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Ski 5 Ski 5
Ski 5



Although we are experiencing some sub zero temperatures, we are finding our way outdoors.    We have a solid base of snow for cross country skiing and between after-school ski practices, MYSL and weekend outings, we're logging a fair amount of kilometers on the trail.

Coffee shop 2
Coffee shop 2

Duct tape crafts
Duct tape crafts
Duct tape crafts


We are staying warm, even given our recent sub-zero temperature cold snap.   We recently tried out a new coffee shop in town with a welcoming atmosphere after a cold and snowy ski.  We have been keeping ourselves busy inside, the kids experimenting with duct tape crafts, the mama with some knitting projects.  On these winter days we are also savoring summer blueberries and backyard maple syrup with pancake breakfasts.

Wishing you a great start to your week!

North House Folk School


















As part of our weekend getaway to the North Shore we took part in several events at the Family & Intergenerational Learning Weekend at the North House Folk School.  Friday evening we participated in the Contra Dance, Saturday my daughter and I took an afternoon knitting class (where she learned the craft and I worked out all of my bad habits) and Saturday evening we joined in a wood-fired pizza bake with other families that participated in classes and offerings over the weekend. We had a lot of fun connecting as a family, meeting some new people and participating in these fun events at the North House Folk School.

pumpkining in kindergarten








Here are a few snapshots from short, busy and fun week in kindergarten.  

In the lesson plans were:  pumpkin investigations!

Monday:  Pumpkin seeds (My garden was generous this year I grew 16 pie pumpkins - and I had a couple donations - so each student was able to investigate their own pumpkin.  I brought home one 5 gallon bucket of pumpkin "guts" for the chickens - and two 5 gallon buckets of cut and seeded pumpkins.

Monday night:  The kindergarten teacher (and husband) roasted pumpkin seeds, the kindergarten teacher also bandaged the blisters that she got from slicing and cutting the tops off of 18 pumpkins.

Tuesday:  Roasting pumpkins.   In class we roasted a crockpot full of sliced and seeded pumpkins throughout the day, sharing with the kiddos one way pumpkins can be cooked.

Tuesday night:  Roasting pumpkins - I had two crock pots going at home roasting pumpkins overnight and during the daytime to make the most of our harvest.

Wednesday: Pumpkin puree and pumpkin smoothies.  In class I showed the kids what part of the pumpkin that we make into pumpkin puree and we celebrated our efforts by making (and enjoying) pumpkin smoothies.

Wednesday night:  Before we went out and celebrated our anniversary, I finished up making pumpkin puree from all of the baked pumpkins.  I was able to put up over 26 cups of fresh pumpkin.  (I freeze it in 2 cup servings in quart freezer bags.)

Another successful year of pumpkining at home and school - done!

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Now I just need to make it through a Halloween on a Monday night.

If you are looking for some pumpkin inspired ideas, check out my recent post on

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herbs, ketchup, peppers and pizza










I had a productive afternoon in the garden, kitchen and pantry.   I harvested some herbs to use and to dry.   When I was tidying up and taking inventory in our pantry I found some hiding pickles, salsa and canned tomatoes from last season.   I decided to use up our canned tomatoes to make some ketchup - a family favorite, especially in the summer when we do a little more grilling.   I also ground up the peppers I dried last fall so they are a little easier to use.

 The season of harvesting, preserving - and enjoying the garden's bounty has officially began!



I spent a good part of a rainy day yesterday in the kitchen and pantry drying herbs, making ketchup from the last of our canned tomatoesI gathered my big first harvest of herbs.  I collected some basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano and chives.  After those were washed and drying I decided to go through the pantry, where found our last jars of pickles and four jars of home canned salsa that were overlooked in all


Easter Egging









This past weekend we spent some time dyeing some Easter eggs.  I know these moments will all four of my children gathered around the table doing projects like this are not going to last forever - so I am making the most of this time with them.  This year we used a kit and also made some of our own natural dyes (our 11 year old taking the lead).  It was fun to see the unique colors that come from boiled onion skins, blueberries, cabbage, coffee, beets and turmeric.  Everyone had fun with the process, and we were all happy with our products!

in the kitchen








The August harvest is beginning! I am happy to be collecting cucumbers, peppers, raspberries and herbs from my garden.  I have also been supplementing our garden harvest with beans, and salsa fixings from farmer's markets and road-side stands to fulfill my desire to line my pantry shelves with home canned goods.  Along with my pickled beets I have recently made salsa, dilly beans and my first batch of garden dill pickles.  

I love this season of harvest that accompanies our short summer season!

summer popsicles


It is still summer.  

Sometimes I need to remind myself that as the weather is cooling and some leaves are already starting to change color in our neck of the woods.  Even though we are slowly purchasing school clothes and items on supply lists we are still in summer mode - making these days count.

And with that, I just wanted to take a minute to share a feature recipe I put together for the July issue of Minnesota Parent Magazine.

Check out the article here, and go make some popsicles!


maple syrup yum










A successful season of sugaring has come to a close.  I am learning a little bit more each year.  This year I boiled down about 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to produce at least a gallon of maple syrup.  

This morning we celebrated with blueberry pancakes for breakfast!

Later this week I will be hosting a pancake party in my kindergarten classroom to share with my students who learned about the process and helped record and collect sap from our schoolyard maples.  Our class also donates some syrup to a  local non-profit for a fundraising auction that helps support our school and community.

It has been a sweet harvest!

hot chocolate and popcorn



We are currently embracing temperatures hovering around 30 below zero, it might even dip to that lovely -45 zone in the early morning hours.

Temperatures like this favor time indoors, hot chocolate and popcorn.  

In fact, this has become quite a habit during our frequent cold snaps.

Usually, at some point during these cold winter days I will pull out our big blue bowl, fill it with a batch of stovetop popped popcorn and make enough homemade hot chocolate to fill up a set of enamel mugs.

On these cold days the sun always seems to shine producing much solar gain.  That, along with the warmth from our wood stove keeps us all plenty warm indoors. 

If it is going to be too cold to really enjoy being outside, we just might as well be warm and cozy indoors with hot chocolate and popcorn.

Here our go to recipe for hot chocolate:

Perfect Hot Chocolate 


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa (we use Hershey's or Equal Exchange Baking Cocoa)
  • Dash salt
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 4 cups (1 qt.) milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Miniature marshmallows or sweetened whipped cream (optional)


    1. Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to serving temperature. Do Not Boil. 

    2. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired. Five 8-oz. servings.