this week, i…

This week was a rather quiet, at-home week. (The kind I like best, really.)

I cut yarrow and added its sunshine to a corner of the kitchen:

I enjoyed the pink geranium on my kitchen table:

I made a blueberry pie, and put the rest of the 20 pounds into the freezer — the first round of frozen goodies from 2013:

We ate the first tomatoes of the year, thanks to the diligent Kent Family, and they did not disappoint. Yum.

I had a couple of genuinely-exhausted days. A boy took this picture — Mama on the couch. It happens more and more:

I made roasted beet and goat cheese salad for dinner. It was delicious:

Beatrice stayed happy forever, and would have played for another hour if I’d let her:

photo dump

In no particular order, some random things that have made it onto my camera roll:

Kefir. Every night, and sometimes morning, too, I make new batch of kefir. Primarily it’s for Ryan, but the kids and I have had our share of blueberry smoothies, chock full of live cultures. It quietly grows in a mason jar on my counter, and I’m a little in awe. I did it. I didn’t kill it. It’s multiplying, in fact. Actually, would anyone like some kefir grains? I’m starting to feel like Strega Nona!

But with kefir every day, vegetables becoming our main stay (thanks to our awesome CSA!), and other efforts I make at healthy eating, a little balance becomes a necessity. Thus, dates to the Hometown Cafe. Where we order burgers and french fries and ice cream and smile all the way home.

Speaking of food, a Williams-Sonoma catalog came this week and this page jumped out at me and begged to be made.

Lemon and thyme: how can you go wrong? It’s been very hot and even more humid, and I am actually thankful for our central air. Generally I am very, very opposed to closing windows in the middle of the summer — don’t we do that all winter long?? But today, when late afternoon rolled around and I was actually happy to turn on the oven and get cooking? Awesome. This pregnant girl will take a few days of A/C. Just this once.

I’ve been “shopping the house” for Beatrice’s bedroom, since that’s what’s in the budget right now, and found a few bits to add here and there. Like this cross stitch piece that used to hang in my little girl bedroom (shared with lots of other little girl sisters!), which was done by my grandmother. All three of my kids just love looking at the colorful pictures.

A couple of buntings made from sewing scraps, a beautiful music box bought in Colonial Williamsburg, but best of all, that itty bitty teapot that I brought home from China. Beatrice loves it. “Teatop! Teatop!”, she says.

I walked out the front door to call to the boys, and when I looked down, saw this: cheerful pink geraniums. It made me smile.

So do these gigantic white clematis! I salvaged a couple of clematis from a very overgrown old perennial garden that our home’s previous owner had planted. I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but they sure did — this one, especially. Plants that manage to persevere against all odds: things that make my soul perk up and listen.

Beatrice spends many, many moments sitting in the middle of the floor with this, her favorite book, opened on her lap. Her little lap that is just big enough to hold the book — if she stretches her toes! I love it.

The End.

recent favorites

music:

a little worship.

a little motown.

a little melancholy soundtrack

food:

granola — sometimes with the chocolate, usually just with a cup of dried cherries and a big splash of vanilla.

baked falafel — minus onion, sadly, since my stomach can’t handle it.

…which in turn demands that I make these and something like this.

chocolate bundt cake, with coffee instead of water, of course. Of course!

books:

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Rufus M.

Hero Tales

also:

fresh air + sunshine

resting

learning to be okay with how much gets done each day. It’s His day, anyway.

a little bit of everything


Beatrice, out on Kevin and Liz’s boat

July 17th is a big deal this year: Beatrice is eleven months old today, and next month, we start counting by years. We are all so in love with this happy, spunky, silly girl. The feeling is mutual, of course. She loves her brothers and adores her daddy. The funny thing about being the mom is that love is simply assumed. She crawls after the boys and works so hard to get a laugh from Ryan, but me? She just knows I’m here. Being a mama is such a privilege.


Watching this afternoon’s storm come in

It’s raining.* This is also a big deal. Our grass is so dry that walking on it hurts. Worse, crops are dying of thirst. Needless to say, the sound of rain as I woke up thrilled me. I do not begin to have the emotional stamina and resiliency needed for farming, but the closer I get to my local farms through greater dependency on them for food, the more I get to share in those ups and downs. Hats off to them.


Pretty breakfasts are one of my favorite things

I got to read through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle again, since one of the moms groups at church decided upon that book for a fun summer read. Second time through, I caught little things I missed the first time. One thing Kingsolver pointed out was that while Good Eating is full of positives in many cultures (think Provence, Tuscany…), Good Eating in the States is a food culture of negatives: you can’t have dessert. Drink skim milk. Low sodium cold cuts for you. Freezer meal while your family eats KFC. And largely, I think that’s true. If my friends and I have a conversation about healthy eating, what gets talked about? What we can’t eat. I realized that part of what I’ve so enjoyed about creating a home for my family has been defining a good and positive food culture. Instead of depriving ourselves of yumminess and calling it healthy, we’re eating delicious food that celebrates taste and health. Guess what? God wants us to be healthy, and He didn’t bother creating a Crystal Light plant in the Garden of Eden — so maybe there are actually yummy ways to be healthy. Right?

Of course, that idea of “good” being a concept riddled with negativity made me think about so many other things. How often does our meditation on a “good and holy” God turn into thoughts of what isn’t holy instead of what is? After mulling this over for weeks, and thinking about how I want to live a life of “I get to!” in front of my kids, I read C. S. Lewis’ words on the subject. He, naturally, says it much better than I ever could:

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. [more…]


Pirates, sleeping in our very own yard!

Today I dropped off my IHIP — required by the state of NY for home schooled children. All spring and summer, thoughts about next year’s school has occupied a place on the back burner of my mind. Now, heading into summer’s end, it’s time to move thinking into planning. Not that first grade is terribly complicated or taxing — but still, there are priorities to sort and Big Rocks to put in first, because how quickly our jars fill with the pebbles of life.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to teach Jameson at home. The further along this road called Family that I find myself, the more I realize how much there is to reevaluate, and how much lives outside the box. Another brief side note Kingsolver makes in her book is the observation of the school year: children originally had the summer off because their families needed their help during planting and harvest. Yes. School doesn’t need to rule our lives; it should fit into and enhance our lives. That made me stop and ask: How do our children fit into this family? And how does school fit into that? We have the incredibly daunting responsibility of shaping and equipping children to become young men and women of ethic, honor, and function. I’m so very thankful to know that God has called us and God has anointed us in this endeavor.

*I wrote this post this morning, and then the rain returned in force this afternoon. Hopefully the farmers were blessed, and the people in Potsdam certainly had a fair share of excitement!

bits

Since the beginning of May, I have only eaten dessert, or sweets of any kind, a few times on a few special occasions. This is amazing for me. I feel like I’ve climbed Mt. Self Control for the first time ever.

…and then tonight I had to make dessert for our church picnic and caved. I ate a cookie.

Those cookies get me every time!

*****

One special occasion was last week when we went strawberry picking. All three kids, in the middle of the afternoon, trying to find a place I’d never heard of. Beatrice decided to try out a new facet of her personality and cried her head off, William cut his finger on a blade of grass and joined her, and Jameson sat happily in the middle of strawberry plants declaring how much fun he was having. That kid is a keeper.

We brought home 4 quarts — not much, but enough, given the howling that was our soundtrack.

And Jameson helped me make a strawberry cake to celebrate strawberry season. (Since they’ve been deprived of baked goods since my attempts at cutting out dessert, they were especially excited about this cake!)

*****

That night, I also made Ina Garten’s grilled chicken. It was, as all of her recipes are, fabulous. Full of flavor, and really easy. Mashed potatoes (with plenty of whole milk and butter, of course!), and salad from right outside our door finished off the meal. It really was a wonderful celebration of summer’s beginning.

*****

Another big hit? Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Tikka Masala — or at least a version of it. I used chicken thighs and cooked it in the oven at 250* for a couple of hours, but otherwise followed the recipe fairly closely. The cilantro lime rice is a must.

Did I mention that cilantro is taking over my little herb plot? It is. And we love it.

*****

I’m so proud of William. He’s not quite as adventurous as his brother, and that’s putting it mildly. Last year, he spent the entire summer watching people swim from the comfort of dry ground. This week, he went from barely being comfortable dipping his feet in, to being happy climbing in and out all by himself, and letting me help him “swim”. Most of all, it’s fun to see his eyes shine and realize how proud he feels to have accomplished so much.

*****

I pulled out a Copland piece today for the first time in…years. Jameson heard me, and quickly assembled an eclectic assortment of household items that he transformed into percussion. I couldn’t believe how quickly he understood the (modern, sounds-like-chaos to most people) music and figured out how to appropriately add strums and cymbals and such.

*****

Meanwhile, Beatrice is busy getting callouses on her feet — on the tops of her feet, that is. Crawling babies get so dirty, too! She has a self-appointed roll as household floor cleaner, and very seriously picks up every speck and fuzz and eats it. She’s also been introduced to some real food (so, really, shouldn’t she realize that dryer lint is just not worth eating anymore?) and has loved it all. Chicken, salmon, snap peas, lettuce from the garden that she picks when I’m not looking… She’s very eager to be included in our meals. And I just think, Really? Really, you weren’t just born?

*****

Long days of sunshine, long days of work for Ryan, long days of pools and walks and watering thirsty plants. Living the best we know how, loving that He upholds us.

He is good.

june days, quick trips, lunching local

Sometimes, June days greet with you with a wave of heat and stickiness that sends you running for water or AC. Sometimes, they greet you with breezes that raise goosebumps in seconds and sending you running for a favorite cardigan. This, I think, is because God loves us all. Can you guess which of those days is my favorite?

*****

Hand-to-the-plow is how Sinclair girls tend to turn out. “Resting” means 20 minutes of reading before we finally stop trying, hop up and start pulling a weed, fluffing a pillow, and generally finding things to do. Sometimes, though (and I’m getting better at this), it’s a day for putting kids in the car and leaving house and chores far behind. It’s a day for visiting a sister two hours away just because I love her. So we both slow down for one whole day, busying ourselves with just being sisters. Driving home at dusk through rolling farmland is, by the way, the best early summer activity.

*****

Meals have been heavy on asparagus for the last couple of weeks. Get while the getting is good, right? Here in the North Country, the getting is at its best. This is when I start thinking about food almost all day long: where are the strawberries, when to order sour cherries from the Amish farmer, CSA pick ups beginning, how many eggs can we eat in a day because they’re so good, buy more beef because it’s hamburger season. For these few short months of summertime heaven, you can eat almost completely local.

If you’re local, may I recommend this for lunch?

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Omelet

2 eggs from Maddie, with a splash of milk, s+p

5 asparagus from the Kingston’s, trimmed and sauteed in olive oil and s+p until bright green

Garlic and Onion goat cheese from Jesse Barton

Put it all together —

Serve with bread from the co-op.

Absolutely scrumptious.