Author Archives: Nancy

About Nancy

wife. mother. writer. editor. Join me on my journey at https://lifetakesover.wordpress.com.

StoryMob Fun

The kids and I recently did a recorded read-aloud for World Read Aloud Day and StoryMob’s Mini-Mob Mania. So.Much.Fun.

Click over to our videos on YouTube below—one French read-aloud and one English read-aloud. We invited a friend to join us in the making of our read aloud videos. We had a ton of fun doing this. The kids came up with so many great ideas for how to act things out and what to use for props. It was imaginaction at its best.

Don’t forget to share your videos and send them to StoryMob at storymobs@gmail.com by February 19 to be included in their World Read Aloud Day Mini-Mob Mania!

DjabouNDawDjabou N’Daw – Un conte d’Afrique en Français: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rFlunNu8Cs

 

 

 

BedtimeIsCanceledBedtime is Canceled – A fun bedtime story in English: https://youtu.be/tmjqruE-p3o

 

 

Advertisements

For the Love of Reading

So, I’ve been busy. I went back to work at the beginning of January and my blog has been left alone and lonely.

We’ve been up to plenty of things (around the house mostly, because I still can’t drive), but I haven’t had time to post our fun.

But I couldn’t stay away today, no matter how busy I am. It’s Family Literacy Day and we’re all about reading (and writing) in this house.

Little Brother finished another Reading Road last night (way past his bedtime, but hey, who am I to say turn out your reading light when I’m snuggled in my bed way past my bedtime reading just one more chapter?)

Big Sister is working on writing chapter 5 of her first French story. And she won’t go to sleep at bedtime unless I read her a chapter from one of her Beverly Cleary books and then she reads a chapter from her Judy Blume book. (We really need to start the bedtime process at 5:30pm to get everyone in bed and read to by 9pm.)

Husband has picked up the reading bug big time. (He’s always been a reader, but since my surgery, he’s spending more time de-stressing with a good book before lights out.)

And me, well, I read constantly, and everything I can get my hands on.

So, while taking a break from some reading for work, I stumbled on a site shared on FB by a friend of my mother’s…StoryMobs…and I’m totally stoked for their upcoming events!

One of the events StoryMobs is doing is going to coincide with World Read Aloud Day on February 24th this year. To join in the fun for World Read Aloud Day, all you have to do is pick a favourite story, use your imagination and a smart phone (or other video recording device), then add costumes and actions (if you want), and get your family and friends to join in the fun and read with you (pick a character each to read aloud and bring the story to life!)

You can make it as elaborate of a production as you want, or you can keep it simple with a straight read-aloud from the book. You can do a whole story book or just a few pages. Anything goes!

Make a video of you and your friends and family (whoever you invite) doing your mini-mob and then send it to StoryMobs at storymobs@gmail.com by Friday, February 19.

They ask that you please try to keep your video clips/files small so that they can include everyone who submits a video. StoryMob will then share their final collection of mini-mobs with their subscribers, via social media (FB, Twitter), and on their YouTube channel as part of Read-Aloud Day festivities on Feb 24!

Isn’t that cool?!

So we’re gonna cuddle up this weekend and make our mini-mob video. I’ll come back here and post it when its done and I have a free minute. I’d love to see your read-loud mini-mob videos, too! You can post your links in the comments!

And keep reading!

chocolate covered peanut butter balls

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

So, I was rushing to get it all done and I missed reading all of the instructions. Ooops.

Sometimes, that can be a problem. Turns out it wasn’t in this case. So I’m here to tell you to just throw it all in together and save yourself the time so you can bank a little of it for snuggle time with your kids or an extra few minutes with the hubby (or…some time ALONE).

chocolate covered peanut butter balls

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 C creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp salted butter, softened
1C+ powdered sugar (icing sugar)
chocolate to melt for coating (I use Merckens chocolate wafers. You could also use chocolate chips.)

Instructions

(What the recipe said to do…)

Mix peanut butter and butter together in a mixing bowl. Gradually stir in powdered sugar until combined well into a dough ball. If needed, add more powdered sugar a little at a time until mixture holds together in a large ball.

Cover and refrigerate to let peanut butter dough firm up, about 15 minutes. (You can also cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to form balls.)

With cold hands, shape dough into small balls and place on a baking sheet; refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow to firm up again. (The heat from your hands will make them soft.)

Melt chocolate and dip cold peanut butter balls, one at a time, into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper or parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set and ready to serve.

chocolate covered peanut butter balls

chocolate covered peanut butter balls

chocolate covered peanut butter balls

chocolate covered peanut butter balls

chocolate covered peanut butter balls

(What I did…)

Mix peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar together in a mixing bowl until combined well into a dough ball. If needed, add more powdered sugar a little at a time until mixture holds together in a large ball.

Cover and refrigerate to let peanut butter dough firm up, about 15 minutes. (You can also cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to form balls.)

Shape dough into small balls and place on a baking sheet; refrigerate some more to allow to firm up again. (The heat from your hands will make them soft.)

Melt chocolate and dip cold peanut butter balls, one at a time, into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper or parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set and ready to serve. I used a wooden skewer to dip them (actually, I also used a spoon and dripped the chocolate over the peanut butter balls) and touch them up.

These were a hit with everyone this Christmas. I added them to my Christmas goody trays and put out platters of them with other chocolate goodies. It’s pretty hard to beat chocolate and peanut butter together.

Stovetop Beef Stew

One Pot Stove-top Beef Stew

Dinner this time of year can be challenging. There are a lot of things to do as we prepare for Christmas.

Some of those things even involve slowing down and enjoying the season as it happens.

But to do that slowing down thing, and to get all the other things done, meal planning and prep sometimes takes a backseat.

Basically, we gotta get fed to keep moving. But time is of the essence.

Not knowing what to do with it, I took a pound of cubed beef out of the freezer this morning. I figured inspiration would hit me sometime around 4:15pm—an hour and 15 minutes before we had to leave the house for the kids’ school Christmas concert (or Winter Concert as the school calls it, because, apparently, they aren’t even supposed to say “holiday” concert anymore).

I wouldn’t exactly call it inspiration, but it did hit me that the day was quickly approaching the four o’clock hour and I hadn’t done anything with that beef.

Christmas concert nights are always pretty late nights, so I wanted something that left minimal clean-up.

Here it is…beef stew on the stove in one pan. I didn’t even use a cutting board to cut up the vegetables. I cut them up over the pot.

Stovetop Beef Stew

Super easy to make, and not just because it had minimal ingredients and cooked up fast. But because it required very little thinking and almost no planning (except that the meat had to be defrosted).

Ingredients

1 lb cubed beef or stewing beef
1/2 a medium onion cut into large pieces
1 large potato cut into large cubes
2 medium carrots peeled and cut into one inch pieces
2 celery stalks cut into one inch pieces
1 and 3/4 cups of beef stock (or two cups depending on how thick you want it to turn out)
Corn starch
Oil

Directions

Add a splash of oil to the pot, toss in the beef and a couple of tablespoons of corn starch. Stir to coat the beef. Let the beef cook for a couple of minutes until brown.

Add the onion and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the carrots, celery and potato and another tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir to coat the veggies, then add the beef broth. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat, stirring occasionally. Cooking time is roughly 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to cook for a few more minutes until it thickens. Stir occasionally. (I added a sprinkle of oregano at this point.)

Serves four.

As beef stews go, I was told at the dinner table by several members of my family that this is the beef stew they like the best. I’m glad, because it’s easy and clean-up was a cinch!

Time Consuming and the Creative Process

I’m a consumer. So are you. We all are.

I’m not talking about shopping here. I’m talking about consuming time. Using it up for things that we love to do and things that we don’t love to do so much but that have to get done.

I’ve always kind of wondered where my time goes. It seems like I’m busy all the time, even when I’m not busy.

Then it hit me while I was doing eight things at once and three of those things were just happening in my brain. I hadn’t yet started to actually do them.

That thing happening in my brain? That’s the creative process.

I’m doing the family banking, organizing some files and tidying up the desk. And those are the tasks that I’m physically doing.

But all while I’m doing those things, I’m planning dinner, planning crazy hairstyles for the kids for Crazy Hair Day at school, and making a mental list of all the other physical things I have to get done before I leave for a meeting with my daughter’s teacher in the afternoon.

And time is just slipping away.

I consume it like a greasy cheeseburger from a favourite burger joint; quickly slopping into it, hunched over, eyes darting back and forth as if watching for some predator to come and steal the meat from my very hands. I lurch from one bite to the next as if starving, fully enjoying but never really savouring every bite. And then I am full. Filled with the burger that I didn’t slow down to enjoy. I’m no longer hungry, but I am not filled.

That is what time is like. Unplanned, unchecked, time slips away from us as we check off our To-Do lists and add new items to be done soon. We are never really satisfied with the consuming of time unless we can slow ourselves down to savour the time that we have.

We may enjoy checking off that endless To-Do list, but did we enjoy the task that we did? Did it fulfill us? Do we even remember doing it?

Slow down and savour each task, no matter what the task.

This will mean that there will be less time for more tasks, but there will be more space for savouring the task and therefore more understanding about what tasks should be on our To-Do lists and what tasks don’t belong there.

Homemade oat milk with honey

Vanilla Oat Milk with Honey

I was back at the blender this morning.

We ran out of almond milk last week and the weekend got away on me, so there was no almond milk for breakfast Monday morning. Sad.

Luckily, it only takes a few turns of the blender and we had delicious vanilla almond milk once again.

It was also time for more oat milk—this time with honey as a sweetner.

All the steps were the same, except instead of adding medjool dates, I added two tablespoons of honey.

Oat milk with honey

Super easy to make. Very yummy. Try it! And let me know what you think!

——————————————————-

Ingredients

1 Cup of Old-fashioned Rolled Oats
3 Cups of water
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons of Honey

Instructions

Add first two ingredients to blender and blend. I have a Blendtec, so I use the Whole Juice setting (and I don’t strain my milk).

Once blended, you can strain the oats out using cheesecloth. (I skip this step because I like the creaminess that the blended oats give the milk. Plus it’s easier and less messy—huge benefits in my house.)

Add the vanilla and honey to the milk in the blender (if you’ve strained it, pour it back in the blender) and pulse 2-4 times to mix together.

Chill and serve.

Cheers!

Nancy

Oat Milk

I’ve been experimenting with my Blendtec lately; trying new milks and breads.

I’m always looking for simple and delicious. I’ve got kids, so I need to save time and make things that my kids will eat.

Almond milk was a hit with the over-four-feet-tall crowd in my house. The under-four-feet not so much. They’ll grow into it.

Peanut butter bread was a hit with everyone.

After I wrote about making almond milk, a blogger friend of mine mentioned oat milk. It certainly peaked my curiosity. It has never been on my radar before. In fact, I can’t say outright that I hadn’t heard of it before. I’m sure I had, but I just never really paid attention. All sorts of nut milks are on my list of things to make (I love nuts), but oat milk?

I do love a lot of things that are made with oats, though, like oatmeal, oatmeal cookies (my mom’s chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are the best!), homemade granola bars, oat crusted fish, oat crusted chicken and so on. But I’d never really considered oat milk before.

I’m always up for something new, though. So today, oat milk was it.

My friend sent me a link to a blog that had a recipe for it. I followed the recipe and it turned out great.

It meets all my criteria: simple, delicious, minimal fuss. There’s no planning ahead with this except that it’s better cold, so you have to refrigerate it once it’s made and waiting for it to get cold takes some patience. But to make it, you don’t have to remember to soak the oats like you do when you make almond milk.

You can drink this sweetened or not. Since oats are kind of sweet once soaked in liquid, I wasn’t planning on sweetening the milk, but I thought I should give it a try just to see what it was like.

I bought some old fashioned rolled oats at the Bulk Barn (I only had quick oats at home to make breakfast in a flash for me and the kids). I also picked up the pitted and dried medjool dates at the Bulk Barn. (Thought I’d use what was called for in the recipe rather than honey or agave syrup, which are my two go-to liquid sweeteners.) (I’ll try it with honey next time I make it…because there will be a next time.)

20151202_120633

The easy part comes next:

Pour the three cups of water and the one cup of oats into the Blendtec and hit Whole Juice.

20151202_120609

It blends up nicely. It looks very creamy.

20151202_120652

I then poured the liquefied oats through my cloth strainer. (I will try using cheesecloth next time. The oats got so well-blended in the Blendtec that the liquid just wouldn’t strain through my cloth the way it does with almond milk.)

20151202_121018

The recipe suggested you could drink the oat milk unstrained if you like it thicker. I was pretty sure that a thicker milk wouldn’t bother me, but I like to try recipes exactly as written the first time, then the next time I will stray from the prescribed method. Anyway, what happened was I couldn’t squeeze the liquid through the cloth with all those finely ground oats in the bottom of the cloth, so I just dumped it all back into the blender and added the dates and vanilla and blended it again on the Whole Juice setting. (You can kind of see the film of blended oats in the cloth. It took a good five minutes of rinsing the cloth under hot water to get rid of the oatmeal paste. Not a bit deal…just saying.)

20151202_121637

It turned out great. Rich, thick, creamy, not too sweet.

20151202_122838

With a less powerful blender, you probably would want to strain it a bit. And next time I make it, I will strain it using cheesecloth to see what the difference is.

I make our breakfast oatmeal using milk, not water. I can see this oat milk being a great liquid to use in place of milk for making oatmeal because it’s all the same flavour and oh so creamy.

Thanks to Being Mummy at elskenewman.com for the suggested recipe! It was simple and cheap to make. You should give it a try!

Cheers!

Nancy