Journaling with Kids

I am a huge fan of journal keeping.  I had various diaries growing up and when I became pregnant for the first time, I took the pastime up again, not so much because I love to write about my days (I actually find it to be pretty tedious) but because I love reading through them later.  Now that I've become the record keeper of my children's youth, I'm really glad that I started as early as I did. 

BUT, you know how the oldest kid in a family always has tons of photos of them as a baby and then the second has fewer, and by the time your parents got to the third or fourth, there was no time for thinking outside of the moment let alone take a picture for the record?  I've been kind of like that since Wystan was born.  I promised myself that I wouldn't slack off, but I did.

I love this journal because it's broken down into simple questions, the writing ends up being in their own unique "voice" and it's kid specific, so in 30 years you can hand it over and inspire your child to try it too.  I have this journal in my Amazon cart right now.  I'll start with Leif (he's 5 and has a lot to say) and maybe by the time Wyst is really talking, we'll have come up with a replica of our own (seems easy enough, right?).


Making Safe Homemade Play-Doh

Hello Alyssa's readers!
Alyssa has so graciously invited me to contribute to this amazing blog she's built, and I just hope I can do her justice :) You're an inspirational Momma, Alyssa, and I love you! xo

Without further ado, today I decided to make some homemade play dough for Quinn, after reading about the not-so-fun ingredients in traditional Play-Doh (preservatives and binders and petroleum, oh my!). Plus, let's be serious, I didn't feel like spending any money!

Making your own play dough is really easy. No, like, REALLY easy. People, after you try this out, you will not see any reason to buy manufactured (and chemically processed) dough for little hands to squish ever again. Here's the easy-peasy recipe:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
a few drops food coloring

Throw all the ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat (minus the food coloring), and stir until it becomes a dough. This only takes a few seconds.

Put your ball of dough on a floured surface and knead until it cools. Knead in your food coloring and you're ready to go. This dough won't dry out, and I keep mine in a lidded jar in the fridge.

I decided to take it a step further, because I'm not really stoked on normal food look at the ingredients list to see what that stuff is that's sinking into your skin does not leave much to be desired: Red thanks.

Then I remembered those beets I got the other day. I needed to cook them up so I could have them sprinkled in my salads.

After I let the suckers boil until tender, I let the water continue to boil down for another couple of minutes. I replaced the 1/2 cup of water in the recipe with of this gorgeous ruby goodness, and we were lookin' good.

Now it's Quinn's turn. Hope she likes it!


Strawberry Season and Freezer Jam

It's that time of year.  The little strawberry patch outside our front door has done it again.  It's taking a beating this year with Wystan trampling through to go after the barely ripe berries in the back, but there were still enough for a big batch of shortcake and a decent supply of freezer jam, though I did supplement that with other local berries. 

For all the jams that we consume, I'd never made freezer jam before today.  I knew that I wanted to make jam, but all of the recipes I was finding called for SO MUCH sugar.  Then I had this "brilliant" idea:  if I froze the jam instead of heat canning it, I could use as little sugar as I liked and not worry about messing with bacteria, etc.

Like every recipe I've probably ever attempted, I took a look at two different sets of instructions and then just went for it without measuring or worrying too much about the specifics.  I made a couple of quarts, poured it all into jars, and popped it into the fridge to set, and then, for good measure, I googled it and found this timely article which states:

Pectin is the fruit-derived gel that holds jam together and creates a thick consistency. It's important to buy a brand of pectin that is compatible with no-cook freezer jam. Read the instructions carefully, as recipes can (and will) vary from brand to brand. Different kinds of pectin call for different amounts of sugar, so read the directions or your jam won't set correctly

I'm afraid that as usual, this little kitchen experiment is going to prove (again) that I'm not as clever as I think I am.  We'll know by morning...


Zero Waste Home

Have you heard about  Zero Waste Home?  Some might find their lifestyle too extreme, but I can't stop thinking about how liberating it would be to own so little.  I've been trying to convince my husband that if we owned less clothing there would be less laundry kicking around the house (or, let's be real here, piling up on the couch for weeks at a time).  I've been slowly de-cluttering, but one of these days, I just might clear the house out.

Watch this video and tell me you're not inspired.  Of course, the gorgeous house helps, but the lack of clutter is just dreamy.

What do you think?  Could you live with such a small amount of stuff?


EWG's 2012 Sunscreen Guide

Lake Erie Beach (1940) by The Artist's Eye

You know how I feel about sunscreen.  My last post on it was from 2010 (took a little break there).  I don't know if you've noticed, but it seems like shelves are full of natural and organic sunscreens lately.  Here's the updated 2012 guide to safe sunscreens from the Environmental Working Group.  Give it a look and see how your bottle measures up.


A Brief Update

This fall has been full of transitions.  We have a new floor, a new baby, Leif has started preschool and I've entered into a new decade (hello 30s!).
In progress and looking good
Just minutes old
First day at preschool
30th birthday photo shoot
a few shots later - this is my life