Spring Update

It doesn’t really feel much like spring out there with the cold temperatures and the dumping of fresh snow that we get every couple of days, but it must be around the corner, right?

I figured it was time for a little bit of a family update:

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We’re started using Easy Peasy All – in – One Homeschool for the majority of our children’s studies. Morgaine has been able to get a day’s work done each day, but Liam is finding it more challenging as he has a lot of other programming projects that he is busy with (more about that later). It’s (sort of) simplified my life a little, in that it much easier to track their work, but it is also a bit more labour intensive for me (though it is mostly all online material). There are areas we’ve never really touched before so the children need more help and encouragement. They are both becoming little poets (here and here). Only about another two weeks of poetry left and we’ll move on to something else for English. They will be happy about that. Science and history I’ve had to supplement, as well, but we are moving along at a good speed.

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Things are going well at Lye Abilities. It is a little less busy than it was before Christmas, but I am getting a number of repeat customers. I’ve started playing around with hot process soap more and more and while I was not sure of it to begin with, I’ve made a few pretty soaps that way now and it is something I will probably regularly add to my line up. Speaking of line ups, I’m hoping to come up with 6-8 soaps that I’ll make regularly and then a couple specials each season. I haven’t figured out which are my favourites, yet. I’ve started soaping in double batches to keep up with demand and create a bit of a stash of the most popular. I’ve added a super mild baby soap bar and would love to eventually branch out into other baby/mama care products. I’m not sure what the plans are, yet.

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Liam has been pretty busy with his computer programming and is starting to get some recognition for his work. That is really thrilling for him and it nice for us to see his hard work paying off for him!

He actually created and coded (in HTML5 the new layout for Snap! Snap! is an online coding environment that allows people to build their own blocks to create programs of their own. Snap! is presented by Berkeley University (University of California) and Liam is thrilled to have his name associated with a university (especially when a couple of his online friends pointed out the Berkeley is a pretty prestigious university). You can see the homepage that Liam designed here (if you scrolled to the bottom you will see his name).

He also get special mention in another online game that has taken a year to develop. He has no real idea what he did beyond having a few conversations with the developer and giving him feedback (all good in my opinion). It has been fun for him to have his ideas heard and for him to see that there is the potential for a real future in computer programming. A few months ago he was in tears over really wanting to help people with his programming, but not knowing how. Well, he is well on his way and we are very proud of him.

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Morgaine and Ruadhan are doing well. There really isn’t a whole lot to say. They are both loving their science (they are doing it together this year) and are learning all about animals. Ruadhan is super bright and it is a lot of fun to teach him as he is really eager and full of questions.

Morgaine has gotten into Minecraft and is quite the designer there. She has a really eye for knowing what looks good. She loves the interior design shows on W Network and sees a future in that (or fashion design). She certainly is creative so it sounds like a good choice to me.

Yesterday was Mike’s birthday and Ruadhan and Morgaine were in charge of the cake. They did an awesome job and worked so well together (that isn’t always the case).

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Things are going well for Mike at his new job. It was a lot of driving this winter, though. He’ll be glad to have better roads (full of pot holes, mind you) now that spring is thinking about arriving.

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I am doing well. I am still writing for Home & School Mosaics and I will be applying for an online teaching job (fingers crossed). I think it would be a good fit for me, but we will see if I get called for an interview and their training.

Beyond teaching and soap making, there isn’t really anything new with me. The winter has been a bit long and hard on me so I have actually started taking an anti-depressant. I am hoping that it will be a short term thing, but we will see. I am hoping that the sun and warmth will help, though the ¬†medication itself has done its job. It’s not something that I want to depend on either.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading at night to help me fall asleep and I am always looking for suggestions for what to read so if anyone that happens upon this have any good must reads, let me know!

I’ll be here blogging more regularly now, but you may have noticed that my posts are quite random. I’ve been trying to take part in a daily writing challenge here on WordPress and it isn’t easy to use the prompts and keep with the whole family and homeschooling thing. I know this blog started out as a “real life” thing, but in my real life before this site I wanted to write (which is actually why I started Mama Manuscripts waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2007). Mama Manuscripts has lost her home on the blog as she stopped paying for web hosting so my writing projects are making their way over here. You never know, maybe one day I will write that novel.

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Healthy Eating – Bone Broth

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve changed our eating habits to align more with the theories of Weston A Price. Of all the changes that we’ve made, my favorite has to be making bone broth. I great satisfaction from it and we use our broth in EVERYTHING.

A few years ago, the kids and I were learning about the dark ages and how a family would throw a pot on the stove and just leave it cooking constantly, adding and taking from it as needed. Those people had it right. There are so many health benefits to drink bone broth. The broth is full of well, good for your bone/teeth minerals – calcium, phosphorus, magnesium. When made correctly, it is full of gelatin that is good for your hair, nails and gut. Not to mention, that is yummy and easy to sneak in (if you must) to many foods so that even your little picky eaters get the benefits of it.

It’s also really easy to make. Here’s what we do:

Buy bones – I usually make bone broth with beef bones but I’ve used chicken and moose as well.

For beef¬† and moose bones you are going to want to roast them first a la osso buco style. I don’t really have a set time for this. It depends a bit on the bones. I usually roast them for 20-40 minutes at 450 degrees until the marrow becomes translucent and falls easily from the center of the bones. This is yummy to eat on bread straight from the oven. We’ve also served it over rice or thrown it into pasta sauce.

Osso Buco – I actually cooked these bones for a while longer after I took this picture. They were some big bones with lots of marrow.

Place your bones into a large stock pot and add whatever ever savory food you’d like to add for flavour. My favorites are carrots, celery, onions, garlic, ginger (love that one for flu season), shallot, and parsley but I change things up base on what we have on the house.

Ready to simmer!

Then it’s basically a matter of simmering the broth down over the course of many hours. You’ll want to just get the broth up to boiling to get it started but then you’ll immediately turn down the heat as low as it will go and let it simmer and simmer some more! The broth may get a little bit frothy on top and you can just skim that off. After the first 8 hours or so, I love to take 2 cups of the liquid and make a rice as it tastes so, so good at that time. However, the full nutritional value hasn’t been reached by that point so keep simmering.

In the end, we usually simmer our broth for at least three full days (leaving the stove on overnight). You can turn the stove off at night if you do not feel safe leaving it on (and you can leave the pot right there) but you need to get the¬† temperature back up to boiling when you start it the next day and then reduce the heat. Keep in mind to get a good gel you DO NOT want your broth to come to a full rolling boil so keep an eye on it when you are increasing it’s temperature over a higher heat.

We tend to take from our pot as it is simmering down and we do replace the liquid that we use (and add vegetable scraps as well) but we do simmer our broth for many, many days. The more concentrated your broth the more it will gel.

When you feel it has cooked for long enough (in general, your bones will be brittle and start to fall apart) then you simple remove the bones and strain. Leave the broth on your stove top to cool down (if you have a big pot this will take many hours) and then refrigerate. There will be a layer of fat on the top and you can use this for cooking and under, you should have a gel like broth that you can add to just about EVERYTHING.

  • rice
  • mashed potatoes
  • gravies
  • stews
  • soups
  • roast veggies (we make an amazing curried saucy potato with broth)
  • pancakes (I haven’t but I have a friend who does)
  • stirfries
  • and the list goes on….

The finished product (despite appearances, it is yummy). It completely liquifies when warmed and is even good to drink just like that if you add a generous amount of sea salt.

Your broth can be kept in your fridge for many a day but I’m not giving you a number because, in reality, I don’t know how long you are supposed to be able to keep it in the fridge! After a few days I usually freeze it in muffin tins so I can grab a couple and throw them into whatever I am cooking. In addition I usually fill two 1.5 L containers (plastic…apparently mason jar crack even when filled accordingly) with broth to freeze and use in stews or soup at a later date.

We make beef/moose broth every two weeks (as the first week we are usually stealing from the pot as it is being made) and if we happen to have a chicken I usually use the carcase for a chicken broth (made in the crockpot and simmered for 24-48 hours instead of 3-6 days).

I highly recommend you trying this with your family as it is an easy to boost the nutritional value of just about anything that you cook. Be warned, though, if you start following Weston A. Price principles be prepared to dream about food for weeks when you are just beginning, not that it is a bad thing, but it will take over your subconscious! You’ll be so anxious to wake up in the morning to eat your sourdough and drink a glass of kefir!