Tuesday, July 31, 2012

brought to you by the letter P

Potty training has got to be the most banal of conversation topics a parent can bring up in polite society. But as resolutely opposed as I was to chatting and writing about the pees and poops of my toddler, I've also had a nagging reminder in my mind that I too was once interested in hearing other parents' experiences (it takes a village, right?). So at the risk of appearing trite, I'm going to delve into the ins outs and outs of ditching diapers. Cool? I promise tomorrow we'll be back to the regularly scheduled programming of real food cooking and homesteading.

Monday, July 30, 2012

spice-rubbed steak

This recipe is yet another that comes from the farmers who operate our meat CSA. You can basically use this rub on any cut of beef, and it will be great. I like it because it is tasty but still lets the beef flavor stand out. As with other recipes I've posted, it's not so much the rub that matters as the cooking technique. This time we cooked a sirloin, and due to the rain we opted to cook it inside in a cast-iron skillet. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

more breakfast to go: carrot raisin bran muffins

Sundays are the best when we don't have an agenda but just meander through the day. This weekend almost required lazy days because of how rainy it's been. But the girls didn't let a little rain stop their fun. They loved playing in it!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

in the ranger kitchen {4} & eggs in a nest

In yet another example of the slower pace of summer life, it's been almost two months since I've given you a peek into our kitchen. We are enjoying the bountiful array of summer foods. Now that I'm so far north in Boston, I'm growing accustomed to eating what I used to know as spring foods as late as July or even August. This year that season started a few weeks earlier because of our warm winter/spring. Let the food parade begin!...

Blueberries in everything! with sweet tea (sweetened with mint simple syrup)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic fever {and a self-imposed new ritual}

Don't you wish you were in London today? I'm so excited about the start of the Olympics. Our household tunes in every night to catch the action, and since I'm staying at home now I might well have it on all day. We've been preparing Vivi for what the Olympics are all about, and yesterday during bath time she announced she plans to be an Olympic diver some day ("just like Barbie." Em, ok). This coming from a girl who doesn't even like to jump into the pool currently, but who am I to squash her Olympic dreams?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

cukes two ways

Are the cucumbers rolling in where you live yet? I opted to plant zucchini and squash in my tiny garden instead, but I may plant cucumbers in a second round. For now, I am enjoying the bounty of inexpensive picking cukes at my local farmer's market. I went a little overboard in my purchase last week so had to come up with creative solutions for using them, IE. I FINALLY MADE PICKLES!! How have I not done this before??

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

on {lack of} productivity

So, about that Simplicity Parenting carnival....

Emily and I made a collectively timely decision for both our families to move our productivity theme to next month. Yup, we see the irony in postponing the productivity carnival too. Ha! Oh well, that's summer life, no? As a true Shakespeare fan, I will not admit impediments, but suffice it to say, being productive enough to write about productivity is setting the bar a bit high this month. You can see the new carnival schedule here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

crockpot carnitas with greens

We were so excited last month when we opened our CSA cooler to find a pork butt. Finally! We've been waiting for this moment since the start of the year and knew exactly what we wanted to make with it: carnitas!

I wasn't sure how I wanted to make it at first. I wish we had a pressure cooker so I could try the method described on one of the blogs I love, chicken tender, but alas, we don't have one. Because of the heat wave, I knew I also didn't want to spend the labored, heat-intensive work in front of the oven required by the Dutch oven or casserole dish methods. So that left the slow cooker.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

my favorite memory on a plate: {blueberry cobbler}


If there were an alternate reality, in which I could bottle up only one memory of an outing with my family in the last four years, I would choose blueberry-picking. No contest. I loved the experience so much last Monday--the blue sky, the beautiful scenery, the lure of expedition and discovery, and especially the thrill in finding the perfect berry--that we just had to bring Dad in on the fun this weekend. (For those joining via Design Mom's Love the Place You Live Series, our beloved picking spot is Westward Orchards in Harvard, Mass).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

did you read? {3}: sustainability edition

Hey, remember that series I said I'd start writing back in February, then posted twice and kinda forgot about after that? Woops! Best laid plans and all that jazz. It's all good because I'm coming back at ya' with another post today, and I hope to make the series at least a monthly thing, since I've actually been reading quite a bit of worthwhile material.

If I haven't already smacked you in the face with this little bit of 411 about my life, 'tis the year of the urban/suburban sustainable homestead. Here are some of my favorite reads in that genre...

Friday, July 20, 2012

guest post at {carrots are orange}: fingerpainting in the tub!

I hope you'll join me over at Marnie's fabulous blog, Carrots are Orange, for my post about a Montessori-inspired sensory play activity you can do with your young kids. It's great for a rainy day...or any day really. It's the best way I know to get my kids to agree to take a bath, next to bubbles. We paint, and then we bathe and wash it away.


p.s. Please disregard the ugly bathroom tile. It's a rental!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

should we get a pet? and which kind?

Another great one by Hyperbole and a Half

The "When can I...?" questions have begun in our household. They were trickling in for a while, and then I think it kicked into high gear once Vivi spent two weeks with a nine-year-old girl who attends sleepovers, has already been Bieber-ified, and is talking about what her first tattoo will look like (Winnie the Pooh on her foot, how original!). Now I hear questions that I'm sure she picked up from this girl. I'm sure mostly because of how hilariously skeptical Vivi sounds when asking me, like she's not entirely sure she wants this procedure done and is hoping I'll say no.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I found my thrill...

Come climb the hill with me, baby
We'll see what we shall see
I'll bring my horn with me
I'll be wit' you where berries are blue
~From "Blueberry Hill" by Louie Armstrong

Thanks to Kerry for sharing a great location to pick blueberries. This was our best morning I can remember in a while. I made a video to share the memories!

I'm off to make some cobbler. Hope you're enjoying the July bounty!

Monday, July 16, 2012

parenting tip: simple self-esteem building tricks

3 Ways to Build Self Esteem

When it comes to teaching my kids about reading, real food/healthy eating, and the joys of playing in their natural environment, I am like a duck to water. I am supremely confident in my ability to convey my love of these subjects in a way that will instill a lasting passion in my kids too. However, when I was asked to write about how I let my children's confidence shine, I struggled at first about how to put my actions into words. Building my kids' self-esteem has been a tougher parenting task for me. Click here to read more!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

on kippers and castles

Hey peeps!

Much has been happening around our joint, but I almost don't even have the words. It's all a jumble in my head-- an IKEA trip here, a barbecue there. The way my fellow camp carpooler summed it up (when she ran out of gas in her own driveway) was to say "Summer has a different rhythm, and I haven't quite figured out how to handle it." Amen, girlfriend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

visiting the beach {and a muffin recipe}

Our trip to the beach was so fun! Before I show you some pics, I'll set the scene. When you arrive at the New England shoreline, you are met with a few wonderful things and a few annoying things.

Great things: blue sky, breeze, salt air, and other archetypical beach fare.

Annoying things: biting flies (!!!), dead rays washed ashore, and townies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

call for July carnival submissions: productivity

SimParCar Button 2

Thanks to everyone who participated in the June Simplicity Parenting Carnival! It was a great success! 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. We are happy to announce the third month of our carnival:

July 2012: Productivity
Living simply might seem simple at first but it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the countless things you can do to simplify your life. How do you balance simplicity and productivity? How do you remain productive and maintain a slower pace of life? How do your children help and hinder your productivity?

We’d love to know how you balance (or attempt to balance) simple living, productivity, and parenting. Share your experiences with us this month!

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 July submission deadline is 11:59pm EDT Tuesday, July 17th and the carnival will be posted Tuesday, July 24th.

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, July 17th. 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.

Thanks for your 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.

Monday, July 09, 2012

summer grilling side: vinegar slaw


We went to the beach yesterday, and it was everything I had hoped for (except for giving my kids their first sunburns...doh!): breezy, warm, blue sky, and berries. Yes, berries! Unique to the New England shoreline experience is that you can stop off for some fresh-picked berries or even pick your own. A refreshing end to a hot day. Pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

dear diary: life's a peach

Do you keep a journal? I am a journaling extremist, typically picking it up only when times are exceptionally good or bad. In the end, I treasure each and every time I've written a part of our lives down, no matter how awful or embarrassing it might have seemed at the moment. Time really does heal wounds, doesn't it?

guest post at {the healthy beehive}: red and green pork

Hi everyone, I hope you had a wonderful Independence Day! In case you haven't completely gotten grilling out of your system yet, I shared an easy and delicious grilling recipe on The Healthy Beehive today. Check it out!

Hatch Chile Sauce + Red and Green Pork Kebabs

the healthy beehive

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

jewel weed: natural poison ivy treatment

I have been using jewel weed to treat poison ivy since I was a child. I learned about the plant at summer camp as a Native American folk remedy, and it quickly became one of my favorite plants to identify because of its tell-tale leaves that look silver when placed in water.

Monday, July 02, 2012


Vivi started camp today. Last year she attended a YMCA camp, but at 3 years old, she was still napping and going for half a day, so it felt more like day care than camp. This year she's going to a for-real all-day camp on a wooded farm, just like I did for almost twenty years. In honor of this big day, here are a few of my own favorite camp pictures from back in the day (more are included in last fall's Halloween post)...

I'll be sure to report back with details about how it's going. As we were hopping out of the car this morning, she turned to me excitedly and proclaimed "I can get as dirty as I want!" Yes indeedy, this is the place for that.

After the hand-off, I took Charlotte on a short walk to a pond to pick up some jewel weed for her poison ivy. Since getting her poison ivy, I've had to explain to just about everyone what jewel weed is, so I think tomorrow's post will cover that subject. You simply must know about this wonderful plant!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Alice's simple life

Hi again, friends. Now that I'm back home from my trip and list-making, grocery-shopping, and laundry-washing, my life hardly feels simple right now (even though I am serving the supremely simple breakfast of graham crackers with cream cheese, two of the last items of food in my kitchen). That's why I'm thrilled to be sharing another snippet of my resourceful cousin Alice's life overseas. Hope you enjoy! If you like this post, be sure to check out Alice's blog to learn more.

My wonderful cousin Justine has asked me back to share a bit more about my ‘simple life’ here on our small farm in Portugal. You may remember me as the surly, androgynous seven year old who talked about living for a year without a refrigerator. Well, that’s part of it; we also don’t have an oven, freezer, television, washing machine, dryer, heating or air conditioning. We do, on the other hand, have twelve beautiful acres consisting of a mix of pasture and forest on which we keep seven beehives, a few geese, some chickens, a small heard of heritage breed cattle which will be arriving to the new property in a few weeks and a wonderful vegetable garden that provides about half our food needs in the summer.


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