Thursday, March 25, 2010

Midtown Garden Clean Up Day

No more snow!! It's spring!

Wanna see the Midtown garden and lend a hand to clean up and get ready for planting? Come out this weekend!

Saturday, March 27, 2010
10:00am - 2:00pm
61 Holland St. NE Grand Rapids

You don't have to stay the whole time, just come when you can.

To make sure your in the know, we're on Facebook! Become a fan!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Seed Starting party!

It's Spring!! (I know, I heard it's still going to snow, I don't care!)

Click on the pic to see the event on Facebook.

Come celebrate with us! Saturday, we are going to start some seeds for the Midtown Community Garden, but you are welcome to come out and get your hands dirty with us! We are going to do some indoor seed starting and some winter sowing. Bring some milk jugs or other plastic containers and seeds if you've got them, we've got dirt and some seeds to share. You don't have to be a Midtown neighborhood resident or commit to working in the garden. If your excited about spring and gardening, even if you've never done it before, come on over and let's get our hands dirty together! If you want to help us start the plants for the garden that's great, or if you want to take some starts home, that's fine too. We'll be working inside, so don't worry about the weather report!

We went out to the farm last night for the first time and saw all the brand new baby sheep! I love spring! There are something like 17 baby lambs so far this spring, 7 lambs born yesterday alone!

This is Percy! Her momma isn't doing a very good job at nursing her so we fed her a bottle. She is soooo sweet! Her name is short for persistent, because in spite of her mom's (sheep are not very smart) head butts she doesn't give up trying to nurse.

Remember Pìo?She's big now!!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lily is 7!

...and I just can't get my mind around it. Time keeps moving faster and faster. How is my baby seven years old??!!...

my teeny little 6 pound baby I used to bath in the sink

My toddler who'd spend hours playing in the water "doing the dishes"...

the little girl I couldn't get out of her pink flannel nightgown once for over a week and who wore a leotard everyday for a year?

the kid who celebrates Halloween everyday...

and can always make you laugh...

the most photogenic child I ever aimed a camera at...

is 7 years old.
She's growing up.

She's always been a very intense child, with a VERY strong will and full of energy! None of that has changed, but she is really learning how to channel her energy in a more productive way and she has matured so much in the last year, it brings me so much joy.

Just as any mother's first baby does, Lily has changed my life in every way and I am so thankful for her.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, YUM!

Lily's birthday is this weekend and she wanted to bring some chocolate chip cookies to school today to share with her class so I tried the Better Homes and Garden's chocolate chip recipe because I wasn't too impressed with the gluten free recipes I have made in the past. They turned out amazing and I really don't think most people would even be able to tell that they are gluten free.

Most of my best gluten free baking recipes have come from the
I think it's because they are very standard recipes using basic old fashioned baking techniques.

Here's the recipe:
Essential Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

and here's how I converted it to gluten free flours,
it calls for 2 1/2 cups of wheat flour so instead I used:

1 cup of the flour mix (stay tuned for an update about this)

1 cup chick pea flour (look for Ladu Beasan at the Indian Market)

1/2 cup sweet rice flour

and I added 1 tsp xanthum gum.

The end result was chewy inside and crunchy around the edges. The texture and consistency was just like good old homemade chocolate chip cookies! If you try this recipe yourself, let me know what you thought and what flours you tried!

The Midtown Community Garden

Rich and I are getting more involved with our new neighborhood and have decided to take on organizing the Midtown Community Garden along with Amy this season! If you live in the Midtown Neighborhood, we have a great neighborhood association, and there's lots going on!

We've created a Facebook group for the garden. Become a fan to find out about upcoming events and see us grow!

The first order of business is cleaning up the site. March 27th is the day! Time and Directions to follow. Come on out, pitch in and see what's going on.

Other upcoming neighborhood events:

April 24: Fulton Street Farmers Market Clean Up

May 15: Perennial Plant Exchange at the Midtown Green

Happy Spring!


I wasn't much of a fan of applesauce until I made it myself. It has been an amazing addition to our winter meals and tastes nothing like that stuff you buy in the store. These are the four very special cans of chunky cinnamon applesauce I made (the chunky is a little more work because you have to peel the apples). We just finished off the last one the other night, so sad. We still have regular applesauce and applebutter in the pantry though to get us thru the rest of the winter.
Making and preserving applesauce is so easy! If I can do it in an outdoor kitchen while living in a camper trailer with three kids, you can too!! I promised I'd show you how so here it is:

First gather your supplies:

*apples - its good to have a mixture of different apples, some sweet and some tart.

*sugar and cinnamon and spices
*canning jars and new lids - you can't reuse the lids, just the bands.
*water bath canner*big pot for sterilizing jars*pot for sterilizing lids
*jar lifter, hot pads, thermometer and timer, a magnetic wand to pick up the lids is helpful too.
*crock pot or two
*food mill

Cook up the apples. I used a mix of apples from the farm, which were very tart, and some big sweet apples from Rich's Grandad's orchard. We buy their seconds for applesauce. They are much cheaper, they are just irregular in shape or have some blemishes.

I love using the slow cooker and letting them cook on low over night.

Next, run the apples thru the food mill to get out all the skins.

then add your cinnamon and sugar for applesauce, and nutmeg and allspice for apple butter. Cook a little longer then can it!

Here's a good article with step by step canning instructions.

I am looking forward to lot's more preserving this growing season! I was thinking it would be very fun to form a local canning co-op. We could get together and bring all our produce and work together. We could have a pickle party when the cucumbers start coming in. When the peaches are ripe we could get together and peel peaches together, making a very monotonous task a little more fun. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mommas! Your invited to the April Materni-Tea

If you are pregnant and interested in learning more about birth and parenting options and resources, this would be a wonderful event to attend! The Sage Birth Co-op hosts one each month.

Lily's new Dress

I'm a sucker.

Lily found some fancy fabric in my stash and was determined to sew herself a dress out of it. So I found a pattern for a dress in her size that said "very easy" and figured I could whip it out for her, I put my projects on hold again...

It took two days and the "very easy" statement kinda made me feel very stupid!

The pattern is Butterick B4906
It's not a bad pattern, I have just never attempted a dress before, which is why I wonder now why I thought I would be capable of "whipping one out"!!

But anyway, I did manage to finish it and here is the end result:

It looks good in the photo...You can't see my mistakes! I will just tell you, I thought I would make things easier and do buttons rather than a zipper, but it turned into a disaster. I accidentally put the button holes on the wrong side and my machine went crazy and messed them all up! I was able to salvage things, but next time I'll go for the zipper.

I made some barrettes out of our fabric scrap roses and they looked pretty in Lily's hair. She wants this be her Easter Dress, so know I feel obligated to sew two more!! Maybe they'll go fast since they'd be smaller and now I know what I'm doing!?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Just wanted to share a few pics of my adorable niece Ayana!

I went to my sister's house to take these. There's something so precious about a wet baby! I just love it when they still fit in the sink! That's how I always bathed my little ones.

I've been taking lots of pictures lately and really enjoy working with natural light theses days. These are in her room:

She LOVES her sunglasses!

Uncle Rich


I have been meaning to share with you a very special craft project for a while now.

What my niece went thru in December was very scary. It was a very difficult time for our family. It was had to know how to deal with such traumatic news. She is so sweet... It was so hard to watch her go thru all the poking and testing in the hospital.

The hospital room was overwhelming and scary, so clinical and medical. I wanted to bring in some flowers to brighten the place up, but for allergy reasons or something, there were no fresh flowers allowed on the pediatric oncology floor.

I decided to make her some flowers out of my wool sweater stash.

I cut and I cut...all the cutting became my silent meditation...

and the stitches of each button are a prayer. I worked on them a little everyday. They took me so long to finish that by the time I had a bouquet, Ayana had been sent home. I set out to make something for my sister and my niece but it turned out to be for me. It got me thru.

Praise God, our prayers are being answered. Ayana continues to do well and all the monitoring and testing is showing that the tumor is receeding, and she has not needed any chemotherapy. She recently had a CT scan and the tumor had regressed to such an extent that she they will just monitor it now with ultrasound.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Creative Sunday

We had a fun family day yesterday crafting and creating together. No church, no housework, just good ol' mess making creativity!

The girls wanted to try a recipe for some natural ink from this book:

Rich strained some frozen berries and added 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar to it and the girls used a couple of their feathers to draw with it. It was fun and interesting to see how the colors changed from red to darker purple as they dried.

I had decided that I was going to do some sewing for myself so, in an attempt to get the kids occupied with a project so that I could sew somethings for my self, I cut some long strips of scrap fabric for them to try and roll them into these tattered roses.

I had overestimated their manual dexterity and coordination though, and they were pretty frustrated by it. I loved how they looked however, so I ended up making about 2 dozen myself. I think we will put them on some headbands and hair clips.

My next idea for the kids, I thought for sure would keep them busy for sometime. I pulled out an old pair of tights, cut the legs off and gave one to Rosie and one to Lily. I pulled out the scrap fabric bag and had them stuff the legs to make a snake. They stuffed the snake in record time and then wanted my assistance to pick out buttons for eyes and make tongues, it was fun, but I still hadn't started my cardigan.

and these are the conditions I now had to work in:

I cleaned up a bit and pulled out my knit fabrics to select the color I wanted to make my cardigan out of. I am using a pattern form this book:I chose a heathered off white heavier knit and started cutting, only to discover I only had enough fabric for a size small and I am a size large! I snuck out of the house to check Joanne's Fabric for more, but no luck.

So I pulled out my flannel and finished up some blankets to replenish the stock at Hopscotch Children's Store. It felt better to have accomplished something of my own!

We ended the day with some family worship time, lead by Rich and his guitar and all went to bed early.

So now here's my Monday to do list:
*Clean the house
*Take Blankets to Hopscotch
*Search the fabric store for more fabric for my cardigan