Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Making Donuts

The big thing on the farm these days is making donuts on the weekends. Jim found a recipe we could make in the bread machine, though this dough is so light that it really can't be made in advance with the timer.

They're really delicious dipped in powdered sugar while they're still warm. I tried making some glaze, but the recipe I used was a butter glaze and none of us really liked it. Next time, I'll probably try just a simple glaze with powdered sugar and water. We've also tried dipping them in the strawberry preserves I made, but found that it's just too sweet. The chocolate sauce didn't really cut it either.

Somehow there's just nothing better than the little bit of powdered sugar and, of course, fresh berries from the garden. Just ask Sam....

These donuts are best fresh, but they can be reheated in the toaster over the next couple of days and still taste pretty good. We've also discovered that if we add an extra egg to the batter, we can make a fluffier cruller-like donut.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


One of the ways Jim stays involved in the kids' unschooling is to bring home brainteaser challenges for them every once in while. We've had a relatively typical, I guess, back and forth with regards to unschooling, Jim being the consummate skeptic and reluctant practitioner. With time, however, he's really been able to see lots of the learning that goes on naturally and come even to embrace the more relaxed pace our lives.

Periodically, however, he has that feeling of, "Okay, so unschooling works, but what if we aren't offering enough?" So, one of the ways I tried to find a way to honor that concern was to bring home a giant book of brainteasers I found at the local warehouse club.
If Jim wanted to be more proactive, then this seemed like a way to do that while still keeping things light and fun and voluntary for the kids. It's also been a great way for him to feel connected to our unschooling and to the kids while at work.

We'll, it's turned out to be a huge success with some tweaking along the the kids requesting private time to work on the challenge rather than feeling the competition of working on it together, for instance, which took away from the fun of the individual challenge. This is the most recent challenge Jim brought home for the kids, "The Impossible Domino Challenge," and the one that's most lent itself to a blog post. The upper photo was Emily's first attempt, while the lower photo is Julia's solution. After a few tears but shear determination (Jules has the patience of Job, and always has!), Julia was the first to get it to work. Well, actually, this is Julia's second successful building, but the first to stay up long enough to take a photo, and in fact to stay up long enough for her father to get home from work and see it with his own eyes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

8 Things Meme (grumble, grumble)

C'mon folks, I'm a dictionary; I'm really not interesting enough to come up with 8 things to tell about myself, yet I've been tagged twice, so I guess I'll need to try. Ren says she thinks it's ego that drives us to do these memes, but for me, it's more that pressure of not wanting to be the one to drop the ball—similar motivation for dragging myself to do chain letters and other obnoxious pressure-oriented stuff. Oh, and I guess I should link to Ren and Madeline who both tagged me.

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1) Well, since I already shared this over at Ubasics, it's a no-brainer: when I was 16 I used to sneak out of the house at night. I'd jump off the roof below my window, put the car in neutral, roll it down the driveway, and spend the night at my boyfriend's house. I was always a bit of a rebel and really couldn't stand being told what to do...or what not to do as the case may be. I'm really not much different now.

2) Despite being a wild child, I have this incredible dose of Catholic guilt. In and of itself that may not be all that interesting except that I'm an atheist and was raised entirely without religion of any sort, well besides having to say grace at the dinner table. I have this major confessional streak, and I can't seem to release things until I've confessed them and tried to make amends. Maybe this is some kind of past-life residual thing.

3) I'm incredibly loyal and excellent at keeping secrets...except when it comes to gift giving. I have absolutely no will-power when it comes to waiting to give people gifts when I think they will really like it—the excitement is just too much. And on that same note, I was a terrible snoop as a child when it came to Christmas. I used to wait until my mom was out of the house, and then I would slit the tape on the presents under the tree, carefully unwrap them to see what was inside, then put new tape exactly on top of the old tape so no one would know. Of course, I was always disappointed Christmas morning when there were no surprise gifts—I could never understand why my mom didn't hold a few back.

4) I squeal like a little girl. No really, I do. I'm highly startle-able and excitable, and I squeal; it just pops out of me involuntarily. Sometimes Jim will chase me around the house, and I get all worked up like I'm about 5 years old, which of course just cracks him up. I have an overly-developed fight or flight sense.

5) I was supposed to get married once, and I called my wedding off 6 days before hand and went to spend the summer at the beach where Jim and I met. Jim and I have known each other since we were kids, and that summer something just clicked. Truth be told, he was a large part of the reason I called off the wedding. *eg* Though I had really just been looking for an excuse for a while to end a bad relationship before getting in any deeper.

6) I once spent 6 weeks backpacking around Thailand and China and signed up for the Peace Corps, but that was all part of that bad relationship, so the Peace Corps thing got called off along with the wedding, and I went to grad school instead.

7) I have a huge scar up the side of my right shin from a bike accident when I was 13. I had more than 70 stitches in multiple layers and was very lucky that the pedal missed my muscle when it ripped open my leg.

8) My first word was "flower," and I've always been a gardener at heart. I used to love spending time at my great aunt's farm, sleeping in the loft and riding in the wagon. My heart has finally found home here on our farm, and I feel myself putting roots down deep into the earth. This fulfills that part of me that has always felt unanchored, adrift, unconnected to the world as a child of adoption. My family is my world, and I'm finished this silly meme just in time to go outside and milk my goat.

I'm tagging:

RobinCherylKarlLeanneWendy,  StephanieArun,  and Christy