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I wrote this post a while ago, and it’s been sitting as a draft for several weeks.  It’s had good company with many other drafts, sitting for months…I do hope to write more regularly around here soon.  As an update to “what I’m thinking” below, we have had changes in napping – for the better! Motherhood is just amazing as life unfolds before me…sometimes the greatest effort is not meant to be and things happen on their own.  Onward…

What I’m thinking:  Cooking, while happening every day, is still taking a backseat to other things in our home.  I usually have enough food to feed us, but not as much surplus as I’d like! Napping – usually not me, unfortunately – is a top priority.  Have you ever constantly “chased the nap” with a child who doesn’t care to sleep during the day? I did have a realization yesterday that despite my attempts and love of the outdoors we are not getting enough outdoor time.  And, I am placing too much emphasis on the nap and not on life.  If I flip those things around, the sleep will come, right? Anyone care to back me up on this theory? I know that it shouldn’t be this hard.

What we’re doing:  Learning and reading, along with our children, is a constant.  Our rich homeschool curriculum, courtesy of Ambleside online, coupled with a pretty amazing new Charlotte Mason-inspired co-op has us reading, discovering, handicrafting, running…

Our nature study walk earlier this week (updated:  a few weeks ago) led us to a surprise chestnut tree, bearing smooth gifts inside the spiny and prickly balls.  What a treat to walk under this immense tree and collect chestnuts that had fallen and also try to pry open the cracked sharp balls that protect the chestnuts.  We had a wonderful time foraging and I remembered how my great grandmother had a chestnut tree in her yard.

We took the air conditioning units out of the windows last weekend (updated:  a few weekends ago).  Exhale now. Except…just one tiny problem…the heat and humidity came back! This week (updated:  actually, that was a couple weeks ago) was met with highs in the 80s with humidity near the 90% mark.  A great big “ugh” from me.  I was just getting into the swing of roasting in the oven and soup making in my beloved enameled cast iron pots.  More to come…patience, my dear.  (updated:  most days are now cool; nights are for socks now!)

A chili contest at our local library.  We’re so proud of daddy for entering.  What a great time he had dishing out chili to friends and hearing many lovely compliments.

What I’m feeling:  It’s finally fall and I’m slowly settling back into myself.  It’s a time of year that I relish (too short in the Northeast as the temps dip very quickly after the heat and humidity of the summer).  This is a time of reflection for me, as well as a time of change in attitude.  Overcoming disappointments is difficult when the body is out of balance (as mine is in the summer) and so as I take the upward swing, I can see action plans abound with how to deal with challenges.  I will be OK.  We will be OK and move forward.  Life has been great to us; we have amazing things ahead of us.  We are blessed.

DSC_0001What I’m cooking:  This stir fry was made over the summer.  I could not resist taking a photo of the amazing colors.  Talk about eating the rainbow.  I just look at this and feel my pains go away.

DSC_0002 2This slow baked sweet potato (baked almost two hours and incredibly soft and sweet) was topped with a kale, apple and butter bean saute.  You can see the caramelized onions peeking out underneath.  We love to put caramelized onions on everything!

DSC_0003And, this picture shows the lime cilantro cashew cream sauce that was drizzled on top.  A big hit with everyone.

DSC_0019Rosemary onion socca.  Have you made socca before? It’s a gluten free, vegan cake-like flatbread that is so easy to make.  Add a few ingredients to your blender, pour into cake pan, add a few more ingredients and bake! Total time takes about 40 minutes.  This is a nice side to the one pot meals we make.  Last night (updated:  a few weeks ago) I made a caramelized onion version of it to go with our roasted tomato soup (really delicious – well worth the effort).  This is the socca recipe I use.  I have never let it sit for the two hours and it turns out great.

DSC_0002 3A very dear friend of mine, trying to reduce lunchtime dishes, suggested this wonderful idea to have a dip and veggies.  Here’s an example of one of our lunches.  The kids loved this idea! I loved the reduced amount of dishes, of course.  The dip above is one of our favorites from Dreena Burton, Eat Drink and Be Vegan.  It’s the sun dried tomato and olive version.

I’ve been making this caramel apple dip nonstop.  It’s really delicious.  I’ve used it as a dip for apples and asian pears, and also as a frosting for cupcakes.  And, as a super special treat, I have been dipping pieces of my favorite chocolate – Theo 70% dark chocolate – into it.  It reminds me of the caramello bars of my youth that I wouldn’t touch now (too many junk ingredients and GMOs).  We love Theo chocolate because it is organic and fair trade.  We’ve been having dinner table conversations about fair trade lately.  It’s a lot for an almost 8 year old and 4 year old to grasp, so we are keeping it basic while introducing awareness to the importance of buying fair trade.  Simple Mom’s Tsh wrote about the importance of fair trade chocolate recently, in anticipation of the big chocolate holiday Halloween (updated:  how was your Halloween?).  A really important piece worth reading.

What I’m reading:  Although this blog post by Chef Amber Shea is months old, I was touched by it and wanted to share.  No exclusionary labels.

The New Persian Kitchen by Luisa Shafia – my eyes have been opened to Persian cooking and I’m so trying these recipes! I love the colors in this book, the flavor combinations and the philosophy behind Persian cooking.

Money, a Love Story by Kate Northrup – I have been a fan of Dr. Christiane Northrup since I was a teenager and read Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom when it was first published.  Dr. Northrup’s daughter, Kate, wrote a book about money and our relationship to it.  This is on my to read list, for sure.

As a long time fan of Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, I’m soaking up all he says about unschooling on his new blog Unschoolery.  It all resonates with me.  In many ways, I find him to be the voice of the future of education.

Celebrate the beauty of real, whole foods with me this Fall.  What are you cooking/reading/thinking?