Friday, July 3, 2015

A Salad for the Summer

To be honest, I often have a hard time shifting culinary gears when the seasons change. The soups and stews which are our mainstay during the cooler winter months, just don't feel as nourishing during the hot and humid summers of Virginia.

My go-to summer meal is a big salad, but the three kiddo's ... and My Good Man (if we're being honest!) are not fans.  But I've think I've discovered my new quick and easy, summer supper - Confetti Salad. 

The fab thing about this dish is that it lends itself to substitutions and using what you have on hand. And it's delicious. And quick. And delicious!

Confetti Salad
(Makes four hearty servings)

Approximately 2-3 cups of cooked grain, such as quinoa, bulgar wheat, rice, couscous, amaranth etc

Veggies of your choice. 
Current favorites are cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, raw shredded spinach and red onion. I prefer my vegetables for salads to be fairly finely chopped, about half an inch. 

A few luxury add ons. 
A small handful of something to add a bit of pizazz, like chopped green olives, pistachios, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries or feta cheese. 

Salad dressing. 
1/4 cup or so of your favorite dressing. This almost deserves a post all on its own; I love making salad dressings, although I rarely follow a recipe. Which can make it tricky to reucate a particularly good batch!
My current favorite is a Greek-inspired salad dressing with EVOO, lemon juice, a splash of maple syrup, garlic, salt pepper and oregano. It's fabulous!


Mix everything together well in a large bowl, then let sit in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. 

That's it! Couldn't be easier, and I love how versatile this is. 


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Birthday Interview: The Little Guy at 7

On my children’s birthdays, I interview them, asking them the same set of questions each year. It's fascinating to see how they’re changing and if they have interests that remain the same.

I first heard of these Birthday Interviews on the Sparkling Adventures blog (which is worth checking out, for free range, unschooling, travelling inclined folks).


What are you going to be when you grow up?
Well, I have to think about it. I'll be a person with a few jobs. I'll work at a power plant, I'll be a papa (that's a job!), and I'll be a scientist.

What’s that going to be like?
Oh man! Well, taking care of my children, and I'm not too sure what it's like in a power plant. And working in a lab with chemicals.

What are your favorite toys?
This is the hardest question yet! But ... my Legos!

Who are your best friends?
Alex, Liam and Sufyan

What makes you happy?
Mama! And Papa! You can tell it makes me happy to be with you!

What makes you sad?
When I can’t play in the pool, and having to clean up my room.

When you dream at night, what do you dream about?
Just all kinds of stuff.

What do you like to do with Papa?
Run errands and fix stuff. I love fixing things.

What do you like to do with Mama?
Snuggle, snuggle, snuggle!

What’s your favorite color?
Aquamarine. (I think that’s how you say it).

What’s your favorite book?
Oh man! These questions are so hard! [He really had to think about this one]
My DK Eyewitness books on Eagles and Dogs.

What does Daddy do during the day?
Well, that’s a hard question. Work at work I guess.

What does Mama do during the day?
Takes care of us.

What do you do during the day?
Play, play, play. [I pressed him a little to expand his answer, but apparently all he does is play. Fair enough!]

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Simple Joy of Blogging Simply

The thing with blogging is that, these days, there are so *many* blogs out there. And so many blogs out there about everything you could possibly imagine, from travel to writing, from parenting large families to 'what I'm wearing today' blogs.

It can be hard to find a niche, something fascinating that an audience will want to read about day in and day out. And how to write, with content rich blogs, easily searchable by Google, for higher rankings and what-not. And there was a time that those things were really important to me, when I read the books and learned all I could about creating content rich pieces, driving search engine optimization and reaching a larger audience.

Fun for some folks? Maybe! Fun for me? Not so much.

So now I blog much more simply. I write for fun, because I enjoy it, on things I want to share.

A much better fit for me and my simpler lifestyle!

Which is why you won't see posts from me everyday, or even every week. And why I don;t run give-aways and ad campaigns, links to eBooks and online groups. All great things ... but not for me.

And honestly, there is enough content out there; I do not need to be another of the voices here in internet land contributing to the daily in-box clutter of unread emails and blogs!

So, I'll just be over here, simply blogging at my own pace about things that I find interesting, simply!

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Round Up of Books

We read. We read a lot.

Between my personal reading and reading aloud I do with the three kiddos, it constitutes a significant part of my day. More about my reading another though. Today - let's talk children's books!

Our homeschooling approach draws from lots of different influences, but I am particularly inspired by the Charlotte Mason approach, which has a large emphasis on 'living' books. (I really enjoyed this article's explanation on what makes a book a 'living' book). 

It's always fun to have a little look back at what we've been reading, so here's a quick look at a handful of children's books that we have been particularly enjoying just recently. 

Fiction Picture Books

The Treasure, by Uri Shulevitz
     Beautifully written and illustrated, a great moral tale set in Russia.

Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain, by Edward Ardizzone
     Oh my goodness - this the first book in such a fun adventure series, perfect for early elementary adventurers. We have been reading our way steadily through these books and enjoying them greatly.

Thy Friend Obadiah, by Brinton Turkle
     I loves this book; the art, the story, the unexpected social lesson.

Old Henry, by Joan W. Blos
     I'll be honest, that when I started reading this book aloud to my three Little Ones, I was a little unsure about it. By the time I was half way through though, I was smitten. Later I went back and re-read it by myself, it was that good!
     Beautifully illustrated, a gentle story about accepting others.

Each Peach Pear Plum, by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
     Something for the Preschoolers, I remember this book from my own childhood, and was delighted to find that it had lost nothing in the intervening years. Fun rhymes, lovely illustrations and a fun i-spy through the nursery rhymes.

The Little Airplane, by Lois Lenski
   Another one for the younger set, this is part of series about Small and the different adventures he gets up (Cowboy Small, The Little Sailboat, etc). Very sweet, and gently informative.

Non-Fiction Picture Books

Sky Boys, by Deborah Hopkinson and James E. Ransome
     Stunning art, and a wonderful combination of fictionalized story and facts about the building of the Empire State Building, this book proved to be a wonderful springboard for all sorts of construction, architecture and demolition conversations.

Math For All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, by Greg Tang
     Can I just gush for a moment or two about Greg Tang's books?! They are wonderful! Fun and engaging, with math fun on every page; we adore these books. Great for early elementary children.

One Small Square: Cactus Desert, by Donald M. Silver
     We have now read several books in the One Small Square series, and they are all great. Really informative, great for zoology and geography studies. Each book studies a different geographical location, and shares such information as weather, animals that live there, annual life cycles, plants and habitats. Fabulous!

Wolves, by Gail Gibbons
   I found this book for my six year old Little Guy, feeding his current wolf obsession - but also, it's by Gail Gibbons which really is enough for me! If you aren't familiar with her books and you are homeschooling or parenting young ones, you must must check them out. Between the factual information and the illustrations, her books are winners. Run, don't walk!

Chapter Books and Audio Books

A Bear Named Paddington, by Michael Bond
   A recent audio book for car rides, this was a firm favorite with all three children; funny, silly fun with Paddington!

Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White
     Another book on CD for the car, I was a little hesitant that this might be a little too intense for my sensitive little ones, but they LOVED it! We finished this one about three weeks ago, and are still talking about Wilbur and Charlotte.
     Added bonus, I found an audi version read by the author himself, which was amazing - worth finding.

Olga da Polga, by Michael Bond
     Another one by the author of Paddington Bear, this was a firm favorite of mine as \a child, and we have been giggling and chortling our way through it. A sweet book about the funny tales a silly and sassy guinea pig - not to be missed.
   Although popular in the UK, this is harder to find in the States, but worth looking for. The original illustrations were done by Hans Helweg and are just wonderful!

What have you been reading with your children recently? 

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