Monday, 28 April 2014

Fish Chowder

Do you ever get down to random items in your kitchen before shopping day and wonder how you can make supper with them? I had a day like that last week. I had two packages of fish fillets that didn't match each other. And two is just not enough for our family of ten. It was a chilly damp day so maybe that inspired my next thought - fish chowder.
I didn't feel like endlessly scrolling through recipes to find one I liked. I've done enough cooking that I thought I could pull this off on my own. It worked and I am so excited. I don't often step out on my own to create something. I tweak recipes A LOT, but doing my own is a fairly new experience. My family loved it so I know I'll be doing it again. Not only that I loved it, and generally speaking I don't like fish (unless it's deep fried in a thick batter ☺).
This recipe is easy and fast and can easily be adjusted according to your family's likes or what you have in the pantry. I added some bread I had made that day, and we had a filling and comforting meal.
Fish Chowder
fish fillets - whatever amount works for your family
oil for frying
1/2 cup butter
2 medium onions chopped
1 can mushrooms (284ml/10 oz)
1/2 cup flour
4 cups cream (or milk, but cream makes is tastier)
2 cans corn (341 ml/12 oz)
1 tsp salt
Cut the fish into bite size pieces and place in a pan with oil. As they cook add pepper to taste.
In a pot melt the butter. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the flour to form a paste.
Whisk in the four cups of cream and stir until thickened. Add the cooked fish, corn and salt. Stir frequently and serve when hot.
cooking the fish with pepper
onions and mushrooms
with the flour forming a paste

ready to eat

What is your favourite way to eat fish?

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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Library Time 26

This week I previewed a book for my daughter - Divergent by Veronica Roth. The setting is a dystopian world. I haven't read many books of this genre, but I did enjoy this one. There was almost no swearing unlike The Book Thief. The main character is a sixteen-year-old girl with a life-changing decision to make. I found the book a compelling read and was unable to put it down. I don't think my daughter enjoyed it quite as much as I did, but we've had some good discussions about it. It's fun when you read the same books as your teenager and then discuss all the pros and cons.
15-year-old daughter - The Allies by Jack Cavanaugh. The American Family Portrait Series.
13-year-old son - Western Allied Tanks of WWII.
12-year-old son - Reader's Digest Facts and Fallacies - Stories of the Strange and Unusual. We hear lots of tidbits from this book.

10-year-old daughter - Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.
8-year-old daughter - Norman Rockwell's America by Christopher Finch. This is a big, heavy book. I don't think she's reading it word for word, but it's full of Rockwell's paintings so I'm sure she has enjoyed looking at them.

This week in an effort to be more "intentional" with my reading to my little ones, I borrowed quite a few books from the library for them. So this week we are listing new books. We are breaking out of the usual books we have been reading.
6-year-old son - If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff. I'm sure you'll recognize this from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. ☺
3-year-old son - If You Were My Bunny by Kate McMullan. This is a sweet bedtime story with various animals singing lullabies to their babies. The lullabies are set to well-known lullaby tunes. So if you can wrap your head around the new words, you can sing your way through the book. I love this book.
Baby Boy - Picture My Day by Severine Cordier and Cynthia LaCroix. This is a picture book with lots of things to name for baby so he can learn their names. It's a fat book, but when you read it to a baby it goes fast because he skips lots of pages. Also the pages are thick which makes them easier for a baby to turn.
Special Note: I borrowed The Church Mouse by Graham Oakley. I did this for my six-year-old son, but my older children love this picture book as well. It's about a church mouse who is very lonely living in a church by himself. There is also a tame cat, but they don't talk much since the cat sleeps so much. The mouse invites all the village mice to join him which they do. The cat and mice all get along and everything is fine until one Sunday the church people discover the mice. They are going to be evicted, but that night they stop a burglar from robbing the church, are forgiven, and it's happily ever after. That's pretty bare bones. It is a funny story and well worth the read. There is actually a whole series of Church Mice books. This is the first in the series.


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Friday, 25 April 2014

Healthy Again

Oh the joy of feeling healthy again. I've been carefully following all of my naturopath's suggestions, and I feel totally better except for an occasional cough.  Also, the baby has been sleeping better since I am being more intentional about getting solids into him. Extra sleep is always good.
So this week has been one of getting back on track with getting the house clean and organized. I'm slowly going through the various areas of our home and purging. Right now I have two huge bags waiting to go to the thrift store and at the beginning of the week I sent out four boxes and two bags. It is such a good feeling. I appreciate opening up the closet in our washroom and seeing empty spaces on the shelves. Empty is good. It's peaceful.
I've also been able to get back to sewing. On Monday I took our two youngest daughters fabric shopping. They picked out fabric for a skirt and dress each. I was a little apprehensive going into the store because my middle daughter is notorious for taking forever to shop. However, both girls immediately knew what they wanted. I still made them look around a little, but they stayed with their initial choices. Their skirts are finished already, and I will do a post soon explaining how I did them. It is a simple no-pattern skirt.
I also made a new recipe tonight. Not just a new-to-me-I-found-this-on-the-internet-let's-try-it recipe. I mean, I made the recipe, AND my family loved it. My husband is fairly particular about how food should taste, and he loved it. So I'll be sharing that soon too.
It was a great week. We're back on track with school, a clean house, sewing and fixing meals/baking again.

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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Do You Need Some Encouragement?

Lately we've been going through some things as a pastor and wife. Helping people deal with their problems can be messy and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes I feel like walking away from it all. BUT. Then you see someone doing something you suggested or someone writes you a note saying what an encouragement you've been to them. Suddenly you don't feel quite so worn out. You feel like you can go on again.

That being said I also had someone remind me recently that we don't do what we do for the people we're hoping to help (although we do love them and want to see them have abundantly blessed lives). We do it because it's the right thing to do. So whether or not they listen to us or walk away from us, we still have to do what's right. That reminded me of a poem I read years ago that through the years has been a blessing and encouragement to me.

I thought I would share this poem with you today. Maybe someone else is tired of caring for others and having it hurt. If so, I hope this poem encourages you like it does me.

It matters not if cherished friends
On whom I leaned in vain
Have wounded me by word or deed
And left me with great pain.
What matters is, can I forgive
Again, and yet again?
It's not, have they been true, but, Lord,
Have I been true to them?
'Twill matter not when evening comes
How rough the road I've trod
If only I have walked with Him
And led some soul to God.
For when I wake to be like Him
Who saved me by His grace
Earth's pain will vanish when I catch
One glimpse of His dear face.
     ~Author Unknown

And finally, here is a song that my sister sent to me this morning that really spoke to me.


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Monday, 21 April 2014

Some Sewing for Summer 2014

So now that I cleared up what I did for my sewing this winter, I've been thinking about what I would like to get sewn this spring and summer.
I would like to sew:
a skirt for myself - I've had the fabric for ages
a skirt for each of my daughters
a bag each to hold my two baby wraps and my mai tei - I will use the method I posted here only bigger, of course
I'm still going forward with quilting my oldest son's quilt. I would really like to finish it this summer.
a church dress each for my two youngest daughters
*some bread bags
*Lumber Jack hats for my two youngest boys for this winter
*wallet for myself
a bag for holding my clothespins
some doll clothes with my middle daughter
*reusable paper towels - I have wanted to do this ever since I first saw it.
Anything with an * can be found on my sewing board on Pinterest.

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Take Five

As mothers we don't often get a break. We certainly don't have any scheduled breaks, and all of us our "guilty" of taking an extra two, five or even ten minutes in the washroom. We just need some time to ourselves.
Thanks to my oldest daughter, I recently discovered a great way to spend five minutes taking a break. There is a YouTube channel called "Pemberly Digital". They are taking the story of Emma by Jane Austen and retelling it in a modern setting. Twice a week they put out a new segment, and guess what? These segments average five minutes each.
There are 44 segments at this point. So far, I've watched through episode 20. I usually watch two or three while I'm nursing the baby to sleep for his nap. I find it fascinating to see how they manage the plot in a modern setting.
I do need to warn you that there is the occasional swearing and some immodest clothing. If you don't mind that though, it's a fun way to take a break for five minutes.

So take a break, regroup, then go back and give your babies the best you can. And, yes, even when they are fifteen, thirteen, twelve, ten, eight and six they are still my babies even though they don't like to be told that. I find a break always helps me to be able to get back to my responsibilities. Well, that and prayer. ~smile~


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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Library Time 25

I know I have not been posting this week. I have been hit by a head cold that just won't quit. I finally went to my naturopath. She gave me lots of good advice for things I can do to help my body strengthen my immune system. We both think that perhaps nursing a toddler who a) is quite large and b) shows little interest in solids is probably very hard on my body at this point. So I'm taking a tonic she gave me, drinking nettle tea (it's nutrient dense), getting serious about taking my supplements regularly, trying to get a little healthier in my food choices (when you don't feel well you tend to just eat what's quick and easy not necessarily what's best) and trying to get rest. For the rest I'm trying to take advantage of older children who can watch the little ones and just put my feet up more. I think the plan is working, and I hope to be back to a more regular schedule next week.
There was one nice day at the beginning of the week. I felt pretty good and was able to hang diapers on the line. Oh, how good that felt. They are so pretty. I'm holding on to this picture as a promise of warmer days to come.

 Of course, resting means I'm doing a little more reading. One book I really enjoyed this week was A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr. It's a fantasy which I'm not a huge fan of, but every once in a while I read one. This one did not disappoint. In fact, I've asked for the other two volumes in the series for Mother's Day. In this mystical kingdom evil has been held at bay for centuries because of the sacrifice made by the founding king. As long as there is an heir the kingdom is safe, but King Rodran is dying and he has no heir. What will happen now? How will evil be kept out of the kingdom?

15-year-old daughter - I recommended A Cast of Stones to my daughter, and she is currently enjoying it. I like it when we read the same books and can discuss their merits and/or downfalls.
13-year-old son - Apparently he didn't read much this week. He can't think of anything. ☺
12-year-old son - Blood and Iron: Building the Railway by Paul Yee. This must be a good one because both of my older boys have read it more than once. It's about building the Canadian railway in the 1800's.
10-year-old daughter - The Emily Carr Mystery by Eric Wilson
8-year-old daughter - Dolly Madison, Quaker Girl by Helen Albee Monsell. This is from the series "The Childhood of Famous Americans". They are easy chapter books. Reading them gives beginning readers a real sense of accomplishment. Many are still available but are in paperback. The ones I read growing up were hardback, and they are the ones we have been able to find used.
6-year-old son - Horton Hatches an Egg by Dr. Seuss
3-year-old son - The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Baby Boy - He as fallen in love with the book that my husband has read to all of our children when they are babies and toddlers (and sometimes beyond) - Teddy Bear's Fun to Learn First 1000 Words by Nicola Baxter. I think we are on our fifth copy of this book. It is a much beloved book. I gave the French version of it to my sister who married a man from Quebec so her children could share in the joy.


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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Breakfast Time - Coffee Cake

I think Coffee Cake was one of the first things I learned to bake. It is so easy. Three of my children can make it and do so on a regular basis. There are many, many variations but we generally just stay with our original recipe. We enjoy it that much. Sometimes one of the children will make it the night before. In the morning we can just pop it in the oven and have a fresh baked goodie and no mess for breakfast. Add some scrambled eggs and a nice cup of tea, and you have a nearly perfect breakfast.
Our recipe comes from Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book. This book came out in the '60's, I think. It was the cookbook my mom used when I was growing up. Shortly after I married my husband found a copy for me on eBay for $40. It looked like new. Let's just say it's seen a lot of use since then. ☺  So here's the recipe we use... 
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Grease a square pan. Mix sugar, butter and egg thoroughly. Stir in milk. Mix dry ingredients; stir in. Spread batter in pan. Sprinkle with desired topping. Bake at 375ยบ for 25 to 35 minutes (check with a toothpick). Serve warm. Makes 9 3" squares.

For a topping we scatter cut pieces of butter over the coffee cake and then sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top of that. As the butter melts during baking it pulls the sugar and cinnamon down through the coffee cake, and you have these wonderful pockets of sugary, buttery, cinnamony goodness.

Ready to eat. Tea in my favourite mug. Cake warm out of the oven. Now if only the children wouldn't be silly while we eat so I can savor every bite. Oh well, I'm sure I will miss all the silliness and noise someday.

Here are some coffee cake variations I found while surfing the net.

Rhu-Berry Crumb Coffee Cake
Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Peach Cobbler Coffee Cake
Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese Lemon Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake in a Mug
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Apple Coffee Cake
Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Strawberry Coffee Cake

Do you have a favourite coffee cake recipe?

Have you entered the giveaway?

To see all the posts in this series go here.

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Fall Sewing List - Update

Since I'm almost ready to make a sewing list for this spring and summer, I thought I'd give you an update on how I did with my fall list.

~ one dress each for my two youngest daughters - I actually ended up making two dresses for each of them. I made a set that matched and one that didn't.

~ an "anywhere" chair - a kind of portable high chair - I made two of these actually. One for my baby and one for a friend's. They didn't work as well as I wanted. I've thought of some modifications I just haven't gotten around to making another one yet.
The way the baby sits on part and the other part wraps around a chair back is what holds the baby, but you need the right kind of chair.

~ numerous gifts for New Years. Let me explain. We don't celebrate Christmas, but we do exchange gifts at New Years. We try to do homemade as much as possible which means that just helping my children make gifts for each other is thirty-six gifts. I try to keep them simple, but also help them to expand their skills. Even my boys have a very rudimentary knowledge of how to use a sewing machine. We have a lot of fun making these gifts. Sometimes we do some kind of an edible treat. I try to do a mix of skills.

I did a post on how this went. You can read it here.
~ felt popsicles - a busy bag idea - didn't get to this partly because it's an activity for learning colours and he knows them already so I didn't feel an urgency to do them.
~ a wallet for myself - or this
~ a different cover for my Kindle - or this
~ pajama pants for my second son - I actually ended up with pajama pants for my two oldest sons - but sorry no pictures ☺
~ a top for myself - This was one of the first projects I did.

~ car seat blanket - not sure why I wanted to do this, but anyway I didn't get to it.
~ 2-3 skillet handle pot holder - This I did and did a post showing how to do them.

 ~ floor pouf - This worked out well.

 ~ bag to carry my mei tai in - I didn't get to this either
~ slips for my two youngest daughters - did this
~ some bread bags - still on my list

I did do a couple of projects not listed here. Turning a sweater into leg warmers for my baby and sewing a cape that would cover both me and the baby when he is on my back. I don't think I have a picture of this, but we have used it quite successfully. I also took a folding chair that was ripped up and sewed a new back and seat. I also sewed some pouches for some sewing equipment and a cover for a small toy box.

So there were quite a few goals I didn't meet, but there were also a few things not on my list that I sewed. All together I would say it was a good fall/winter of sewing.