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Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes Uncategorized

Indoor Kitchen Projects

IMG_8239
Don’t open the back door!

We are finally enjoying a true blizzard in our new home!  Fluffy white drifts tip into the house each time I open the front door.   I’m excited to play in the snow – my first priority is sledding or cross country skiing down Mt. Philo.  I think I’ll wait, though, until I can confidently get back up the driveway when I return.  In the mean time, here are some fun indoor projects that are perfect for a snowy day:

salve-ingredinets

Soothing salves

homemade-crackers1

Homemade crackers

marmelade

Marmalade

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Home Gardens Musings Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes Uncategorized

Winter Weekends Around the House

This winter we’ve had the luxury of being able to enjoy calm weekends at home.  Our time is structured with projects and forays outside supplemented by plenty of relaxation and reading by the fire.  Having time and lacking garden surplus foods that must be used up has given me the space to experiment with some new recipes.  We also enjoyed the results from our first attempt to process garden-grown dent corn into authentic tortillas.  Yum!  Here are some (food-focused) glimpses from our winter weekends at home:

defrosting-elderberries
Elderberries defrosting in the sun (Elderberry Syrup recipe here)
sweet-potato-brownie
Sweet potato brownies: we’ll definitely be making this again! (recipe here)
brownie-plate
Oops: meant to take a picture of the beautiful brownie plated on strawberry sauce with a drizzle of maple syrup sour cream on top… 
saved-cilantro-seeds
Sorting seeds and making our order for the 2017 garden!
windowsill-herbs
And then planting a few for some early spring windowsill cilantro
bone-broth
Bones defrosting for crock pot broth (recipe here)
skiing
Two amazing things happened last week: it snowed AND it was sunny
sauerkraut-angel
Appreciating this beautiful cabbage angel while making sauerkraut (recipe here)
making-tortillas
Homemade garden-grown blue corn tortillas (recipe here)
homemade-tortillas
Success!
Categories
Children and Nature Musings Uncategorized

Tracks in the Snow

RaccoonPath

A favorite children’s book in the after school program read, “Tracks in the snow, tracks in the snow.  Where did they come from, where did they go?”  Whenever I’m out on a walk in the forest and see tracks in the freshly fallen snow, these lines play cheerfully through my mind.

In this past post, I discussed how amazing tracking with children is.  Animal tracking is truly a magical tool that encourages curiosity and problem solving.

However, the benefits can extend to adults too!  Too often we forget to stop and examine the beautiful and interesting details that surround us in our everyday life.  This is especially true when trying to fit exercise and outside time into a busy day.  Mindfulness, curiosity, life-long-learning, and wonder are especially important when there is a need to counteract stressful situations in other parts of life.  Following animal tracks is a wonderfully energizing way to be present in the moment with all senses alert.

My challenge to you: Walk outside in a natural setting, deeply breathing in the fresh air, as often as you can.  If there is a dusting of snow or patches of mud, keep an eye out for animal tracks.  Take time to observe and question: What kind of animal was it?  How did it move?  Where did it come from?  Where did it go?

turkey-wing-track

RaccoonPrint

Bobcat

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Recipes Uncategorized

Winter Recipes

I love cooking in the winter.   Darkness comes early, leaving plenty of time for food prep before I get hungry for dinner.  Warmth and good smells contrast with the brisk cold outdoor air.  And the final result is a hot delicious meal.

Though I’ve cooked a bunch of new recipes recently, I failed to take any photos or document the ingredient tweaks made as I adjusted each dish to taste.  Oh well.  It turns out I’ve already documented many of our go-to recipes that incorporate stored, frozen, and canned garden harvests.  Here are some favorite recipes for the depths of winter:

Chicken Soup and Elderberry Syrup: Two of our favorite get-well-soon foods.

elderberry-syrup

Squash:  A variety of simple flavor combinations that allow you to enjoy last year’s bountiful harvest day after day.

Butternut squash

Winter Sweetened Kale & Brussels sprouts: Sweetened and tender from frost, these brassicas are nothing like the peppery and sometimes tough summer versions.  You can’t go wrong with these simple go-to recipes.

Winter-Kale-brussels-harvest

Chili and cornbread: Nourishing and delicious.  Perfect for enjoying in front of the fireplace after a day filled with snowy adventures.

chili-up-close

Tomato soup: A standard in our household.  This is our favorite way to use tomatoes canned in the height of sunny summer.

Tomato-soup-with-toast

Ginger and Turmeric recipes: Miso squash bisque, curried broth, and Golden milk tea: Warming, comforting, delicious, and SO good for you!

Ginger-and-Turmeric1

Cream of cauliflower soup: So creamy you’ll forget it’s packed with veggies.

cream-of-cauliflower2

Enjoy

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Uncategorized

Winter & Valentine’s Crafts

heart-snowflakes2

Well, we just lost what little snow we had.  Our first week of February’s forecast is full of highs above freezing.  If we can’t play in the snow, we might as well pretend it’s cold out and do some cozy winter projects inside.  Here are some fun ideas for dark winter afternoons, evenings by the fire, and preparations for Valentine’s Day.

heart-snowflakes1

Paper snowflakes and heart doilies: Cut paper snowflakes out of white paper, and use the same technique to cut heart doilies out of red paper.  Click here to learn how to cut six-sided snowflakes.  Check out the photo at the top of this post to see our results.

heart-weaving2

Heart Sewing: These make great cards!  Use a sharp pencil, pen, or awl to poke holes in thick paper as shown below.  Cut an arm-length piece of yarn and wrap a bit of tape around one end to make it poky and stiff.  Tape the other end to the top of the back side of your paper.  Using the tape end like a needle, sew in and out to create a heart, as shown above.  Experiment with other simple patterns for children to sew.

heart-weaving1

simple-weaving

Simple Weaving: This is a great follow-up for children who enjoyed the heart sewing project above.  Use a large eyed blunt tipped needle, yarn, and a tissue box to teach a child to weave!  Wind the “warp” string around the box 6-10 times (grey yarn above).  Tape along each end to hold in place.  Thread your “weft” yarn (green yarn above) and weave your needle above, below, above, below, etc. until you’ve gone over and under all of the warp strings.  Pull yarn through, stopping before the very end slips through. Tape the yarn end to the box.  Continue going over and under, back and forth, until you’ve traveled across the box.  Children who completed these in my program turned them into headbands.

heart-radish1

Enjoy some love-ly snacks!  I like cutting snack veggies into hearts for valentines day.  This works for any long round veggie (carrots, cucumbers, radishes), though these watermelon radishes are the perfect color.  Cut a triangle out of one side, and cut the other side into a point.  Then simply cut slices from tip to end.  Instead of rounds, you’ll get hearts!

 

heart-radish2

Hope you’re having a lovely winter and have a happy Valentine’s Day

Categories
Children and Nature Musings Uncategorized

Time to Play in the Snow!

Wonderful winter hiking: the trail up Camel's Hump
Wonderful winter hiking: the trail up Camel’s Hump

Happy Snow!  Finally, we got something to cover up our icy playground.  (Although, admittedly, we wouldn’t mind a bit more).  Yes, the ice was fun to slide around on, but we were all craving the multitude of opportunities snow offers:  forts, snow people, snow angels (or butterflies), sledding, and yes, probably some refreshing snow eating.   It’s a joy to see what a group of children come up with when presented with a yard full of fresh snow!  For more snowy play inspiration and instructions to cut a six-sided snowflake, check out this past blog post.

Adults should remember to take time to play outside in the winter too!  Winter hiking is a great (free) way to enjoy snow-covered forest beauty, wonderful views, and stay warm outside.   Just don’t forget your microspikes.  I still remember the feeling of skating across Lake Champlain last winter.  It was very magical to glide for miles over one of my favorite lakes – one that is over 400 feet deep in the middle!  Though it doesn’t seem likely that the lake will freeze this winter, there are always rivers, ponds, and ditches to provide skating opportunities.  We love visiting the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, VT.

Skating on Dead Creek
Skating on Dead Creek

Snow also offers the opportunity to investigate the creatures that live near our schools and homes.  Tracking is a great winter activity for children and adults.  Check out some of the animal signs we found on this walk up the Lewis Creek and through the woods.  The thrill of this outdoor detective work is infectious – who doesn’t love finding clues along a trail and solving mysteries?  To read more, check out my post about Encouraging Curiosity and Problem Solving with Animal Tracking.

And if the cold temperatures and dry winter air chap or crack your skin, try making your own salve.  It’s quite simple, is a good indoor project for sub-zero days, is a great thing to have around the house, and makes the perfect homemade winter present!

Categories
Musings Uncategorized

Gratitude in the New Year

hawks-eye-view
A hawk’s eye view of the frigid sunset from our house

Mindfulness.  Gratitude.  Being present in the moment and looking wisely into the future.

There are many things to reflect on about 2015 and think forward to in the new year.  Getting married and settling into a new home were big events for me in 2015.  My new year’s reflections this year are centered in gratitude.  I feel incredibly lucky for so many things.  Most of all, in 2016 I hope to keep this spirit of gratefulness alive as we settle into our new home and establish new rhythms.

Today I walked up Mount Philo, a familiar place to many who grew up here.  Now that we live on its southern slope, I’ve found a new appreciation for the beautiful walk, opportunity to be outside in nature, and the spectacular view from the top Mt. Philo provides to so many.  Here are some photos that capture the new year from our little spot in the Champlain Valley.

charlotte-champlain-valley

wintery-picnic

our-valley

hugged-camels-hump(in order: View to the West, Wintery Picnic, Our Valley, and Tree Hugged Camel’s Hump)
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Children and Nature Musings

More Winter Fun

lake-iceThis winter has been a blast.  Lake Champlain froze across for the second year in a row, we’ve gotten plenty of snow without any mid-winter thaws, and sometimes sunshine even boosts temperatures into the twenties!

It’s usually not too hard for me to think of the subject of my weekly blog post – I think about the past week’s highlights: yummy meals, fun outdoor adventures, or successful projects with kids after school.   Sometimes I scan through my most recent photos.  Even though I already wrote a post this year about winter play, outdoor recreation was the clear highlight of my past week!  We hiked Camel’s Hump again, this time equipped with sleds for the ride down.  SO FUN.  The lake froze across, providing us with miles of black ice to explore.  We even enjoyed temperatures in the thirties on Mt. Philo along with crowds of happy sledders, skiers, jack-jumpers, walkers, and their dogs.  I love living in Vermont, surrounded by people who love having fun in the snow!

Enjoying a sunny warm day on Mt. Philo... soon to be our back yard!
Enjoying a sunny warm day on Mt. Philo… soon to be our back yard!
A ski up the river to the upper covered bridge.
A ski up the river to the upper covered bridge.
Enjoying the wintery river highway.
Enjoying the beautiful wintery river highway.
Hiking up and sledding down Camel's Hump and a winter bonfire.
Hiking up and sledding down Camel’s Hump and a winter bonfire.
Exploring miles of black ice off the shores of Shelburne Farms.  Western winds literally blew us home!
Exploring miles of black ice off the shores of Shelburne Farms. Western winds literally blew us home!
Categories
Children and Nature Musings

Winter Play: Recommended for all ages

Wonderful winter hiking: the trail up Camel's Hump
Wonderful winter hiking: the trail up Camel’s Hump

Happy Snow!  Finally, we got something to cover up our icy playground.  Yes, the ice was fun to slide around on, but we were all craving the multitude of opportunities snow offers:  forts, snow people, snow angels (or butterflies), sledding, and yes, probably some refreshing snow eating.   It’s a joy to see what a group of children come up with when presented with a yard full of fresh snow!  For more snowy play inspiration and instructions to cut a six-sided snowflake, check out this past blog post.

Adults should remember to take time to play outside in the winter too!  We went on a wonderful winter hike up Camel’s Hump last weekend – just don’t forget your microspikes.  I still remember the feeling of skating across Lake Champlain last winter.  It was very magical to glide for miles over one of my favorite lakes – one that is over 400 feet deep in the middle!  Though the lake isn’t frozen (yet!) this winter, there are always rivers, ponds, and ditches to provide skating opportunities.  We loved visiting the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area last weekend.

Skating on Dead Creek
Skating on Dead Creek

Snow also offers the opportunity to investigate the creatures that live near our schools and homes.  Tracking is a great winter activity for children and adults.  Check out some of the animal signs we found on this walk up the Lewis Creek and through the woods.  The thrill of this outdoor detective work is infectious – who doesn’t love finding clues along a trail and solving mysteries?  To read more, check out my post about Encouraging Curiosity and Problem Solving with Animal Tracking.

And if the cold temperatures and dry winter air chap or crack your skin, try making your own salve.  It’s quite simple, is a good indoor project for sub-zero days, is a great thing to have around the house, and makes the perfect homemade winter present!

Categories
Children and Nature

Winter Exploration

Two weeks ago we had the rare chance to skate across Lake Champlain on black ice.  Sub-zero temperatures and a lack of precipitation were not so fun for those of us who love playing in the snow, but they were ideal for building beautiful ice.  And then, last week, snow finally fell and temperatures rose into the 20s.  Finally!  A chance to do all of the snowy recreation we’ve all been craving.  Check out photos of our winter adventures below.  If you’re curious about tracking animals, check out last year’s winter blog posts: Encouraging Curiosity and Problem Solving with Animal Tracking and River Walk.

Walking on water: a view toward the Vermont shore with Thompson's Point and Mount Philo
Walking on water: a view toward the Vermont shore with Thompson’s Point and Mount Philo in the distance
champlain-skating
Enjoying black ice between Split Rock Mountain, NY and Thompson’s Point, VT
Mount Philo Sledding
Mount Philo Sledding: The hike up
Mount Philo Sledding: The Ride Down
Mount Philo Sledding: The ride down
Our snow-covered river road
Our snow-covered river road
Over the river and through the woods
Over the river and through the woods
A turkey takes off
A turkey takes off
The road home
The road home