Three Days To Halloween!

October 28, 2008

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and it sneaks up on me every single year. September still feels like summer and then October gets here and I still have 31 days but suddenly I don’t and ohmygoodness I am running behind! Again!

Fortunately I thought ahead for costumes. My sister is in the SCA and when I saw a photo of her gorgeous Viking-style Apron Dress I knew I wanted one. She very generously offered to make me one, with a Viking tunic for Sam (my two-and-a-half-year-old) and one for his Dolly. I knitted little Viking Helms for Sam and Dolly to wear, and a lace smoke ring (aka wimple, cowl) for myself. (Of course, it is five thousand degrees in Los Angeles. I am hoping the temperature will drop by Friday.) Most exciting (for me), I sewed up a little tote bag from Halloween fabrics for Sam to use as a candy bag.

While I do some last-minute decorating and plan a fall meal for this weekend, here are some links:

  1. Mighty Goods has a Halloween Costume Guide.
  2. Earthchick celebrated the Autumn Equinox with some baked goods that would be perfect for All Soul’s Day.
  3. The eggplants at my local farmer’s market are gorgeous. Martha Stewart has a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan that looks just delightful.
  4. The Crafty Crow has been all-Halloween lately and I want to do every single project they link to.

What are you working on? Are you planning ahead for next year, as I am? Even if you don’t celebrate Halloween, please share your favorite autumn recipes, craft projects, et cetera.


Fall Cooking: Jerk

October 14, 2008

I’m not calling names — I’m talking about traditional Jamaican food!

My family loves spicy food, but more important than heat is flavor. We get both with a good Jerk. Pictured above is a vegetarian meal based on the wonderful book Jerk: Barbecue from Jamaica. Below you can see the non-veg version, featuring jerk chicken. (I don’t eat meat, but my husband and son do.)

I made Rice & Peas to go “wit it,” and improvised some blackened string beans — actually green beans from the local farmer’s market. The meal was complete with baked sweet potatoes.

(As an aside: I usually buy the orange-fleshed garnet sweet potatoes, and this week I bought these yellow-fleshed ones and they are even tastier! I did not think it possible.)

We used the jerk rub, which is made with fresh ingredients, for the chicken and tofu, but we like to keep a jar of the dry jerk seasoning on our spice rack at all times, and that’s what I used on the beans. The basic recipe is below the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly(ish) Challenge: Rearrange

October 13, 2008

As fall starts to show its face in Los Angeles I find myself in nesting mode, getting ready for winter. (We do get winter here, though it’s nothing like the winters in New York, where I grew up.) I am casting on knitting projects, organizing books, and planning meals — something I rarely do the rest of the year, being a winging-it sort of cook most times.

The light is different in autumn, and the breeze is cooler. I need to make the most of one while avoiding the other, and I am looking sideways at my furniture, wondering how to move it to best use the space. Where is the best place to put this chair where we read stories? Should I turn the bed so the afternoon light doesn’t interrupt Sam’s nap?

This week’s challenge is to make the best use of your space, to move that chair or do whatever you need to do to make the most of fall.

Cooking With Toddlers

September 23, 2008

I have a post up at my personal blog today about making a meal with my son. He didn’t do any of the actual prep (this time) but he was with me and I think that kind of participation is just as valuable as any other!

Several weeks ago I bought a ton of fresh chilies at the farmer’s market, insanely cheap, and made some chili with them by cooking them with an onion and I think some garlic and a beer until everything was soft. I then froze the whole mess. This weekend I put up a pan of pinto beans to soak, and yesterday I made the world’s hottest chili (and by hot I mean picanté). While I was prepping the sides, Sam asked to help. He wanted to sit on my back, but it turns out that doesn’t work so well in the kitchen (piggyback is how I carry him most of the time, now that he holds on). The Ergo was down in the car so I grabbed the sling…

The post is here. Enjoy!

How do you involve your children in mealtime prep? Any tips, secrets, or advice?

Weekly Challenge: Save Energy

September 15, 2008

With fall’s rapid approach it is much darker in my little apartment and I am having a hard time keeping myself from turning on every single light! I’m making a conscious effort to instead move a little closer to the window, open the blinds a little wider, and focus on things that don’t require artificial light in the evenings (though watching TV may not actually be an improvement, since it uses electricity too).

I’m also trying to line dry as much of my laundry as possible, to not run the dish washer until it is full, and to turn things off when I am not using them. And it is finally below 90° in Los Angeles (for now) so I am not running the air conditioning.

None of my efforts are big. But they add up to make a difference. What will you do?

Back to Home School

September 7, 2008

We’re a homeschooling family (unschoolers, really) and I believe several readers are as well. I’ve been reading so many happy back-to-homeschool blog posts lately, and wanted to share a few.

Eren @ This Vintage Chica manages to mix public school with unschooling ideas, which is a combination that baffles me but also makes me really excited because it proves that every family can make education work just right for them.

Stefani @ Blue Yonder wrote a marvelous post a few weeks ago about the worries and joys of the beginning of the (home)school year. More recently she described a calendar project she helped one of her sons make.

Tiffany @ Nature Moms wrote about the k12 curriculum, which she gives a rave.

Papaya Mom wrote about realizing that homeschooling isn’t the right choice right now. The reason I am so pro-homeschooling is because I think as parents we are best able to understand what our children need and give it to them–even if it is school!

Lori at Camp Creek Press wrote about all the different types of homeschoolers and how she and her family have evolved. I love the diaper bag analogy! We went to the store today and didn’t bring a single diaper with us. Does that mean I am evolved?

Soulemama wrote a wrap-up of her family’s summer, showing that learning doesn’t stop for the summer and never stops being fun.

Jessica @ Balancing Everything shares some observations from a homeschooling pool day.

Lastly, I have three links for you from Heather @ Oh My Stinkin’ Heck. First she talks about her three children’s very different attitudes. Then she discusses their curriculum and how much “school” happens each day. And lastly, she answers some reader questions.

Got a favorite homeschooling blog? Please share the link! I am always curious about how other families are doing things.

Friday Favorites

September 5, 2008

Want your post featured here? Email me: todayshomemaker AT noirbettie DOT com.

The Little Herb That Could

September 2, 2008

My garden was dead. Neglect and a hot August shriveled the leaves and I wasn’t sure I could save anything. We’d gone on an eight-day vacation and left our plants to fend for themselves. The jalapenos had stopped flowering already, and I was resigned to the idea that the tomatoes would probably die.

But when we got back I watered everything anyway. And while the peppers really were done, and the herbs that were in a shallow container are beyond resucitation, my tomatoes are giving it one last gasp and my sage is looking better than it did before we left.

Any late-summer miracles in your garden?

Be Back Soon!

August 23, 2008

Today’s Homemaker will be back with regular posts after Labor Day.

I am beginning to think about the next Carnival, which will most likely be holiday-themed.

If you have expressed interest in joining me in writing for the site, I will be in touch shortly. There is plenty of room, so please contact me if you are interested (todayshomemaker at noirbettie dot com).

Thank you, everyone, for your patience.

Unplanned Hiatus

July 22, 2008

Sorry, guys! Some stuff came up and before I knew it, a week has gone by. I’m having a little trouble with time management, and I’m afraid this site is suffering for it.

I’m going to take a few more days to figure out how I can best serve my various writing commitments; I’ll be back soon.

One of my plans from the moment I offered to take over the site for Sarah was to bring in other bloggers to make the site as well-rounded as possible; if you think you might be interested, leave a comment or send me an email (todayshomemaker at noirbettie dot com) with a little bit about yourself.

And don’t forget the Flickr group! Your photos are so inspiring to me.