"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: The Magic Room

"After all there is something about a wedding-gown prettier than in any other gown in the world."
~Douglas William Jerrold

When I agreed to review this book, I ended up with some serious second thoughts. A book about weddings- and wedding dresses? I dislike both. I myself have only stepped inside a bridal shoop 2 times, with my sister-in-law then my sister, looking for dresses- for them! I myself spent $100 to alter my mother's champagne-colored dress, designed and sewn by my grandmother. And had that not been an option, I would have worn something non-traditional. I've just never been able to wrap my mind around spending a wicked amount of money on a garment to be worn one single day.

I'm too pragmatic.

But The Magic Room isn't really about wedding dresses. It's really a commentary on marriage in America today. It's a bittersweet story. And I wasn't sure any author in the world could paint a picture of hope out of the sad colors of marriage today. But Zaslow did it.

He documents a historical bridal shop and 8 brides who come to buy their dresses there. I was worried that things would get hokey as the book progressed, but on the contrary, Zaslow's storytelling became more natural and easy as the different stories unfolded side-by-side.

The most striking element of Zaslow's writing, for me, is his reverence and respect for his subjects. He tells the stories of atheists, Jews, Catholics, Baptists. That dreadful postmodern scoffing undertone is absent as he describes the beliefs of the different families.

I cried multiple times reading this book. I thought of myself and my own wedding, but more than that, I thought of my daughter. The Magic Room is far from a parenting how-to book, yet I feel it made me a better mother, just pondering the many situations in it, realizing how soon my own precious daughterr will be facing them.

In the end, The Magic Room was heartbreaking and hopeful, toughing and inspiring. I can't think of a teenage girl, a mother or father of a daughter, or anyone whose ever rolled their eyes at a wedding, who wouldn't enjoy it.

Copy and paste for more:

"A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short." ~Andre Maurois

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Good Enough Christmas

I forced myself outside for a walk today. The sun was shining; the sidewalks were slippery- or under 3 feet of snow; the wind was biting. But I moved.

John Paul is feeling somewhat better, and is moving around. So I'm not just lying in bed with him. Being forced to stay in bed for days is quite curative for the desire to... lay in bed all day! Of course now he's dragging his foot about everywhere and I'm waiting for him to contract some deadly infection in it.

My amazing husband made 7 dozen tamales for Christmas. I told him he doesn't have to get me anything else! That's about 12 meals I don't have to cook.

I gave myself permission to stop trying to meet all the 'recommended intakes' for pregnant women, and I'm just eating whatever I want. Which amounts to some kamut cereal with almond milk every couple of hours. And skipping all my vitamins for now, which are definitely making me feel terrible. Trying not to feel guilty!

I didn't make another coffe cake for tomorrow's breakfast.
We never made cookies.
We lost our favorite Christmas picture book.
There's no dessert for dinner tomorrow.

But there will be presents under the tree and I think it will be a good-enough Christmas.

I hope all my readers have a good-enough Christmas and I look forward to the day things get back to (more or less) normal around here so you'll once again find something interesting going on at BreadwithHoney!

"We trust in plumed procession
For such the angels go -
Rank after Rank, with even feet -
And uniforms of Snow."
~Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What is going on over here?

Mostly it's the nausea, partly it's the depressing weather. Little cooking, little interesting homeschooling, little of anything but lyin' around feeling sorry for myself taking it easy.

But this week it's because my poor little man
had an accident. I was going to take pictures of it, but I can't; it is just too sad-looking. His big sis very accidentally pulled a bench down on his toe as they were getting down from the table and it landed on his sweet, perfect little big toe.

It looked nearly severed and was bleeding profusely. We rushed to the ER- as in, the poor kid was only wearing underpants and a shirt and it was 30 degress outside.

He had to be heavily sedated because he was inconsolable- wouldn't even nurse. The tendons were intact, but the toe was broken, and my two big kids sat and watched the whole thing. Because of course their Dad was out of town that night.

I think that ended up being a good thing because they were so worried and the doctor and nurse did a wonderful job explaining everything they were doing. They gave them pieces of fiberglass splint to feel and told them about the difference between sedatives and locals, both of which John Paul received. It took 7 internal and 10 external stitches (on a digit just 1.5 inches long!) to close the wound. Then it took 2 hours for the poor kid to wake up from the sedative (it should have taken 10 minutes). Making for a total ER trip of 4.5 hours.

So we are mostly lying in bed with him, keeping him comfy and distracted from the enormous amount of pain he continues to be in, despite some pretty serious painkillers he's on. I'm still nauseous and tired and the house is pretty much a wreck. My big kids are acting like saints and, boy, they are learning a LOT!

So much for sugarless sugar cookies. Sorry about that. Next year- I promise.

Well, back to waiting for Ed to bring me my shrimp. You know how it is, one moment everything is fine and the next moment the world stops till I've had shrimp. Pregnancy- sigh.

"Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster, too."
~Lionel Kauffman

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lentil Stew

Lentils are pretty amazing- lots of iron and protein, very low cost.

Lentils work well to extend taco or burrito filling, or even to mix into ground hamburger for hamburger patties. Generally, though, I cook them into a soup or stew with lots of grains and veggies. This is a very easy recipe that even my pickiest eater will gobble up consistently.

Lentil Stew
3/4-1 lb chemical-free sausage (Sunflower Market, if you live near one, regularly puts their chemical-free handmade chicken and pork sausage on sale for $1.99/ lb)
2T ev olive oil, if your sausage is very lean
1/2c chopped onion
1-5 cloves crushed or chopped garlic
2c lentils, washed and soaked for at least 20 minutes
1c rice or barley, washed and soaked with the lentils
stew veggies as desired- celery, carrots, shredded cabbage, etc.
3 qts water OR 2.5 qts water and 2c tomato sauce
1 4" piece kombu, optional
2-3t salt
1t tobasco-type hot sauce

Brown the sausage in the oil with the onions and garlic.
Drain and rinse rice and lentils.
Add water, kombu, hot sauce, salt, then add lentils and rice. Simmer for 1.5 hours, add vegetables.
(You may need to add more water during simmering.) Simmer. Serve when veggies are done to your liking. May add several handfuls of fresh spinach near the end of cooking time.

Mmmmm. Well, right now it would gag me, but usually, mmmmmm.

"Worries go down better with soup."
~Jewish Proverb

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's the End of the World As We Know It

And I feel...

Bread with Honey has a bun in the oven.

So naturally, I have spent every spare moment of the past week decluttering and purging closets, and neglecting this blog.

What, isn't that what everybody does when they find out they're pregnant??? I mean, who can concentrate on feeling crappy with disorganized closets....

And a good choice it was, too, since nauseau has finally set in. I was imagining how embarrassing it will be to write about all the rules I break during early pregnancy- parenting rules, food rules, you get the picture.

I've already eaten pizza, chocolate, and white sugar. I was very convinced I was NOT pregnant for several reasons, including abundant energy and a normal appetite.

A week or 2 late for me personally, but there I was, wandering around the supermarket, aware of the last time I ate, knowing I would need to eat again soon to avoid that terrible, mushy feeling, trying to decide what on earth to eat, starting to feel desperate, "just pick something, anything, it doesn't have to be the perfect food- just decide to eat SOMETHING!!!"

And ushering in thereby, a new, though thankfully temporary, era of emergency-use-only parenting. Which sometimes involves a little too much screen time or a can of soup.

And it means all plans are off for all those sugarless Christmas treats- sorry. I usually avoid sweet stuff like the plague once I'm feeling queasy. And I'm glad I got my favorite lentil recipe cataloged last week:
because lentils are definitely OFF the menu for a couple of months!

Thankfully, our Advent and Christmas plans are operable on autopilot
and it's so darn cold outside that January spent in bed, watching "Planet Earth" videos should be completely justifiable!

I promise some great winter, but non-Christmas, book recommendations, and some fun and very high protein recipes, but maybe with less frequency than usual.

"Babies are such a nice way to start people."
~Don Herrold

Friday, December 9, 2011

I Love Garlic

Winter could also be called Garlic Season at our house.

Usually I mince endlessly, which gets pretty tiresome. So sometimes I resort to pickled or water-packed minced garlic. But my mother-in-law gave me an early Christmas present- a garlic press.

Well, duh. Why have I never 'splurged' on one before???

Garlic is awesome. Not only is it yummy, it is so incredibly good for you.

It is a powerful anti-fungal. If you struggle with yeast overgrowth, a lot of garlic in your diet can be very helpful. Garlic also has some all-around anti-microbial action (i.e. it acts against viruses and bacteria, too). Plus, it contains antioxidants. That makes it an all-around winter super-star.

Winter is a time when, traditionally, there were few fresh vegetables around. Certainly no spinach and brocolli, right? So folks ate squashes, root vegetables, onions, and garlic. In the winter, I add garlic to any meat I'm browning or searing, baking or frying. Roasted garlic (dash of olive oil on a baking pan, 15 minutes at 350) is great added to potatoes, beans, or virtually anything. A friend of mine got me addicted during my last pregnancy to roasted garlic smeared on buttered toast. Drooooool.

My husband also has a super recipe for a chicken sauce made with tomatillos and garlic. It's to-die-for. Promised to you at a later date.

Cutest kids book EVER about onions and garlic (ok, maybe the only kids book about onions and garlic?):

So go garlic something up, ok?

"A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat."
~Old New York Proverb

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meditation on Gentleness, at Christmastime

My first official posting over at Growing Your Homeschool want up today, so if you'd like to read it, do pop over there!

Cut and paste:


"Don't wait for the Last Judgment. It happens every day."
~Albert Camus, The Fall, 1956

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Apple-Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake

I'm not sure why I have the need to hyphenate all my recipe titles.

Sorry about that.

I started making a coffee cake for breakfast on Christmas Day to prevent myself from having to spend any time on Christmas morning cooking. I usually make it several days ahead and wrap it well, storing in the fridge. Many quick breads improve after a few days in cold storage anyway, so it is a great make-ahead.

This coffee cake, like most of my baked goods, is only minimally sweet. However, there are plenty of ways to alter it to fit your family’s taste.

Tools of the sugar-free baking trade!

Apple-Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake
3c wh wh flour or pastry flour
1c wheat germ (or 4c flour)
4t cinnamon
2 large apples, chopped
1c mashed banana
1c applesauce
40 drops stevia liquid (or 1/3 c honey or agave or maple syrup, OR 10 ground dates mixed into the applesauce)
6t aluminum-free baking powder
2t salt
½c coconut oil or butter (may sub vegetable oil)
2c milk of choice, water, apple juice or cider
4 eggs

Streusel Topping
2c chopped walnuts
2t cinnamon
1/4c coconut oil, butter, or oil
1/2c flour
(optional- a couple spoons of brown sugar or a drizzle of liquid sweetener- I don’t add any)

Combine streusel ingredients in bowl till crumbly.

Dump everything else in your big bowl and beat for 30 seconds on low then 2 minutes on medium.

We had a flour mishap so my batter came out like muffin batter. Yours will be runnier.

Spread half in 2 8x8 or 9x9 greased or parchment-lined pans.

I made a loaf pan and an odd-sized casserole. Looks pretty baked in bowls, too. Top with half the topping. Spread rest of batter and top with rest of streusel.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes for loaf pans, 35-45 minutes for square 9x9’s, and 1 hour and 5 minutes for larger pans.

To serve, drizzle with barely warmed raw honey. Also good spread with butter.

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."
~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


On a side note today, I apologize for the ad featuring a baby bottle, if you're seeing that one like I am. I'm trying to figure out if I can pull that one.


No one really cared for my steamed cabbage last night. I got too lazy to stir-fry it, which is palatable for everyone. Sometimes, I'll admit, I get a little delusional about food.
So no biggie, just asked them all to eat a little wedge and enjoyed the accompanying extremely funny faces.

Advent has finally begun for us, after 'missing' the first week in Kansas. I feel really guilty most years for not doing 'more.' But what we do, though repetitive and predictable, is enjoyable and meaningful for our family. Story books, our special nativity progressing towards the stable,
our Jesse Tree book
and impromptu Jesse Tree.

(Can't resist a plug for my favorite Advent book ever- The Jesse Tree: . This book is so fun and easy. We make the decorations after the story every night and hang them up and it's quite the children's favorite Advent ritual.)

Tomorrow my big goal is to get some baking done, including a suagarless apple-cinnamon-walnut coffee cake. Come back because I PROMISE I'm getting it done! And boy, is it yummy. It's our Christmas morning tradition and I'm making an extra one for next week, as my brothers will be visiting us.

"We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action." ~Frank Tibolt

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Vegetables in the Snow

It snowed.
It is snowing.
It will snow again.

A lot.

So much for all the locals predicting a dry winter!

I like snow on Christmas and on ski slopes. That's about it.

So nice to come home, just so... snowy.

I trekked back out in the snow to the grocery store. I can't handle it when my vegetable shelf is empty.

I went a bit nuts:

7 avocados
10 jewelled yams
3 heads of brocolli
2 pounds of carrots
3 enormous heads of garlic
2 extra large onions
3 heads of lettuce
a head of cabbage
a cucumber
a zucchini
a red bell pepper
and a huge butternut squash

And thank goodness mandarin oranges are in season!

Tomorrow we will eat a large portion of those veggies raw, with hummus.

I'm doing something with cabbage and jewelled yams for dinner.

What, that doesn't sound good to you?

You'll see!

And Tuesday I'm going to make something stew-ish or chicken pot pie-ish, depending on how I feel and how much time I spend unpacking.

"When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves -
Welcome wool sweaters."
~B. Cybrill

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cold Turkey

I've had this cold for 39 days now. Yuck. All my herbs and remedies barely keep up with the collosal mucus production. No one else has this yuck hanging on, just me.

Anyway, I will confess I resorted to coffee somewhere in there. There was a time of some of us waking frequently at night, while everyone else was up as usual by seven. So, as it were, I told myself it was a survival mechanism.

But now, weeks later, I'm sure it's running me down more and more. And I have another reason; I may have another reason, a very small one, to be extra careful about it.

We'll see.

In any case, my head is not only quite congested, but also throbbing with caffeine-withdrawal for going on 48 hours. So forgive the poor writing and the extra-boring posts this week. I'm trying to rest. Snuggled up in my 3 dollar cashmere sweater (sure do miss good thrift stores!). Hoping that by the time I have to drive home from Kansas that I'll be able to stay awake for the nine-hour drive naturally.

We'll see.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Well, I've enjoyed a completely unplugged week to celebrate the holiday.

We celebrated Thankgiving (multiple times).

We celebreated Isaiah's First Communion.

We ran in a Trail Stomp. What is a Trail Stomp? Weeeeell, it involves lots of mud, biting wind, poorly marked paths, and me- with a 30 pound toddler strapped to my chest, getting lost and ending up on the "Extreme Trail." To top it all off, I lost my camera and couldn't photograph the evidence- several pounds of mud caked on my butt.


And I've gained 2 pounds.

Now I am sitting on my 2nd favorite chair, in our 'old house,' trying to decide exactly how much I miss Kansas. I'm glad the house hasn't sold so I could come back and feel it again.

If I pretend we never left, it feels suffocating. If I pretend we never come back here again, it aches. If I pretend we come back here for good once we're done wandering, it feels just a bit restless.

And I'm reminded of the words of St. Therese in Story of a Soul, 'This life is nothing but endless aching and sorrow; so many chains of bittersweet goodbyes.'

Er, she wrote something like that. My library is a thousand miles away at the moment, so I can't look up the exact quote.

I suppose it's a special privelege for a Christian, to feel oneself as never-quite-at-home. It keeps one hyper-aware of the fact that this world never will be our True Home.

Good for the soul, but kinda hard on the psyche...

"How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you - you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences - like rags and shreds of your very life."
~Katherine Mansfield

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We love Pomegranate Season!

"It is not how much we do in our lives that is important it is how much love we put into what we do."
-Mother Teresa

Monday, November 21, 2011

Trail Mix Bars and PeanutButter-FauxChocolate-Custard Ice Cream

I started a knitting project as an avoidance behavior. “Wow, I really need to pack and make snacks for the trip…. Or maybe I’ll start that baby sweater….”

Well, the sweater is almost finished, and I’m cutting it pretty close on the trip. But we did make some Trail Mix Bars for the road. While we were at it, we attempted some Peanut Butter-Faux Chocolate-Custard Ice Cream. Just because.

I wanted a somewhat-raw bar. I don’t have any dates (the best for raw bars) and I’ve been wanting to hack a health-food-store trail mix bar for a while now. I’m appalled at the ever-growing number of ‘power bar’ varieties at the grocery stores and the health food stores. Most are just overpriced junk food and you might as well eat a Snickers. So I BreadwithHoney’d the ingredients list to produce a much more nutritious, still delicious, trail mix bar.

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars

Coarse-grind 3c almonds in your blender/ food processor/ etc.
Add 3c o-type cereal and 3c puffed rice, kamut, etc. (I’m using kamut because you can get a huge bag of organic puffed kamut at our health food store for 2 dollars.)

Melt 1 (16 oz) jar natural peanut butter and 1c brown rice syrup over lowest heat. (Only rice syrup or maybe gradeB maple syrup have the viscosity to hold these bars together- honey and agave nectar won’t work nearly as well.)

Combine in your pan a la rice krispie treats. (Add more warmed rice syrup if your mixture is too crumbly- a little crumbly is ok.) Press into a parchment-lined pan.

Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Cut into bars and wrap individually in wax paper. Or just keep the pan in the fridge and cut as needed.


With our leftover ground almonds, we decided to make ice cream for our afternoon snack. I wanted something over-the-top rich. Just because.

Peanut Butter-Faux Chocolate-Custard Ice Cream, dairy-free

2 cans coconut milk, full fat (fat is what makes ice cream creamy)
1/2c course chopped almonds (optional)
1/3c carob powder
1/2c peanut butter (peanut butter always makes carob taste more like ‘real’ chocolate)
2 eggs, beaten (optional, but that’s the ‘custard’ element)
Sweetener to taste- ripe bananas, agave nectar, honey, stevia, etc.

Combine all ingredients except eggs in your blender.

Pour out about 1c into a small pan over medium-low heat. Add beaten eggs and whisk until mixture is cooked, about 4 minutes. Add back to blender and blend again.

Pour into ice cream maker. Turn on according to manufacturer’s directions.


And then my favorite part:

"Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment."
~Robert Benchley

Saturday, November 19, 2011

5 Photography Tips for Crappy Cameras

Usually when I get a complement on the photos here, I say something like, "Oh, it's just my camera. It takes good pictures."

Well, that's a lie.

Shame on me!

There are lots of tricks for taking great pictures with a cheap, crappy camera. My camera is a Kodak Easy Share and cost a whopping 70 bucks. I do like the cheap Kodaks better than any of the other cheap cameras out there, though.

Whatever camera you have, take time to fiddle with the settings. Try them out. And always use the highest resolution unless you need a low dpi for a particular website you're uploading to.

Ok, on to the tips:

#1 LIGHTING- Cheap cameras need lots of natural light. Flash pictures are difficult to do well with a cheap camera. Also, clouds are your friend. Your pics will come out better on a cloudy day than a bright day, because the shadows are soft and the light is even.

#2 COMPOSITION- Zero in on your subject. If it's a photo of your kid, no one wants to see your kitchen cabinets- just the kid. If it's a photo of a flower, don't fill half the frame up with grass. Crop in photoshop if you can't get close enough without blurring your subject. Also, stack your subjects if there are more than 1- kids, cups, cars, whatever; i.e, overlap your kids instead of standing them shoulder to shoulder.

#3 DON'T JUST STAND THERE- Lay down, climb up a ladder, squat. Have your kid look over her shoulder, hang upside down, etc. The angle from which you shoot can lend a lot of interest to your photos. Direct, frontal shots are often static and boring, unless you're intending to convey flatness, find an angle to shoot from!

#4 PHOTOSHOP IS YOUR FRIEND- I realize that not everyone is obsessed with tinkering with photographs. (I said I realize, not I understand!) But if you play just a bit, you can really improve your photos' appeal. Contrast is a great place to start. Increase the contrast of boring pictures to see something pop out at you; decrease the contrast of photos with bright highlights and extreme shadows to see
if it makes the image nicer to look at.

#5 WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS- Try black and white. You'll notice more interesting things about pictures when all you see is light and dark.

See? I knew all those years in art school would be worth something some day.
Happy shooting!

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
~Salvador Dali

Friday, November 18, 2011

BreadwithHoney is writing at GYH

A dear friend of mine asked me to join a new blog,

www.growingyourhomeschool.blogspot.com (cut and paste, sorry!)

and I'm very excited! I'll be writing there every 2nd and 4th Thursday, and I'll link from here on those days. Every Friday is a round-table discussion on a random topic.

Hope to see you over there!

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything."
~Mark Twain

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whatcha been up to?

We've been busy!

We did this:

Lots of this:

Some of this:

Still doing lots of this:

And we've eaten so much we're about to be sick of:
No, I could never get sick of fresh apples!

Not to mention: books, dance, piano, books, bikes, hikes, books, drawing, BOOKS...

I'm in a super mood because of the Indian summer weather we're having! Less cooking, more playing. Recipes will return with the usual frequency once the weather fouls up- pinky promise!

"The most beautiful make-up of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy."
~Yves Saint Laurent