Friday, November 20, 2015

Easy Chocolate Granola

Chocolate Granola is very popular around here.  All four of the kids like to eat it as a snack, and lately Malachi has been eating it with milk for breakfast.  It's easy and fast to make, and then it cooks at a low temp for about an hour, so I really like to make it now, when having the oven on for an hour really makes the kitchen feel cozy.

Chocolate Granola
4 c oats
1/3 c cocoa
1 c sunflower seeds or nuts, optional
1/4 c ground flax, optional
1 T vanilla extract
pinch salt
scant 1/2 c water
3/4 c sugar (brown or white, your pick)

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Heat the water for a minute in the microwave, then add sugar and stir to combine.  Pour over rest of ingredients, and mix well.  It's not very wet, just barely moist, when well mixed.  Spread on 2 baking sheets (covered with parchment) and bake at 275 for about an hour.  

Gyunay is a big fan of chocolate granola.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chicks and Kids

Lydia in "her" tree.

Gyunay has gotten quite good on the 3-wheeled scooter.

The kids were really enjoying playing outside today.  These pictures were taken before Elijah got home; he gets home about 45 minutes later than Lydia and Malachi.

The "big" chicks.  These three are in the coop with the lone hen.  They are currently petrified of going outside, but they seem very comfortable in the coop, even with the hen around.  It looks like 2 of them are cockerels.

The little chicks are still in the garage in their plywood pen.  They have gotten a lot bigger and are almost completely feathered out.  

Here Gyunay is cooing "oooh, oooh" at the chick in a calming voice.  It was really sweet.

Book Review - The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr

I finished The Shock of Night, by Patrick W. Carr last night.  It is set in a medieval fantasy world, and at first, it took me a while to get some of the terms and characters straight.  Once I was into the book a bit, I adjusted, but it did take a little work to settle into Carr's world.  The main character, Willet Dura, is a compassionate man with a sense of humor, and I really enjoyed this character.  The setting held a great deal of depth, and many characters were intriguing.  I like Carr's style of writing, but I did feel that the book could have been edited a bit shorter, as some sections carried on more than necessary.  This book is the first in the Darkwater Saga, so I'm assuming that it will probably be a trilogy - because everything seems to need to be a trilogy for publishers these days - and although it is a stand-alone novel, it does not have a final conclusion, so there is plenty left for the next books.  It did have a climax and an ending, though, so I did feel a sense of closure to the book. There was a prequel novella that is an ebook, and I think it would help to get the reader oriented in The Shock of Night faster, but I didn't read the novella so I can't say for sure.  I honestly refuse to read ebooks, or I would have enjoyed reading a prequel.  I really did enjoy this book, and I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Willet does next in the second book.

I received this book from publisher Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Family Photos

As part of our post-placement reports that get sent to Bulgaria, we have to have 10 photos of the whole family together (along with additional photos of Gyunay).  Do you realize how hard it is to get all 6 of us in a decent photo?

We asked a neighbor to snap a quick picture of us.  Now, these were taken quickly, as she had a squirmy one-year-old toddling around the driveway, but even still, you can see my point.  And yes, Lydia wanted to be held that way, and I didn't realize how lovely it looked because of said hurry.

And did I mention that we need 10 decent photos?  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Outdoors in the Fall

We really love fall.  Malachi and Lydia were so excited to introduce Gyunay to jumping into the leaf pile.  He absolutely loved it!

Lydia is on the stump that has served as their leaf-pile launching pad for several years.  It is significantly smaller now, though, as it continues to decompose.

I've also done a little gardening lately.  First, my mushroom "garden":

Nathaniel cut down some trees that were either dying or in places where they couldn't stay.  We used a maple and a small oak for the mushroom garden.   Nathaniel then drilled the holes for me, and I "planted" shitake and lion's mane mushroom plugs in these logs. 

Lydia helped me cover the plugs with melted beeswax.  Now we just wait until next year, and hopefully we will have lots of home-grown mushrooms.  And I do mean lots; I put in 200 plugs.

I also planted garlic for the first time.  It's another "plant it and leave it" project that will hopefully produce garlic scapes in spring and actual garlic in July.  Oh, how happy I would be to have my own garlic and mushrooms.

I also planted some daffodil bulbs.  The squirrels and deer have eaten a number of the flower bulbs that used to be all over the front by the pond.  I hope they don't eat all of the new ones.  I do expect to lose a few, but I hope some of them make it and bloom this spring.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Double Chocolate Cookies

The kids had yesterday off of school, so during nap time Lydia and I decided to bake a treat.  I've been wanting to experiment with coconut oil in cookies, and we were out of butter, so it seemed like a good time to try it.  It worked really well.  These cookies use less sugar than "normal" recipes, because I regularly cut the sugar in half in recipes.  They would also be a good option if you needed a dairy-free treat, if you used dairy-free chocolate chips.  Here is the recipe:

3/4 c coconut oil, at room temp
3/4 c brown sugar (or make your own by mixing 2 tsp molasses and 3/4c sugar together)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c whole wheat pastry flour (you could use regular flour)
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips, chunks, pieces, whatever

Cream coconut oil and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients, then chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.

I used virgin coconut oil in this, so it gives it a slight coconut taste.  My coconut oil was solid but not rock-hard when I mixed it with the sugar.

I think it'd be really good to add some flaked coconut and nuts, sort of German-cake-like, but my kids don't care for flaked coconut.  I may try that in the future, though.

These cookies are a nice treat but are not overly sweet.  Everyone in the house loved them (well, Gyunay is not really that into chocolate cookies, but he did eat one, so I figure that he liked it ok).

This recipe only makes about 3 dozen cookies.  They are already gone.

I shared this recipe at the Homestead Blog Hop here:
Homestead Blog Hop every Wednesday featuring real food recipes, natural health remedies, DIY, crafts, Gardening Tips, and more...
and at  Stangers and Pilgrims on Earth, here:
Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


The pepper plants did exceptionally well this year.  Before the hard frost we had a couple of weeks ago, I picked the rest of the green ones.  I cut up about 2 cups of the smallest green peppers, and used my dehydrator to reduce the amount to this size:

Tiny, isn't it?  These will be great for adding to soups this winter, and they don't take up any freezer space!  I'm still eating some of the peppers fresh, and some are slowly turning red.  I am beyond thrilled with how the peppers and tomatillos did this year.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween fun

We had a great Halloween weekend with my sister's family.  The kids had a blast together.

As promised, I did get a few pics of my green ninja.  He's not a very cooperative photo subject, though!

We enjoyed trick or treating for 2 hours.  The kids loved riding in the trailer on the hay.  Sunday was more low-key, with the kids playing at home.  Gyunay loves his Aunt Missa:

The chicks were a big hit, as we knew they would be: