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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Okay – I cannot believe it’s been over 6 months since I first received this book (as a gift for my birthday) and I haven’t told you (or written) about it yet.  I almost feel like I’ve been keeping something from you?!?  Sorry – forgive me?

Honestly, I love this book.  It is, quite frankly, a book I would have loved to write…well…if I had more time and/or talent in the kitchen.  No matter, because the book Jennifer Reese wrote, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is far better than any food-related book I could have whipped up.  {And, as you know, but just for the record, I DID NOT received a free copy of this book and therefore feel compelled to sing its praises. It’s just a great, great book and worthy of a few words between sisters.}

In the past six months I have made (and dreamed of making) so many of the wonderful recipes from this “what you should & shouldn’t cook from scratch” collection.

Here is a sample (just a SAMPLE) of some things I’ve (proudly) made from scratch with Ms. Reese’s help:

Buttermilk Biscuits (fool-proof/toddler-proof recipe)

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Peanut Butter (ridiculously simple; haven’t bought a jar since January)

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Yogurt (something I’ve always wanted to make from scratch!)

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Lemon curd (reminds me of the wonderful jars we brought home from the Farmers Market when we lived in the UK)

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 Pasta (the girls ♥ this)

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Oh…and it was this book that inspired me to make clotted cream – a recipe/technique I’ve already shared with you.

These are, as you may have noticed, rather simple things (no duck terrine or flambe souffle) – but they are also things I usually buy; assuming, on most occasions, that one “doesn’t bother” to cook this stuff.

I have a number of things on my “what to cook from this book next” list.  Though, I can’t say I’ll cross ALL of them off…given that the author went as far as raising goats, curing pastrami and making Camembert (for heavens sake!).  That said, I intend to give homemade Worcestershire sauce a try (truth be told, just to say I’ve done it).  Then I might move onto cured salmon – which is placed (ambitiously) on page 22 of her book (right after “cream cheese”).

You name it and it’s probably in here – from Grapenuts to donuts, bacon to bitters, honey to hotdog buns – this is a one-stop-recipe-included-shop to anything and everything you’ve ever even considered making from scratch. 

That is, if you’re the kind of cook who enjoys a bit of adventure (and a bit of a laugh) in your kitchen. 

Homemade lard anyone?  No?  Then how about ginger ale? Beef jerky? Corn dogs? Kimchi? Potato chips? Turkish delight?  Mustard? Ricotta? Vanilla extract? English muffins?

You get the picture, right? 

Such a great gift for a resourceful chef, as well as a good reminder to all of us that just about anything is possible – if you have the time, the tools…and a good recipe.

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p.s. You can find more about The Tipsy Baker at her blog.

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Art show.

Like so many parents out there, we’ve always told our girls they are “Artists.”  Each creation a work of ‘ish-ful art.  If you aren’t familiar with “-ish” art – then I highly (oh-so-highly) recommend that you get yourself a copy of the book Ish, by Peter H. Reynolds. For, while I love so (SO) many children’s books, Ish is one of my very all-time favorites.  

So, when one of our local libraries began advertising for its second-annual art show – our girls couldn’t wait to take part.  The library invited residents to bring their brightest and their best to display.  The pieces stayed up for a  week; giving visitors a chance to vote on their favorites.  “Proper” judges also came in to select recipients for “Judge’s Choice” awards.

For the Show, children were welcome to submit as much art as they wished.  Adults paid $2/per submission – resulting in one of the loveliest and most colorful fundraisers I’ve ever been a part of.

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Here were a few of our submissions…

Polar Bear 1: Made with these stencil cards that Wynn uses almost every day (and a much-loved gift for her 5th birthday)

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Polar Bear 2: Made with the help of this (brilliant!) book. In fact, everyone in the family loves this book!

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Nightingales: We made these at the Philadelphia Art Museum. A thin reed was bent to make the hoop, then we decorated our birds with gems, sequin, markers and lots of feathers. 

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As I was rushing out the door to submit the girls’ work, I quickly grabbed a photograph off our wall and decided to enter it into the show. Why not?

In the end, “Monk” (a photo I snapped of Steve inside Angkor Wat, during a tour of to Cambodia in 2005) was well received and even managed to win a (highly-coveted) “Judges Choice” award.  Very exciting for a point-n-shoot girl like me. <smile>   

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If you have an opportunity to take part in a local art show, I’d really recommend it.  There’s nothing like watching those little faces beam as they take your hand and lead you through a gallery – to a special place where their art, their “proper” art, is on display for all to see.  And I have to admit, I was beaming too.

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Remember those books?  Well, the girls currently adore this book they borrowed from a friend called, You Choose.  Have you heard of it?  It asks questions like, “if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?”  Then there are pictures to choose from, such as a seaside, a castle, a forest…even outer space!  It is great fun to see the girls take their imagination to a whole new level with this book.

“Would you like to live at the seaside, be friends with a wolf, live in a cave with a swimming pool in it, travel by helicopter, drink milkshakes, wear a tuxedo with Roman sandals, keep a pet panda, be pilot, go birdwatching and sleep in a nest?”

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This book reminded me of the phrase you taught me, “In one of my lives, I would…” followed by anything that sounded interesting at that particular moment.  Such as …live in a log cabin …sail around the world …be a Buddhist monk, etc.  I love the endless possibilities of that phrase.

So lately, the girls and I have been using our imaginations (and this book!) to create our own stories…

In one of my lives I would…live on a farm. We would wake up at dawn to collect freshly laid eggs, returning to a cozy homestead to make omelets. The girls would play outside all day and be so dirty by the end, that I’d rinse them off with the garden hose. We’d build tree houses and forts and explore undiscovered areas. We’d pack picnics and wander off in the rain, to eat in the shelter of a hollow tree.  Nightfall would bring utter silence and a sky full of glorious stars. Yes, it would be lovely to live on a farm.

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In one of my lives I would…live on a tropical island. Our home would be surrounded by lush, green banana leaves.  The salty, sea air would tunnel through open windows, day and night. We would listen to tropical birds and identify them in the trees with binoculars.  We would live in sundresses and bathing suits and our skin would be tan and always glistening.  We would amble down a path leading to a white sand beach, picking tropical fruit along the way.  We would build huge sand castles and be there until sunset to watch the tide melt them down.

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In one of my lives I would…live in a bustling European city.  I would look out the window and see life constantly going on around me.  I would fill my bike’s basket with bread, cheese and wine, all purchased at different places along my route.  Bistro tables would spill out onto busy sidewalks and different languages would be heard.  There would be plenty of green spaces for the kids and they would learn about history and geography, from travel and life experiences.

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We live in a society that has offered us many choices and opportunities.  We wander down a crooked path that hopefully leads to a fulfilling existence.  Maybe if we step back and look at where we are in this moment, we are indeed living “one of those lives”.  In fact, I’ve started to wonder if perhaps after our experience in Denmark, we might move to a farm…on a tropical island.  Hey, who knows?  It could happen.

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When we first saw this apartment, I had a vision for the space under the window in the girls’ room.  It seemed perfect for creating a little, closed-off area for reading, relaxation and some imaginary play.  With a little work, that is exactly what is has become.

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The curtains were purchased at a market in Marbella, Spain.  I had been looking for fabric here in Copenhagen, but when we saw these, they seemed ideal. The girls liked them right away.

Marbella, Spain - Oct '11

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Books have taken center stage lately and even though Big Sis is the one who is learning how to read, it has been Little Sis who can usually be found in the book nook, curled up, flipping pages.  Or…in bed with a flash light.

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We visited our local library for the first time today.  What a magical space they’ve created, here in Østerbro, for kids to play, surrounded by books.

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There was not a large selection of books in English, but that’s okay, because Brett and I can actually read children’s books in Danish!  (Okay, with a little help from my dictionary.)  The girls don’t mind, as long as we explain a bit in English…and the pictures help all of us follow along.

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The “Read” sign, in our book nook, was made by forming pipe cleaners into cursive letters and wrapping scrap yarn around them. It was a Pinterest find and instructions can be found here.  I’d love to say that the girls made it, but Matea wrapped about half a letter and then ran off to play.  I finished it one evening, over a glass of wine and conversation with Brett about summer travel. I felt like I should have been wrapping the words “dream” or “discover” instead of “read”.  Hmmm…perhaps those will be the next yarn wrapped words to adorn the book nook.  Yes, I think that would be perfect. 

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“Read, Dream, Discover.”

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{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo…capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Amanda Soule.

Feel free to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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Thanksgiving has come and gone, so the subject of this post may seem a bit late, but that is actually the point.  Although, I give the holiday a lot of credit for giving people a chance to reflect on what they are thankful for, it was recently brought to my attention (while reading the book Raising Happiness) that my family does a pretty decent job of expressing gratitude on an (almost) daily basis.  According to “experts”, there is a direct correlation between gratitude and happiness. 

If we want to be happy we need to practice gratitude. Deliberately and consistently — or we’ll end up feeling entitled rather than satisfied.” – Christine Carter

I’m certainly no expert and maybe you do some of these things too, but I thought I would share some of our gratitude rituals.

  • Prayer before dinner – Sometimes we do this in a very traditional way and other times we just go around the table and say what we are thankful for.  Matea prompts us to do this even when we have friends over, which feels a bit strange at first, then ends up being a very sweet and memorable moment.

Some things my kids have been thankful for:

Grandparents”

A sister with soft, squishy arms”

Toys!”

Learning how to say ‘little sister’ in Danish”

Food…even though I don’t like spinach”

plenty of water because some people in the world are very thirsty.”

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  • BESTS!  Another way to do this is to go around the table and say what your favorite part of the day was.  If not at dinner, maybe before bedtime.  It is always so fun to hear what the girls remember as a happy moment in their day.

At our Thanksgiving dinner, this year, we went around and said our best memory of the ENTIRE YEAR!  Matea said her best memory of the year was “Playing ‘Mommy and Baby’ with Dahlia and her cousins, Wynn and Layn.”

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  • A Happiness Journal – is a really nice way to end the day. I used to keep a regular journal, but I always felt obligated to write in it and that just added stress. Now I just write down 3-5 special things from that day. Blogging is another great way to keep a gratitude journal!

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  • Yoga / Meditation – We are still working on making this a regular part of our day.  I have been reading a few books on meditation techniques with kids and we try to practice so simple techniques before bed.  I am hoping that this will help us all be more mindful as we go through our everyday routines.  After all, mindfulness is really all about being present (and grateful!) during any given moment.  Matea has recently been leading us in a family yoga session on the weekends.  The girls do yoga at school, so she has songs/chants that go with each routine.

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  • Going through old photos – We have our PC hooked up to the TV in our living room, so while we play music in the evening, we roll a slideshow of all our digital photos.  I’m talking about 10+ years of photos coming up in random order!  This is not only entertaining but has been so special to us since moving abroad.  Seeing all the photos of our travels, babies, holidays and celebrations with family and friends, makes our hearts feel very full…and so very thankful for all of those memories.

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It’s Monday and I am…

  • Changing sheets…and wondering why nobody every told me how difficult it is to change the sheets on the top bunk of bunk beds.

 

  • Feeling the urge to sew, now that I have a space to do it…and wondering when I will find the time to cut some fabric.

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  • Drinking tea, imported from the States…and wondering why it is so difficult to find decaf coffee and tea here in Denmark.

 

  • Eating pear custard cake that was made over the weekend…and wondering if I ever gave you that recipe. One of my fall favorites.

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  • Thinking of hanging sheets outside to dry…and wondering if they would ever dry in this foggy, cold weather (probably not).

 

  • Hoping I will soon find yeast on the grocery store shelves, so I can bake bread (perhaps I’m translating it wrong?)…but wondering if I should go to the trouble, when the Danish do it so well.

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  • Procrastinating on the 3 pages of Danish homework due by Wednesday…and wondering what would happen if I just don’t do it.

 

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  • Frustrated by our failed attempt to hang curtains that we purchased in Spain. It’s a long story, but we blew out the power in our apartment by drilling into a metal plate (oops!)…and wondering if I could possibly find a 3 meter long tension curtain rod. Hmmmmm…

 

  • Still feeling refreshed after a long walk and a game of hide-and-seek in the forest of Hillerød yesterday with new friends…and wondering why we don’t do that more often.

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  • Browsing, and becoming quite addicted, to Pinterest…and wondering how such an ingenious concept could be so simple.

 

  • Roasting a chicken and putting many book-marks in the wonderful Apples for Jam cookbook…and wondering if I will ever get my pantry stocked.

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  • Loving that Matea came out of her room this morning saying she already did yoga and meditation for the day (wish I could take credit, but it is totally inspired by her teachers)…and wondering if I can fit a little yoga and meditation into my day.

 

  • Caring for a stuffy, sneezy 3-year-old, who is home from school today…and wondering why she can’t stay this age forever.

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Happy Monday!

 

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