Review

So, in the past few weeks, there’s been a few new products that have found its way in to our rotation of things we use so I thought I would share my opinion of some recent purchases. (These are products I have purchased on my own and am giving my personal opinion of, I have not been compensated in any way for my review) .

So after reading multiple articles about the benefits of using lard, I’ve made the switch. I found this pure pastured pork lard on Amazon and having been using it in my baking and frying, there is no noticeable change in the taste but the texture is a bit richer which is nice. It also has a long shelf life thanks to the rosemary extract. But although I really do like the product, it would get very pricey given the amount of baking I do. I also would rather the leaf lard instead. So from here on out, I will be purchasing the leaf lard and rendering it myself.

The soaps are from Cobble Hill Apothecary (a company I found via SouleMama), and let me tell you……I. Am. In. Love.

They are a generous size, they don’t completely disintegrate in the shower like some handmade soaps, and the smell….oh the smell is just lovely. With scents like Blackberry Sage, Calendula Tea & Sweet Orange and Pumpkin Chai, my simple shower now feels like an aromatherapy experience. It’s amazing… I mean, just all sorts of YES!. I also managed to score a Family Day gift for hubby of various grooming items including shaving soaps and beard oil and I must say, the Woodsman and Pine & Eucalyptus scents are divine.

Speaking of which, our Family Day is right around the corner! How is time going by so fast? How are we in October? The kids are pretty excited even though we are keeping things very simple this year since the vacation we took was really intended to be a Family Day gift for all. So maybe a few books and a toy or some homemade sweets. But honestly, getting to spend quality time together really checks off every box on the “Gifts for Mommy” list.

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Cozy

Don’t you love the way the rain makes everything calm, slows everything down. And exactly when it’s needed the most too!. It definitely seemed like we were getting a bit snippy and short tempered with each other, and even though such times are just the nature of living and interacting with family, it feels like the weather kind of snapped us out of it and gave us a reason to take it easy, to relax, to sit and talk about everything and nothing at all.  Plus it really is the perfect time for breaking out board games and finishing those mittens I promised my big girl. And getting to settle back to and read the latest issue of Taproot with a cup of hot tea? Yes, please!. I do love the thoughtful articles that are written in this issue and was inspired by the first page (and by a very  throaty sounding cough) to make my own fire cider. 

Indeed, these precious days gives us time to settle in and reconnect as a family and certainly, we are grateful for that.

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Fire Cider with lemon, garlic, onion, poblano peppers, lemon, ginger and turmeric. Pretty potent but I’m sure it will cure what ails ya!

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Ongoing

There is always something to do isn’t it?, it seems like it never ends. So I thought I would document what we are doing this week to keep better track of what’s done and what still needs to be done.

  • Still preparing and planning (this time, about putting a deep freezer in the garage, now that I ‘ve found a semi-local farm willing to ship me over 100 lbs of grass fed beef *insert happy dance here*) still couponing and therefore answering every question from my husband with the words” because it was on sale”.  The latest deals have been on large amounts of onions and eggs, the onions I have preserved by chopping and freezing a large portion, and turning the rest into a dark smoky onion jam. But the eggs? Yeah I don’t know what I was thinking. Although we do consume large amounts of eggs in general and of course they are used in baking. However, I’m getting nervous that we may not use them all and with no way to really preserve them, I’ve been churning out more muffins then ever (since the recipe calls for 4 eggs per batch). So I am all ears if you have egg recipes.
  • Homeschooling in in full swing and so far going pretty well, we hoping to incorporate a more extensive language program this year and I’ve got some cool science projects lined up.
  • And of course, cleaning…cleaning and more cleaning. In an effort to be a bit greener and also keep more green in our wallets, I’ve switched over to a more natural floor cleaning solution using:

o   25% -Simple Green

o   25% -White vinegar

o   50%- Water

o   10-12 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (not necessary but adds a nice scent)

I love my Swiffer and this cleans the floor so well I that it’s now the only thing I use in the Swiffer bottle. We also use the same solution as a kitchen cleaner with a little less Simple Green and a little more vinegar (for a bathroom cleaner , I add a tiny bit of isopropyl alcohol as well). As you can see in the picture those rayon towels (similar to Shamwow) take the place of Swiffer pads and provide excellent absorbency. I cut them to fit the bottom of the Swiffer so each “towel’ gives me about 4 or 5 pads (any extra pieces, I use as dust cloths), these attach to the Velcro on the Swiffer the same way the original ones do. They clean exceptionally well and the best part is I can toss them in the wash and reuse them.

Lastly, my sweet girl wants mittens and a scarf, in the same beautiful yarn that I used for the fingerless gloves. I love the way the deep plum and moss green colors swirl in with the turquoise so I am excited to get to use this yarn again.

I guess that’s about it…for now. I’m sure something I forgot is just waiting around the corner

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Cool

As in the weather and I LOVE it. I got a scarf and pair of mittens wrapped up for the little one just in time.

The scarf ?, he loved.  “Scarf for me Mommy?, Oh Soft, Mommy” he said. Oh how my sweet, sweet baby just warmed my heart.

But the mittens? Nope. “Don’t like it, take off hand” he demanded. Hilarious, but one out of two isn’t bad so I guess I’ll choose my battles.

This little boy of mine, playing, laughing, helping and learning. These moments go so fast, so I’m just going to sit back and soak them up on a cool autumn day and count my blessings.

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Growing Up

Have I really been at this for over a year? How time does fly. The little ones are not so little. In fact not only do we have a full-fledged teenager in the house but our little girl has hit the double digits and the bubbly chunky newborn is now a rambunctious toddler who loves cars, stop signs and belly buttons (in that order). Well along with the milestones of the two oldest, there also have been requests for some room redecoration. Because apparently an absolutely adorable rocket ship ceiling fan is not cool anymore * sigh* and our dear girl really did want a room in lavender and teal “with lots of butterflies”.

I take solace in the fact that the youngest had no request, other than to ask for grapes while jamming his finger at my belly button. And since we are in the midst of me transitioning to being a SAHM, and have thus been budgeting pretty tightly, there would be no grandiose renovations done. But it’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint, some new bedspreads and changing a light fixture or two can do. They are very happy with the results, so that’s that. I feel like it was just yesterday that we painted their rooms the first time in preparation of us moving in.

It seems everything is changing so rapidly and it’s difficult to keep up and would it really be so SO bad if they could just stay my babies forever?

But alas, they are growing up and living and learning. And honestly to just be able to be a part of that process is a blessing in itself and all this mom could ask for.

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Preparation

Oddly enough, one of my favorite things about fall, is the fact that it signals an upcoming winter.

It’s a time for harvesting, canning, prepping and freezing. For re-enforcing, cleaning and fixing, patching, sewing and crocheting.

Fall gives you time to reflect on what was accomplished in the past year and to plan for the next one, and that’s just what we’ve been doing. I’m a bit of a clean freak anyway but it may have hit an all-time high. Since our homeschool year has started, the kids study space aka the dining room has undergone some cleaning and organizing. If it doesn’t have a designated space, it’s new home will be one of the giant trash bags I’ve been walking around the house with all day. Going through every shelf, draw, cabinet and closet looking for things that need to be thrown away, given away or can be repurposed into something we need.

And since I still don’t have a pressure canner yet for veggies (and thus cannot do it myself) I’ve poured through every newspaper for coupons and sales that will fill our pantry with enough canned goods to sustain our little (big by NY standards) family of 5 through another harsh NY winter when stores close, cars are snowed in and trying to navigate the frozen obstacle course of sidewalks and streets can be daunting.

But in the midst of it all, my favorite preparations by far, come at the end of the day. Because with the rest of the household is asleep and the house quiet, I can crochet til my little heart is content. Mittens and scarves, fingerless gloves, hats and shawls. It’s all so calming. And although I do like knitting, I find that I may not have the necessary…ahem…patience that it takes to finish some projects. So until then, let the preparations begin!

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Repetition

I sometimes get in to a phase where I start making the same thing constantly. And this time it’s been muffins!

All week long all kinds and experimenting with different flavors. Healthy ones (Sweet Potato Chia and Flax Seed), not so healthy ones (Chocolate Chocolate Chunk)

Until my poor family members had enough and actually asked for a salad for breakfast. That is until two particular recipes stood out and became their favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip one I call, Autumn Butter Pecan.

Made with my variation of a carrot cake jam that I can each fall, these muffins came out so moist with bright bits of carrot and plump raisins. Pure deliciousness, let me tell you!  And the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip….well the name sort of says it all doesn’t it?  Although I confess that they are rather indulgent (so yeah there may be some breakfast salads to offset this)

I added the recipe is below because really, is there anything better than a bright sunny fall morning with crisp breezes blowing through the windows and the smell of fresh baked goods coming out of the oven? I think not…except maybe cold winter mornings and maybe fresh fudge….ooh fudge.

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Autumn Butter Pecan Muffins

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
16 oz Autumn Butter
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 Tbls pure vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp of  baking powder ( or you could use 2 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 tsp do cream of tartar)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 ginger powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
2 cups chopped pecans (set aside half cup to sprinkle on top)
Dash of sea salt (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, autumn butter, vanilla and oil; set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
Blend flour mixture into the egg mixture.
Fold in raisins and 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans.
Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full.
Sprinkle remaining pecans on top with just a tiny bit of sea salt (again this is optional).
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 2 dozen regular sized muffins or 1 dozen large ones.

In a Nutshell..

Summer has been amazing. After our family vacation there were a lot of activities going on. BBQ’s,(which automatically means pulled chicken sandwiches with spicy aioli, yum!) farmers markets, festivals, and a bit of canning for the Berry compote was done ( I may have added a bit okay, a lot of Bin 27 to it). Somewhere in there I finally managed fight the bees and harvest the flowers from the linden trees growing outside of our house which were cleaned and made into a syrup, hopefully to serve as the base for a cordial.

And to top it off, a very special anniversary vacation to Mexico with just hubby and I!. Only made possible or course by my wonderful and amazing parents and sister, who took on the task of managing the kids and house. If you are ever out in the Play del Carmen area of Mexico I highly recommend staying at the The Royal PDC, we really had an amazing time and felt very taken care of by their staff.

I really wanted to enjoy being in the moments so minimal amount of pictures were taken but what I have seems to sum it up quite nicely. And now the prep is on for fall/winter homeschooling projects, more canning and preserving ( there are about 9 lbs of carrots waiting to be turned in to Autumn Butter that I have really do need to get to like today!) and I’m sure another ‘rainbow blanket’  crochet project will commence, especially since our dear girl has requested one in purple, pink and teal. It may seem to soon to start but the weather is cooling and even though everyone thinks I’m crazy when I say it, I can smell autumn coming soon.. and it gives me chills, in a good way because I know all of the wonderful moments that it brings but we’re not rushing it (I’m sure the kids would especially love to delay homework for as long as possible) so we are enjoying this transition period, busy as it may be.

But I wouldn’t say good bye to summer any other way.

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Vacation

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Providenciales, Turks & Caicos.

My husband and I fell in love with it when we went a few years ago and were determined to go back, this time with the kids. And I am so so glad we did. Although traveling with a family of five is not easy, it was worth every penny and every effort to see the smiling faces and hear the excited ooh’s and ahh’s that began the moment we landed. And then there is the beach. And not just any beach…..Grace Bay Beach. Hands down, the most beautiful beach I have ever laid my eyes on, with the whitest sand and turquoise waters so clear that even when you are waist deep in, you can still see your feet.  Morning runs took on a whole new meaning on that serene expanse. A calmness that I have never experienced before, washed over me when there. In addition, the extensive variety of flowers and fauna was a delight to the senses. There were beautiful colors and sweet smells wherever you look and brightly painted homes and business complimented the festive island feel. It warmed my heart to see the kids so carefree and in their element. Even the resort was super and very family friendly with a zero entry pool that the littlest one took full advantage of.

Now that we have returned home its nice to still have the calming residual effect of a relaxing vacation. I know it won’t last forever but it nice to still be in the moment..just a little while longer.

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