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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Peach Pie and Leather

Going sugar and grain free has meant being creative to come up with alternatives to snacks that the kids were used to having. One thing the girly always loved was fruit leather. Feeling inspired, I've finally come up with a recipe that is BETTER than what we used to buy.
6 cups of frozen peach slices, thawed (You can use fresh if in season)
 1/4 cup of Xylosweet
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Method- Preheat oven to 170 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment. In food processor, add peaches and Xylosweet. Blend until a smooth puree. Add spices and incorporate completely. Pour mixture into a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until thicker than the consistency of baby food. (Think thick applesauce.)
Spoon onto parchment lined trays, dividing evenly into 18 ovals. Don't spread it out, leave it in a thick layer about the size of a lemon.
Using top and bottom racks in oven, bake for two to three hours, then rotate trays and bake an additional two to three hours. When dry and leathery to touch, your peach pie fruit leather is done. Cool on counter, then use scissors to cut the parchment paper apart, dividing into individual portions. Peel off parchment before eating. I store these in a zip top bag in the pantry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Teasing and Temps

Two day of 40 + degree weather has melted down the white canvas to the point of seeing bits of muddy ground around the bases of the trees. The water run off trickles in the gutter and makes the sweetest sound of Spring coming. 
Until you watch the weather report and see we are supposed to get 9-15 INCHES of new snow tomorrow. Oh, and back to the freezing temperatures, too.
Another snow day in the making by the sounds of things.
I spoke to a friend in Indiana, her school district has added 90 minutes to each school day from now until the end of their school year in May in order to make up for the extra snow days used this school year. The children get on the bus 45 minutes earlier in the morning and stay 45 minutes later in the afternoon. Can you imagine the wrench that kind of change would throw into your family's schedule?
Another perk to's only a snow day if the Mothership says so! :)
Stay warm, friends!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snowed In and Olympic Stunts

 Back to Blondeeville's Olympic 2014 Games!!
 Blessed with over a foot of fresh snow last night, as well as gusty winds that created 4 and 5 foot tall drifts...the games go on!
 The competitor's vault over the deck railing (you must clear the railing!) and flip into the pile of snow below.
 The railing is about 18-20 feet in the air.
 We have snow at every turn, might as well put it to good use.

Thank you to all who are so kind and supportive. You know who you are, and I appreciate you very, very much. My heart was so full reading your replies, your emails and getting your calls. If you are ever in the area and would like to compete in the games, the door is always open and the snow pile will likely be here until July!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Driving and Out of Control

Humor me. Let's go on a little trip.
Imagine you and the kidlets hop into the car. Your spouse is at the wheel, you are all belted in and off we go.
Before you know it, we are on the Interstate. But looking carefully, you see that we are in the oncoming lane. Traffic whirling and whizzing by you, barely missing the cars, the trucks, the tractor trailers that you narrowly escape their path. How did you even get in the wrong lane? And why if we are in the wrong lane are we still going so fast?
Other cars are seeing something amiss. They are flashing their lights at us and honking their horns, swerving to avoid the mess that we are bound to become.
When you try to tell Spouse that this is wrong, it needs to stop. Please, stop...but Spouse isn't  alarmed at all. Spouse is convinced they are in the right and the rest of the world is wrong. WE are headed in the right direction, no need to slow down, to stop, to rethink. That is silly.
Now you are really afraid. The car is careening toward multiple lanes, there is no pull off, no way to get the car off this path. The kids are scared, too. Your pleading and their begging falls on deaf ears. Spouse isn't talking or listening, just driving, intent on seeing this through, right or wrong. Spouse is in control of the car and everyone in it. He doesn't care if he could hurt you, or even kill himself, he even becomes enraged when you speak as though you know better than him.
By some stroke of luck, you are able to convince Spouse that they must pull over, for just a moment. While pulled over, you flag down a passing motorist who happens to be a doctor. You tell them what has happened, that Spouse has you all in the car, you are afraid, and that you are driving head on into traffic. Spouse doesn't care if you are upset, or get hurt, or if this kills them. The doctor sees Spouse standing beside the car and goes over and asks if they are unwell, if they are in need of help. Spouse laughs and says all is well, that YOU were driving and out of control and threatening the children and Spouse...but all is well, now.
The doctor turns to you, tells you that he will never pull over to help you again because you misled them. Spouse seems great in front of the doctor and clearly doesn't need help. Before the doctor will allow you to explain that Spouse isn't being honest, that they are really, really unwell, the doctor slams their door and drives off. You are left on the side of the Interstate with Spouse and the children.
(This was my October)
No other cars will stop. It's getting dark and cold. Snow is falling. You need to get home.
Back into the car. Spouse won't allow you to drive. THEY are the driver. THEY know the way home. You should be grateful they even let you ride in the car.
When you ask Spouse why they wouldn't let the kind doctor help back there, Spouse grimly says they are afraid if they tell the doctor how badly they feel, they will be hospitalized. Spouse cannot let this happen. Why, you and the doctors are planning against Spouse. Plotting! Spouse *knows* this and will not be fooled. This is why Spouse is in charge, because they know all, see all, and can think for everyone.
Meanwhile, we are driving into the oncoming lanes again.
Now, many friends and family will ask, why don't you just get out of the car? Leave Spouse, get out of the car. Walk away.
Well, that would leave your children in the car, wouldn't it? Even if only on visitation, those children will be alone with Spouse two days a week. On the Interstate. With Spouse driving.
You consult with a lawyer, who promises that unless Spouse is proven a viable threat by harming the children, they will have to go on visitation. After speaking to the children, they tell you they are afraid of Spouse, and they are even more afraid of the thought of being alone with Spouse.
Weeks go by. Holidays come and go. Spouse isn't feeling well and stops talking to all of you for weeks on end. No birthday. No Christmas. Just silence.
(That was our December) 
You urge Spouse to get help, but Spouse doesn't want to. Spouse is leery of doctors, of what they think and that they will judge instead of help. Medication isn't the answer! The answer is Spouse driving.
Everyday, you have to get into the car and ride on the Interstate so Spouse won't be alone with the children, and everyday Spouse drives. Oncoming traffic, no control, poor judgment, and irrational behavior.
This is your life.
(This is my life)
Thank you for coming along on my little trip. I hate this trip. I hate how it feels, I hate how it hurts, and I hate what it's doing to my family.
This is the trip you go on with mental illness. It doesn't make sense, it's terrible to fight it, and it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to get help. REAL help.
Prayers are very much appreciated, as we are in His hands while on this endless ride.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Unschooling and a Stove

I love it when folks ask me how unschooling could really work. How can a lack of structure be good for a child? How can they learn if you aren't forcing them to learn? How can they be inspired to do something, to educate themselves if you don't force it upon them?
The boy has once again proven that unschooling works.
He started researching forging metal a few weeks ago. He is interested in creating his own pieces of work, tools, implements, weapons, etc. In his search, he discovered the heat capabilities of a rocket stove, and that forging metal can be done with one.
With no assistance (well, he used my Internet!) from anyone, he researched the stoves, the type he would want to build, the materials needed, the temperatures he would be looking to achieve, and then assembled his tools and materials. Last night he built and insulated his stove. After an initial burn to prime it, tonight he cooked his dinner over his very own portable rocket stove.
He makes me proud.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Olympic Games and Real Competitors

 With the 2014 winter games approaching, we were in need of a good coat of snow. Mother Nature obliged, blanketing the region in a foot of coldness.
 The athletes were given two days to become familiar with the course on foot, to become acclimated to their surroundings and prepare their partners for the games.
 Trial runs are for in Blondeeville, it's go time.
 Nadia found the course to be exciting while her partner found it to be fun and terrifying, all at once. After all, there is no stopping a 110 pound puppy that is speeding down a hill...and when she's pulling you, your life tends to flash before your eyes.
 Spectators from far and wide gathered on the slope of a nearby hill to watch the antics unfold. A polite audience, they kept their heckling to themselves, but did seem to snicker from time to time when someone was catapulted from their sled.
The girly was fierce competition.

 Her dog like a steam engine, so determined to win that she half ran right out of her coat. (Wardrobe malfunction!)
 Nothing but fluff and air! The steam engine a flurry of power!
Day one of the Olympics is complete with the dog sled pull finished. Tomorrow, blindfolded axe throwing!
Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Below and Cold

 Winter had sunk her teeth in. The crunch of icy snow and the wind whipped fields of white are now the norm.
Our creek has now frozen to a mere strip of 3 feet of moving water. Ice enrobing the banks, ten feet out on each side. So far, our coldest temp has been -27. How cold has it been where you are?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Twenty Four and Hours

Our daily walks have taken on the challenge of severe cold temperatures here in New York. Generally, we take the dogs on two long walks, one in the morning, and one in the mid-afternoon.

As long as we have lived here, the creek has never frozen over completely. For 24 hours, we tracked the build up of ice in it while the cold set in. What started as snow capped rocks changed within 8 hours.
It became a slow moving, slush filled trench. The ice began to grow along the edges and bottom. What looked like long, gray streaks to us, was ice forming.

By the next morning, our creek was stopped up. Completely iced over, all the way across...which is close to a 25-30 foot gap. The kids were surprised at how quickly the cold froze up the normally fast moving waters. Steam was rising off the ice where the sun could reach it, the surface rumpled and ridged where the water tried to breach the barrier.
Stay warm!