27 February, 2014

YESTERDAY

Yesterday felt like Spring. The sun was bright, the air's breath was hot, and we each took our fill of vitamin D until the clouds came in and we needed food.

I love taking my littles out with no intention because we just feel so free. There's zero structure and stresses roll away and the biggest rule is to not get run over by bicycles. 

We tend to laugh and scream a lot and there's plenty of racing and chasing; their innocence brings me to tears.






Thankful today for life and health and love and provision. Happy Thursday, guys.

25 February, 2014

BALLOON CREATURES

Yesterday the littles and I made these balloon creatures-- balloons filled with dried beans, grains, and seeds. They make great little beanbags for tossing into baskets, playing catch, or kneading with little hands, and filling them alone was almost more excitement than the littles could handle.


Ideally, one would have a funnel to do this, but we didn't, so I held the balloons open and Sebastian and Katharina filled them using a measuring spoon (the blanket did need shaken out afterwards).



We filled ours with wheatgrass berries, pinto beans, orzo, long grain rice, quinoa, and popcorn kernels. You can use whatever you like. The quinoa was my favourite.

After we tied them shut, we drew faces on them-- bumblebees, a fly, a butterfly, lion, mouse, flower, smiley face. . .


When we were finished we made a game of seeing who could toss the most into a basket; Sebastian won by a long shot.

24 February, 2014

HELLO, MONDAY & AN UPDATE.

Hello, over there. I realise it's been a long time since updating, but all is well.

Our weekend was great, and this sweet, sweet Monday has exceeded just tolerable. 

The children are thriving. Sebastian and Katharina are asking questions and learning at an almost unfathomable pace; we never cease praying we can keep up with them and continue to develop their sense of wonder and excitement and discovery. Katharina has been potty trained for about a month now and Sebastian appears to be training himself. It's only a matter of days before our diaper bill decreases significantly. 


Philippa says loads of words and some two-word combinations, her favourite colour is still blue, she loves bringing us her coat and shoes and asks 'on?'. Dogs make her squeal.

Peter's agenda is quite full, but he's nearly always home for dinner and the rich family time we've been having blesses my socks off.  He spends, on average, several hours each day counselling students through mid-uni relationship crises or helping students with CVs, covering letters, and applications for prospective jobs. He's especially looking forward to some r+r over spring break (he deserves it).

I am well, and feeling blessed upon blessed for this wee family I have and my husband who makes me staying home with our children possible. I was out until the wee hours of the morning Friday and Saturday nights and spent most of Sunday after church snoozing in bed. I'm still digging deep into the study of natural medicine, feeding my family real, whole foods, and reading books & watching Youtube photography tutorials on the side.

It only seems fitting that updates should have a paragraph dedicated to the weather. For those who are wondering-- the sunshine is glorious today.  Something about not seeing it every day makes me appreciate it all the more.

Speaking of sunshine, we leave for Cyprus in 18 days. Who would have guessed that Americans living in Scotland potentially cannot return to Scotland if they exit Cyprus via the Turkish North, and flying into the Greek South poses its own issues as you attempt to rent a car and drive it into the Occupied Area (read: across the border). Nevertheless, we've conquered the complications of a divided country and have obtained a lovely villa in a hilltop village inhabited by just 150 Maronites.
We're looking forward to picking whatever is in season-- oranges, lemons, grapefruit, olives, or carobs-- straight from our own trees. Katharina is most excited about donkey rides in the village and Sebastian would like to take a boat ride. Philippa hopes she can sleep on the plane.

Thats all on us for now.  Have a lovely Monday!

8/52




Sebastian Grey// visiting with the neighbourhood's three-legged cat.
Katharina McCallum// fascinated by swans at the harbour.
Philippa Byrde// two of her favourite things-- baby Penelope and Lovey.

Linking up with Ashlee and Kristin.

23 February, 2014

SPICED BANANA WALNUT MUFFINS [GRAIN-FREE]

The littles and I made these muffins last week and they are delicious, fantastic, and so easy! I love that all the ingredients get thrown into the blender, pour the batter, pop them in the oven, and voila!

I also love that, except for the tiny bit of pure honey, the bananas are what sweeten these muffins. 

Sebastian operated the blender's buttons and knobs, Katharina poured the milk, flour and spices, and Philippa carefully handed us the eggs; their hard work was rewarded with a hot muffin after nap time.

Next time I'll be sure to have the walnuts on hand, and I'll fill the cups more to get bigger muffins. But we'll make these again and again.


Spiced Banana Muffins via Mommypotamus
makes 1 dozen large muffins

6 free-range eggs
4 tablespoons organic butter
4 tablespoons whole milk
4 tablespoons honey
4 large, ripe bananas

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
optional: 1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF.

In food processor or blender mix eggs, butter, milk, honey, bananas, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. 

Add coconut flour and baking powder to blender; blend until smooth.

Add walnuts and pulse until nuts are bite-sized.

Pour batter into 12 large, greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

19 February, 2014

SOUR HEART GUMMIES

Ever since making those sour gummies, I had been contemplating what it would take to make different colours and flavours, perhaps even with real fruit.  So here is take II, very similar and just as easy.

Still slightly tart, with bits of berry pulp and seeds, they can be packed in the diaper bag or school lunches without turning gooey, and of course they taste great.


Sour Gummy Hearts

1/2 cup frozen berries
1/3 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons gelatine
1 teaspoon local honey (ours were still quite tart, if you prefer them sweeter, add more)

Cook down berries in small sauce pan and puree in blender (or a potato masher will work fine as well). Return to sauce pan and add lemon juice, gelatine, and honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until gelatine is dissolved.

Pour into 8x8" baking dish and allow to set in fridge. Once firm, cut out shapes with tiny cookie cutters (ours were about 1").

Keep in a jar in the fridge.

17 February, 2014

7/52




Sebastian Grey// is becoming more and more fascinated with the sun, moon, and stars.
Katharina McCallum// has her first hair appointment this week.
Philippa Byrde// likes to knock down towers and tear up train tracks like a little tornado.

Linking up with Kristin and Ashlee.

16 February, 2014

A SATURDAY


Yesterday the littles and I took a trip to feed the ducks and run a couple errands while Peter got a head start on some projects.  

Philippa caught right on, with Sebastian as a guide, and Katharina spent most of the time chasing the ducks down to try to get them to eat out of her hand. After visiting the ducks we ran into the neighbourhood's three-legged cat, and after that we met a couple that rescued barn owls and offered to let "the bairns" pet them.

These three are the greatest around and I'm so thankful I get to spend my days with them.






Happy Sunday, everyone. We have some fun things planned for this week. Be sure to pop by tomorrow to see this week's portraits. You can see last week's here

I'm off to snuggle with Mr Hopkins.

15 February, 2014

VALENTINE'S + A FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE TART

Valentine's was super special this year. I suggested staying in and cooking one of our favourite meals after our littles were in bed, and Peter happily agreed when I told him what I was thinking of making.

As yesterday evening turned out, Peter selflessly ended up cooking dinner for us and we ate by candlelight in our living room with a fire blazing in the fireplace. We had great conversations and finished off the night with chocolate tart and a movie.

We feasted on a Julia Child recipe (recipe to come) and I made the same flourless chocolate tart that I made last year. We haven't eaten it again since last Valentine's, but it was just as incredible as we remembered. Also, this 9" tart goes a long way as it is so rich.

The recipe comes from one of my very favourite cookbooks Simple Pleasures by Cornelia Guest. The book is beautifully divided by seasons and has flower and decorating suggestions for each. All of the recipes are vegan, though I sometimes change things based on what we have (i.e. our tart had organic cow's milk instead of dairy-free milk).

The photos in this book are gorgeous and all the recipes we've tried have been delicious. I cooked from this a lot last winter and am planning to pull more recipes from it this Spring, especially as I feel my body desiring meat and eggs less and less.


Flourless Chocolate Tart adapted from Cornelia Guest's Simple Pleasures

16 ounces nondairy semisweet or dark chocolate
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup cane sugar
4 tablespoons vegan "butter" (I used organic butter)
2 cups nondairy milk (I used organic cow's milk though almond would be great)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour for the Brits)
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

Pulverize pecans, walnuts, and sugar in food processor. Add butter and process until a thick batter forms.

Press batter into a 9- or 10-inch tart pan and bake 10  minutes, or until crust is golden.

Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.

In saucepan, heat milk over medium heat to scalding but not boiling. While milk is heating, combine cornflour and water in small bowl. This is the thickener.

Add melted chocolate to hot milk, and whisk to combine thoroughly. Whisk in thickener and stir well.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture will thicken.

Pour into baked tart shell and chill for at least 2 hours or over night.

12 February, 2014

THE AIR

The littles and I spent all of this morning wandering around town, but when we left the house I didn't realise it was only in the 30's. 


Our destination was the Harbour, because we've only been there a few times this year since moving to the other end of town and it is possibly my favourite place in St Andrews.

We said some words to the swans while Sebastian told us the type of each boat and Philippa pointed to the water.

None of us could feel our toes and we talked the whole walk home about having hot berry tea and rice cakes and cucumbers when we got inside.




But the cold is invigorating, the air is salty and fresh, and being outside here just feels healthy. Sometimes I wonder if I'll lose my toes from the cold but then it melts away the second I step in our heat-box house and I'm left with a comforting warmth coupled with consuming exhaustion. Rewarding, fulfilling. 

Every inhale is fresh, salty air that cleanses my lungs and revives my soul. It's hard to be bothered by anything when I'm walking in this air. It just feels different than any air I've breathed. Even in the blowing rain it's quite something and the littles are learning to just laugh at it as they choke on gusts of heavy winds.




Nearly frozen, we got to the bottom of the thirty stairs outside our house and we all sighed. I tried to tell the biggest ones that it would warm them up to climb, and so they did, and I got to the top with the baby on my hip and found the door locked and I had no key to open it.


I turned around to breathe but I wish I'd said a prayer for patience, and there was Peter walking through the gate. Somehow he always knows when I need him most because he is always there. I explained the simple situation and he calmly squeezed the littles as he tried to warm them, checked the back door, and called maintenance for a spare key. We waited. The littles cried about cold noses but the excitement had me sweltering-- ever since I started breastfeeding my body temperatures have seemed so extreme. I buried my chilled hands in my deep coat pockets and there it was-- a ring of two small keys.


So we unlocked the doors and laughed while the kids cried harder because we weren't waiting for the maintenance man after all, and they were cold. Did I mention they were "so freezin'"?


We filled tummies and thawed toes in front of a big, blowing heater and now it's nap time and it's just me in this quiet old house. The sky is low and heavy with rain and the wind is roaring but the fire beside me is louder.

Life is so full-- of heartache and sadness and colds walks in bitter winds and rain. But it's full of other things too, a lot fuller. New mercies, provision, grace in abundance, faithfulness, steadfast, redeeming love. I shall not be in want.

In the time I've taken to write this the rain has picked up to a fierce blowing so that it's hard to see out the windows. It's wild and glorious and I don't think we'll leave the house for quite some time.

10 February, 2014

10 ON 10 // FEBRUARY


Today I'm linking up with other bloggers doing a '10 on 10' project: ten photos on the tenth of the month.  It's been so fun, and similar to 'a photo an hour' as it gives you a wee glimpse into our day. Be sure to check out Hannah's 10 on 10 this month.











1. the five of us eat three dozen eggs per week  2. visiting the ducks  3. ducks-- possibly her favourite animal  4. asking if he could catch a pigeon  5. watching motorcycles drive by  6. a very lazy lunch  7. new spring clothes  8. one of my other children, and almost as demanding  9. out-of-focus selfie  10. Pippa was here.

09 February, 2014

6/52





Sebastian Grey// had a scary dream about a fish this week.
Katharina McCallum// she is potty trained (!!!)
Philippa Byrde// says "no more" when she doesn't think my voices are funny.

Linking up with Ashlee and Kristin.

07 February, 2014

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER + CHORIZO RISOTTO

This dish I came up with myself though I am certain things like it do exist. This was an attempt to do more with risotto than squash and feta and it's turned out to be quite a hit. We rarely have leftovers.

And even though risotto isn't quick to prepare, I do think it's delicious and find it worth every 40 minutes of hands-on care it requires.




Roasted Cauliflower + Chorizo Risotto

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil, or butter for roasting, more for sautéing 
1 med onion, chopped
1 1/2 pints vegetable stock
300g risotto
200g spanish chorizo, sliced and quartered
sea salt + black pepper to taste
grated parmesan, as garnish

Preheat oven to 220ºC/400ºF.

Slice chorizo ring and chop each slice into quarters. Set aside.

Finely chop onion and add to olive oil in heated frying pan. Sauté on med-low heat until clear and nearly golden.  Add risotto and toss until each grain is coated in olive oil. 

In sauce pan, heat vegetable stock until simmering. 

Meanwhile, toss cauliflower in olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and just crispy.

Slowly add stock, one ladleful at a time, to the onion and risotto, keeping at med-low heat. Once stock is absorbed, continue adding ladlefuls one at a time until stock is gone. Stir in chopped chorizo and roasted cauliflower.

Sprinkle each bowl with parmesan and serve immediately.

03 February, 2014

5/52





Sebastian Grey// a new favourite activity is scaring the girls like a tiger. And drawing snakes.
Katharina McCallum// says she can do her own hair now.
Philippa Byrde// insists she's 28 months too.


Linking up with Ashlee and Kristin.