Mondays: Baking with Norah

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Norah has been inspired these days by this show and was wanting to branch out and bake something a little more fancy this week.

Her heart was set on a cake and she wanted to include berries with pink frosting.

She chose a recipe for a simple yellow cake from Joy of Cooking but added mixed berries that she had cooked down with some sugar.

She strained the berries to make a simple syrup which she then added to a cream cheese icing to get the pink hue she was going for.

Once the cake was cool she adorned it with fresh strawberries and icing where she got to use her new piping set she got for Christmas. She tested out each tip size and used the finest one for a face on each strawberry.

It was so much fun watching her come up with her very own creation. I helped a little but really just followed behind wiping and cleaning up.

Next week she wants me to have a list of ingredients laid out when she comes down in the morning to challenge her to make something with them.

I see a future cooking show star on our hands!

Black Bean Brownies

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Last Monday Norah was away on a trip with friends so we didn’t get to making bagels. We are excited for the opportunity to visit our favorite bagel shop in town next week to help make a batch so we decided before we brave our way through making our own we would wait to get some tips from the professionals.

Today Norah wanted to bake brownies.
Because she really enjoys watching cooking tutorials (as do I) we skimmed the Martha Stewart site and became intrigued with a recipe made with black beans.

It was a simple recipe with a short list of ingredients all of which we had on hand.
These brownies are decadent, chewy, rich, moist and fudgey.
And taste great with a cold glass of milk.

Life learning

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I have had many readers over the years ask me to share here about our homeschooling path and to be honest I have dodged those requests mainly due to the fact that I thought it may be a complicated/personal thing to write about but truly it is all very simple.

Looking back I am not sure why we chose this path but it has always felt like the right fit for our family and runs in alignment with who we are. Both Chris and I never really enjoyed nor excelled in school. We are self taught, hands-on type learners so it made sense to instill this in our own children by experimenting with the unschooling philosphy although, I prefer to call ourselves life learners. I mean we are all life learners right? Each and every one of us learns every single day in all that we do. There is just no way to avoid learning. It’s innate in humans to want to learn at all times.

It’s empowering to think how much we are capable of in teaching ourselves to do anything and everything. Hannah and Norah have both taught themselves how to do so many things on their own including how to read. We do not follow a curriculum of any sort but rather allow our girls to make their own choices about what they learn and when they learn it which in turn lets them pursue their passions and explore deeply those subjects which most interest them. We are always here of course to facilitate and support them. When we notice an interest beginning to bubble we put on our facilitator hats. For instance when Norah began talking about hosting a restaurant at our home I began to ask her questions, prompting her to come up with more ideas.I asked my cousin who owns a restaurant and catering business if we could come and help in her kitchen one day so Norah could get a feel for the restaurant world.

Now it’s not always our job to help the girls with their learning path. Sometimes it’s beyond us, which is why we like to encourage them to find what they are looking for from outside sources. We live amongst an amazing community of people with a wealth of knowledge and talent. We all learn from a diverse pool of people.

We are so lucky to live in a dynamic and vibrant town and to be so close to Open Connections, a natural learning education center, where both of my girls attend 3 days a week and where Chris also works. The girls attend there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for programing spending days with their Papa while I work my part time job. Chris works as the property manager as well as a facilitator, teaching programs based on nature, science, woodworking, rocketry, archery, etc. It’s a dream job for him and I love that my girls can be right alongside of him in a job that he loves.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, Hannah has taken on a internship at Open Connections on Mondays tending to the land,the animals and working on outdoor projects. Norah always has an agenda for our Mondays together which will now include baking.

Fridays have turned into our adventure day where we are off on field trips/excursions exploring new places, maybe seeing a play or visiting with friends.

Our week has a nice rhythm with just the right amount of variety. The girls partake in various classes such as sewing and dance and they like to make plenty of time for friends. They are very social beings.

Now this is all not to say we don’t have our bumps and challenges and that I am always a confident homeschooling mama who never worries or frets over whether she is making the right choices or that she may be giving them too much freedom or that she may not be providing her girls with what they need. Oh I do have those moments for sure. But for the most part we take this journey together one day at a time, learning every bit of the way.

The photos above are of Norah yesterday who wanted to paint while her cheesecake was baking.

Baking on Mondays with Norah

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Hannah has taken on an internship this year so on Mondays it’s just Norah and I. Norah is a dynamic young lady full of creativity and a passion for cooking, baking, eating and food! She loves to work in the kitchen. She loves to host friends and family for meals and is always concocting up a new recipe. She excels in breaking me out of my “comfort zone” in the kitchen. The other day we were having a friend over for dinner and I was pressed for time and decided to make a vegetable fritatta. Norah insisted (she is a very persistent child) on making a quiche instead. I argued we didn’t have time to play around with a crust nor did I have much experience with quiche but I gave in and we ended up with one of the most delicious meals we have made in a while!

In the new year we thought it might be fun to make Mondays our baking day and to strive to make new things we have never made before. Yesterday we made a new york style cheesecake from this recipe. I have always thought cheesecake was an overly involved and tricky cake with a long list of ingredients but we found it was quite easy and simple really. We didn’t have enough graham crackers on hand so we substituted some homemade gingerbread men left over from the holidays for the crust. We also added a bit more lemon than called for. Santa brought Norah a citrus press for Christmas! It was rich, creamy and delicious with the perfect lemon zing. Norah and I were both beaming as we undid the spring form pan.

Next week…… bagels!!!

A sneak peek of Norah’s room

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When Hannah moved up to her new room last year we promised Norah a little room make-over.
She has been so patient as she has been sleeping up with her sister and living out of baskets over the months. As her room sits at the top of our stairs, I always had the door closed to hide how much work was to be done.
It feels so good almost a year later to have finally made some major progress.

When we first bought our house our budget only allowed us to put in new hardwood floors in the downstairs only. We put a cheap sisel rug down in the upstairs with the intent of one day putting hardwood in. Finally this spring Chris started that process and put floors down in Norah’s room and out into part of the hallway.
It made such a difference! I can’t wait to do the rest this fall!

A few weeks back I painted the walls this color and I cannot tell you how much I love it. It is so calming and peaceful and looks great against the wood pieces in her room.

Norah’s little Jenny bed was my mother’s when she was a girl and her bureau was her great, great, great grandmother Gladys’s.

We hung white dotted Swiss curtains which brightened things up a bit along with a white cotton quilt for her bed. My mom gave her a beautiful antique hooked rug and I found a little side table on craigs list which I want to eventually paint grey.

There are still shelves to be hung along with some artwork. And Chris is working on making an extension to the radiator cover for a makeshift desk.
We are also working on renovating her closet with both shelving and hanging.

I now find myself going upstairs for no reason at all but to just reach the top of the stairs with a door wide open and a happy little girl inside.

Hannah and Norah

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hannah: you love sweets and tea. not a week goes by where you don’t make us all a tea party. i surprised you with applesauce cake for breakfast. you thanked me at least ten times.

norah: you came down with a dress, stockings and maryjanes on. not your typical attire. i couldn’t stop looking at you all day. i saw who you will be in 5 years over and over.

Turning 8 and a Sleepover

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While talking to my mom the other day she told me she had been a bit disappointed with second and edgemont as of late.
thanks for the nudge mom, you’re right, i’ve been a bit absent.
she even reminded me i hadn’t posted about norah’s birthday yet!

our little norie turned 8 this november.
her birthday wish was to get her ears pierced and have a sleepover party.
both went quite successfully.

i hardly snapped a photo (hence the blurry not so great photos above) of the celebration since i was busy with a party of 12 girls. yes you read right, 12!
it was our first experience hosting a sleepover party and it actually ran quite smoothly especially for such a large gaggle of girls ranging from 7-12 years old.

there was pizza making, chocolate cupcakes with butter cream icing, rainbow looming, and a movie .
oh and there was lots of chattering, laughing, squealing and screaming in between.

chris and i were quite surprised when we found them all asleep by 11pm.

i heard the first few up whispering at 6am which soon turned into giggling and then loud thumping.
a game of “slide down the staircase in your sleeping bag” had begun.

our cue to get up and start making pancakes.

It warms my heart


it warms my heart…
~to see how much you two enjoy one another.
~to find you reading to one another
~to find your dolls wrapped up in my scarves after a morning of play
~to hear you giggling in bed in the morning
~hear you hug and kiss at night and say i love you.
~norah,that you still call hannah sissy.
~to see how totally different you are from one another yet it is completely clear that you are sisters.
~to know that you will always be the best of friends.

Hannah and Norah


hannah
:: you are determined to run the media 5 miler again this year. you started training this week.
:: you have been spending a lot of time drawing and writing in your journal. you drew the most beautiful picture of papa sitting in a tree today


norah
:: you told me the other day you have always wanted to be a dog but the one problem would be you would only get fed once a day. you love to eat.
:: you are such a night owl and you usually stay up later with papa while hannah and i go to sleep. these last few weeks though you have been asking me to sing you to sleep. your favorite is “stay awake”.

Norah


inspired by this lovely lady i think i’ll give a go at a “portrait a week” of my girls.
i am a bit late in the game but here goes.

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norah
you wanted to invite a friend over for dinner this week and you had me help you put together a winter picnic on sunday for you and a neighbor friend. you get so much joy from cooking, eating and sharing meals with people. i am almost certain that one day you will own a restaurant.