Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Crafting our Home

Our window nook

Hello Dear Friends!

First off welcome again to all the new followers here from my current Nova Natural Giveaway  on facebook, pinterest, and google +. I find it immensely amusing just how connected I am now. I tend to be pretty regular on FB and pinterest (which is where I do the bulk of our home school planning). However Google + is growing on me. 

I do however take frequent black out computer breaks for media fasting and meditative purposes. Trust me, it's good for the soul :)

I thought I'd share a little bit more of our new home with you all. We moved to Willows Oaks back in mid-December from our house on Blount Point. We're renters and have been for the past 6 years. I have a hard time making a new place a home, especially since I feel like I just have to pack it up and leave every few years. But more and more as I have been in this new place, I have tried to make it ours. To breathe life into it. I find if I don't do this, then I begin to dislike my surroundings a bit. And that just won't do if your surroundings are where you work, teach, and spend most of your time. 



Rainbow heart mobile I made for our window nook

There has also been a neat series that my church has been doing on work, not just career work, but all work (including that of a homemaker). And more specifically that our work, regardless of what it is, should be an act of worship done in love for your creator (or if you don't believe in a higher power I think doing it out of love for your family and yourself is also very appropriate). 

So over the past few months and weeks I have been thinking more about this work of homemaking. Most of the little touches I add to our home are crafted (another act of worship and a reflection of creation that my Creator has endowed in me IMO). And so as I walked around today and snapped photos of our home, my work, my worship- well it was a very sweet reflective time. 

Rahima Baldwin Dancy talks about how the work of a homemaker and caretaker (female or male) is devalued in today's society. I feel that this sentiment is pretty prevalent as well. Real work = money, and well last time I checked I didn't receive a paycheck last month for staying at home. I also don't think many take into consideration mothers and fathers who do work and then come home to work a second shift taking care of the children, cooking, cleaning after a long day away. Not to mention those who do this alone without helpmates... you're angels in disguise.

I applaud all of you who do this work, at home or away. If you haven't heard in awhile that the work you do for your children and your home is vitally important, well it truly is. The work of keeping a home and raising little ones who will thrive in their environment and unfold there is immensely important and beautiful. 



I hope this post finds you all well! Do you have bits of your home to share? I'd love to see them. Do you feel your work around the home is an act or worship? 


Until next time,
Love and Light-
Nicole

I love this one too much to take it down- it's in our dining room! 

Our last remaining preserves from last year (apple butter, peach, and blueberry!! 

A favorite quote

Another little nook in our living room with a sweet photo and quilt for the kids

My all time favorite photos from my summer in Morocco and Europe! 

A watercolor that Jonas did that I love

Our weekly planner

In our kitchen

Linking up this week with Frontier DreamsMagic OnionsNatural Suburbia, and Crafty Moms Share and a few others! Please check out my 'where I party' page! 



Monday, July 15, 2013

And the winner is....


Thank you everyone who entered! It was a small, but fun giveaway! Thank you Emily for making these sweet little sets!

The winner is:
True Random Number Generator  1#Powered by RANDOM.ORG
#1: Andrea G"A lovely set!  Would be great for the kiddo's to play with. . ."
Congrats Andrea! Please send me an email at nicoleandcraigkleemann@gmail.com and I will get your set out to you this week! 
Come back later today to check out my next giveaway for this week :) It's from one of my favorite places, Nova Natural!

Friday, July 12, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment}
A Friday ritual birthed by Soulemama. 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.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .


Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blueberries for Sal :: July Circle Time





I hope you all had a lovely weekend. We sure did! The kids and I headed down to Virginia Beach, my hometown, to spend some time with my mother and brother at the beach. We all had a great time and came home happy and tired! I however got too much sun, but that's old news. I'm casper and my kids well they're well bronzed year round. Oy! 

 I digress though... (the sun must have gotten to me). Today we started back up with circle time after a week long break while Craig's grandparents were in town for the 4th. Like I mentioned in my last post, our monthly theme is berry picking and our main book is Peter in Blueberryland. Last month's theme was oceans and Curious Fish was our main book. However I also like to add in a few related stories. Sometimes I read them, other times I act them out with puppets of dolls. For this story I blended in Sal, form the book Blueberries for Sal, with the blueberry and blackberry gnomes we have. 

Our Sal was the little blue peg person. 
When Sal first got to the berry patch all but one bush was hidden. The berry gnomes had hidden it with their magic to see if she would gently pick the bush gently and be kind to it. After the gnomes saw that Sal was a kind hearted girl, all the other bushes magically appeared! Sal was able to pick as many berries as her basket would hold.

After we finished that little play I then read 'Blueberries for Sal'. I think my favorite part was when we got to the end and Sal and her mother were canning, Jonas cried out "WE DO THAT MOMMY". Yes Jonas, yes we do. 

Ah I love our little lives, even on the tired grumpy days. This is why I blog. This is why I keep this place positive. Because my dear friends today was overall not the best of our days. But thinking back to our sweet circle time. To Brynna's first painting. To Jonas' sweet and excited outburst. Well it really puts everything into perspective. It affirms why we do this. It keeps me focused on the larger work at hand rather than the rough patches on the way. 

Well dear friends, I hope your Mondays were lovely!! I will be back tomorrow with a giveaway. 

What are you up to this month? Do you have any favorite berry books? how do you do circle time? Also why do you blog, if you do?

Love and light,
Nicole

Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!







Linking up this week with Frontier DreamsMagic OnionsNatural Suburbia, and Crafty Moms Share and a few others! Please check out my 'where I party' page! 









Saturday, July 6, 2013

Weekending :: Yorktown Beach

I am really enjoying my new camera!


We're off to Virginia Beach this weekend to visiting my mother and brother. I am so excited to see them and to work in some beach and hopefully surfing time. 

I wanted to leave you with some photos of our recent weekend adventure to Yorktown beach. We try to spend lots of time outdoors when we're all together. That night was one of those nights that I just didn't want to end. It was idyllic and beautiful. It is in those moment I try to slow down and remembering how fleeting this ages is and our kids. 

Craig and I will, God willing, spend the rest of our lives together and for most of those years the kids will not be young and in our home as they are now. I find myself on hard days slipping into the 'I want this stage to be over' but I have to quickly remind myself that the hard moments are just that 'moments'. I will not remember them when they're grown. I know myself well enough to know that I will miss them. So being in the present and enjoying all of it has been a new tenant of mine as of late. 

If you have any moments like this, please share! How do you draw yourself out of them? How do you spend family time together? I'm truly interested! 

Until next time, 
Nicole

Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!






Deirdre lost her first tooth!








Linking up this week with Frontier DreamsMagic OnionsNatural Suburbia, and Crafty Moms Share and a few others! Please check out my 'where I party' page! 




Friday, July 5, 2013

And the winner is...


True Random Number Generator  68Powered by RANDOM.ORG

The Winner Is: #68 :: Anonymous 
I'm a new follower! I've been a lurker for awhile. Thanks for the chance. I love your sharks. 

mollysmith221@yahoo.com

~~~
Thank you everyone who entered!! Please email me mollysmith221@yahoo.com in 48 hours so I can get your figures out to you! If not, I will pass it along to someone else to be fair!

Next week I will announce another one of my favorite things giveaway. This tiem it will be from Nova Natural! If you're interested in sponsoring a giveaway on my blog please email me at nicoleandcraigkleemann at gmail dot com. 

Love and Light,
Nicole


Don't forget to enter our fairy garden giveaway going on until 7/14!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

July, July and Blueberry Cream Pie!




Hello sweet friends and welcome new ones! I have wanted to comment on each and every new follower on my giveaway post- but I don't want to mess with the random number generator! So welcome to you all. I really truly mean it when I say that you all are my online village. I have made many true and dear friendships with wonderful Mamas across the globe through this blog. And for that I am so thankful. 

Part of me can't believe that it's July already. Midsummer almost for us. We celebrate our season's change that the beginning of the month. It simplifies my planning and is easier for the children to grasp at their ages. So all of June was summer for us, making July smack dab the middle of summer. 

These middle season months are fun for us. They really embody the season. The transition is over and all the truisms of summer are present in July. And let me tell you, here in Virginia it feels like summer. Hot, humid, bug-filled summer. But with that are also so many things we love. 

The kids are getting used to sweating again. Late afternoons lightning shows. Firefly catching. Ice cream eating. Swimming, swimming, and more swimming. Oh, I do love summer. 

Most of all I love the fruit! Deirdre tracks, and has tracked, our summer procession by what fruit is coming into season. Here in Virginia it's, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, peaches, plums, blueberries, raspberries, pears, and to begin autumn- Apples! 


So for our circle time this July our theme will be U-Pick! Our main book will be Peter in Blueberry Land!

We will read it the whole month and do various puppet plays (just like we did with Curious Fish last month here- we do this every month throughout the year with one linchpin seasonal book and verse.) Then each week I will cycle in other books for just that week like Jamberry,
  and Blackberry Mouse
We will keep our summer verse that we have here until September, since that way the kids will learn it well and have a good seasonal continuity. 

We also in lieu of doing extra crafts this month will spend more time berry picking, canning, freezing, and baking. Oh the baking I do in the summer! I miss canning as well. We were pretty low on preserves until strawberry season. As for cherry season, I just baked 2 pies and then froze the rest- and well let's be honest we *ahem* I ate my weight in cherries! No wonder that season is so quick here!

So dear friends I am going to leave you with two recipes, one for my blueberry preserves that I make and the other for blueberry cream pie. I sub in other berries in the pie too and that seems to work just fine as long as you keep it to only 3 cups of berries. No one likes a messy oven from a pie overflowing! 

So what are you all planning this month? Do you like picking berries? What kind of stories do you read to your kids in the summer?

Love and Light, 
Nicole


Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!





Blueberry Preserves

Adapted from Against All Grain

Ingredients 
(fills one 8 ounce jar)

3 cups blueberries (thawed or fresh)

3/4 cup local honey (you can use more or less depending on how tart your berries are)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Place the blueberries in a medium sized sauce pan and use a food mill to mash them






Add the honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir frequently while the mixture boils for 15-20 minutes and it starts to thicken. The best way to test if it’s done is to put a spoonful in the freezer for 5 minutes. If it won’t easily pour off of the spoon when you remove it from the freezer, then it’s done.



Skim off any foam, then ladle the jam into a sterilized jar. Then you can either can and seal them or store them tightly covered in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freezer. If you freeze them then leave extra head room in the jars. They expand when you freeze them!



Enjoy!


Blueberry Cream Pie

Adapted from Gingerbread Bagels


Pie Crust (from America’s Test Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch

pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
and chilled
4-6 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)

Filling
3 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumb Topping
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2  cup rolled oats
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

Instructions
Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add chilled shortening and pulse until coarsely ground. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons water over flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir mixture until dough forms. If dough remains crumbly, add remaining 1 tablespoon water. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and aluminum foil, for up to 2 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before using.)

Let chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie plate. Trim, fold, and crimp edges. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

While crust is firming up, work on the filling. In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and flour. Add in the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Take the pie out of the freezer and put the blueberries on the bottom of the crust. Pour the filling over the blueberries and spread it out.

Now make the crumb topping. Mix together the sugar, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Pour the melted unsalted butter into the bowl and mix everything together. Add in the flour and mix until the ingredients form a crumble topping. Crumble the crumb topping over the pie.


Bale pie for 30-40 minutes at 400. Place in refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes after it's done baking until set. 

Enjoy!






Linking up this week with Frontier DreamsMagic OnionsNatural Suburbia, and Crafty Moms Share and a few others! Please check out my 'where I party' page!