Thursday, March 29, 2012

So much to share!

 Now that Drama is over, Ellen is coming home right after school and we are 
enjoying some fun, after school activities again! 

 Yesterday, we hit the kitchen and made some of our favorite muffins ~ Banana  and chocolate chip 
(and few with pecans for Mama) ....the recipe is on the side bar if you are interested in making them!  It is one of our favorite treats..we made 24 muffins yesterday and they are all gone! I think that is a world record at our house for muffin eating madness! 

But the real excitement in the kitchen was finally discovering a fabulous, homemade Granola recipe...I have tried various recipes off the Internet over the years and have never been completely satisfied with them.  So, thanks to my 
"Whole Foods Kitchen" E-course 
by Heather at "Beauty that Moves"   
(also on blog sidebar) I am taking right search is over!
The secret ingredient is....Refined Coconut Oil.  This stuff is fabulous and I am just discovering it.  It is wonderful to cook with and can replace butter or oil in most recipes.  As far as health properties go, it supasses just about anything you can use to cook with! 
Without further ado....let me share this wonderful treat! 

Another important ingredient is using quality rolled oats. I found the extra thick rolled oats and they really worked well, but I am sure it will be very good with any good quality rolled oats! You start by mixing the following ingredients in a large bowl:
6 cups of uncooked rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I left that out as my children don't like it)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour - if you want to use regular that is fine too - I actually used gluten-free flour, as I am trying to cut down on gluten in our food.
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
Optional: Dried cranberries, raisins, or types of nuts that you like! 

Next - In a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of coconut oil;  2/3 cup of maple syrup (I used the really good stuff! expensive but worth it! ) and 2 tablespoons of vanilla (again, I use the real vanilla....I just think wholesome and natural ingredients really 
make a difference in taste!) Just cook in sauce pan until ingredients are mixed and warm.  Pour the warmed mixture from sauce pan over the dry ingredients and mix well. you like your granola on the sweet side ~ add a bit more syrup; Do you love a vanilla flavor?  Increase the vanilla!   The wonderful thing about making your own is you can make it to suit your taste! 

Now ~ spread your mixture in a thin layer on a cookie sheet, pressing into pan with the back of a spoon.  Bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes. 

The difference I found in this granola is the way it baked to perfection - it is crispy, but not too crunchy...and it holds up in cereal and yogurt (you can easily make home made yogurt too if you click on the tutorial on my sidebar!) Making yogurt is super easy to do, and you don't need any special equipment  but a sauce pan and a wooden spoon! Plus, you can make a quart of yogurt for the price of what whole milk is a no brainer! 

OK - enough about cooking...Guess what arrived in the mail ~ unexpectedly ~ yesterday!!!!!!
This copy of   Naturally Fun Parties for Kids 
by Anne Daulter and Heather Fontenot.
And, even more exciting, is the fact that they are asking me :: little ole me in Louisiana :: 
to review it! I was so surprised and thrilled as first of all it is a fabulous book to have and own,
 and secondly, what an honor!  I hope I can do it justice as this book is quite impressive.  
Anni Daulter has published several books, most notably, 
The Organic Family Cookbook, Organically Raised 
and Conscious Cooking for Babies.  
Heather Fontentenot is a mother and editor of the online magazine, 
Rhythm of the Home, and has a blog called Shivaya Naturals.
 The book is available as of March 21st, 2012 and if you want your very own copy 
you can 
click here to order!!!

I will be sharing an in-depth review shortly when I have had time to sit down, read this beautiful book from cover to cover, and complete some of the fun, cost effective, seasonally inspired 
ideas and projects it has to offer.  But, I am so excited about it, I have to give you a "quick glimpse" into the first few pages ~ it will no doubt jump-start your creative juices flowing!
Each season is perfectly described (see above) and followed with tips, tricks and ideas 
of how to make your child's (or even your own) party inexpensive, but rich 
in natural, simple but beautiful, organic style and content.

A lover of photography, I am drooling over the gorgeous photos
 that are plentiful throughout the book! 

My whole family is coming in for Easter and how perfect will it be to have our
 own Natural Spring Dying Garden Party.  

My brother with his three girls, sister and her two boys, sister - in - law 
with her two boys and girl, 
and another sister - in - law with six children under the age of 10!  
When you add that count to my three girls,  that equals seventeen children! 
I think I can have a party with that! 

 What better way to review the book then to try dying eggs with the red onions, red cabbage, fresh beets, blueberries, turmeric, coffee and Paprika as the book suggests!

I would love to photograph the whole book for you, as every page and idea is a show stopper...some of these ideas we have seen before, but they are presented in such enticing and beautiful ways here that you want to do them ALL at ONE time! 
Above is Flower Pot Cheese Bread with jam!

There are even cute, homemade ideas for invitations to each party.....this is the sleeve of an old sweater that is cut and sewn to provide an "envelope" for the invitation...which is a water colored piece of paper (any child can water-color a piece of paper! ) and then stamp, write or used press on letters to write the  word egg and party...!  This is so up my alley...I love it! I could go on, but I want to take my time and do the justice to the book that it so deserves; so please check back...
I may do a few more mini- reviews before the "Biggie"! 
Make it a great day, a great granola day! 
If you make the granola (or the yogurt...or if you get really crazy and hit my tutorial on making butter,  please drop me a comment and let me know how it turned out for you! Also, if you have a favorite granola recipe that works for you,
  please do share! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who knew????

That watering my flowers could be so much fun!  It started all started with a flat of beautiful strawberries! Huh??? you are thinking ~ well, I will tell you!  They were so pretty that I wanted to photograph them and since the light is pretty poor in my house and it was beautiful outside, I decided to take them outside for an 
official photo session! 

It is OK, you can laugh at me ~ my children do it all the time!  
What you don't purchase your strawberries
in a beautiful, crystal pitcher?  Well, it is time for you to move to Louisiana! Anyway, back to my story...I was photographing my crystal pitchered strawberries in the 84 degree heat (one degree off breaking our heat record!) and I noticed that my plants in our hanging baskets were drooping and wilting in this early, unnatural heat.  I usually plant my hanging baskets in the Spring, water when necessary,  and when our ungodly heat rolls in in June, I give up and "let the best man win" as there is no way to keep up with watering.  Yesterday, I am thinking, "not already, really - am I going to have to start the daily watering now, because I will never make it to June!  

A resounding yes was the answer, so I got my strawberry photos and headed to the hose! 

Something made me snap this photo as I headed for the first basket and when I saw it, I was enthralled!  I haven't played around a lot with water and photography...suddenly, watering my flowers was taking on a whole, new interest! 

Now, Maisy ~ she had no interest in this at all - none whats-so-ever....she quickly slinked off, in high hopes that this hose was not destined for her. 

Much to her relief, this time - it wasn't! It headed straight for my hanging basket of impatiens!

There is one thing that I dislike even more the watering ~ and that is weeding.  By planting flowers in hanging baskets all over my yard, I can have my flowers without my weeds! 

I was quite the contortionist to get these shots...and amazingly,
 I did not water my camera in the process!

Here is a variation on the "stream" of water" - getting fancy here.... :)

And yet another variation ~ water droplets! 

My camera managed to make it through this crazy watering experience without becoming drenched, 

but that certainly was not the case for me! 

Even my annoying, leaky faucet was fun to photograph! 

I decided that this little fellow needed a bath.

Now I am getting out of hand......
I had to rein my self in when the neighbors walked by!!!!!!!

Even my wildflowers look pretty right now! 

Water droplets on the Ivy!

And one more variation that was captured ~ a wall of water!

For those of you who are camera buffs ~ the way I did this is to first dial your camera to the Manual position, set your shutter speed to 1/1000 or 1/1250 and your f stop to a low number...mine is around 3.5.  Just play around with it as your shutter speed needs to change a bit depending on your f stop, but that gets you in the general area.  Also, I had my ISO fairly high to help capture the was a decently sunny day, but I think that helped to capture the light in the water a little better. It makes watering flowers very interesting but a much longer and wetter process! 

After tiring of this, I decided to take some more photos of beauty.....

Maisy was just relieved that she was not the target of that stream of water....much more fun to sit on the sidelines and watch a crazy woman contorting herself into all sorts of weird positions and have her be the one dripping wet! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

GUESS where where we were last night, ummm ~ or should I say, this morning!!!!

And of course, Ellen had to go in costume!  And her costume required feathers, lots of feathers, lots and lots and lots of feathers.  Feathers that she cut off of boas (that I don't usually even like to have in the house because of all the little floaty feathers that come off of them!) and used to decorate her shirts to be the Mocking Jay.

All of her friends had read the books, and one was frantically reading the last chapter 
before she saw the movie! 

The fact that my children have so much fun with life ~ making their own costumes and dressing up when any occasion presents itself delights me, and I always encourage it...but when I say that I will be cleaning up black and white feathers for the next year...that is not an understatement! 

Here they are putting the finishing touches on the costume, counting 
down the hours until the movie starts! 

Just wanted to prove to you that I was not exaggerating....take this scene and multiply it times ten! 

"If at first, the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it." -- Albert Einstein

"Ta Dah"............. :)

If you did not read the book, a Mocking Jay is a bird in the book that is genetically altered Mocking Bird with  Blue Jay, and it can perfectly mimic what it hears...and if you did
 not read the book ~you should! 
It is really a good series! One of those books you cannot put down! 

Here they are "flitting" around the theater....people would stop them to take photos with them...of course, that made their day ( or night )...Did I make it  clear that this was the midnight premiere?

 A few others dressed wasn't near what you see at the Harry Potter Premiere but 
it was festive. 

These girls had a very festive time! 

But, going to bed at 3:00 AM (yes, that is what time it was by the time we got home!) makes getting up at 6:45 AM a bit difficult...however, these girls pulled it off! I did ask them to show me what they 
really felt like.........

I thought so!