, I discovered that it was a little to big for even my biggest boy, so I adjusted the second mitt a bit.  Clever, right?  Not so much ... I didn't write down what I did, so back to the drawing board for pair #2!

As I was finishing up the last mitten, Laurel joined me.  When she gets tired, she will often climb up behind me, put her thumb in her mouth and grab a handful of hair (yes, she is still attached to my hair, but thankfully, she does not pull so much anymore!).  As I got closer to the top of the mitten (and decreasing stitches), I was counting aloud to myself:  "one, two, three, four.".  Then the patterned called for knitting 2 stitches together.  After a couple of rounds, Laurel leaning on my back, me still counting ... "one, two, three, four ...", I stopped to wrestle with some particularly tight stitches, and a little voice whispered in my ear: "five" ... funny girl!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our BIG Adventure Days 14, 15 & 16

The Wedding

We left Drumheller and headed to Edmonton for the wedding that was the original reason for our trip -- an idea that grew into this grand adventure!

Along the way, the boys practised their singing (always to the tune of "Oh Canada" for some reason -- Olympic hangover, I think!)  My favourite rendition was:

"Mark and Hilary,
Are in love with me ..."

That's as far as they ever got before exploding into fits of laughter.

We decided to stay in a hotel while in town -- we figured the other guests might appreciate it if we all had showers.  Also there was a pool, lots of clean towels, and an iron -- clothes that sit in the bottom of a box for 2 weeks tend to get a bit wrinkled!

 After the showers and freshly ironed clothes, the boys thought that we looked pretty good (I never iron anything at home, so freshly ironed clothes were a real treat!)  They thought that such "fancy people" deserved some special treatment, so as we drove the streets of Edmonton, they shouted out the windows:  "Fancy people, coming through ... fancy people, make way for the fancy people!"

The Fancy People
 As for the wedding, Paul did his ushering thing, I did my reading, the groom said "I do", the bride said "I do", we had our picture taken a couple of times ... it was a beautiful success.  Congratulations to my brother and my new sister-in-law!

The groom's family minus a few
 After a brunch reception the next day (we ate, we told stories, we laughed), we headed west toward the Rockies ... the ROCKIES!!  I am so excited!

Another great bunch of days on this big adventure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our BIG Adventure -- Day 13

Bright and sunny (but much cooler, thank goodness) this morning as we headed off to go exploring in Drumheller!

We started out tour just outside Drumheller at Horseshoe Canyon.  From here we got a great view of the area, known as the Canadian Badlands.  We also ran into these bad characters!

With the promise of being able to climb inside the world's largest dinosaur, we headed to the center of town.  There, staring down at us was a very large T Rex.  We climbed the stairs and looked out over the city through the jaws of this massive creature.

After a bite of lunch at a local place called "The Old Grouch" (an interesting place where the walls are covered in Elvis memorabilia, the food is homemade, and the service is friendly -- it must have been the grouch's day off), we headed to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in search of some real dinosaurs.  There was so much to see and learn!  Everything from how they go about their search and transport their findings (there is even a window into a working lab where you can watch them doing their work!), to bones, casts, rocks and fossils.  It was awesome!

Another great day on this big adventure.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our BIG Adventure -- Day 12

More driving today, but before hitting the road we stopped to look for buffalo (we were, after all, in Buffalo Pound Park). Unfortunately, they (all 30 of them, according to the sign) were out playing hide and go seek, or else grazing in another part of the pasture. We did, however, mange to see a few prairie dogs -- buffalo, prairie dogs ... they're similar, right?

The closer we got to Alberta, the hotter it seemed to get. The thermometer on the van read 37©! (By the way, when it's that hot out, don't leave crayons on the dash!)

As we set up camp in Drumheller that night, we talked excitedly about what we would see the next day ... dinosaurs!

Another great day on this big adventure.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our BIG Adventure -- Day 10 & 11

After our day at the fair, it was time to get back on the road. As there is much country that we want to see, as well as many people, there are some days that are spent mostly driving. But some of our most interesting discoveries have come when we were least expecting it, and days 10 and 11 brought many interesting and unexpected discoveries.

The dragonflies in Graham's Island State Park, North Dakota, were amazing. There were big groups of them that seemed to congregate just out of reach, but close enough to get our attention.

The Geographical center of North America is in North Dakota ... who knew? We came across this monument on the side of the road and just had to stop for a picture.

Dot's Homestyle Pretzels - the pride of Dakota (according to the package) were a yummy discovery! We will be going through the Dakotas on our way home too and will definitely be looking to pick up some more.

Once we got into Saskatchewan, we came across this place ...

It's Dog River! Dog River is actually a fictional place, but the building and the grain elevator where they shot scenes for "Corner Gas" are really on the prairie in Saskatchewan. We had been admiring all the grain elevators and stopped to take a picture of the one that said Dog River, and when we turned around, there was the other building too!

And to top off our day, we had the most amazing view from the hills around our campsite in Buffalo Pound Park.

Another great day on this big adventure of ours ...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Our BIG Adventure -- Day 8 & 9

We awoke early on day 8 to thunder and lightening. It didn't last long, but since we were already awake we decided to get an early start and hit the road again.

We drove for most of the day, picnicked on the beach between the raindrops, and stopped in Iron River, Wisconsin. After discovering that the county fair was that weekend, we decided to hang around for an extra day and check it out ... because who can resist a county fair (especially one with rumours of bull riding)?

Day 9 was slightly overcast, but off we went to the Bayfield County Fair, and it did not disappoint! There were kids of all ages in horse riding competitions (my favourite part), a stunt motorcycle show, the usual rides, games and food (deep fried everything from potatoes to Oreo to green beans!), and lots of animal, baking and craft competitions. We spent a lot of time looking around the foul and rabbit barn (Isaac's favourite part) where I was informed many times that some of the bunnies were for sale ... hmmmm maybe I should have checked their pockets before we left.

Owen and Laurel enjoyed the ferris wheel best, while the highlight for Aidan was the pony ride! (sorry no picture ... I was busy consoling Laurel who went around once then decided she was done).

Although the rumour of bull riding was true, it wasn't until later in the evening, so we headed back to our campsite for some supper (some very tasty ham from the local farmers market), an evening campfire and some smores.

Another great day on this big adventure of ours ...

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