Thursday, September 27, 2012


I know I'm not the only person out there who is constantly amazed by their children. I don't know why every time I'm amazed I'm also surprised. But I suppose that's part of the meaning of the word amazed.

My 12-year-old son is a boy through and through. But he has a tender spirit, he always has. He's not witty like his brother, he's quiet and contemplative. It takes a lot of explaining for him to get jokes but when he does he has the best laugh. He is a rule follower and does what he's asked. He has a talent for teaching himself how to do things and especially has a fondness for the arts: music, poetry, drawing, science fiction stories, computer programming, video making and more.

Last week I asked the kids to do a "free write" day where they can write what they want. I found this in my inbox all typed up:


Skies are blue sometimes,
Other times they're grey.
But when the sun shines through,
We all run outside and play.

We pretend that we are soldiers,
Conquering the world.
We sail on ships and fly in planes
And we're always tossed and hurled.

We pretend that we are spies,
On super-secret missions.
And when we come across a villain,
We'll put him right in prison.

We pretend that we traveled,
In to the future.
And when we come back home,
We will have had an adventure.

I love their poetry. I love it for the imperfections and the thoughtful descriptions they include. I have never taught them how to properly write a poem or the different kinds of poems that are out there, they have simply read poems and run with it. I have always loved poetry if I ever take the time to read it. I also like to write it, again, if I take the time. I don't know if it's because he's my child or because I know he won't play this way forever or because he seems to appreciate the fun he has being a child and exploring the skills he has as a writer. Perhaps it's all of it. I feel a sense of peace and perfection at this moment. I want to savor this feeling. I don't want to hold onto it forever, just take the time to be thankful for my life, my children and the amazement they continually give me.

Canning bean & bacon soup with Tattler lids

My son helped me film my first ever howto video on Tuesday.

My girlfriend wants to come over so I can teach her how to can, but between our 11 kids and our crazy homeschool schedules I realized it would not happen any time soon.

This video is for her or anyone else looking for a canning tutorial. I used Tattler lids to demonstrate how to use them and I used a yummy soup recipe and included that as well. It ended up being 27 minutes long, we still have to figure out all the editing tools, but when you consider canning is an all day (or at least 1/2 day) process, I don't think 27 minutes is too bad.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tasty Rooster Pot Pie

My friend gave me a recipe for Casserole Queen Pot Pie (look out for pop ups on that site) last year and it really is a great recipe. But in my usual fashion I have to fiddle with things and make them more accommodating for our silly family to make and eat. Yesterday, my silly sister was here and gave me some of her pointers on how she has changed this dish. The recipe format that I printed a year ago drives me crazy so instead of rewriting on a note card I'll type it here so I can come back and easily find it when I want to make it again in the new "mama-lost-her-brain-so-has-a-hard-time-following-the-recipe" format.

As usual I'll triple the recipe from the original and when I make it. Should make 3-4 pie plates full. Great to make extra to stick into the freezer and a great way to use up that canned chicken or stewing hens you didn't know what to do with.

Tasty Rooster Pot Pie

Thaw 3-4 sheets of rolled up pie crust (I keep this on hand from the store, can find in the fridge section near the quick biscuits, etc. I also keep them in the fridge but if they are frozen, thaw now.

Be sure you have roasted or boiled 2-3 chickens/stewing hens/roosters to have the meat from them. If you don't have enough chicken, be sure to use potatoes or more veggies.

Cut up:
2-3 lg onions
3-4 cups carrots
1c red or green peppers or broccoli (or both, I've used cabbage in this before too)
Chickens, cut 2-3 chickens into bite sized pieces.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven. Add cut veggies, let them cook 5-10 min, stir frequently. Add chicken.

Get a jar of milk out and if you have chicken stock handy, that too.

2 tsp salt
2 tsp thyme (or tarragon but we prefer thyme)
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 c. white flour
stir these in and be careful the flour doesn't burn

Start adding slowly:
2 cups of cream (optional, I always just use goats milk)
4 cups of milk (or more, really you have to do this by look, just add a little at a time, stir, let thicken, add more)
2-4 cups of chicken broth (optional, adds great flavor just use more milk if you don't have this)

Cook & stir until you have it thick and bubbly.

3-4 cups fresh or frozen peas
1/2-1 cup of dry white wine (also optional, good with or without)
4 potatoes, diced and steamed (I have taken to not making potatoes separately for this, it's more time consuming and they aren't needed. However, potatoes are always a good cheap filler so if you have leftover baked potatoes, mashed or roasted potatoes, use them in here. Also potatoes freeze well after they have been cooked, I have a couple bags of chopped up taters in the freezer just for this occasion.)

Make an egg wash:
1 egg mixed with
1T milk

Divide your hot, bubbly goodness into how ever many pie plates, casserole dishes, dutch ovens, etc you like. The more you divide it out the more crust each portion gets. Add the puff pastry or phyllo or pie crust to the top, brush with egg wash, then cut slits in the top.

Bake in a 425 degree (F) oven for 30-45 min, or until you can't stand the wait any longer.

Beautiful roosters aka future pot pie fillers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sweetest Nuns, my story

I have a friend, her name is Ella. I used to call her Liz, when we were young.

She is beautiful, always has been. I met her when I was 15 and she had come to Alaska to "fix" her life. She had lived in California before that and needed a do-over, Alaska is good for that.

I have a husband, his name is John. I used to call him Ron, when we were young.

He was in love with Liz.

He did prayers with Liz every morning. They were young, zealous Orthodox Christians. He was tortured by his love for this girl.

He discovered a saint, named St. Xenia. She is renowned for helping drunkards and also for finding a spouse. He began to pray to her, to ask her to help him figure out if this was the girl for him to be his wife. St. Xenia answered his prayers and took away his love and replaced it with a different love, the friendship kind and he knew he should not marry her.

Liz traveled to Jerusalem. Ron worked 2 jobs. I flirted with Ron.

Liz found a monastery full of wonderful nuns and wanted to stay. Her priest said, "no! You have to come home with us and at least say goodbye to family, you can't just stay." She obeyed him and came home.

She said goodbye to her family and found a closer monastery with 3 sweet Greek nuns in the States. They allowed her to stay. She was so happy.

A month after she left, it was the feast of St. Xenia. We sang an akathist to her. Ron fell in love with me. He wanted to marry me.

I married him.

We are *usually* happy.

I got to see my friend this weekend here in Alaska. I don't miss her until I see her, but that's just how I am. The States are so far away. I adore her. My daughter, Xenia, adores her too. I'm sad that she leaves tomorrow.

Liz and her troubled past is no more. Ella is a wonderful, beautiful woman. Full of kindness, wisdom, struggles, and laughter. She even has goats. She loves my children and they love her.

What a lucky girl I am to have the sweetest nun for a friend.

Some of the names were changed for privacy reasons.