Monday, April 21, 2014

Ficus benjamina

Our fig tree is over 21 years old. He's been outdoors and overwintered indoors for many years now. This year, after giving him a really painfully ugly haircut in the autumn, I have decided that the only time he will go outdoors again is for a quick shower under the hose to get the dust off. He is in a cozy out-of-the-way spot in our music room and this way he won't have to go into shock from a serious change in environment from spring to summer and again from summer into fall like he has for the last fifteen years or more. Hopefully he'll stay as nice as he is now with the occasional snip of the pruners once in awhile and maybe an annual rinse under the hose. I'm hoping he hangs around for at least another twenty years.


Ficus before his hair cut.


After his haircut in mid-October. Looking a little sparse -- and shocking. I cut the spider plant back too.


Ficus in mid-February. You would never know he'd been scalped in October.


Even the birds still enjoy perching in his branches. :o)

Do you move your plants outdoors for the summer?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Staff of Life

Okay white bread really can't and shouldn't be the staff of life, but this bread is amazing. I can no longer have it, since I am experimenting with no sugar and no wheat to see if there is a connection with them and my migraines, but I still like to make it, so I can enjoy the smell. :o) My family also thinks I'm the best mom EVER when I make this. Just kidding!! I originally found this recipe for Squirt to use for her science fair. It's super simple and she actually has it memorized. In fact she is the one that often makes it. She did a science fair project about what leaving makes the best bread. Yeast won of course, but we're going to need to try the sourdough again sometime. I think her first attempt at sourdough flopped.

 I digress! You've read this far because you want a recipe for the simplest most delicious white bread ever. The credit goes entirely to Donna Currie at Cookistry and you can find it right here on her website. I love her whole site. Great recipes, fun ideas, and just neat things to try. If you try her recipe, please let her know that you enjoyed it too! I know we do!!






I forgot to mention. Now that the science fair is done, we always double the recipe. That way there is one to go with supper and one as a treat for lunches the next day.

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Planting Seeds and Recycling

Spring fever has bitten and bitten hard! For the first time in many years, I started some plants from seed. I figured that we might not get outside any time soon, and I needed to feel the dirt under my nails, so I started some plants from seed indoors. I also have a wonderful collection of egg cartons because we've been buying our eggs from the store lately. Our neighbour's hens decided that winter was being too cold and too long, so they quit laying for awhile and these cartons from the store eggs make great seed starters.

The plastic containers that hold our winter greens make handy "greenhouses" for the 1 dozen sized egg cartons.
I laid out my seeds, my cartons, and got my container of dirt nice and moist for filling my little pots.




Yay! I got to get my hands dirty!

My little overseer was helping out by keeping me company. This is very serious business you know!


Once all my seed were broadcast through the cartons, I covered them all and set them on the shelf in the mudroom to come to life!



And wadda ya know, three days later....


things are starting to grow. They're mini miracles those things we call seeds! I'm glad I know their Creator!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Welcome to the Masquerade!

Last night was our final night of GEMS for the 2013/14 season. I totally enjoyed being a GEMS craft counselor -- especially since I didn't have to come up with an idea every week. I was able to alternate with another creative lady who did the opposite weeks of me. It kept me busy enough to feel involved, but not enough to make me feel overwhelmed. The girls too, really enjoyed the year.

This is the second year that we've been attending GEMS at the church in our community (barely 5 minutes down the road) instead of the group at our home church (which is between 15-20 minutes away). It's still the same church denomination, but there are those subtle differences that make each church their own congregation and the same happens with the clubs/groups that meet. Although this GEMS program is a little different than what we were used to, we enjoy it all the same. It's been extra special for the younger girls as their friends from school all attend as well.

Last night was the mother/daughter dinner. It was a masquerade! The girls have been asking to do something masquerade at home for quite some time now, so this was super exciting! Of course, we did have a bit of an unfair advantage because I was in New Orleans just two weeks ago. If you've ever been to the French Quarter in New Orleans, you know there are masks available almost anywhere and they are very plentiful at the French Market. How could I resist!? The girls had no idea that I would be buying their masks -- and in fact I didn't either. I had completely forgotten how plentiful they were in French Quarter. We had planned to spend a weekend afternoon crafting our own masks, so our dresses had already been picked out. That made it a little easier to choose from the abundant masks that graced many booths at the market. They were very excited to see what I brought home.







The two youngest girls have masks too, but they are not old enough to attend GEMS yet. They were pretty excited to see the fancy big girls though!

 

P.S. The Engineer took these and didn't change lenses to accommodate the lower light. (He didn't have time -- or we'd be late. Thus why some are a little blurry. No worries, your eyes are not going.) :o)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

These Guys!

By now most of you know I am a big music lover. I enjoy many genres, and can't say I particularly like one genre over the other. My favorite musicians are those that cannot only entertain, but whose music can move my soul. In my diddlings on music sharing sites, I have discovered the 2Cellos. Oh my heart! Can these two young guys play! They are both classically trained cellists. They have actually been rivals over the years, but in 2011 they joined forces and now play album covers from some very non-classical genres of music. Like this one, for example.



Yup, it's very entertaining, but also talk about skill!

Just so you don't think that that is all they play, here's one of those beautiful classical pieces that sends shivers up and down my spine.



Well, there you have it. My next musicians that I look forward to seeing live some day. :o)

I hope you enjoy them too.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Beignets

I cheated and just bought a box mix, but I wanted the children to enjoy a little bit of the flavour of New Orleans. There is enough to make two batches. They enjoyed one on Saturday and we'll save the rest to make another batch on another day.





I did NOT have any beignets while in N.O., but I did savor some bread pudding more than once. I never realised there were so many flavours!

It was wonderful to go away again for a few days, but it's good to be home again too! Happy Monday, dear readers!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Jumped on the Trim Healthy Mama Bandwagon

If you're not already familiar with the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, you have likely heard about it somewhere. If you haven't heard about it, then where have you been? No, no, I'm kidding! It's a fairly new program, errr lifestyle. Really, it's just a different way of thinking about what you eat and when you eat. I'm not going to go into details about how it works. If you are curious about that, you can go over to Gwen's Nest and read to your heart's content. When I first started reading about it, I was not convinced, BUT I didn't have all the information. The more I started reading though, the more convinced I became that I needed to try this "new" way of eating. However, it wasn't the concept of losing weight while eating well that actually got me hooked. It was the fact that sugar is not consumed and you keep to a lower glycemic index even when you are eating carbs.

Every time I go through a bad round of headaches/migraines, I start researching again. I don't want to always be medicating. Many of the preventative drugs are so strong and can have so many side effects that I won't even consider going on them. I am also not a migraineur to the extent that I suffer weekly. The most frequently I get them is three weeks about. The only problem is they leave repercussions in their wake that last up to a week -- and sometimes even longer. They also leave me completely debilitated for at least 24 hours every time. Not fun when you have seven children, a husband who travels frequently, and many things that need attending to that don't quit just because I can't get out of bed. The super strong drugs are more for people who suffer with multiple migraines every week. That is not me. Thankfully!

In my most recent researching, I have been reading up on the sugar connection. Ugh!! I have taken to calling sugar The White Devil. It is in everything! And I mean everything! I judiciously read food labels, (really that's nothing new for me. I've always liked to know exactly what we are eating) and it sneaks in in so many ways that even I occasionally miss it. Almost everything I eat is from scratch. It can be time consuming, but I am learning to carve out one or two days a week to focus just on cooking and baking for my family and myself. Trim Healthy Mama has helped me learn how to exclude or substitute the sugar with non-glycemic sweeteners. Whether or not they are healthier for you is for you to decide. There is more than enough information out there to make an educated decision.

I'm sure if you've managed to read this far, you're thinking by now, "well, is it working?" I can't say anything for sure yet, but I can say that on the whole, most days I am feeling more energetic, and the general mild headaches that can plague me seem to have mostly disappeared.

I have been on the program for about only about four weeks now. I started just as I was coming off of a round of migraines which means I will know better in another two to four weeks if this lifestyle is helpful at all. My migraines are most often on a six to eight week rotation (no relation to my cycle), so I can't say for sure.

I can say though that even with the traveling, the later nights, still early mornings, and not being at home, I have not yet had a headache. Typically if I haven't been plagued with a headache already in the first 2-3 days of travel, I will have one sometime within our time of being away. It hasn't happened! Does that mean I will dodge the bullet entirely? I can't say, but I have certainly been enjoying a pain free vacation.

I have been trying to stick to the THM plan as closely as possible while in New Orleans. Sugar has been the easiest to avoid, but breads still tempt me. I'm doing well though. I had one small piece of bread the second day here and haven't touched any since. I did bring a number of my own snacks so I don't get hungry and chow down on the first edible thing I see. It's been good. I am happy. I thought I would miss the sugar, but I don't. I am surprised by my own will power when I am tempted.

The jury is still out on whether I might have finally found what works for me in keeping the migraines at bay -- or at least under control, but this has been the most positive step so far. Here's hoping and praying that it actually works -- and hey, if I manage to lose a few pounds in the process, even better!

 
This would be an 'S' meal. Shrimp on a bed of cauliflower mash, with sauteed red peppers and fennel. Yum! Minimal carbs, higher fat.

Here's to THM!



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