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What Do You Love Most About Our Move?

Today was a bit of a rough one for me.  I miss my friends.  To be honest, I think the kids have adapted more easily then I have.  They have not complained once about the move. Nor should they. I’ve never seen them so happy running around and exploring, out in nature, & hanging out with their cousins.

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Each morning, they dash out of bed to eat quickly, and then rush off to visit with nano and papa. It’s a joy to have them free to run and play at the crack of dawn while I prepare fresh-baked sourdough,  home-made granola, and a farm fresh fruit smoothie.  With six acres to run around on, they are pooped by the end of the day after tending to chickens and playing with their cousins.

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This place has so much glorious charm: kayaking the bay across the road, running hills, partaking of fresh food (we have our own live-in co-op), and all of the wildlife right at our fingertips, not to mention the hiking.  But when you say the grass is always greener, that is not true.  There is always a trade-off.  We traded convenience, for rural. We traded social chaos for leisure. We traded rushing ourselves crazy to calming the storm. The trade-off is positive, but different.  The thing I miss most is our friends, and our church.

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When we moved, our cell service did not move with us. We have to drive 6 miles to town just for reception. Our catching up with friends, has been minimal. So when we split from our jobs, and all we have ever known, we also severed any socializing we knew.  It’s been super limited, and at times sad.  Yes, we have family. For that I am super thankful.  I cannot imagine moving to a new setting not having those comforts.

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As we look towards the start of school next week, knowing we are trying homeschooling for the first time, I only hope that I can settle in socially for the kids through extracurricular along with a 4-H club.  I look forward to being their teacher, and being able to build their interests individually. This is my first time ever being a stay at home mom. I have really wanted this opportunity to be a bigger part of their days; to influence them whole-heartedly.

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So today when my heart was heavy with “What the hell did we do!”, I was gently reminded why we did what we did.  Ever since Thanksgiving last year, our nightly routine at dinner is to go around and each give thanks with a direct compliment, and for something we are thankful for in general.  Tonight as I proposed the question, “What do you love most about our move?”, the responses settled my heart.  Mallory replied, “I love how much time we have together as a family”. Margeux said, “I love seeing Nano and Papa”. Lastly, Matilda chimed in with, “I love my family”.

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I know the things I don’t miss at all.  I don’t miss my job. I don’t miss the traffic. I don’t miss the anxiety of rushing about.  Spending time with those you love, is absolutely what is important!

 

 

 

 

 

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Peach Ginger Ale

Again with the peaches, I know. So many. So many.

My all time favorite ginger ale is Boylan’s.  It’s the epitome of a perfect ginger ale. Not too spicy, not too sweet.  I’ll actually spend the $4.99 to drink this 4-pack, as a family, on occasion.  But heck, if you can make ginger ale, that’s even better.  Plus, I can alter how much sugar goes into it.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cup ginger, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds

2 cup water

1 cup of sugar (I do prefer 1/2 cup, but that is a less sweet version)

4 peaches, peeled and sliced

one 2-liter of sparkling water (refrigerate beforehand)

DIRECTIONS:

Place ginger, water, sugar, and peaches in a saucepan.  Whisk.

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Bring to boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to “marinate”; producing a syrup. Strain the syrup into a bowl and allow to cool.  In a large pitcher, place the  refrigerated sparkling water, and the cooled ginger-peach marinade along with some ice cubes. Enjoy! So simple and so much cheaper.

 

 

Coconut Yogurt

I love yogurt, but hate all the mass amounts of sugar in it.  Making yogurt from scratch provides you the control of what goes into this heavy laden probiotic source. Yield: 32 oz.

Ingredients:

32 oz. coconut milk

3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

2 Tsp. agar

3 capsules of probiotic

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (Edwin & Lesha)

Directions:

Heat coconut in a pot to 180 degrees. Add arrowroot powder and agar; whisk. Allow to cool to 110 degrees.  Add probiotic capsules and vanilla. Whisk until blended. Place cooled yogurt in mason jars with lids.  Place jars in a ice chest protected by towels to allow to fully cool and ferment for 8 hours.  The longer you cool this way, the more tart your yogurt will taste.

I enjoy mine with a touch of home made granola.

 

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Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

I cannot take the credit for this wonderful salad. I would first give my brother credit, as he is the one who shared it with me. However, I don’t think it originated from him either. It is one of those recipes, that I am sure has been passed around time and time again.  I wish I did know where credit was owed.  But, regardless, I know you’ll love this light yet hearty salad.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cooked quinoa

1/4 cup currants

1/4 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup currants

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/4 cup chopped mint

1/4 cup diagonally cut scallions

1/4 cup parsley

, 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. agave syrup

1/2  tsp. cumin

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix.  Allow to chill for 20 minutes before serving.

 

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Lemon-Thyme & Blackberry Muffins

My family and I have been gorging ourselves on fresh peaches and blackberries. There is such an abundant supply that we can’t keep up.  These lemon-thyme & blackberry muffins were one of the more recent experiments I concocted.  yield: 12 muffins.

MUFFINS:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup organic cane sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract (Edwin & Lesha)

1/2 cup earth balance, melted

13 oz. blackberries

1 heaping Tbsp. of flax meal

1/2 cup plain coconut yogurt

1/2 cup almond milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice (buttermilk)

2 Tbsp. of lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme

CRUMBLE TOPPING:

6 Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour

3 Tbsp. earth balance, melted

4 Tbsp. organic brown sugar

2 Tbsp. rolled oats

GLAZE:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. almond milk.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Wash berries and set aside. In a bowl, use 1/4 cup of flour and pour gently over blackberries to coat.

2. With remaining flour, add sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together flax meal, melted earth balance, and vanilla. Add buttermilk (almond milk and lemon juice), along with coconut yogurt.  Add fresh squeezed lemon juice, and zest.

3. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Fold in blackberries last.

4. Grease a muffin pan. Prepare your crumble topping by combining melted butter with all dry ingredients. With a fork or pastry cutter, make sure no large chunks remain.

5. Fill your muffin tin all the way to the top and place 1 Tbsp. of crumble on each muffin.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Allow muffins to cool completely before adding glaze.  For the glaze, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and almond milk and whisk until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled muffins.

 

***** For my gluten free readers, use the Bob’s Red Meal GLUTEN FREE all purpose flour instead the unbleached all purpose

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CONTEST!!! “Oh, Sully!”, an Adventurous Whale, by author Kevin Gard

 

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I met my husband when I was 17.  At the time, I had no clue we’d end up marrying 9 years later.  He has been my rock.  He has seen my good sides, my bad sides, and helped to keep me motivated with personal endeavors during the 20+ years we have been best of friends.

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Kevin is truly one extremely talented guy; and so wonderfully grounded as a person with a gift of humor that keeps giving.  From diaper bags, to mommy-and-me apron sets, to quilts, to inventing Mattress Masseuse, re-doing our entire “fixer” home, and making time to write & illustrate a children’s book, and still maintain his deep commitment to our daughters & I, I’d say he is quite the catch!

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This catch of mine, is doing a wonderful collaborative book give-away with Sue  (blog.sueparke.com)

Sue’s blog is wonderfully written.  I thoroughly enjoy her honest approach and  feel I can relate to her as a reader. Please visit her site and explore her stories. If you get a chance, please help by voting for her as one of the best Mommy blogs of 2014.  You can vote several times.

 

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This Friday, tune into Tree Swing Press @ Facebook to enter to win an autographed copy of “Oh, Sully!”, free of charge.

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Kevin and I are such huge advocates of literacy and truly want children to be inspired to create their own books, and to enjoy reading.  Please share this contest with your friends.  This contest starts this Friday, August 15th and ends in one week.  Winners will be announced Friday, August 22nd. at blog.sueparke.com, on Facebook, http://treeswingpress.com

 

Giveaway Terms & Conditions

* You must be awesome!

* You must be 5 or older to enter the contest

* Only one submission per person

* Publisher agrees to pay for the cost of shipping the autographed book

* To submit your entry for the contest, please draw/paint/or use other art media of your interpretation of an amazing whale on a grand adventure, and post to the Tree Swing Press FB  page, by liking the page and posting your comment.

* Two winners will be chosen by a strict panel of children ranging from ages 4-9.

* Winner will be notified on http://www.slparke.com,  http://www.treeswingpress.com, and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tree-Swing-Press

* No purchase necessary, unless you want an extra signed copy by an incredible author/illustrator and all around good guy.

 

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Beer Sale

This pretty much sums up what our running loop looks like.  Trees. Trees. Oh, and more trees.

It’s a bit hairy in sections, as the pedestrian area is not more than a whisp hairs away from the road; a mere foot at best. A woman’s foot, that is.

You constantly run defensively with traffic, playing leap-frog from side to side when the path gets too narrow to be safe.

I often look at the ditch or gully alongside that gap that’s covered in thickets and blackberry bushes to see where my escape plan leads me if I need to urgently duck and roll my way into the brush to avoid collision with the semi trucks noisily gushing past and pulling you into them with their gusts of wind.

It’s less handsome of a run, when the strip is littered with beer cans.  I think beer must be on sale somewhere locally. Which makes us figure the best time to go out for the 6 mile arduous stretch of forest run, is from 7am-12 noon. Hopefully the drunks slept in and it’s before their lunchtime beer fill.

As lovely as I describe it, the first day on our loop, as we began our incline, I was busy huffing and puffing behind Kevin when he exclaimed, “look at that!”

As I stop (mostly to get my wind mind you.  I’ve been doing roller derby, not running… different muscles), I glance over and see what I believe to be taxidermy deer on someone’s lush emerald-green front lawn.  They are less than 12 feet away. I think to myself, “what kind of asshole weirdo country bumpkin thinks it’s okay to stuff deer and decorate their lawn with them?!?!?!? They are not plastic flamingos!”

So, as we stood in awe, my breath finally caught, the stuffed deer entrapped in their pose, startled.  Yes, they startled.  They took off bouncing away into the thick forest. I was never more relieved.

A bit further along, this time walking to catch up to this gazelle of a husband running in lead and barely perspiring up an almost 90 degree hill, (okay, so a bit exaggerated, but that is what my chest and calves told me), we hear a woodpecker and stopped to admire its beautiful red feathers and woodworking. I was very much entranced by this pecker; more rest for the weary!

Finally, we got to the ridge over looking the bay, Kevin still prodding me along like a champ. It is mostly downhill from that point. I can do downhill like nobodies business. Snagged by a berry bush and bleeding along my thigh, did not stop me.

Relieved that I see that light at the tunnel when we turn off the beaten path and onto the safer stretch (well, until winter comes and brings icy roads), I feel I can relax a bit and take in the scenery with more appreciation.

It’s at this point that I remember I’m more of a swimmer.  But I seriously love the ass kicking run, and know though I hate it, I love it too. Good thing I have a great coach. Each time gets easier.