hello from chicot + weekend links…..

hello from chicot + weekend links.....

 

That would be a bit of bliss right there.

Some knitting. A forest full of autumn leaves for me to sit in while I watch my littles build fairy houses from found treasures. We’re here with my parents…. staying in the most amazing cabin over the swamp. I have much to share with you at the end of the weekend. So many photos! For now I’ll just wish you a happy little Friday. (from the cabin, while the fire crackles in the background, because it has wireless! oh my.)

Here are a few weekend links for you…..

A little sale on fabric for my Free Spirit loving friends out there.

The arboretum we visited is truly a must see for locals. The walking/hiking trails are wonderful.

A sweet little treasury of handmade goodness from my fellow Natural Kids Team friends.

A dreamy looking holiday e-course to help you stay centered during the season…. 

I’m pretty sure everyone on my gifting list would be happy with either hula hoops or chocolate bark.

There are super lofty cozy wool & cotton quilts in the shop.

And just for fun, a year ago this week.

Last, but not least… today marks four whole years of this blogging gig… four! A seriously heartfelt thank-you to all of you who make this my favorite creative hobby. You are the best darn readers a girl could ask for. Truly.

xo

and happy weekending to you….

~stephinie

 

holiday reading list……

holiday reading list.....

 

holiday reading list.....

 

holiday reading list.....

 

Last weekend I pulled our holiday decorations down from the attic. One of our totes has all of our winter themed books tucked inside. A few years ago we started putting the holiday and winter books up with the decorations. I wasn't sure how the kids would react to this, but they actually took it really well. It saves me from reading Christmas Farm in July when it's sweltering hot outside, and it's like opening a gift each year when we pull them down.

We add one or two winter books each year, so the collection slowly grows as well. I try to keep a list of what we loved from the library and then purchase them used out of season. I have to make a trip to the attic to put the book away, but it sure is worth the bargain. Also, hardcovers are almost always a better deal… which is perfect for books you want to keep around for years of seasonal reading.

I also try to find books that will resonate with our family. Something that is a passion of the kids or that has a similar story to their life. Last year I was lucky to find The Legend of Papa Noel, a Louisiana based Christmas tale and Lighthouse Christmas, which is very dear to the heart of Coast Guard families. Especially our kiddos, who's daddy once held the key to all the lighthouses in Cape Cod & helped keep them shining brightly to guide mariners. I was in tears at the end of Lighthouse Christmas…. it's a keeper for sure.

I thought it would be fun to share a list of our favorites with you, whether you choose to add some to your collection or library bag, and do share your favorite! It would be great for us all to share.

 

picture books:

Toot & Puddle, I'll be Home for Christmas

Bear Snores On

Snowflake Bentley

Christmas Farm

The Tomten

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

The Mitten

Winter Solstice

The Tomten & The Fox

Stella Queen of the Snow

Lighthouse Christmas

The Legend of Papa Noel

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Owl Moon

Night Tree

The Gift of Nothing

Ollie's Ski Trip

 

chapter books:

The Greatest Christmas Stories

The Return of the Light

 

Happy winter time reading to you…..

 

rhythm of the home ~ winter

rhythm of the home ~ winter

 

rhythm of the home ~ winter

 

rhythm of the home ~ winter

 

I am so honored to join the group of creative individuals over at Rhythm of the Home for the winter edition. Each season the collaborative sharing is so beautiful and inspiring…

I contributed a recipe for our delicious gluten free gingerbread, and simple stitched journal to share with your child. Both of these projects are dear to my heart in their own way, and I'm so happy to share them with you.

Every edition of Rhythm of the Home is celebrated with an amazing giveaway! If you head over to their blog you'll see two sets of my cards among a host of other wonderful goodies to win.

I'm looking forward to sitting down with a cup of coffee and savoring the pages. I hope you do the same.

xo,

stephinie

 

~mindful monday~

~mindful monday~

play captured….

 

———————————————————————————————————————————-

 

mind.ful = conscious or aware of something

Something that speaks to your heart and leaves you feeling beautifully grounded right where you are. If you’d like to share yours…. please leave a link in your comment below for others to discover.

 

happy monday friends,

~stephinie

  

weekending……

weekending......

 

weekending......

 

weekending......

 

weekending......

 

{a bit of weekending, inspired by amanda}


it was good to have the three day weekend

and the leftovers

he worked on the bathroom

i took care of sick kids

and got all the shutters painted

and a lot of sewing done

all of which was far easier than the bathroom…

(see those new blankets? wool quilts…. lofty & lovely!)

we took the holiday decorations down from the attic

the little kids played with their stockings and looked at ornaments

and read book, after book, after book….

i couldn't help but realize this would be the christmas we packed up the decorations with extra care

for the upcoming move…..

there was pie and coffee for breakfast

i was grateful for the flowers smiling on the table all weekend

a gift from a dinner guest on thursday

and christmas music

and twinkly lights…

i love the twinkly lights.

 

here's wishing your weekend was ordinary, and lovely, and a wee bit twinkly as well….

xo,

stephinie

 

weekend links…..

weekend links

 

weekend links

 

weekend links

 

weekend links

 

weekend links

 

Yesterday was busy, and fun, and so very full.

There was so much food and so many laughing children.

I'm not good about taking pictures at gatherings…. so all you get to see is a few shots of dessert making and the table before we ate. We served everything buffet style, which really worked best for feeding 20 people. I filled mason jars full of my best silver and had to laugh a little at the site of it. Formal meets functional. Most everyone sat in chairs outside to eat. This is one of the things I'll miss about Thanksgiving in the south…. seventy degrees!

I realized this is the 9th year I've made my chocolate nut tart. Nine years, how can that be? The recipe is from an old copy of Cooks Illustrated. It takes all day to create, and it is the best thing ever. This year I used pecans instead of walnuts and added a good splash of bourbon to the caramel filling. It was the best tart ever. Really. Jade made the beautiful pumpkin pie and she hung out all day Wednesday helping with prep work. There's a bit of magic when you get to the place where your kids are old enough to work alongside you this way. I hope we spend many holidays working together like this. Sipping coffee and laughing. 

We're pulling out the holiday decorations and putting up some twinkly lights today….. which always helps my northern brain remember it is really winter. But next year? Oh I'm sure there will be snow….. I just know it.

I only have a few links for this week…. but they're all lovely!

~This leaf quilting tutorial over at Film in the Fridge is beautiful.

~A Happy Stitch has a wonderful sew-a-thon going on to help victims of hurricane Sandy. It's the kind of thing you read to make your heart feel happy.

~Ginny shared some pictures of her kids in the kitchen, and her girls are wearing aprons from the shop! Oh how I love to see my hand sewn creations in action.

~This red and burlap colored fabric here & here is stunning. Holiday pillow covers?

Lastly, I wanted to share a holiday coupon code with you for the shop. Enter the code "WINTERGYPSY" to receive 10% off your purchase all weekend long! Thank you to everyone who seeks out small businesses for their holiday gifting!

I'll see you Sunday with a bit of shop news (new items!) and some weekending bits…..

xo,

stephinie

 

thankful…..

thankful

 

in a few short hours our house will be filled with guests

everyone is bringing something to share

which has made this the most laid back thanksgiving ever

this is really, truly my most favorite holiday

all about food and friends and gathering and gratitude….

wishing all of you celebrating today a very happy day of being thankful

full of good company, delicious food, and much laughter.

 

see you tomorrow.

xo,

stephinie

 

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

 

This inventive little concoction is probably my new favorite dip. We serve baked sweet potatoes with black beans and toppings for dinner. This yummy healthy dip is basically the blended version of this. I'm sure you all know that black beans and sweet potatoes are super good for you…. but even better than that, they're delicious. This smooth creamy bean dip is good with chips or fresh veggies and amazing in a wrap. It tastes good warm or chilled. We like it topped with green onions. If tomatoes were in season I would dice some up for the top too. And if you love cilantro as much as I do…. chop finely and garnish with that too. Or avocado, or…. goodness. I think you get the point. It's pretty much good with anything.

Now, onto the recipe…..

 

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

 

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

 

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

 

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

 

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

 

Sweet Potato Black Bean Dip

1.5 cups cooked black beans

1.5 cups mashed baked sweet potato (about two small)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

chipotle powder to taste (1/2 tsp adds a tiny touch of heat)

1-2 large cloves garlic (your choice, we like two… but we love garlic!)

1 tsp salt

2 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP nutritional yeast (optional, it's still awesome if you leave it out)

2 TBSP lime juice

1/4 cup packed cilantro (I just use a generous handful & toss it in)

green onions for garnish

 

Add beans and sweet potato to food processor, it blends easier & faster if the potatoes are still warm. Blend until nice and smooth. Add cumin, paprika, chipotle, garlic, salt, olive oil, nutritional yeast & lime juice. Blend until smooth. Adjust spices if necessary, more chipotle will make it spicy! Add a generous handful (1/4  cup +) cilantro. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is too stiff, add warm water 1 TBSP at a time as needed. Only add just enough to get the processor going. Scrape down sides and make sure everything gets incorporated well. Spread into a bowl, top with sliced green onions & serve with veggies or chips. Or use it as a spread to make some really delicious wraps.

 

sweet potato black bean dip, for you

 

And don't you think you could spread it thin in a dish and top it with diced tomatoes, avocadoes, cilantro, finely chopped red onion and a drizzle of olive oil? Okay, I'm done. I promise. 

But really, just make it. It's good.

 

fresh kefir, in your kitchen

fresh kefir, in your kitchen

 

I read this post by Rachel yesterday, and it made me laugh. The whole part about her gluten free paleo flexible diet sounded just like our house. While we are trying our best to eat what seems to make us all feel good, we have no plan to follow any strict diet. Of course, if we ever found a culprit for migraines or anyone had a full blown allergy, this would be a different story. But for now? Gluten free pumpkin muffins are for breakfast and Joe & I will most certainly end the evening with one of our favorite seasonal brews. (Rogue Santa's Private Reserve!) We have butter in the fridge. But we drink almond milk. No yogurt, but there is a jar of freshly cultured kefir. Flexible, I like that.

And kefir is what I wanted to talk about today. I would like to tell you I like kefir better than yogurt. If I could choose one over the two, rich thick creamy yogurt would pretty much always win. But in my attempt to reduce plastic garbage waste and our food bill….. and my desire for easy cultured dairy to top my granola, kefir wins hands down. Why? It's so easy.

Pour whole milk over grains. Let sit overnight, or up to 24 hours. Strain. Repeat. 

No scalding milk, no keeping a jar warm. No powdered milk or gelatin to try and get the yogurt to set up. 

Just pour milk over grains. Plus, word has it… kefir is better for you. It's got a ton more probiotics both in numbers and variety. It's tangy and creamy enough and delicious poured over frozen fruit or granola or in smoothies or just in a glass to sip. I like mine tart and plain. The kids like a hint of vanilla extract and maple syrup in theirs.

And while you can shell out $4+ for a quart of the stuff at the grocery store, you can make a homemade version that is just as good and about 1/8 of the price. You will need to invest adopt some grains. After that you'll need to care for them by feeding them regularly (aka making kefir). Before you know it, the grains will have grown and you can hand over a jar to a friend and get them making kefir too. (The only trick is to use milk that is NOT ultra-pasteurized. We use a local milk that is RBGH free and runs a humane dairy.)

 

fresh kefir, in your kitchen

kefir grains ready to use, pour in fresh milk & let sit on the counter overnight…

 

fresh kefir, in your kitchen

kefir ready to be strained

 

fresh kefir, in your kitchen

freshly strained grains, ready to be fed again

 

When the kefir is ready it looks thickened and slightly curdled. Once you strain the grains through a fine mesh strainer, the kefir will no longer be separated. I add one teaspoon of maple syrup and a few drops of vanilla to a quart of kefir for the kids. They love this. Blended with mangos & a bit of ginger it tastes like lassis. I like it plain, poured over a bit of granola and topped with frozen fruit and nuts or seeds. The kefir gets kind of frozen with the berries and it's like having frozen yogurt for breakfast. So good…


fresh kefir, in your kitchen

 

So, I guess this means we're not dairy free anymore. And I'm currently trying to figure out if I can make a guilt free ice-cream-frozen-yogurt with kefir. Hmmmm…..

ps ~ I've read you can use grains with dairy free milk too…. we plan on trying coconut next. stay tuned for results!

pps ~ I can't say enough good things about Yemoos. They have awesome customer service, happy active grains, fast shipping & clear instructions. I had my order in three days! I also adopted some ginger beer grains…. I'll be sharing a post on those next week. I have no affiliation with Yemoos, I just love their service!

 

~mindful monday~

~mindful monday~

these two…..

 

———————————————————————————————————————————-

 

mind.ful = conscious or aware of something

Something that speaks to your heart and leaves you feeling beautifully grounded right where you are. If you’d like to share yours…. please leave a link in your comment below for others to discover.

 

happy monday friends,

~stephinie