23 February 2011

"Did you ever have your likeness taken?"

I feel like reading Jane Austen today.  I'm too busy to read the funnies in the paper, let alone Jane Austen.  Sad for me.  I often wish that I were more refined, that I could spend my day taking walks in the garden. Sitting, with perfect posture, doing needlepoint. Organizing dinner parties.  Why does she portray such a life as so glamorous and wonderful?  I want it!

Eli is developing his skills in order to become a proper gentleman.  He has taken to, lately, drawing true likenesses of people.  Is it wrong to want to keep each and every thing he draws?  He is amazing, honestly.

And, just as Mr. Elton said of Emma's likeness of Harriet: "I never saw such a likeness!"  It's true, this is Facebook profile picture worthy!  Not that his art needs explanation, but just in case you are not as artistically inclined as my sweet boy, this is a picture of me riding my horse, Natasha.
He asked, "Mommy, how many arms do horses have."
"They have four legs."
"Is that four?"
"No, that's six."
"I don't matter about that, Mommy."
Please note my favourite features: the horse's carrot-like nose, my bowed legs, my giant hands with a dozen fingers on each one, and the fact that the horse and I are both wearing cowboy hats. 

I'm thinking of opening up a booth at the mall where people can pay us for Eli to quickly draw a picture of them.  His abilities are so sharp that he didn't even need a picture of the horse, he just knew what she looked like.  So, in your next family picture someone is missing, send it Eli's way and he will just draw in your brother on a mission, or your sister who had to work late, or even the dead family dog... especially the dead family dog!

21 February 2011

Raw Muesli

I spent the entire weekend talking RAW.  Okay, I've spent most of the last 8 weeks talking raw, but this weekend I did it especially.  Janice Skoreyko of RAW Foundation, the woman who got me hooked back in December when I went to her Intro to Raw class, was back in town.  She taught a Raw Dessert class (absolutely incredible - yes, you do want to come over to my house!) another Intro to Raw, and then a five hour Intro to Raw Immersion class.  Honestly, I keep saying that I am NOT a true raw foodist, that I don't plan on doing this forever, but every time I listen to this woman speak I am convinced that this is the best way to live.  And truly, the proof is in the pudding: after 8 weeks of living raw we are feeling incredible, shedding weight healthily and easily, and we are not deprived in the least.  We eat as much as we want of whatever we want.  Chocolate cake for breakfast???  No problem!  Seven apples throughout the day? Go for it. Fruit pizza for dinner?  Absolutely!  We are having fun, feeling empowered, and don't go anywhere where someone doesn't ask what we are doing, because we are looking so great!  Janice has given me even more tools to make this journey fun and exciting.

Apparently my expertise in raw food has been focused on breakfast-type foods: granola, blueberry crackers, and today you get MUESLI!!!

Again, completely delicious.  This one doesn't need a dehydrator, and gives you all the benefits of raw, living food.  Eli and Silas eat it up every morning.  Never again will I buy boxed cereal, for this fills the craving.

It's this easy:

Raw Muesli

4 cups Hulled Oats, soaked overnight (you could even sprout them for even more nutrition) and rolled
1 cup raisins
1 cup currents
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup mullberries
1/2 cup goldenberries

1. Place 4 cups of hulled oats in filtered water overnight.  Rinse.  Run through a hand grain mill (available for under $50, and provides fresh oatmeal any time! We have a Norpro Grain Grinder.)
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
3. Top with almond milk (or other nut milk) and maple syrup to taste and ENJOY!

This muesli freezes very well, not clumping together or anything, so you can just open the bag you have it frozen in and scoop out enough for your breakfast each morning. And don't be constrained by what I put in it, just put in whatever dried fruit or other goodies you have.  Just raisins would be fine.  If you like apricots, throw those in.  Really, as Janice would say, be your own raw food alchemist!

Silas digging in, with his green smoothie sitting next to him.

Eli is really a lot more excited about his muesli than he is showing here, I promise.

20 February 2011

Chunky Monkey Bonnet

One thing I love about crafting: the connection it gives me with Grandmas all over the world. I have yet to meet one I cannot impress with my admiration of their handicrafts.  I once had a wonderful old woman tell me that she never looked at patterns when she knit and crocheted because she could just sit down and figure it out herself.  At that point I didn't understand. I couldn't comprehend what years of knits and purls could add up to.  There was no way I would ever be able to just sit down and come up with anything other than a badly formed washcloth!

Yet, just a few years after really embracing my inner grandma, I am beginning to see her point.  I specialize in hats, often made for small humans, and I've made most of the patterns I've seen and like.  So, my inner artist (and sometimes even my deeply hidden inner mathematician) and I've begun to really enjoy the fine art of pattern making.  If I only had more money, I would probably spend a lot more time doing it.  Unfortunately, after I've knit or crocheted an entire project, even if it isn't quite right, I have a hard time justifying pulling it out and starting all over again, or buying a new skein just to get it right.

One pattern I haven't been able to find is a cute crocheted bonnet.  There are so many cute knit ones, but I wanted one I could whip up super quickly with chunky yarn that was still darling.  I also wanted to try a new stitch, so I added the "Roll Stitch" which I found in an ancient crochet book.  While not perfect, I think the result is pretty darn cute:

Chunky Monkey Easter Bonnet


Fleece Artist Big Merino (100% Merino; 136 yards per 125g ball)
Crochet Hook US J/6 mm
Tapestry needle
11 sts = 4"; 7 rows = 4" in dc  
Use any size hook to obtain the gauge.
You can use any yarn and hook you choose, just adjust the number of stitches to make the appropriate size bonnet

dc = double crochet
sc = single crochet
roll = roll stitch: yarn over 10 times, place hook into stitch and draw a loop through.  Yarn over and pull loop through all loops on hook.  Chain 1 to secure.


Chain 45 leaving a long end for seaming.

Row 1: Double crochet in 3rd chain from hook and in each chain across - 43 dc
Row 2: Chain 2 (counts as dc here and throughout), turn; dc in each stitch across
Row 3-11: Repeat Row 2
Next row: Chain 3; roll stitch in every other stitch across (see pattern notes)
Last row: Chain 1; sc in 1st stitch and in each st across. DO NOT fasten off

Fold bonnet in half, and using the end from the initial chain, seam up the base chain. Fasten off.
To make ties: Picking up working yarn, chain 30 (away from the bonnet).  Sc in 2nd chain from hook and in each chain across (back towards bonnet).  Sc evenly across the bottom of the bonnet. Chain 30 once you get to the opposite side of bonnet.  Sc in 2nd chain from hook and in each chain across.  Fasten off once you reach the bonnet again and weave in all ends.

17 February 2011

I'm speechless... well, Silas is, anyway.

Words can't even describe how much I love this kid. Just take a look at his absolute cuteness! Although he hasn't yet said a single word, he has no problem at all communicating.  He loves his big brother (despite the constant assaults) and he loves to do just exactly what everyone else is doing.  Today Eli and Andy were dressing up and Silas brought me his costume.   "Uhhh!?" he said.  That means, "Will you please put this Buzz Lightyear costume on me, mommy?"  So I did and I got a "Uhhh!?" Which means, "Thanks mom.  Don't you think I look wonderful?  Don't you want to take a picture of me? Don't you want to blog about me?"  How could I not, really?

And here's one of the three musketeers.  I love how "cool" Andy is being.

14 February 2011

Killing Myself With Romance

While Jared and I are definitely madly in love, we are not really big on the gushy, romantic stuff.  We have often decided to forget about birthdays, or we just go out and buy our own presents and then call them our birthday present.  I bought Jared a pretty awesome mic for his birthday this year that I caught a quick glimpse of after he bought it for himself.  What a good wifey I am!  Last year we celebrated our 6th anniversary in Cody, Wyoming, where we only realized it was our anniversary halfway through the day when I was signing a guest book at a museum and noticed the date at the top of the page.  I yelled out the door to where Jared and the boys were lassoing fake cows "Oh Jared, happy 6th anniversary."  That was it.  Six years.  Yeah!  Don't worry, we manage to show our love for each other in many other ways. It has been six wonderful years!

Anyway, today is Valentines Day, a day we have always neglected more even than our anniversary.  I think Jared has brought home flowers a few years, which I dearly appreciate, and once he made me macaroni with an octopus hotdog on top (loved it!), which we ate on our china, but that's about it.  This year I really put myself out there and made Jared these. 

Okay, the truth of the story is that I made ones just like these for Jared for Christmas two years ago.  He never wore them, for he lost them.  This year for Valentine's Day Jared actually made these himself. I did go out of my way to find and buy the supplies all over again for them, I just didn't get it together enough to put them together, so Jared did it for me.  Call it his Valentines gift for me!  Love, true love!

They are authentic old typewriter keys.  I bought the keys and the cuff link posts of Etsy and epoxied them together.  I just love the look of men in cuff links, and so have decided to start Jared collection of them off with some personal, pretty awesome ones. I think the next ones I make will be Lego or Scrabble pieces.

Happy Valentines all!

13 February 2011

A Baby Sweater, Finished at Last

Lately I have been making a concerted effort to finish projects before I start too many more.  This one I started while I was pregnant with Silas, and I got all the way through the body and halfway through one arm. 

Last week while I was teaching my sister-in-law how to knit I picked it up again and finished the first arm, knit the other and tonight I seamed it all together.  It really is darling.  Too bad for Silas, but at least my next child will be able to enjoy it! 

If you're interested I got the pattern from Knit Simple Magazine, Fall 2007, which I picked up on a sale rack for a buck.  Love it!

Blueberry Buckwheat Crackers

One thing I miss while on this Raw Food adventure is breads, crackers, pitas, etc.  Previously in my life I ate a lot of toast.  Let me clarify, I ate at least two pieces of toast a day, but more often than not twice or even three times that much.  Bread with peanut butter was my go to meal, for breakfast, lunch or an after dinner snack.  Reducing my dependency on bread has been a major breakthrough of this lifestyle. 

I have yet to find a truly suitable replacement.  There just isn't much out there that fills the same spot in my stomach heart. There are lots of good cracker type recipes though, and I find I would rather have some fresh fruit or veggies than those anyway, which is good. 

Eli's favourite thing is a creation of mine which I call Blueberry Buckwheat Crackers.  They are easy to make and nut free, which means we can send them with him to the YMCA and church without worrying.  He eats them most often as a cracker, but also loves to break them up into some fresh almond milk for breakfast.  For those interested, here's my recipe:

 Blueberry Buckwheat Crackers

2 cups of buckweat groats, soaked overnight - be sure to rinse thoroughly as they get really starchy
1/2 maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups blueberries (frozen is fine)

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor (or VitaMix blender) and pulse until combined, but still a little chunky-like. 

2. Divide onto lined dehydrator trays and spread to 1/8 inch thick. Dehydrate until the top is dry to the touch (8ish hours) and then flip over and peel off the liner.  Dehydrate for a few more hours until they are totally dry. 
3.  Break into pieces and store in a large zip lock bag. 

The original recipe from Raw Food Real World is for cinnimon and chocolate crispies.  I've tried them several different ways, but Eli likes my blueberry ones best, so we stick with those.  Like I've said before, the great thing about raw food cooking is that you can change it around really easy, so if you don't like blueberries you can use mango, or sun dried tomatoes, or anything else you think sounds yummy.  Enjoy!

11 February 2011

Raw for 33 days

We did it. That's right, we ate raw for 30 days straight. Nothing cooked, nothing heated, nothing pasturized... We did it!

And when we hit 30 days, we decided we liked it, and that we'd keep on going.  Today is day 33, and we are still eating raw.  I think we will probably start including a few other foods, like raw milk and raw yogurt and maybe even an occasionally slice of bread (**shudder of joy**).  But then again, I am strangely afraid that by letting myself go a little I might just start sliding down that slippery slope and not be able to get back up again.  You see, I've never been very good at 'diets.' There was that one time when I decided that the only way to lose weight and feel good about myself was to never eat again.  Well, I got hungry.  End of story.  (Funny thing is, it took feeling good about myself to loose weight, not the other way around, but that's a story for another day.)  We have just felt so good eating raw, and have seen so many benefits, and have been having so much fun doing it, that I don't want to stop.  Yes, I would like to be able to eat whatever I want without ever having to think about it, I would like to throw the easiest thing in front of my kids and not feel guilty, I would even like to indulge every once in a while in something decadent and horrifically high in calories, but frankly, keeping myself and my family healthy is really, really important to me, and right now eating raw seems to be a great way to do that.  Not the only way, but the right way for us, right now.  So, bare with me for a while longer as I carry on this journey.  Eventually it is going to either become just something that we do, not blog worthy or all consuming, as it is right now, or we will find that it's not what we want to do any longer.  But for now, the Wiebe family is still raw, and loving it.

On another note, can I tell you that I'm completely annoyed by all the Valentines posts in Blogland right now. How I wish I had a house to completely decorate in red and pink hearts, but I don't, and even if I did, I've never considered Valentines a holiday worth rearranging any furniture for.   Although, if I magically do get around to doing some hearty crafts, this one is one I'd feel good about.  I may swallow my words next year, but for now I am steering clear of all the pink posts.  I'll rejoin the reading after the 14th, thank you very much!

10 February 2011

Finally they are earning their keep!

Today we had some work to do on the house we are renovating, and no one to watch the boys, so we brought them along and put them to work!  That's right folks, you're never too young to pick up a paint brush and put in a few hours of good hard physical labour!

Somehow Silas knew just what to do with the paint roller.  Yes, he is wearing a sleeper, don't judge me.  We don't have a lot of 'paint clothes' around for our 16-month-old, so old hand-me-down sleeper it is!  He was in heaven, and didn't even realize he had no paint (or actual roller, for that matter). 

Eli, on the other hand, could not be fooled.  He wanted to help, and he wanted real paint.  I was a little nervous, letting him at it, but figured there wasn't much damage he could do, so I gave him a paint brush and some paint and let him at the baseboards.  He was a champ, almost helpful, and extremely proud of himself. 

 Once Jared's power tools came out, however, the monotony of brush painting could not hold Eli's attention any longer.  He quickly left me to the floor boards and joined Jared in changing up the hardware in the bathroom, wielding the drill all by himself.  And don't worry all, the pink toilet has stayed: nothing could convince us to get rid of that beauty!

The renos are coming along quite nicely, especially with the boys' help.  Soon the house will be complete and beautiful, and we will still be living in my parents' basement.

07 February 2011

Time for a good ol' fashioned barn raising!

Remember when in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" the Pontipee brothers go to the barn raising and fight over the girls and sing all about it? Remember that?  Well, I'm willing to let anyone interested reenacting that very moment in musical history to come to our house to raise our metaphorical barn. Seriously though, I've had a lot of time to think about it, as I've been painting for a week straight, and I think it is very sad that we live in a world where we no longer rally around our neighbors to help them, just because they are our neighbors.  I'm certainly not suggesting that I am any better than the next person in this regard.  I've complained plenty of times about people who ask for help when I think they could very easily pay for the work.  But why not help out. Why not give an afternoon to help paint, an hour to shovel, a day to garden.  Who cares if they could afford to pay someone else, where did our ability to do good things just for the sake of doing good things go?  Since neither of my neighbors are building any barns this week, and since this has been on my mind, I am going to make a fresh batch of my granola tomorrow and bring it to them in a symbolic attempt at raising their barns.  Why not, eh?

If you didn't catch it through my preaching, we are renovating again!  This time we are ripping up the upstairs of our old house in Ranchlands.  The tenants that were in it last happened to be the filthiest people on earth and the flooring throughout the entire house needed to be replaced.  So absolutely disgusting! However, we are taking advantage of the opportunity and giving the place a well deserved face-lift!

No reno project would be complete with out some before and after pictures, so I've dug through my archives and found a few pictures to share of the house as we lived in it pre-Michigan (you seriously would be so grossed out if I put the pictures of it after the tenants destroyed it - except for that you wouldn't have been able to smell them, so maybe it wouldn't do justice to just how disgusting it was.)
Action shot.  That's right, we had a drum kit in our house. 

Ikea Christmas tree. This was the only room with new carpet. We put it in after we moved in.

This one is to show the cuteness of the late Napoleon the dog, but also to note the colour of the carpet, 20 years old, at least.

Our kitchen, this week, many years ago.

The front of the house.
Visions of Candlemas' Past

More Candlemas shots.

Our front door: yes, it's purple.

Wish we still had those beautiful couches. 

Guess what, I don't have a shelf like that anymore.  The bull in the room (Silas) would make very short order of it. 

I loved the colour of our master room.  It was very warm.

This was the day we found out we were preggers with Eli.  This room was yellow.

Our double bed.  Cozy.

On my way to the Stampede, on the scooter. 
 So, give me a week and I will have the AFTER shots.  You will be so impressed, I promise.  The painting is done, but if anyone wants to come "raise the floor" you are more than welcome.  I'll bring lunch, although it may be raw.
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