Explore

With a bit of luck (and some rain) we have a reprieve from the snow. So we set out to explore.

We explore the trees, sticks, branches, stumps and pinecones.

We explore the stream, the snow and melting ice.

We explore the plants- what’s gone for the winter? What will the animals that stay eat?

We explore with a following.

We explore the world.

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and Outdoor Play

Flaking Oats

A while back I did this post about grinding your own flour. Well here, as mentioned, is the flaker  attachment to the Family Grain Mill. This attachment works great! I really recommend it if you’d like to make your own oatmeal or flake any grain.

This is looking down into the flaker mill where the hopper sits.

And here are the oats. I ground about a half gallon jar full cause I go through them fairly quickly between oatmeal, cookies and making dog food and biscuits. This filled the hopper full.

Here are the results.

That’s all there is to it.

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Snow Days

Once again we got snow just in time for the holidays (8-9 inches).  Thanksgiving was gorgeous; the photos don’t do justice but I was limited on time while feeding the animals- had to get the turkey in the oven!

Once that was taken care of I had a little time to make a bit of progress on my pullover (it’s the oatmeal pullover by Jane Richmond). Such a gratifying knit- simple pattern and it’s knitting up fast thanks to the bulky baby alpaca  (oh my does it feel nice!). Good thing too, with three little ones to create handmade gifts for this year.

So what about you- What are you creating?

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Blueberries

In Downeast Maine just about every road has a blueberry field somewhere along it. In the spring the fields are green, in the summer a sea of blue, autumn brings reds and purples until finally, they rest under a blanket of white snow.

A really small part of a blueberry field.

The colors of autumn.

Fun Fact: Maine produces 99% of the countries wild blueberries.

Here’s a link to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for Wild Maine Blueberries for more info on Maine’s wild blueberries and they have a short slideshow with some nice photos of the blueberry fields and a tractor harvester (blueberries are harvested by a tractor harvester or by hand depending on the field).

We love blueberries! The boys eat them everyday if they can. Last year we froze 40 lbs to get us through the winter but we ran out early even with rationing towards the end. Our favorite recipe using fresh blueberries is blueberry pie. Frozen they usually go into smoothies, muffins and of course pancakes.

Perhaps you already have a favorite pancake recipe but if you’re looking for one- especially one that incorporates real food (fresh ground flour, kefir…) and traditional methods (soaking) look no further!

SUSAN’S WHOLE WHEAT KEFIR PANCAKES

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, fresh ground if possible (you can use other flours as well if you’re gluten free or use sprouted flour if you don’t want to soak the flour).
1 1/4 cups kefir (can also use yogurt or cultured buttermilk)
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder (heaping) (aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon real salt

Directions

In a bowl, mix together the flour and kefir; add a bit more flour if mixture seems thin. Cover with a towel and let soak overnight, 8-12 hours. In the morning when ready to prepare, whisk in the remaining ingredients; mixing well. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Pour about ¼ cup of the batter on the skillet. When edges begin to bubble (about 2 minutes), flip to other side. Cook until both sides are golden brown. We serve with raw butter and maple syrup or honey.

These are delicious! I have found that the kefir can be substituted for by yogurt or buttermilk with fantastic results. I have also subbed maple syrup for the honey and almond or grapeseed oil for coconut oil in a pinch.

For blueberry pancakes I sprinkle a few on each one as I cook cause I like even distribution. If the blueberries are frozen I run them under water to help them thaw (no raw spots in the pancakes) and this also gets rid of all that blue that otherwise stains hands and the batter that not so appetizing blue-green color. This works for muffins too.

Enjoy!

If you try these and like them please follow the link to Susan’s site and let her know how great her recipe is.

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Little Critters::stART

Just Me And My Puppy by Mercer Mayer

Several of the books we read this week had a reoccurring theme: puppies. Just Me And My Puppy by Mercer Mayer starts with Little Critter trading his mitt for a friend’s puppy (don’t get any ideas boys). Little Critter gets to keep the puppy as long as he takes care of it and so ensues his attempts to train his puppy. Of course the results aren’t quite what he was going for.

Using pipe cleaners and the instructions from Twisted Critters we twisted up a puppy and a mouse (because of the mouse Mercer Mayer often includes in the illustrations). The boys love them. The only downside is that the pipe cleaners don’t hold up well to  a lot of  handling (especially the handling by a 2 yr old).

Meet Snuff:

Ezra's Loopy Puppy

 And Squeak:

Noah's Mouse

 This post is part of stART

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Preserving Lemons

I love having fresh lemons on hand but, alas, lemons do not grow in Maine and my local market doesn’t always have organic lemons. Enter preserved lemons. All you need is:

Salt

lemons, a jar and a knife

Cut lemons into quarters, sprinkle generously and completely with salt and pack into jar-pressing to release juices. The lemons should be submerged.

Just let the lemons sit out for several days-I do about 3 days ( *see note below). The lemons should smell great and the peel softened. Store in the fridge and use whenever lemons are called for- the juice as well as the whole lemon is usable. Hold back on the salt  tho- these are salted lemons after all.

Coming up: I’ll share several recipes in which I use preserved lemons.

Editing: I just want to add that you can rinse the finished lemons to cut back on the salt if desired. Also, preserved lemons are not traditionally stored in the fridge. I’ve begun to leave the preserved lemons out -saving fridge space- and I have to say they keep getting better.

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Joining  traditional tuesdays realfood wednesday, simple lives thursday, fightback friday

Yes

Yes: To experiments involving  lots of  containers, water, dyes and pouring from one cup to another.

Yes:To mixing all the playdough colors together at once. And creating awesome skulls!

Yes: To getting the ink out and making chicken feather pens.

  These worked really well with some india ink!

Yes: To singing a sea shanty and sharing the fun.

 “Take chances, make mistakes,get messy.” (Ms.Frizzle)

Yes

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Bear Caves::stART

After seeing Almost Unschooling’s bear caves I knew my boys would love to make their own after reading Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.

picture ffom openlibrary.org

 They did! Going On A Bear Hunt is a modern classic. And art involving 3-D caves, glue and googly eyes is awesome! Noah and Ezra have also picked up the phrase ” What a beautiful day!”. So we’re hearing that a lot around here whenever the sun comes out. Love!

Here are two of Noah”s. They’re monster bears because Halloween isn’t just a day – it’s a season.

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The Joys of a Box :: Pirate

  The joys of a box.

This one became a pirate ship, complete with pirate, mast and jolly roger!

The ship needs some warnings to other pirates of course:

the ship- beware!

And what would a pirate’s ship be with ‘er colors?!

the jolly roger

Noah drew his pirate flag onto an old t shirt with some fabric pastels.

Ar! I'm a pirate!

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Grinding Your Own Flour

Grinding your own flour might sound too complicated or too time consuming but it’s actually really easy. Especially if you have an electric grain mill. I have a Family Grain Mill that I run off an attachment to my kitchen aid mixer. It also has a base that I can use if I need to hand crank, as well as other attachments like a flaker (home flaked oatmeal is soo delicious), a grinder (I’ve found the grinder doesn’t work well for meat. I have not tried it to make nut butter or spaghetti shaped pasta), and a food processor , which I don’t have.

My grain mill in action.

Wheat comes in hard and soft varieties. I like the softer, golden, variety because it it tender and bakes up results closer to that of refined white flour.  When making sourdough or just using a smidgen while cooking I grind once on the smallest setting but if I want the flour for other kinds of  baked goods then I grind the flour once again. It takes a bit longer but the results are finer and fluffier.

Wheat Berries- Golden Pairie

Berries in flour out.

I store it in the container you see above. My kitchen stays pretty cool and I use up the flour fairly quickly so I don’t store it in the fridge but it still stays fresh. I usually grind one hopper full (the white thing on top holding the wheat berries). Once  ground it equals just a little more than what’s in the container above.

It is pretty loud; although not much louder than running a kitchen aid mixer to make cookies is.

You can also sprout your wheat berries first and dehydrate them. Then, once you grind them, you can bake without soaking or going the sourdough route. I really like the results of fresh ground flour in sourdough- especially sourdough crackers. When baking with fresh ground flour hold back on the liquids until you can see just how much liquid the flour will absorb. Other than that use your fresh, full of nutrients flour the same as store brought.

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Spiders, bats, ghosts and witches!

My boys had a lot of fun with Halloween. One post just didn’t do it justice. :)

So here are a few more things we did:

Spooky houses have to have spiders and webs.

and ghosts too.

The ghost is a piece of cheesecloth stiffened and dried then hung with string.

Space Ghoooost!

 While Noah carved his pumpkin, Ezra picked out this squash and struggling_along drew on Space Ghost for him. A huge hit!

Potato Stamp Skulls

We made some potato stamps. This is the skull one. These worked out well. The paint is just water colors. The down side is that the potato ages quickly and then you have to make a new one. You can add a day or two of use if you store it in the fridge.

Of course we had to read some Halloween theme books. I’ll just share a few favorites.

Do you dare?

A classic Berenstain Bears.

Witches having fun.

A Woggle of Witches as well as A Halloween Happening (also by Adrienne Adams) keeps Halloween and witches playful and friendly.

All about bats

A Read and Learn book with lots of facts about bats. (Thanks Kerri) This lead us to some youtube videos about bats, owls and even spider hunting. I learned a few things too.

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Our other Halloween posts:

Making Halloween

Some Halloween Fun

Joining Owlet in: