Saturday, June 30, 2012

my childhood, the redux

Cousins.

Does it go without saying that we had a great time visiting the fam? Because we did. There, I said it! I should probably wait until I've processed the trip more to talk about it here, but I can't wait to show you some of my favorite pictures.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

back to basics

Welcome to the June 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Green Living
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we find ways to be more natural parents and stewards of the environment. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.
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A few months ago I wrote about my switch to the "no poo" method of washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. In case you didn't read it or my updates, I still love it and have never looked back. My hair is shiny, less greasy, and never has tangles. I also wash the girls' hair in baking soda, and when combined with Vivi's pixie hair cut, I basically never need to brush her hair. It's like magic!

Using more natural personal care products has motivated me to find other green and natural uses for these magical kitchen items that previously took a back seat on the shelf. Prior to having kids, my method of being "green" was to buy Seventh Generation and leave it at that. But once I started delving deeper into the types of products I use, I realized you can go so much further toward sustainable, earth-friendly methods of cleaning without even needing to purchase new items. A little know-how goes a long way.

Just in time for my desire to learn, I stayed with my grandmother for a week, and she gave me some great tips. My great grandmother used to work at a professional laundry service, and as a result, she passed along some wonderful cleaning advice. For instance, did you know the "treat animal with animal" stain trick? If you soak blood stains overnight in milk, they come right out!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

summer camp part two: animal care with kids


Thank you to LeapFrog for sponsoring my post about LeapFrog Summer Camp. To sign up for LeapFrog Summer Camp, please click here. #CleverLFCamp #spon 

Hello from Dixie! We are enjoying our long summer vacation so far. Our southerly trip is action-packed, but with lots of traveling in cars from different locations mixed in, there is plenty of downtime in which I need some form of entertainment for the girls. Click here to read more about my summer camp activities with Leap Frog!


Friday, June 15, 2012

wardrobing 101: {guest post}

Hey y'all,
I don't think I needed to tell you this post is by a guest because you've likely heard by now that I am completely without fashion sense. I either missed the gene or the boat, but either way the proverbial ship has sailed, so I rely heavily on the advice of others. Enter the fabulous, sage wisdom of my blogger friend Sheri. If you haven't seen her other guest post on recession-era gardening, you should check it out; it's one of the most popular posts ever. Also be sure to read through to the bottom of this post so you can check out her bio and a link to her blog.
****


Why is getting dressed so complicated? Even for women who work in a traditional office setting, there are still nights and weekends to contend with. And for those of us who work from home (either part-time or full-time), “casual” can easily slip into “I’ve given up.”

I’ve been self-employed for 10 years now, running my own landscape design firm from home. When I’m on a job site, my outfit consists of a t-shirt, cargo pants and gardening clogs. Easy. But what about the rest of my week? I have 3 kids –ages 21, 15 and 3 - and my “typical” week consists of working from home (on garden plans or my blog), meeting with clients, playground adventures, and the occasional lunch with friends.

On most days I wake up at 6am and am dressed and ready for the day by 8. My goal – as often as possible – is to NOT have to change clothes during the day. Which means that I have to look pulled together, be prepared for any number of scenarios, and of course – be comfortable.  As I am also of “a certain age”, I’ve been getting dressed for a long time and have pretty much honed my wardrobing down to a science.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

planning for big-kid school: the good, bad, and ugly

Hello friends!
It is so refreshing to be with family on a trip. Now that school's out, we are officially in summer mode, with lots of flip flops and sundresses and sticky peaches. But soon enough, we'll be back in school mode, and I'll have a big kid in pre-K. Know what that means? This time next year I'll have a rising kindergartner! Oh my goodness, y'all. I swear it was just yesterday that I was years away from having to think about all this stuff. Public or private? Montessori, Waldorf, or traditional? Pack lunch or buy it? Walk or drive?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

my birth partners: great natural labor companions

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.
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I've written before about the births of both of my daughters (here and here), but those posts were about the run-down of events, so I appreciate the chance to highlight a favorite part of my natural birth experiences to share with you today. It will be no surprise to those of you who know my recent career move (I became a birth doula this year) that I attribute most of the success of my natural births to having great birth partners. I was lucky enough to have both my mom and my husband present at my births, and in addition to their excellent support, my births were guided by intelligent midwives.

Monday, June 11, 2012

off to prove Thomas Wolfe wrong...or at least eat some peaches

Tomorrow begins my weeks-long R&R with the fam down in the heart of Dixie. There will be plenty of dog walking, mountain hiking, card playing, soul food eating, and clothes shopping (I am completely unable to shop for my own attire alone and thus rely on my mom's sage clothes advice). All I know is that I plan to stick my face in a peach cobbler, and the rest of the time is up for grabs. Oh, and my little bro' is graduating high school, y'all! Much to our delight and playfully sarcastic surprise.

While I'm gone, I will be blogging from the road but also inviting a few guests to stop by and chat with you about simple living, parenting, recipes, and their general awesomeness. If you're interested in guest posting some time, drop me a line at lonehomeranger {at} gmail {dot} com. I may not be able to squeeze you in this round but am always looking for contributors!

Friday, June 08, 2012

{this moment}: going for a walk

{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.



Editor's note: This post was shared with SouleMama.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

fast family favorite: mall chicken

mall chicken


I've been remiss in not promoting one of our all-star crowd pleasing meals, "mall chicken." That's what we call Ina Garten's Indonesian ginger chicken because it's just like the perfect little bites they entice you with at the mall food court as you attempt to race by unnoticed. I mentioned the recipe a while back, but such a quick, easy, foolproof go-to dish like this one deserves more fanfare! Trumpets! Spotlights! Or at the very least its own post.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

stuff is happening

Watching them play peacefully from inside the house. Two peas in an adorable pod, they are.

Seems like we're due for me to give y'all a what-I'm-up-to brain dump. I mean, enough with the organization and the structured posts already, right? Things are going along swimmingly, that is if you don't count the fact that I got a second nasty cold in two months (so much for my moronic "I haven't been sick in two years!!" bragging, s'pose I had it coming), and the fact that it has been the dreariest of dreary weather for too long to count, and the fact that I am so disorganized right now that I missed Vivi's last-day-of-school-sing-along. And then two of my friends called later to ask "What was up with you not being there?" And then a third friend emailed to say "We missed you at the sing-along!"

Nevermind all that. I can't even. I might start crying.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

simplicity parenting carnival: call for June "green" submissions!

SimParCar Button 2


We were so inspired by and learned so much from the participants of our first carnival! We hope you’ll join us again, Justine at The Lone Home Ranger and Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM, for another simplicity parenting carnival.  

June 2012: Green Living
Do you strive to be eco-conscious? Do you want to raise your children to value the planet? Does being Green make it easier to live simply or does it add additional challenges?


We want to hear about how you incorporate Green living into your everyday life. What steps have you taken to reduce your footprint? How do you set your Green priorities? Do you find yourself making compromises? Do you use cloth diapers and still drive an SUV? Regardless of where you are in your journey to be Green, we’d love to hear your perspective on Green family life, raising children to be eco-conscious, and how it impacts simple living.

Submission Details
If you’ve never read nor participated in a blog carnival before, a blog carnival is a chance for different bloggers to share posts regarding a specific theme or topic. The June submission deadline is 11:59pm EDT Tuesday, June 19th and the carnival will be posted Tuesday, June 26th.

Please write a new post for the carnival, and do not post it until the day of the carnival. Email your blog post to Emily at emilysahmiam {at} gmail {dot} com and fill out other necessary details using the embedded Google document submission form below by 11:59pm EDT Tuesday, June 19th. We will email you with further instructions prior to the carnival day. (Note: If you need help learning how to determine a blog URL in advance, Lauren Wayne @ Hobo Mama provides a great explanation. She also has many other blogging tutorials available here.)


Finally, keep it clean, stick to the topic, check your grammar and spelling, and don’t use this carnival as a platform to put others down. We want this carnival to be useful, supportive, and fun! If you have any content-related questions, feel free to email Emily at emilysahmiam {at} gmail {dot} com. Technical questions go to Justine at lonehomeranger {at} gmail {dot} com. We reserve the right not to accept posts we find inappropriate for this carnival.


If you want a blog carnival button, feel free to grab one on my carnival page. Happy writing!
Thanks for recording your submission! Don't forget to email your blog post submission to Emily at emilysahmiam {at} gmail {dot} com. Also feel free to share this carnival with others! We're using the Twitter hashtag #SimParCar. We are also collecting great simplicity parenting related ideas on this Pinterest board.

Editor's note: This post is part of The Homestead Barn HopTeach Me Tuesday, Your Green ResourceSimple Lives Thursday, and DIY Friday.

Monday, June 04, 2012

in the ranger kitchen {3}, and cheez-it bread

We are going on day three of dreary, cold rain, which if I remember correctly is the same bizarre weather we had last year at the start of June. I'm just going to pretend it's a weird anomaly and not a trend. The good thing about being cooped up inside is that it gives me lots of time to make bread, yogurt, and other recipes that require time and patience.

I made homemade cheez-its again today and eating them reminded me of a bread I made last fall. Since it feels like fall again, I thought it was a good day to break out this recipe again. Today I present to you: cheez-it bread! It's technically called pumpkin cheese bread, but the spice and cheese combination gives it a cheez-it like taste, and apart from the rich color and moist texture, you can't really detect the pumpkin at all. This recipe originally came from my go-to source for seasonal recipes, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, and I adapted it to our style of baking.


pumpkin cheese bread

2 c. white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (you can up this to 1/4 tsp. if you like a big kick--we do)
1 c. warm water
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. (4 oz.) sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tbs. butter
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten w/ 1 tsp. water

Stir together flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and pepper in a large glass or ceramic bowl (not metal). Add water, pumpkin, and cheese, and stir until it is combined and sticky. Leave it to rest for a few minutes while you clean out your bowl.

Knead the dough on a floured surface until it forms the tell-tale smooth ball that bounces back when poked, at least five minutes. Add a bit of flour to your (now clean and dry) bowl, and coat the dough in flour. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least eight hours.

Remove dough from the fridge and shape into a rectangle, then roll it like a burrito. Coat a 9 x 5" loaf pan with butter and add the dough, seam-side down. Cover it with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour and a half, or until it's about twice its original size.

While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 375 degF. Make a 1/4" cut down the center of the loaf, then brush it with the egg wash. Bake it for approximately 50 minutes. If you aren't sure it's done, you can turn it out and knock on the bottom; it should make a hollow sound. Let the bread sit out of the loaf pan on a cooling rack; if you like a soft crust, wrap the loaf in a tea towel. I prefer a hard crust to dip in my lentil soup. Serve with loads of butter. Happy eating!


Check out a few of the other dishes we've been making lately. You'll notice below that I'm on a grits-eating, five-spice flavoring, bandana-napkin-wearing kick.

Five-Spice Beet Soup

Avocado over cilantro-mint tabbouleh

American parfait with dried kiwi, apricot, pineapple, and cranberries
(note:I took half of the dried fruit off after this pic...a bit overzealous)

Five-spice pork spare ribs with stone ground white grits (TJ's!)


Spaghetti alla carbonara with crudite (baby carrots, celery, snow peas)

Pork chops with prunes and cream, broccoli, grits, fave wine (Casal Garcia vinho verde)

local kitchen hashbrowns with roasted cumin, smoked paprika, and herbed goat cheese

Grill night! Pork kabobs (recipe soon), hot & bell peppers, eggplant, corn



Editor's note: This post is part of Monday ManiaScratch Cookin' Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable WaysSimple Lives Thursday, and DIY Friday.

Friday, June 01, 2012

the call of the summer wild

Mud, beautiful mud, makes me feel good
Should we play in the mud? I think we should
Will you play in the mud with me?
Then the two of us can be happy.
~The Mud Song, High Meadows Camp


I know summer doesn't officially start for a few weeks, but for me, June 1st is when I begin to celebrate summer. When does summer begin to call to you?

I think one of the greatest gifts I can give my kids is to let them play in the spring and summer mud. If the form she filled out with her camp paperwork is any indication, I'd say Vivi quite agrees with me:

The middle entry, in case you can't tell, is "DIRT" spelled backward.


I admit I bare some influence on the fact that she knows camp is where you play in the dirt. She won't attend camp until July, so it's my job between now and then to find ways to get dirty.

"Playing" in the camp mud. It might look as though I'm being ganged up on by three
men here, but I assure you I gave as much mischief as I got.

I got some great inspiration for getting muddy from this Rhythm of the Home article. Though she's specifically referring to the the spring thaw in Canada, there is still plenty of mud to be found after the rain during the rest of the warm season. Yesterday I found some great rain boots for the girls in preparation for the four days of rain we're about to get. I'm so glad it's finally warm enough to play outside in the rain! I'll be sure to follow up with some pics.

Speaking of Rhythm of the Home, their summer issue came out today, and I have two articles featured in it! Check out my features (linked via images below) and the others. It's a great online magazine, and I predict you'll gladly spend a few quiet and peaceful hours reading it, as I have. Happy reading!

Call of the Summer Wild: Cultivating a Love of Nature


Homemade Cheese Crackers!

Editor's note: This post is part of Seasonal Celebration Sunday and Simple Lives Thursday.

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