Monday, May 21, 2018

So What Now? In My Kitchen

As the kitchen is, at least so I've been told, the heart of a home, let's have a peek into my kitchen and see what stories the activity there can tell of what our life is at this time.

With a dairy free husband (who also tends to avoid cashew and almond milk) and daughter and myself being gluten free and soy free, cooking is always interesting. I do tend to cook from scratch primarily as I find it cheaper and actually less complicated than trying to find various versions of "free-from."

My first challenge since we moved was getting used to feeding 12--8 of whom being extremely active, growing girls--to only feeding 4 (well, now 5 as Ell is starting to eat). Fortunately we like leftovers as my proportions were way off! And actually, leftovers are frequently how I plan our weeks. Cook for a day or two or three--eat leftovers for a day or two. It's so nice to not have to think about dinner every single day. I always feel sorry for people who don't like leftovers (or who have family members who don't like leftovers). I Love being able to plan for non-cooking days!

I've also been having fun finding some new recipes.

We've been trying to incorporate fish into our weekly fare with more consistency, so I've found an awesome Fish Taco recipe and a few other fish recipes as well we've been enjoying.

I've also found a good recipe for non-complicated Pho. We love Kwitdeow (Thai Chicken Noodle Soup), but having the Vietnamese alternative has been fun. And my kids seem to be completely satisfied with either option.

What else is going on in my kitchen?

Well, I've started making yoghurt again (yum!). I've attempted coconut yoghurt, but I haven't been super pleased with the results. This is frustrating both as it's annoying to not have it work and also it's a bit expensive for a lot of mess-ups. I need to try to find an alternative dairy-free yoghurt recipe that Blueberry likes (and Chris can handle). She likes my coconut yoghurt that has come out correctly, and actually prefers it to the store bought versions. I just need to get some consistency there. Maybe with the weather being a little warmer . . .

I've also been learning the fine art of water kefir. Oh my goodness. Seriously. LOVE this stuff. No idea what I'm talking about? Start reading here to get a glimpse of this deliciousness.

Now, I have had one jar that may have exploded (we're thinking a crack in the jar as the cause of that), but otherwise it's been an easy process to learn. And if you've ever tried to make Kombucha--thinking way, way easier. And faster. And just as delicious (or more so depending on your taste buds).

Kombucha--I have a scoby sitting in my fridge as I speak--waiting for me to get a handle on it.

I've also been playing around with some lower-sugar options in my own diet. Nothing to extreme, but experiments that I'm enjoying.

The ultimate pattern in all of this, which you may or may not see, is that of time and experimentation. Two things I've simply not had much of in my life the last few years. To make homemade yoghurt and mess around with kefir grains and even enjoy baking/making treats that my whole family can enjoy is something that just was difficult to do with everything else going on. And this, I'm loving.

Except for the days when I don't want to cook. But really, who doesn't have those occasionally?

Monday, May 14, 2018

So What Now? Home Edition

So now, dear friend or reader or whoever you might be perusing the story of my life, the question is where are we now?

Well, let's start with our physical home.

We are living in a modern-design, brand-new townhouse. We are located near the edge of town, which I love. We are about five minutes from a lovely river-side beach/play area on the Columbia River. We are within walking distance of three separate playgrounds. We are 20 minutes from Chris' work and also from our church, the main highway to Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, etc. About an hour from Vancouver/Portland, two from Seattle. 10 minutes to multiple other parks and places to explore in town. 15 minutes to the library, groceries and the other necessities of life.

I love driving and also looking out my own windows and being able to see hills, mountains, rivers, evergreens. Mount Saint Helens frequently pokes her head over one our surrounding hills--depending on the rain and clouds of course. As an Ash Baby (one born within 9-10 months of Mt St Helen's 1980 eruption), the significance of living in her shadow is not lost on me. And the irony of now living so close is rather entertaining to me. That sound morbid. Not intended. More of a circle-of-life, see how far I've come sort of entertainment.

The neighborhood, since we moved in, has gone from about 10 town homes down a little cul-de-sac off one of the main roads through town to closer to 20! Most are still being built, but they are filling up as rapidly as they can finish building them. This I'm not so keen on. It's been nice knowing most/all of the neighbors as we/they have moved in. It's been a friendly neighborhood so far, and I'm afraid of losing some of that as these other town homes are finished.

Plus the mornings of waking up with my bed shaking or the blaring of the worker's radio has gotten a little old at times!

It's a funny little house. Advertised as being three bedrooms, but given that the third bedroom has a washer and dryer in it and a sliding door to the back, it's kind of hard to qualify it as a bedroom. We have used it primarily as a guest room/family room because otherwise our other main room of the house is the living-kitchen-dining-office-homeschool room! Welcome to a modern house.

The best and possibly worst feature is the HUGE windows that run up the front of the townhome. There are seven in all, plus four more littler ones at the very top. They let in beautiful views of the sky, and glimpses of the mountains around us, and of course--the neighbors! You learn to be extra cautious really quickly because there is absolutely no way to cover the second floor of windows and those look right into the landing/bedrooms! The letting in of the light even on the gloomiest of days (we are in the Pacific Northwest now with it's showers and shower and sprinkles and showers) is fabulous--until it gets hot, and then it simply roasts us. Like I said, the best and possibly worst feature of this home--all rolled into one!

I still have a closet full of boxes that I'm slowly unpacking and dealing with. We've acquired a few extra pieces of furniture (like a couch!) since we got here. And I've shuffled around the arrangement of the living/kitchen/homeschool room at least three times. I've about despaired of making the family room/third bedroom truly workable, but we'll figure it out eventually. Hopefully not just weeks before we move again!

Yes, I did say move. I shall not lie. I am prepared and eager for one more move. This is not our forever home. How long we will be here, I'm not sure. We've looked, but timing and money and prices and goals and other such things are keeping us here for now. So we strive to be content as is, to make the best of this funny little home, and continue to learn the area, settle in, and enjoy life as it is now.

Unfortunately, patience is never my strongest suit. . . .

Mt. St. Helen's

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

2017 Snippeted: Part 3 - August 22 to December 31

Where: Washington State
Who/What: Being stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mom of two and a newborn

August 22, 2017 - December 31, 2017

How I do I finish summarizing this year? Such craziness as we experienced. Such miracles. Such highs and lows. Such trepidation as we jumped, literally without any knowledge of where we were going to land or how, and found ourselves caught in the palm of His hands and gently placed where we needed to be.

By December, Charlotte and Zander were well ensconced in a great kid's program at church. Friendships were starting to form there. A good friendship with a neighbor had flourished. And we had gotten in contact with and were preparing to start attending in the spring, a well-established, friendly, homeschool co-op.

Madeline grew beautifully. Sweet tempered, generally easy going. An answer to prayer in so many ways, but not least in that for the first of my three babies, she was a good sleeper. A miracle of major proportion for me!

We had been visited by my Mum (immediately post-baby birth), my brother and sister-in-law, and sweet nephew. Two dear friends from college (and before!). Both my parents (for Christmas). We were enjoying being able to have people stay and come and go without reference to the campus schedule and the related rigors.

Homeschooling was going well. Lots of adjustments and figuring things out. For the first time since we started schooling, I haven't felt pulled in multiple directions and like schooling was being crammed in because of the other expectations on our lives. And the breath-ability has been wonderful.

Chris had settled in well at work. He found the job to be fulfilling but not overly taxing. Simply put, a job he can see doing for a very, very long time to come.

And with much wiggling and settling and sighing and a few tears, we had settled down into a new life, new rhythm, new Us!

So What Now? In My Kitchen

As the kitchen is, at least so I've been told, the heart of a home, let's have a peek into my kitchen and see what stories the activ...