Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wild in the Rain: Gifts to GO!

There seems to be much more thought going into Christmas gifts lately and I love seeing it!  Do we really need or even want more toys?  I will always cherish my son's gift list the first Christmas he was really able to talk.  When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said, "I just want everyone to have a home."  Oh, my Mama heart!  Me too, Sweetheart!
Wait, are those musk ox, Canadian geese, and an emu holding up traffic?

And while there are things we do to give back to those in need in our community, and as much as I wish I could grant that request, we do want to get something special for our children.  I've really enjoyed this rhyme I hear popping up; "Something they want, something they need, something they wear, something they read."  What a practical and pleasantly limiting guide!  The one thing I might add, or blend into the "something they want" is somewhere to go, but I suppose that really throws off the rhythm of it!  

Last Christmas, my brother and his wife got our whole family tickets to Wildlife Safari, a game park about an hour south of us.  And it was SO much fun!  I felt like it was a gift, a mini-vacation, and a home school field trip all blended together!  The kids are all ready asking to go back again!  This was such a welcome gift!

Despite the rain, we saw such a variety of creatures from all over the world.  There was even a petting farm where the kids were able to pet and feed.  On the weekends, a train will take you through the park and it looked like there are always special animal encounters you can sign up for.  The little ones asked so many questions and I feel like we all learned a lot.  I highly recommend a visit if you get the opportunity!  

The joy of this trip and the memories made caused me to start brainstorming other potential non-stuff gifts we might consider in the future.  What would you add?

1. Zoo
2. Music lessons
3. Sports fees
4. Swimming lessons
5. Horseback ride
6. County/State park pass
7. Library card (for out-of-town dwellers)
8. Theme park
9. Art lessons
10. Museum admission

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cause for Thanks

They just keep getting bigger and more amazing!

Good news!  I have officially been able to renew my nursing license through Alaska!  During this sabbatical of being a full-time stay-at-home-mom, I found it was impossible to keep my Oregon license while not working full time.  I still don't know how I'm going to get it transferred when (if?) I do decide to go back to nursing, but I'll just cross one bridge at a time, I suppose!  So that time consuming hurdle has been overcome.  Also, our computer had been out of commission for quite some time (close to a year?) and my electronically genius of a brother was able to get it fixed so I can stop fighting a losing battle trying to blog from my lap top!  All that to say, I'm back to blogging!  Hooray!  I missed this!
Happy Thanksgiving from the adult table! =)
So, how was your Thanksgiving?  Ours was slightly more low key this year with just our immediate family, my parents and great uncle, and another family from our church.  With no other cousins in the family, I really appreciate having other kids around!  Isn't it nice when they can keep each other distracted and engaged!  Everything was pretty simple, lovely, and delicious thanks to many helpful hands.
Love seeing four generations (though not linear) learning together!

Right after the meal, I set the turkey carcass and leftover veggies to simmer in the slow cooker.  Two batches of bone broth later, it was time to clean up.  A couple scraps were scavenged for the dog, but as my daughter helped me pour the broth into the jars we uncovered the brittle bones.  

She was so fascinated and we had such a great time snapping them open to see the hollow interior of bird bones, the marrow where the red blood cells are made and the vertebrae.  There was even some spinal cord left so we brought her brother over to show how the cord went from the brain, through the spine and out to the rest of the body.  It ended up being a great science lesson!  You just never know where a lesson will pop up! =)

Happy discovering this week!

Colored utensil holders from most of those present at our feast!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Announcement: Art Portfolio Reveal!

    With one week to go before pitching my tent at the McKenzie Highland Games, I wanted to announce that I've opened my art portfolio as a separate page of this blog (look at the selection options to the right to find the link or click HERE!)  This is going to be a work in progress for a while, so please bear with me and let me know if you notice any glitches of have any suggestions!  I'll keep you posted on how the Games go!  Especially if you follow me on Instagram (@growwildmychild) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Apple Recipe Roundup: Updated!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Autumn!  I can't believe it's been a year since I really took off with this blog!  For those of you who have come along on the ride, you have my thanks! It sure has been a year of fun adventures and growth.

About this time last year, I was overwhelmed with the amount of apples our tree dropped and went a little apple crazy!  Well, it didn't really end and I've decided to update my apple round up post from last year to add in some of the many more I've tried since posting!  Here's where I'll take off:

(We have an apple tree in our back yard!) Free fruit!  Fruit was so precious in Alaska, we are kind of going crazy with all the fruit now.  I can’t stand to see any of it go to waste!  It is an old, untended tree that we have here, so it has been necessary to cut out the big bruises and insects.  Still, I have been making as many apple dishes as I can!  I wanted to share an apple round-up with you of some of the recipes I have been using this autumn.

1.       Dried apple chips: may be done in the oven or a dehydrator.  Or even strung on a thread and hung on the hearth if you want to do it the truly rustic way!  I followed this simply wonderful recipe and my huge batch disappeared in a matter of days.

2. Mountain Apple Dumplings.  The official recipe for this is up, but for my unedited (well-loved) version, zoom in on my recipe card below. 

3.       Apple Cider Vinegar:  well, except for the cider bit.  You just use the toss-away cores and skins instead!  This may not save time or much money, but how cool is it that you don’t have to throw away your cores or skins!  The homemade vinegar recipe can be found here in her creative post.  *Update: I'm not going to lie.  I've been struggling with this one and fruit flies.  I've tried boiling them first.  Anyone have any suggestions?
4.       Apple Crisp: This crisp has been my go-to this season and we’ve already made three batches!  Perfect combo of warm tart apples, and cinnamon, oat gooiness!

5.       Irish Apple Cake/Bread: Straight from the Emerald Isle, this lady’s concoction is sure to make you feel like you’re sitting at the comfort of a warm hearth on a soft morning.

6. Apple Cardamom Jam:  I made this for Thanksgiving last year and it was such a hit!  I still can't get a enough of it!  It's so unique, I've been giving it as gifts, too.  Although not necessary, I've added crab apples to this as well.

7. Smoothies: I suppose if you blended just apples, you'd end up with apple cider?  We tend to add in other fruits or berries, but the apples add such a great flavor and consistency.

8. Popsicles: You can use remnants of the smoothies to pour into popsicle molds for the hot, dog days of summer we seem to be experiencing now. 

9. Fruit Leather:  Again, you could use the same concoction as your smoothies, or just plain blended apple.  Pour on to dehydrator sheets and in about 4-6 hours you'll have your own fruit leather!  Love this for picnics!

10. Pectin: I'm always curious about how things USED to be done.  You know, before we could just run to the store and grab whatever we need.  Pectin is one that had stumped me for some time.  I know people have been making jellies and jams for some time, so HOW?  Anyway, I was pretty excited to figure this one out, and now, with only the help of the apple tree, I can make it for free! 
11. Shrunken Apple Heads: We made these for Halloween and they turned out great!  Although ours were just decoration, I've heard of others floating theirs in punch bowls!

12. Strawberry Hard Cider: This is my husband's latest endeavor and we're still awaiting the results, but isn't it lovely?

I have yet to find the perfect apple pie recipe, but I feel like that should be included in the list somewhere, too!  Anyone have any amazing favorites?
 And here's one last apple bonus: how to keep your apples from browning!

Oh, man, this is making my mouth water!  You can have your pumpkin spice!  I’ll take apple as my autumn flavor any day!  What will you be doing with your apples this year?  I hope you’ll get a chance to try some of these delectable delights during this time of changing seasons! 


Friday, August 26, 2016

Free Fish Windsock Printable

The leaves are turning colors! The temperatures are finally headed toward a comfortable range! Could it be that we're returning to autumn!? SO excited!

As promised, I wanted to share with you this free printable for our fish windsocks. The breeze has been just right for these lately! After the little ones saw a few of these in shop windows, they started begging us to get one. But we decided to do one better and make them ourselves! They loved making their fish exactly how they wanted them and even deciding where they wanted all the fins on the sides. All through the day they report on how quickly their fish are “swimming” through the winds!

As for method, simply color in the print out as desired and tape strips of streamer (crepe) paper along the bottom of the uncolored side.  Roll so short ends are just overlapped and tape down.  With a scissors or hole puncher, make two small holes just above each the eyes though which to tie off a length (mine was about 18") of yarn or string.  Then you may choose to tape on extra fins on the sides as my little ones did. 

To open the template to print, click on the photo below:

As I've had so much interest in my other Sunday School printables (see Babel and Daniel), I just couldn't help but think that this could make such a great project for a class, sometime. Although I haven't used it yet, I feel like there are so many stories you could tie in with fish: Jonah, the feeding of the 5,000, fishers of men, creation, the symbol of the early church. We're starting up our regular classes after the summer break, and now I really want to find a way to tie these in! =)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Homemade Pectin from Apple Scraps!

It has been one year now since we moved down to Oregon and I started up this blog.  Before we really knew anyone or got settled and I would stress about getting acquainted and involved.  One short year later and I often feel too busy and can't seem to arrange time to meet up with all the friends we really want to! Really good "problems" to have; just funny how life can change so quickly!

With these great berry pickers, we had loads of berries, berries for jam!
I remember this season last year, right after we moved into our rental (see that fun story here!) and the excess apples on the old tree behind the house began to fall.  Green and hard, they seemed to have little use.  This year, however, I found a wonderful use for them: Homemade fruit pectin!  Immature apples have a high concentration of natural pectin and are perfect for making your own for canning!  Forager's Harvest has a great description about the method of boiling down immature apples into pectin, but that's just about the gist of it: quarter apples (or even leave whole!), cover with water in a pan and boil it down!  American Prepper's Network and Mother Earth News also explain the same process as well as how to use your new pectin.
Baby Apples and the boiling process

I just used a standard strawberry freezer jam recipe from Land O' Lakes and it worked!  It gelled but I did have to boil it for a minute which the recipe didn't call for.  My only complaint is that it's VERY sweet.  I know that sugar to pectin ratio has to be just right, but my next mission is to find a recipe that comes out a little more fresh tasting and not quite so sugary! 

I just find it so fun to be able to use something that would go to waste to make something I would have to spend money on and use often!  Hope you can find these links to be of use as well!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fitting Exploration into Holiday Travel

(Warning: Photo Dump Below!)

Whew!  I think we've all recovered from the Fourth of July holiday!  We decided to make a trek up to my parents house  in Washington.  While we were out exploring, I told my husband that I didn't know how to work this into the blog, because I want to make sure that each post has something to offer you, the reader.  I just love his response: "Just share it!  Give encouragement to people to get outside and explore!"  I kinda, really love that man! =D

So without further ado, this is how our holiday travel went while enjoying some adventures, both outdoor and indoor. 

Day 1: The Drive:  So it doesn't take all day to drive up there, but it's 6-7 hours.  Given the time it takes to load and unload, it's basically a full day.  Thankfully now my little ones are doing so much better in the car, so we don't hear screaming the whole way.  When the fussing started, I'd just pull out another book, read it, then pass it back for them to re-peruse (lift the flap books are awesome!).  We'd try to take advantage of meals and gas stops to take a stretch break (or as the kids call them, shake breaks!)  Other than that, lots of dried fruit, I spy, singing and license plate tracking!   We got in with just enough time for the kids to play with a little, battery powered four-wheeler that my dad had received broken, but free and fixed it up.  That got the wiggles out!

Day 2: After a lazy morning, Josh and I borrowed my parents' jeep and headed up some mountain trails (holiday tip: you don't have to have/bring all the "toys."  Share and borrow what you can!)  It wasn't a clear day, but it was so gorgeous!  The ruggedness of the hills is so stark against all the foxglove blooming (my favorite!!!)  Josh was able to just reach out the door and pick me bouquets.

  We picked wild salmon berries and went for a small hike at the end of one of the trails.  At the very top we even ran in to another couple from Alaska, so naturally we had to stop and visit with them for a bit!

After we got back we loaded in the truck with my parents to hit the carnival.  Though it was a fairly small carnival, the kids were awestruck.  Our 5 year old enjoyed a few of the kiddie rides, but our 2 year old would only go on the carousel until we got to the Ferris Wheel.  Grandpa and Daddy went with them and even at the highest point you could see both of their faces beaming with delight and they excitedly waved to us every cycle!  What a treat! 

So fun to see familiar faces as well.  A former neighbor and her grown daughter also visiting from out of town, two mission trip coordinators and an former worship teammate let alone countless others that I couldn't quite place anymore. 

Day 3: My former church GAVE me a piano!  I'm so excited and grateful, but have no place to store it right now, so my dad is hanging on to it for me.  He, Josh, and my brothers moved it to their garage for now.  Boy, do I owe them cookies or what?  I just have to tease them that they'll forever be helping me move pianos!  (It may have happened a time or two before) 
First we had to stop by Wing's cabin and learn how the pot-bellied stove worked!

Ringing the church bell with Bampa

 Then the whole crew drove up to Bellingham to the Spark Museum.  If you ever get a chance, check it out.  A museum on the history of electricity, complete with a functioning Tesla Coil (I didn't remember what that was until we got there!)  I'm not a huge fan of electronics, but even I found much of this fascinating.  Just this history, if nothing else, and the beautiful detail they seemed to put into everything they did. 

We got back into town to visit my best friend from age 4 and her family and to barbeque and hang out in their new back yard.  Beautiful end to a busy day!  And I love that our kids feel like cousins!

Krista and I basically have this exact photo of us when we were this age!  Now it's our kids!

Day 4:  Church the next morning (same one I grew up in!) along with many more familiar faces.  Then lunch at the favorite spot  before the in-laws joined us for the logging show and chainsaw carving competition. 
Pole Climb

Day 5:  Independence Day!  Parade in the rain, then about 30 people came to the house for a get-together, fire crackers, and a ton of food.  Lots of playing in the  rain and dancing through the smoke! 

Day 6:  Home again, home again, jiggety jog.  When we hit bad traffic we just took old farm roads.  Better moving the long way through beautiful scenery than stuck in stress and traffic. 

I'm so grateful for my family, but I know for some staying with family can be a difficult time if they are not accustomed to spending much time outside.  I think, especially during a visit to see someone, relationships take priority.  Be with those you've come to be with.  But if the opportunity arises to get everyone out and see something new, maybe it could benefit all!