Saturday, December 08, 2012

What We've Been Learning this Week...

 


:: What We've Been Learning tihs Week ::


 


After recovering from Thanksgiving and taking some time off to get ready for the Christmas season we are getting back on track with our learning and playing. It is afterall very important business for two little ones. This week we did a bunch of activties revolving around the letter "I i". We also mixed in some Christmas things. 


 



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We learned some new "i" words and we made an igloo and insect. And...even made homemade ice cream. 


 



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We made a nature mobile to reflect the changing seasons. 


 



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Snowmen 


 



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Christmas Sensory Box 



Friday, December 07, 2012

This Moment

 


:: This Moment ::


 


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


 


Joining Amanda of Soulemama


 


 



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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Yarn Along

 


:: Yarn Along ::


Joining Ginny of Small Things



Yarnalong_gsheller_gray


 



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Oh, how I wish  I had something exciting to report about my knitting progress. But alas, no such luck. It has been a week where other things and people have needed my attention and time. I have had friends going through rough patches in their lives who needed a shoulder to cry on and babies to nuture.  AND... I am a terribly slow knitter. I know I will get these things done in time for Christmas but it will just take a while. I have been trying to knit one dishcloth per week for myself. It is a nice little project and a quick knit. I am using really happy colors to brighten my kitchen cleaning time. ( I love to cook but hate to clean up the mess). I am really on the last leg of the Milo Sweater and the Heirloom Baby Sweater is sitting and waiting for me to brave the final section. I decided to knit myself a seed stitch cowl since we are traveling up north. I wanted something warm to wear. Hopefully, next week I'll have something exciting to report!


On a completely scatter brained note, do you ever feel like knitting heals problems in your life or that of others? I kind of feel like if I take all my burdens and those I hear from others and put them into my needles I can just knit it away. 


I am reading Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. I love it! I love the plot and setting. Mr. McEwan does not disappoint. I am still looking through my Holistic Herbal Book. Very Interesting. 


 


What are you knitting and reading? 



Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Advent

 


:: Advent ::


What is that expression? "Better go to Plan B" Oh yes, that is how our advent has started out. Our best laid plans went the way of the wind in a matter of one weekend.  Sunday was the start of Advent and I had grand plans to build and decorate our advent wreath with the girls and start our countdown tree for Christmas. However, the tree we had to hang our stars for our advent calendar turned out to be a dud. Then, the candles and wreath holder I ordered to build our natural wreath with never arrived. It may not arrive until Dec. 17th. So much for that. 


I was a tad annoyed and that is no way to start Advent. Thankfully, my gracious and kind husband made a run to the local hardware store for supplies. Emma and I painted a lovely tree and added hooks to hang our stars. It looks pretty nice especially since a three year old did it! As for our wreath, well, it is still a work in progress. I plan to have it ready for the start of the second week of Advent. Better late then never. We did start reading a book entitled Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas.  It is a great book and I am so happy we found it. Each night before sleep, James reads one story to the girls. I think we have a new tradition. I also purchased a supplement book, We Light the Candles: Devotions Related to Family Use of the Advent Wreath  to aid in our advent wreath  candle lighting each night. 


Even though my best laid plans have gone somewhat awry, we found a better way to celebrate. 


 



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Our Advent Calender



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Our basket of Advent and Christmas books 



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Our Advent candle...we will have that wreath soon! 


 



Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sunday Soup

:: Sunday Soup ::

I am starting a little something new on Sundays, I will be featuring a soup from our dinner table. We have made it a tradition in our home to have a simple supper on Sundays of soup and bread. 



Potato and Leek Soup with Crispy Shallots

( from Ina Garten's cookbook: Back to Basics) 


Ingredients




  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks



  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving

  • 6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 8 ounces creme fraiche

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

  • Crispy Shallots, recipe follows, optional




Directions




Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.




Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.


In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they're all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, creme fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.




When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan and crispy shallots, if using





 





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Crispy Shallots:




  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or vegetable oil

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings



Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.


Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.


Yield: about 1/2 cup







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