Another eBook Bundle is coming!

8 Apr

I’m excited! I’m still really enjoying the recent Healthy Living bundle that I posted about last year, especially the laundry detergent that was included as a bonus, and the recently completed Coffee Table Conversations.

The next one is going to be a Homemaking bundle, including some budgeting eBooks, homeschool curriculum resources, healthy cleaning materials, cookbooks, and of course some great bonus products (and yes, most of them are available to Canadians).

This bundle is priced at only $29.99–ten bucks cheaper than the last one.

I will be posting some affiliate links in the days to come. I don’t even expect any of my readers to order it, but I share it because I have found these bundles to be great deals for some really wonderful resources. There’s even a money-back guarantee.

Stay tuned! The sale will begin on April 23rd, for one week only.

Adios for now!

Heart shaped bird treats: very successful!

30 Jan

Just a little update on my bird treat tutorial (http://frugalurban.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/bird-treat-ornament-tutorial-good-last-minute-diy-hostess-gift-idea/): it’s been hugely successful! Here is what is happening daily right at our dining room window!

The tiny birdies announce their arrival with a series of peeps and chirps. They continue to peck chirpily for a few minutes before darting off. They come several times a day, and are absolutely delightful. If you don’t have any bird feeders yet, they are easy to DIY or really cheap to buy. If you are in an apartment, can you boldly find a nearby tree to hang a feeder in? I am just amazed at how much this has warmed my heart. And in such a cold winter, I need all the warming I can get!

Weaving!

25 Jan

We did some weaving at our most recent art class at the gallery, and it has inspired a bit of a unit study over here!

First, I cut out my paper loom that came in Issue 8 of the now-defunct Craft Magazine. Here it is in action:

Fun! We already made a small . . . thing . . . with the loom and now it has me thinking about making a larger loom. I’m really impressed with some medieval weighted-warp looms I’ve seen pics of.

I also dug up my copy of Silas Marner and am reading it to the kids. It is a story of a cottage weaver at the time when weaving was dying as a cottage art, and being taken up by large mechanized factories in the cities. (More appealing is the story line about his cold heart being warmed by a sweet little girl, Eppie, who comes to live with him).

Back to our own crafts, the neat thing about doing low-tech weaving is that it highlights the problems that higher-tech machines attempt to solve. I have a much better understanding of this process having attempted it.

I will let you know what else we come up with in our little unit study!

Aylmer canned plum tomatoes BPA free!

14 Jan

Check it out!

Beautiful shiny metal inside; no icky white plastic!

The Best Before date on the bottom says September 11, 2015. This is great news! So many companies now going BPA free.

I’m guessing they are still phasing it in, and also wouldn’t want to admit that BPA is a bad thing since they have been using it in their packaging for so many years now. I’ll be interested to see whether they ever officially announce it or just let it happen.

Please let me know if you have observed any changes in your favourite brands.

Lovely no-knead whole wheat bread

27 Dec

My bread from yesterday turned out lovely!

As I mentioned yesterday I combined the Master Recipe from “Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day” with the New York Times famous no-knead bread technique. Keep in mind, I used supermarket “whole wheat” flour which isn’t very whole grain at all (most supermarket “whole wheat” flour is simply white with the bran added back in).

In my version I used the large-volume ingredient list from the “Healthy Bread” recipe, but altered it to the smaller amount of yeast (relative to the size of the recipe), room temperature proof and closed-vessel cooking method of the NYT recipe.

Here is my recipe from yesterday:

Lovely Whole Wheat No-Knead Bread

Makes one huge loaf, or several smaller ones.

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white all purpose flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (available at bulk stores, or under the Bob’s Red Mill product line)
1 tbsp kosher salt
Slightly heaping 1/2 tsp instant yeast (my approximation based on the quantities in the NYT recipe)
4 cups water, room temperature

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well (this will help to prevent the vital wheat gluten from getting lumpy when the water is added). Add water and stir to combine. Mix until it is a uniform consistency; the dough will be shaggy.

Let dough proof at room temperature, or a tad warmer (like in the oven with the light on) anywhere between 14 and 20 hours (mine was probably more like 10 hours, and it worked out fine). Two hours before baking, shape it into a boule or a b√Ętard, using floured or wet hands, and place it on a well-floured tea towel to proof. Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven at 450 degrees with a baking container and lid (large Cloche [clay baker] or a lidded, enameled cast iron Dutch oven) set on the lower rack to preheat.

When proofing is over and oven is preheated remove the hot baking container from the oven and tip your dough into it. This will likely be a messy affair, but that is okay: these are rustic loaves we are looking for. I have not yet figured out a way to prevent the dough from sticking to the tea towel). Put the lid on and place in the oven.

Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. Then remove lid and continue baking for another 30 minutes or maybe even more, until the loaf interior reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer, and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Let the loaf cool thoroughly–about an hour–before slicing into it. We enjoyed ours with some Christmas turkey soup. So yummy.

And now, back to bread

27 Dec

After a bit of a baking hiatus, I’ve been back to bread baking the last week or so. I just had to whip up a batch in my new-to-me giant bread bowl–one of my favourite gifts this Christmas (thanks Mom!). (That’s my oatmeal soaking in the background).

For the recipe I used a combo of the “Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day” master whole wheat loaf, and the famous NYT no knead bread recipes (the ingredient list from the former, but with the reduced yeast and room temp. proof of the latter).

I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Three words for 2014

24 Dec

I just read an article the other day by blogger Chris Brogan which suggests choosing three words to focus your intention for the new year. Sort of like a New Year’s resolution, but a tad more general.

Mine came to me this morning: in 2014 I will Create, Engage, and seek Grace.

Create

I am happiest when I am creating. Whether it is stirring up a batch of bread, casting on a new knitting project, or blogging something worthwhile, I love the feeling of adding something new to the world. I also like to think I am teaching my kids not just creative skills, but also a mindset of creation–not just consumption. However, it is all too easy to forget this in the midst of all the stuff that has to get done, so I’d like to remind myself to create more often.

Engage

In the same context as mindfulness, I find that I get more satisfaction out of life when I am more engaged with what I am doing or who I am with. As much as I HATE when the person I’m talking to on the phone is casually checking their email (yes, I can tell!!) I have done it too. Not good! I know I’m not following the conversation as closely as I would if I were simply engaged with what was happening. I would like to remind myself to be more engaged–in this as well as other facets of my life.

Grace

I would also like to become better at forgiving myself. I’m pretty good at forgiving others, but I can drudge up a naughty list a mile long on myself. One of the things I love about church is the reminder that Grace is there for us, whenever we ask. We can start over. It’s a new day. So when I slip up and check my email during a phone conversation(!), or when I buy those crackers instead of making them from scratch(!!!), or when I commit other more terrible sins, I can remind myself I’m only human. Not perfect. I can take a deep breath and accept that offer of Grace.

And go cast on a new pair of woolly mittens.

What are your words for 2014?

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