In My Kitchen

Food, Faith and all things Family

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Family Book Picks – July

July was full of exploring new parks, picking berries, making jam and playing in the water.  We did still manage to read lots of books, though.  Here are some highlights.


Chasitie (age 3) – Chasitie had a new favorite almost each week this month!  They were:

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss  A simple story about one little boy’s faith that seeds will do what they are designed to do.

May We Sleep Here Tonight by Tan Koide  This mystery was a hit for a week, got “too scary” for a couple days and then reappeared in the frequent requests!

Yankee Doodle illustrated by Steven Kellogg  Not exactly a preschool level story line, but the song has catchy words, the pictures are full of detail and she liked to talk about what the young boy was doing on each page.

Naomi (age 3) – Comet’s Nine Lives by Jan Brett  The fun (mis)adventures of a cat as he searches for a comfortable home.

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle  A very pink wordless book about friendship.

Andrew (age 6) – Thimbleberry Stories by Cynthia Rylant  Four stories about the neighborly antics of the colorful characters that live on Thimbleberry Lane.

Jonathan (age 9) – The Bellmaker by Brian Jacques Books in the Redwall series continue to be favorites.

Samuel (age 9) – Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques  Again . . . books in the Redwall series continue to be favorites.

Abi (mom) – Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat  A hilarious tale about the author’s boyhood pets.  I will certainly share it with the boys and check the library for more of his books.

Harrison (dad) – The House You Build by Duo Dickinson  This was lent to us by an architecture loving friend.  It has many good suggestions for determining how much house a family really needs to build and making the best use of the space you can afford to build.

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A Red, White and Blue Treat – Patriotic Popsicles


Like most kids, ours love popsicles and request them often in warm weather.  Since we appreciate real food, we usually choose to make our own from a wide assortment of whole fruits, 100% juices and miscellaneous other whole food ingredients.  I put together these red, white and blue treats a couple months ago for Memorial Day.  With July 4th coming up we might have them again soon.

What I used:

Red layer – 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, cherry juice

White layer – 1 cup yogurt cheese**, honey

Blue layer – 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, water kefir

What I did:

I softened the strawberries and blueberries (in different bowls) but did not let them completely thaw.  I added a small amount of liquid and used an immersion blender to make a slushy consistency.  Yes, I splattered berry juice all over myself and the counter . . . try to keep the vents (holes) of the blender below the top of the berry mixture (a regular blender would contain the mess, but I don’t have one).  Add more liquid if necessary but try to keep it somewhat thick.

I added honey to the yogurt cheese, making it a little sweeter than I usually do since freezing seems to diminish sweetness.  In other words, I knew it wouldn’t seem as sweet once it was frozen.

I filled the popsicle molds with the strawberry mixture, then the yogurt mixture and finally the blueberry mixture.  The tricks to keeping the colors layered are, 1) keep the mixtures somewhat thick and 2) drop the yogurt in gently and don’t fiddle too much with smoothing it out.  I was able to fill 12 Tupperware molds (I think they are smaller than others available) and still have a little bit of each mixture leftover.

**See this post for yogurt cheese instructions (look at the end of the apple dip recipe) or use greek yogurt.

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What patriotic themed treats will your family enjoy for the 4th?

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Family Book Picks – June

Here’s what we’ve been reading, requesting or listening to lately.

Chasitie (age 3) – The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman  Mrs. Bird needs a new nest . . . or does she?

Piggies by Don and Audrey Wood  A rhyme for quieting little fingers.

Naomi (age 3) – I Love It When You Smile by Sam McBratney  Mama kangaroo will go to any length to cheer up her little one.

The Stray Dog by Marc Simont  How “Willie” finds a home (true story!)  I’m sure Naomi wishes this would happen to her.

Andrew (age 6) – Frog and Toad Treasury by Arnold Lobel  A humorous chronicle of the everyday adventures experienced in good friendship.

Samuel (age 9) – The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis  6th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Jonathan (age 9) – He claims that he’s not read anything good this month.  I do know, though, that he has enjoyed our current read aloud, Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.  5 children discover an ancient Psammead (or Sand Fairy) while on summer vacation.   They discover that their dearest wishes aren’t quite what they expected!

MomThe Good Master by Kate Seredy  This wonderful story set on the plains of Hungary is a Newbery Honor book from 1935!

DadThe Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler


Noticing the Rainbow Around Us – Celebrating All the Colors!

Summer hit and we aren’t following a school routine, so it has taken us a couple weeks to make a few rainbow projects happen.  Most of our adventures seem to involve food, art and books!

We made a Rainbow Salad for supper one night; the whole thing was delicious!


Of course you have lots of other veggie options if you make one for yourself.  We choose the following:

RED – red pepper

ORANGE – shredded carrot

YELLOW – roasted golden beets (milder than red beets, roasting heightens the sweetness and no staining involved!)

GREEN – lots of lettuce underneath it all, but we like seeds in our salad, so pepitas make the green arc

BLUE – it might look white, but if you smelled it you’d know that it is blue cheese for sure

PURPLE – diced “red” cabbage and onion

Rainbow Fruit Kebabs were a fun addition to our Sunday supper snack one evening.

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Again, you have a bunch of options.  We had available:

RED – red delicious apples

ORANGE – peaches (the skin was sort of orange)

YELLOW – pineapple (fresh or canned would work; I had some dried that we used)

GREEN – kiwi

BLUE – blueberries (I forgot to look for fresh ones at the store, so we had to make due with our frozen ones; they were the tiny wild kind and didn’t want to stay on the skewers very well!)

PURPLE – grapes

If you need rainbow craft ideas, check here and here.  Both sites have lots of incredible ideas.  We (I) chose a simple painting project that repurposed the watermelon (rinds) we enjoyed on Father’s Day!  (I trimmed the bite marks off so we could have pretty, even arcs.)  Since I buy paint in large squeeze containers I’m always looking for something to dispense it onto for use in projects.  I cut open a thick paper bag to use this time.

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I really like the finished result.  They make a good replacement for the faded poinsettias that were still over the coat pegs until earlier this week!  We do need different red paint though . . . our new bottle dries pink!


BOOKS – These are in no particular order and represent a huge variety of ways to explore and enjoy God’s amazing colors.  I find new ones each time I go to the library, so the list has gotten rather long.  Our favorites are starred.

**Red-Yellow-Blue: Colors in Art by Silke Vry  A fascinating history of color in art with interactive projects and puzzles.

**Growing Colors by Bruce McMillan  Vibrant pictures of fruits or vegetables on their own and as they grow.

Color by Ellen Lawrence  Fun, simple experiments for experiencing color.

Light and Color by Malcolm Dixon and  Karen Smith  Explores the science of light and color with short explanations and projects.

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni  A chameleon explores colors while trying to figure out which one identifies.

Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary by Julie Larios illustrated by Julie Paschkis  Bright illustrations of animals accompany poems about animals in imaginative and realistic colors.

**Kitten Red Yellow Blue by Peter Catalanotto  Mrs. Tuttle keeps track of each kitten by the colored collar it wears.  The colors correspond to the profession of the person to whom the kitten belongs.

Red Green Blue by Alison Jay  Colors are seen and illustrated by common nursery rhymes though the rhymes themselves aren’t printed in the book.

Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman  A unique exploration of how various colors are experienced throughout the year.

Patrick Paints a Picture by Saviour Pirotta  Patrick learns to what colors to mix together to create other colors while painting a picture with his aunt.

Marcos Colors by Tomie dePaola  Simple board book to introduce names of colors in Spanish.

**Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh  A fun color mixing book.

All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka  Not rainbow colors, but we still celebrate them everyday.

The Deep Blue Sea by Audrey Wood  Each page of the story adds a new color until a rainbow appears at the end.


My Color Friends – I haven’t gotten to see any of these in person yet, but they look like fun.  A family who travels the world has put together some books that illustrate individual colors with photographs they’ve taken during their travels.  The books are available on Kindle and in print.

Here is a week long unit study based on Margaret Wise Brown’s The Color Kittens from DerivingMommyhood.  I was surprised and disappointed that our library did not have this book.  I like the absorption color wheel idea.  I hope to adventure into color mixing with the little ones in the next couple weeks.

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Noticing the Rainbow Around Us – PURPLE


We had a few grapes and bought some eggplant.  The kids’ favorite eggplant dish is Moussaka, but this time we made some Ratatouille in the crockpot.   We couldn’t find any purple peppers and no plums are available this time of year.  We did try making Purple Cows – a combination of concord grape juice and milk!

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Andrew decided that the purple mustache was cool, but the drink itself wasn’t that good.  Maybe it would have been more of a hit if I’d made it with ice cream.

PURPLE BOOKS – we didn’t have one purple book on our own shelves!

Purple Little Bird by Greg Foley  A bird discovers that too much of even a favorite color  isn’t quite right.

The Purple Balloon by Chris Raschka  A sad but gentle tale to introduce young ones to the concept of someone facing the prospect of death.  I was really tempted to send this back to the library without reading it to the kids.  I finally decided, though, that it would be easier to read it for the first time without the reality looming directly in front of us personally.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes  A fun story that illustrates how difficult it is to humble oneself when wrong and the blessing of repentance and restoration in relationship that follows.

Lunchtime for A Purple Snake by Harriet Ziefert  Grandpa walks his young grand-daughter through the process of creating a painting.

Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold  Creative story about some amazing purple socks with many unusual uses.


Lots of purple flowers to spot this time of year.  How many kinds can you name?


My idea for this project was to make “button stamps.”  I’d seen buttons glued onto corks to make stamps and thought we could replicate that.  I didn’t have any corks, but I did have a bunch of bottle caps.  I glued the buttons to the caps and let them dry.

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Unfortunately, white glue does not do a good job of adhering plastic to plastic.  The buttons that weren’t immediately picked off by little fingers quickly succumbed to the suction of the paint on the paper!  Thankfully, it was just as fun to dip the caps themselves into the paint to make circles.



Grapes by Andrew

Grapes by Andrew

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Family Book Picks – May

Here are few of the books we enjoyed this month.

Chasitie (age 3)The Bear Went Over the Mountain as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani  The traditional rhyme has been expanded to encompass all the senses; lots of fun!

Naomi (age 3)If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff  Follows the adventures of a little girl and the pig with whom she shares her breakfast.

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert   Another favorite with both girls this month; colorfully illustrates fruits and vegetables for each letter of the alphabet.

Andrew (age 6)Flight by Robert Burleigh  The exciting story of Charles Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight in 1927.

Jonathan (age 9) – Young Marines Basic Guidebook  Says he didn’t read anything else interesting this month!  Young Marines is a program for youth ages 8-18; their core values are leadership, discipline and teamwork.

Samuel (age 9)The Dangerous Canoe Race by Lee Roddy  A humorous mystery about “what’s in the box and “are we going to win?”” (Samuel’s words)

Abi (mom)What It Is Is Beautiful by Sarah Dunning Park  A small book of “honest poems for mothers of small children.”  I tried to pick a favorite but couldn’t decide; they all make me cry ’cause they express the reality so well.

Harrison (dad) – He didn’t have time to read this month–he was too busy working on the Dragon Legends exhibit for Answeris in Genesis!  Scroll down near the bottom of this article and you’ll find him adding lights to the banners.


Jonathan has some poison ivy here, but it looks about 50 times better than it did earlier this week!

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The Lord Is Good


“The Lord is good, tell it wherever you go.

The Lord is good, tell it that others may know.

Tell of His goodness and tell of His love;

Tell of His mercy from heaven above.

The Lord is good, tell it wherever you go.”

We’ve had a couple hard weeks, but these words have played often in my heart over the last couple days.  It’s fairly common for Sunday’s songs to echo throughout my week.  These words, though, I haven’t heard in ages!  I think they are from a Good News Backyard Bible Club I would have participated in long ago.

Goodness is one of God’s essential qualities and He does good things for me.  Placing these words in my heart is one of them.  They’re not magic.  They haven’t made the trial disappear. They haven’t diminished the challenges.  They have helped me shift my focus away from the struggles and onto the good things that are part of every day. For truly, even in the hard days the goodness of the Lord can be found.

I haven’t kept my eyes on the Lord’s goodness every minute.  Yet even when I am faithless, God remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).

The following lines are from Cecil Frances Alexander’s poem  All Things Bright and Beautiful.  The board  book All Creatures Great and Small illustrated by Naoko Stoop contains this poem.  It was a good one for us to have from the library this week.

“The tall trees in the greenwood, The meadows where we play,

The rushes by the water, We gather every day;

He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell,

How great is God almighty, Who has made all things well.”


“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  Psalm 27:13

Are you dwelling on your struggles or letting God redirect your focus onto His goodness?

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Noticing the Rainbow Around Us – BLUE {and homemade bubble solution}


BLUE CLOTHES – These are quite popular around here!  It would be hard to find a day when we aren’t wearing blue clothes.

BLUE FOODS – Not many foods are blue by nature!

Blueberries – eat them plain, make jam or sprinkle some on fruit pizza.

Blue Corn – and therefore blue corn tortilla chips; if you can buy blue corn meal, make some blue corn bread!

Blue Cheese – make some dip for veggies or serve on hamburgers – YUM!

Blue Potatoes – but some would call these purple instead of blue

BLUE CREATURES! – It was fun to consider the number of these God has created; searching for pictures was our treasure hunt for this week.  Here are just a few.



Blue Herons

Blue-footed Boobys

Blue Whales

Eggs laid by robins (seen above) and other birds


Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey  The best blue book of all! I remember my mother reading it to me.

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds  What would you do if you had no blue?

Ziggy’s Blue Ribbon Day by Claudia Mills  An encouraging story that recognizes everyone is gifted in different ways.

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck  What could turn everything in a room blue so a little girl can go to sleep?

Big Blue Whale by Nicola Davies  Non-fiction about the life of a blue whale that flows like a story.

Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell  Follow two blue jays through the process of raising a family. 

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle  Several of  Carle’s multi-colored animals lead up to a brief explanation of the artist who inspired Carle’s colorful creatures.

DSC_0686 DSC_0682BLUE PROJECT – braided denim bracelets from old blue jeans.  Fairly easy but a little too complicated for the little people.  They had fun watching and wearing.  If I can figure out a neater way to finish them I might do a “how to” post someday.

BLUE ART – I’ve been doing these marble paintings with the kids for years; it is probably my favorite painting project. Remember to don your paint shirts; that marble likes to jump out sometimes!**

Start with any type of disposable pan. (You can reuse the same pan for years; don’t bother to wash it out.)

Cut paper to fit in the bottom of the pan.  Cut lots of pieces before you start; watching the marble roll around and create designs is kind of addicting!  Store any unused papers in the pan for next time.

Drop a marble into paint and then place the marble on the paper that is in the bottom of the pan.  Use a spoon to transport the marble if you don’t want too much paint on fingers.


Tip the pan gently back and forth to allow the marble to roll.  The marble will leave paint “tracks” as it rolls.DSC_0690

Dip the marble into more paint as necessary until you are happy with your piece.DSC_0688

Allow to dry and display.DSC_0698

**I find that one of the best things to keep on hand during painting projects is a package of wet wipes!  They clean up drips and smears quickly before they dry and can remove a great portion of wet paint off little hands before they hit the bathroom sink . . . or toilet seat . . . or walls!

HOMEMADE BUBBLE SOLUTION – this gets in the blue post because of the main ingredient!  I don’t like the smell, but it really did not work well when I tried another soap.  If you have any suggestions or another recipe, please send a comment.

3 cups water

1 cup original Dawn dishwashing liquid (not antibacterial)

6 tablespoons light corn syrup OR 2 tablespoons glycerine**

Gently mix together in a large container.  Try not to stir up bubbles–good luck!  Allow to rest overnight to strengthen the solution.

**I’ve tried both and am not sure that one is better than another, so use what you have on hand.

Ideas for the older ones:

Blue Ridge Billy by Lois Lenski

Blue Willow by Doris Gates

Which state is the Bluegrass State?  If you can figure that out you’ll know where we live!

Why is bluegrass called that when it’s still green?

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Noticing the Rainbow Around Us – GREEN {with apple dip recipe}

Creative Commons D Sharon Pruitt

Creative Commons – D Sharon Pruitt

Since we are in the middle of spring we are surrounded by wonderful growing greenery of all shades!  When I am asked what my favorite color is I usually settle on green.  It is nice by itself, but it also accentuates all the other colors nicely.

GREEN BOOKS – These seemed to be in short supply both on my own shelf and in the library.  In addition to the few listed below we checked out books on green frogs and green lizards.  Green sea turtles would be another option.

Verdi by Janell Cannon  Fun story of a young python’s growing pains.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss  A classic of course!  None of my kids are fans of eggs dyed to a green color, but a quiche stuffed with kale or spinach that’s been finely diced in the food processor and sautéed with onion, salt and pepper suits them just fine.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger A beautiful book that illustrates numerous shades of green in the world; small cutouts on some pages incorporate a portion of one painting into another.

The Giving Tree  by Shel Silverstein  Has a lovely green cover!

GREEN FOODS are abundant.  I could begin naming them, but the list would quickly get overwhelmingly long.  Since we already eat green foods on a nearly daily basis I decided to make a treat out of this dip to eat with green, i.e. Granny Smith, apples.

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1 cup yogurt cheese**

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

honey to taste, I used 1-2 tablespoons

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Enjoy with apples of your choice.  Amount of honey used would probably vary depending on the sweetness of your apples.

DSC_0660**Greek yogurt will work if you don’t want to make yogurt cheese.  Cream cheese could also be used, but you may need to thin the dip with some milk.  If you do want to make yogurt cheese, line a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter and place over a bowl.  Fill strainer/filter with about 2 cups plain, unsweetened whole milk yogurt.  Allow to sit for a couple hours until a cup or more of whey has been strained off.  You will need to pour the whey out of the bowl periodically if it is not large enough to keep whey level below strainer.  Use the remaining thick yogurt “cheese” for your dip.  Don’t throw that whey out!  Use it as a base for a smoothie or in place of milk or water in any pancake or bread recipe.  My bread (either sourdough or yeast risen) always turns out best when I use equal portions whey and water for the liquid.


We used various greenery (and a few flowers) collected from the yard to create plant poundings.  The kids loved using the hammers!

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We placed the plant pieces on sheets of corrugated cardboard, placed the fabric squares over the plant pieces and pounded away.  Everyone was happy with their creation regardless of wether the full impression of the leaf came through clearly or their efforts simply resulted in a lot of green circles!

Since Mother’s Day was approaching, we used the results to create cards (that I neglected to take pictures of).

For the older kids:

Aaron and the Green Mountain Boys by Patricia Lee Gauche

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

What state is known as The Green Mountain State and why?

The Green River What state(s) does it go through?

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Sweet Speech – Pursuing Pleasant Words

image from photobucket - creative commons license

image: photobucket – creative commons

“Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”  Proverbs 16:21

My speech is not always sweet.  My tongue is hard to tame and prone to spew poison (James 3:8).  As a mom I have taught my kids to avoid poison.  I don’t want them to flee for their lives when I begin to speak.  I want them to look forward to my words.  I want them to hear me when I instruct them.  This will only happen when my speech is sweet.

“The heart of the wise teaches [her] mouth and adds persuasiveness to [her] lips.”  Proverbs 16:23

Since I want to bless my children’s spirits, encourage their hearts and strengthen their souls, I must keep my tongue under constant training and diligently pursue pleasant words.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  Proverbs 16:24

Honey is sweet to the tongue.  One taste creates a desire for more.  Honey has also been shown to have medicinal properties.  It can discourage infection and promote healing.  Pleasant words have similar effects.  They create a desire for more.  They contribute to strengthening and healing.

My kids love it when I serve them honey on bread.  They look forward to it eagerly and anticipate the next opportunity with excitement.  I want my words to have the same affect on them.

To “add persuasiveness to my lips” I must carefully consider the words I choose, the tone I use and the facial expression I display when I open my mouth.  Only by the grace of God and the strength of His Spirit can I train my tongue in the ways of sweet speech.

Are those around you strengthened and encouraged by the sweetness of your speech?