Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's for supper?

(Relating to this week's menu plan)

I was going to make turkey chili and have apricot meatballs later in the week...but I had a craving for regular old chili, and besides, turkey meatballs taste great with sweet-and-sour apricot sauce. So I just switched them around. Tonight we're having your standard-style chili (but made with lower-salt ingredients), no-salt tortilla chips, pasta for those who want it, and carrot sticks. And carrot-apricot-bran bars, which aren't that low-sodium, but sometimes with baking it's more about portion control than ingredients.

Where our garden's at

There's still some chard in the garden--I picked most of it, but what's still there is still green.

The bean plants are starting to dry up, which is fine because we just leave the too-big beans on the vines to dry and then use them for next year's seed.

We still have quite a few green tomatoes, and we may get a few of them turning red before the frost gets them. Our zucchini plants dried up a couple of weeks ago.

The funny thing is that a friend a few blocks away with a large garden still has zucchini plants that are trying to pop out a few last squash; but her tomato plants are finished. Figure that one out.

Wearable Krieghoff

Crayons had fun with this narration. (See previous post.) The challenge: to come up with something unique for the Cornelius Krieghoff gift shop.

She designed two Krieghoff nighties with attached slippers. If you can't make out the details (click to enlarge them), the green nightie has a horse and snowflakes, and the blue one has a pine tree with a red "K" above it.

(Mama Squirrel suggested KriegCough Drops...maple-syrup flavoured with a hint of rum.) (Or whatever it was that the habitants drank.)

Picture by Crayons, September 2008, using Paint

Picture Study: Cornelius Krieghoff

Our second painter this term is Cornelius Krieghoff, who was born in the Netherlands but became one of Canada's most famous 19th-century painters.

Some resources I've found:
The National Gallery of Canada's "preview" page from an exhibition several years ago

Another preview page, which looks at his development as an artist

A page of gift-shop items based on Krieghoff's paintings (I found this amusing)
(Hey, that would be kind of a cool idea for a picture narration, wouldn't it?--Design something else inspired by Krieghoff's work. Besides a T-shirt or a Christmas card.)

Something else fun--which of these two is the real Krieghoff painting, and which is the fake?

A book I want to get from the library: Krieghoff: Images of Canada, by Dennis Reid

And not totally helpful, but a tie-in anyway (and the library has it): a CD of folk music called À la claire fontaine: Music in Krieghoff's Quebec.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sketch Tuesday: Crayons' Spider

While we were talking about what to draw for this week's "Something Brown" challenge, a big fat stripy brown spider attached itself to the outside of our kitchen window--and stayed for the whole afternoon, spinning a very intricate web. It was still there late that night, but by the next day the whole thing had disappeared--web, spider and all. Maybe it decided that its modelling days were over.


1. Crocheted slippers for Crayons and Ponytails. We found a good deal on chunky-type yarn at the supermarket. (Really.)

2. Nightgown for Crayons. We have the fabric, the pattern and the elastic; we just need to pick up some bias tape and thread.

Books read in September

About the only book I can remember finishing this month (besides school books and low-sodium cookbooks) is Rumer Godden's Kingfishers Catch Fire. (Time Magazine's original 1953 review)

OK, it wasn't a great month for reading. I promise to do better in October.

Please pray for the Stauffer family

This Canadian pastor's family is known, at least by name, to many in the homeschooling community. They lost their beautiful 14-year-old daughter this weekend.

Please give your children extra hugs today, and pray for the Stauffer family.

The video shows Don and Wendy Francisco singing "I'll Never Let Go Of Your Hand." A favourite from the '80's.

School By Ponytails

Public School is so fun I love Art and Music two subject that I really never loved before.
I helped Mama Squirrel make a little kitten on a site I have a hamster,doggy,chick,and bunny.

Hope this thing works.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Repost from 2006: George Grant quotes Chesterton

Instead of a Sunday Hymn Post:

Something to muse on, here.

"Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it."--G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Menu Plan for this week (Low-Sodium)

For anyone just dropping by, these menus are planned to accommodate my husband's medical needs (sodium limited to 2000 mg/day). For more menus, recipes, rants, and low-sodium stuff, see our food blog, http://www.lowsodiumfrugal.blogspot.com .

I'm posting this now but may come back later to make changes.

Dinner Menus:

Saturday: Roast beef. Baked potatoes. Broccoli. Homemade applesauce, no-salt gravy, no-salt ketchup, the smallest bit of horseradish. Fresh hot flax-seed rolls ("Flaxseed Buns, Rolls and Bread" from The No Salt, Lowest Sodium Baking Book). Cantaloupe and raspberries.

Sunday: Pizza night with extended family. We are taking homemade low-sodium pizza and salad.

Monday: Leftover meat, Vegetable and Rice Pilaf
I would make this with low-sodium chicken broth (see below) except that the box has only four cups and I don't want everything this week to taste like chicken broth anyway. So probably just with water; leave out the salt; but add some no-salt lemon-herb seasoning. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday: Fish skewers (bought at the supermarket); sweet potatoes, couscous with peas

Wednesday: Crockpot Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole, from A Year of Crockpotting
Again the low-sodium chicken broth.

Thursday: White Turkey Chili, no-salt tortilla chips, raw veggies
This would be out of our reach except that I found a very low-sodium boxed chicken broth; also I would use the dried chickpeas again (unless I get to the bulk store to buy some large white beans) and leave out the salt.

Friday: Sweet Potato Curry with Spinach and Chickpeas, rice
Lower the sodium by using dried rather than canned chickpeas, and no-salt-added canned tomatoes, or fresh or home-frozen tomatoes. (We still have a few fresh tomatoes ripening on the plants, if the frost doesn't get them first.)

Saturday: Apricot Pineapple Meatballs; I haven't decided what to serve these with yet
The sodium in the sauce is already pretty low; in the meatballs themselves I use no-salt breadcrumbs and leave out the extra salt.

Breakfast: Juice, cereal, no-salt toast, fruit, etc.
Lunches: Homemade soup, tuna sandwiches, reduced-sodium mozzarella cheese, salad, etc.
Fruit available for desserts and snacks: Bananas, apples, pears, canned pineapple, dried apricots.
Other snacks: Ryvita, yogurt, no-salt cashews, popcorn, etc.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Something told the wild geese

Everybody's thinking Fall now. Elisheva walks us into Autumn with a photo post and talks about the High Holy Days.

Adventures on Beck's Bounty is posting about apple farms, applesauce, and apple cake with butterscotch sauce.

Tim's Mom et al are celebrating a Hobbit Birthday.

And at the Blue Castle, it's hockey season again.

Canadian Corner

The 23rd Edition of the Canadian Home Educators Blog Carnival is up. Sounds very colourful this week:

"We're going to start this trip in the beautiful province of British Columbia where our first stop will be to visit with Miranda as she talks about using Google Calendar to organize her schedule in "The colour of our week.""

"Next we'll pop in for a visit with Rosina, also in British Columbia, as, on her homeschool blog, she tells us about their recent Fun Mixing Primary Colors. Then on her nature blog she shares about an online resource she found for Green Books for Green Living."

And there's more, of course.

Been too long since we've heard from ya

Queen Shenaynay returns to Beehive posting after a too-long absence.

And Cindy of Dominion Family Blog has posted several times recently too.

Voices that have been missed!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday School Plans

Opening--"Joy to the World" (Who says it has to be only a Christmas carol?)

Nature reading--about what colours animals' eyes are at night, and how well moths can smell their mates (up to a mile away)

Copywork--working on a large poster with a harvest poem

Memory work--a Christina Rossetti poem

Bible reading--part of the Sermon on the Mount (book of Matthew)



Geography: David Thompson workbook

Owls in the Family

Barb's last drawing challenge: "This week's assignment, due on Monday, September 29th: Sketch Something Brown. Make your sketch and send it by Monday, September 29th and it will be included on Tuesday's slideshow. Make sure to use the new email address: sketchtuesday@yahoo.com."

Lunch break


Picture study: Paul Kane: paintings of Native Canadians

A Pioneer Story -- "Harvesting the Crops" and "A Visit to the General Store"

Letter writing (an activity from this chapter of A Pioneer Story)

"Teatime" (snack outside on the porch)

Outdoor play time

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life Has Loveliness

Ann leads us through her Tutorial on Visual Homemaking Journal.

Still laughing at this one

We borrowed the first season of Monk from the library. Thanks, Coffeemamma!

Monk: By the way, in case we don't get a chance to talk later, [I] just want you to know — except for the murders and your trying to kill me, you really were the best doctor I ever had.

What's for supper?

Crockpot Applesauce Chicken
Butternut Squash
Chocolate Pudding (see below)

Why the sea is salt (dessert recipe)

That, I don't know, but sometimes it seems the whole food world is salt. A half-cup serving of commercial instant chocolate pudding mix contains 310 mg of sodium.

I have a non-dairy "chocolate dessert" recipe from Food That Really Schmecks. We've made it many times but never particularly considered the sodium content.

The ingredients, as written, are 1 heaping tbsp. cocoa, 3 heaping tbsp. flour (this is an old recipe!), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups water, 1 tsp. vanilla, and some butter to stir in at the end (I figured 2 tbsp.).

This recipe doesn't make very large servings (I'd say it serves 3-4), but counting it as a 4-serving dessert, one serving as written would have 295.9 mg sodium. About the same as the commercial milk-based pudding, although at least it's free of all the other additives.

If you use 1/4 tsp. salt, it brings it down to 149.1 mg.

If you cut it to 1/8 tsp. salt, it brings it down to 75.609 mg.

And if you leave the salt out altogether, you end up with 2.175 mg per serving.

Obviously, almost all the sodium in this recipe comes directly from the salt. The question is just how far back to cut it! I think I might try it with just a pinch of salt.

Oh, you wanted the recipe? It's a little inexact, but goes better with experience.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and cocoa, and salt if using. Mix with a little cold water to form a paste; then add in about 2 cups boiling water (less if you had to use more cold water). Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly or at least frequently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter or margarine. Chill before serving.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crayons' Grade Two: September Notes

Referring back to Crayons' Grade Two Outline

Favourite folk songs: "When I First Came to This Land". We also (very selectively) use some songs from Festivals, Family and Food (the ones without too much Mother Earth in them), and have also enjoyed the first volume of Michael Mitchell's Canada is For Kids. Crayons likes the video version of Mitchell's "Canada in My Pocket" (about the symbols on Canadian coins).

I also give her short follow-the-leader lessons on the keyboard.

Recent reading: A Pioneer Story (story interspersed with facts on life in the backwoods), Owls in the Family, Understood Betsy, "The Gorgon's Head" from A Wonder Book, The Old Nurse's Stocking Basket, poems from Come Hither, William the Conqueror chapters in the history book, Among the Forest People, Hiawatha's Childhood, Pilgrim's Progress (up to Mr. Worldly Wiseman), Bible stories about Samuel and the temptation of Christ, and two stories from Stories for Canada's Birthday. Today we read the "D is for dory, dinosaur, Dan McGrew, dulse" page from Canada Eh to Zed, which inspired us to watch the Historica Minute about Joseph Tyrrell (finder of dinosaur bones in Alberta), and Crayons showed me her favourite online dinosaur game.

She has been doing pages in the David Thompson activity book, which is not terribly in-depth about his work but has some fun worksheets; we borrowed a National Geographic issue with an article about his travels, and I read some of the basics from an online biography. David Thompson seems to be one of the most under-appreciated of Canadian explorers and mapmakers, but he is definitely worth studying.

Math has been fairly informal, mostly following my own Miquon notes. I don't especially like the addition worksheets that go with these lessons--they're often confusing and new-Math-ish (the worst of the '60's, breaking things apart too much); so we're using coins, rods and number tiles to practice making three-digit numbers and also to practice grouping for tens. We're also doing some hundred-chart work, working on adding and subtracting nines, tens and elevens quickly.

The Gifted and Talented workbooks are working fine for a bit of language work--mostly synonyms at this point. (It was also a good chance to talk about what a Thesaurus is; Crayons likes Mommy's big fat Synonym Finder because it has more words than the children's version.) Spelling words we practice through the week with Scrabble letters, and then have a test on Fridays. The handwriting workbooks haven't yet arrived (they're in the mail, should be here this week) so she has just been doing copywork, which isn't a favourite as there are still some issues with letter formation, remembering to use lower case, and the general effort required to print neatly. She does a little each week anyway, and I am having her start a fall poem on large paper to go on the kitchen wall.

Crayons has been making nature pictures in a sketchbook (mostly as narrations of nature stories--she is interested in owls right now), and has started a scroll for Pilgrim's Progress.

And we've done a little French--mostly colours and numbers, but it's about time to begin the felt-board people.

Monday, September 22, 2008


We're in the fourth week of school, but just getting started now on handicrafts.

I planned to do weaving with Crayons (the girl, not the Crayolas), but we hadn't had much luck with the typical flat cardboard or foam-tray looms, or even with the simple wooden frame that she was given last Christmas (a "fashion loom" kit). I think younger kids often find it tedious to fill up a whole frame with over-under-over-under, even if they have a needle or something to help it go a bit faster. Or they end up with something horribly warped. Also, the wooden frame loom came with a thick, soft, slippery yarn which seemed to be hard for her to use.

Then I noticed the weaving page in a book called Pioneer Crafts, by Barbara Greenwood; it goes with the Canadian book A Pioneer Story, which is sold in the U.S. as A Pioneer Sampler.

It suggested making a foam-tray loom but also using what the book calls a cardboard heddle, and what I've also seen called a warp separator; just a piece of cardboard, an inch wide and slightly wider than the loom, with one end cut in a point. After threading the loom, you weave the heddle in and out (rather than the yarn), stand it up on its edge, and then pull a bobbin full of yarn through the shed (the open space) that is created when you stand it up. Then the heddle goes back the other way, out and in through the strands; stands up to make the shed, and the bobbin goes back through. The heddle is also used (flat) to gently push the rows against the previous work.

I didn't bother making a foam-tray loom since we do have the wooden frame, and I was right--it worked fine. (I remember the teeth on foam-tray looms tending to break anyway, so I was happy not to have to do that.)

For some reason, this is MUCH easier for a second-grader than weaving a long strand of yarn in and out across the rows. By using a bobbin (I had a plastic knit/crochet bobbin, but you can make cardboard ones), you can also pull more yarn through at a time and do more rows without having to get Mom to add more yarn.

We also chose some cotton yarn (Bernat Handicrafter) in variegated colours, which weaves well and looks pretty with the different coloured stripes.

I'm pleased with this discovery, since it's turned the most basic loom into something a bit more sophisticated, still simple (or even simpler) to do, but that feels more like a real handicraft than just a kindergarten activity. Of course it has its limitations--the design of the loom means that you can't make anything longer than the frame itself--but I think that's about the same measure as a 7-year-old's attention span.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Week's Menus--Low Sodium

For more menus, recipes, rants, and low-sodium stuff, see our food blog, http://www.lowsodiumfrugal.blogspot.com .

I have one thing to say when it comes to low sodium recipes and especially baking: Donald A. Gazzaniga. Here's his website.

The recipe on the website for German Potato Salad sounded like we were on the right track for things that Mr. Fixit not only should but would eat, and anybody who bothers to think up a low-sodium recipe for Beef Goulash with Noodles has got to be on our page.

So most of the recipes I'm leaning on for this week's menus are from Mr. Gazzaniga's No Salt, Lowest Sodium Cookbook. I like the Baking Book too, even though I still can't find any of that low-sodium baking powder and baking soda in amounts smaller than a caseful. We may have to order it online, although Mr. Fixit says that he doesn't really care if I use low-sodium baking powder or not because he tends to avoid eating a lot of sweets and breads anyway. (Here's the index to the Baking Book.)

Dinner menus

Friday: Tortillas with ground chicken, salt-free canned pinto beans and a little cheese

Saturday: Going out for Swiss Chalet (they have a heart-healthy menu)

Sunday: Beef Goulash, noodles, vegetables

Monday: Reheated low-sodium pizza that I made this week, along with homemade soup

Tuesday: Stuffed peppers in the crockpot, salad and bread

Wednesday: Greek lentil croquettes and Vegetable Couscous, both from the Low-Sodium book (I have my doubts about whether the Squirrelings will eat these, so we may end up cooking a box of macaroni and cheese along with it)

Thursday: Baked spicy chicken legs, potatoes, squash

Friday: Baked fish, potatoes, vegetables

Saturday: Chili, rolls, salad with "Ranch Style Dressing"

Sunday: Chicken baked in lemon sauce, rice, vegetables.

On the grocery list:

Vegetables: peppers (at least 6); garlic, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, celery, carrots, parsley, potatoes, mushrooms, radishes, lettuce, ginger root, 1 Spanish onion, and some mint if we get to the vegetable stand.

Fruit: Bananas, lemons, pears, plums.

Stuff to look for:
Low-sodium chicken and beef broth
Mrs. Dash Lemon & Herb seasoning
Frontier Seasoning's Dash'O Dill (I don't know if that's sold around here)
No-salt-added mustard
No-salt-added Worcestershire sauce

Baking needs:
Unbleached flour
jar of yeast
Icing sugar, cocoa

Bay leaf, coriander, chili flakes

Misc. staples:
Bag of egg noodles (check sodium)
Water-packed tuna
Tabasco sauce
dry kidney beans
no-salt-added canned tomato products
fruit canned in juice

2% milk and 1% milk
Unsalted butter and margarine
Low-sodium buttermilk
Light sour cream (check sodium)
Look for low-sodium cheese (very hard to find here)
Lunchbox cheese (cheese slices or strings)

Chicken breasts
10 skinless chicken drumsticks
Lunchbox sandwich meats (bologna or other cold cuts)

10-oz pkg frozen corn
Frozen concentrated apple juice

Orange juice
This and that for lunchboxes

Spicy, not messy

A generation or so ago, people bought a lot of their spices at the grocery store in little jars or tins. Hence the sense of having a spice rack on the wall. You could keep things relatively sane and even alphabetize the jars if you were that compulsive.

However, my own spice-buying habits are much more erratic, and the way I've had them stored reflects that. A few baggies of bulk-bought herbs here, a couple of store-brand bags with cheap ziploc tops (that don't work half the time), a few jars--and oops, I bought some oregano again for the third time at the bulk store because I kept forgetting to cross off that I'd bought some. Sometimes the bread-bag-type labels from the bulk store also break off, and you have to guess what's in the bags, or write on them somewhere with a marker. I had one overflowing plastic basket of main-dish-type seasonings, in a wide variety of packages, and another one of dessert-types (at least I'd figured out that nice fresh ground cumin doesn't go well with cake spices).

Time for some re-organization. Actually it was pretty easy. Armed with some medium-sized zip-top bags and a permanent marker, I distributed three or four related bags/jars into each bag and labelled each one with the marker. One bag says "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme," and currently it holds a jar of sage, a sandwich bag of parsley flakes, and a store-brand package of thyme. (I hardly ever have rosemary but it sounded good on the bag.) One bag says "Pepper," and it holds the bulk-store baggies of black pepper, red pepper and so on. One zip-top bag got all the chili powder poured directly into it and labelled accordingly. I stood all the bags up in the plastic herb basket--actually it took two now that things were properly organized (and the oregano was all in one little bag). Now when I want to make Miss Maggie's lentil-rice taco mix, I just pull out the zip-top bag marked "Onion and Garlic" and the one marked "Pepper." (Correction: actually not the "Pepper" bag; I have to go downstairs and get the cumin, see below. But you get the idea.)

I did the same for the dessert spices, although I didn't have as many of those.

I've also been doing one other thing that's helped with the overall mixed-aromas problem in the cupboard: I store curry powder and cumin in the downstairs pantry, still in their sandwich bags, in unused canning jars, just to keep their strong smells away from the other seasonings and other foods (have you ever tasted Cream of Wheat that was stored too close to the chili seasonings?). It keeps them fresher, too. I have some powdered vanilla and a couple of other things that I store there too, just to keep them from pulling in other unwanted flavours.

This also helps when other people are cooking. I remember which faded-out package holds the thyme, but when nobody else knows, it helps to be a bit more organized.

Works for me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Crayons' Picture Study Narration

Paul Kane, "Indian Encampment on Lake Huron," 1848-1850

Crayons, "Indian Camp--After Paul Kane," created with Paint, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

For such a time as this

With the breadmaker going, the homeschool books waiting and Ponytails on her way out the door, I still have a couple of minutes to make some observations. The past week has been very educational, especially about SODIUM and particularly about the cramp that any special diet puts in your style these days. Even if you don't eat out much.

However: I think we're very lucky. Blessed. Whatever.

A great deal of what I learned earlier this year about gluten-free diets, particular ingredients and brands (such as the Bob's Red Mill line of grains), reading labels on EVERYTHING, using the breadmaker, using the most current library cookbooks available, and people "not getting it" applies right back to Mr. Fixit's current low sodium needs. Almost eerily, in fact.

Low-sodium cooking is a lot easier in some ways (than gluten-free). There's no issue of cross-contamination. Yeast baking is actually pretty easy if you follow the recipes. I haven't yet been able to locate low-sodium baking powder and baking soda (yes, they do exist) locally, but I know they're available online and I'm still looking.

But the problems of not being able to use many prepared foods, and of not being able to find anything decent to eat at a restaurant beyond plain meat and baked potato (and the places we go tend to be slice-of-pizza, not meat-and-potato)--those are things common to GF diets, low-sodium, and, I assume, other diets that haven't even crept into our radar like diabetic needs. There's more emotional stuff than you'd think tied into a bottle of ketchup. Or, in our case, being able to throw chicken or sausage into the crockpot on top of some sauerkraut. These transitions are never easy. [Additional observation: one of the other difficulties that is closer to a diabetic diet than to GF is the issue of portion control; with GF you are "only" trying to avoid gluten, but otherwise you can eat as much of everything as you like; when you are limited to 2000 mg of sodium a day (or less, for some people), you can only eat a certain amount of even low-sodium food without going over the limit.)

But having already had what seems like a prep-course in doing things differently, even though it ended up seeming an unnecessary effort then--I can only figure that it came along at the right time.

(I did buy a bottle of no-sugar no-salt ketchup yesterday. Mr. Fixit says it's acceptable.)

Saturday, September 06, 2008


"It seemed to me and still does that to teach people how to write well without knowing what they are going to write about is like teaching people how to shoot well without knowing what or whom they are going to shoot at."

--Frederick Buechner, The Clown in the Belfry, quoted in Listening to Your Life

Saturday yard-saling

Mr. Fixit was feeling well enough for a short jaunt to a church sale this morning.

He found a walkie-talkie. Crayons found a Barbie. Ponytails found a couple of things.

Mama Squirrel found books, because this particular church sale almost always has a wonderful book corner. Also a brand-new set of Christmas-coloured table runner/napkins/placemats which Mama Squirrel would have no intention of putting on her Christmas table but which might work very well for gift bags or other Christmas-fabric crafts. Also a brand-new set of two cocoa mugs plus cocoa mix, final destination still unknown. Also a couple of part-sets of nice stationery.

The books are:

Jacob Two-Two and the Dinosaur
Jacob Two-Two's First Spy Case
(Mama Squirrel and Crayons just finished Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang) (Review comments: These are fairly amusing but contain a bit too much grade-school potty humour for MS's taste. The Hooded Fang is probably the best of the three.)

The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler (M.S.'s copy disappeared awhile back)
Hymns for Primary Worship
Freedom and Beyond
, by John Holt
Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner
Making Men Whole, by J.B. Phillips
Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook, by Joetta Handrich Schlabach (the 1991 followup to The More-with-Less Cookbook)

And my favourites out of the pile:

Selected Burns for Young Readers, published by Geddes and Grosset. Amblesiders and Martha fans, check this one out! Nice big print! Glossary of Scottish words in the back! An introductory biography of Burns, and introductions to each of the poems! Lovely.

Songs of the Saviour, and Out of Doors Nature Songs, both by Annie Johnson Flint. Paper-covered, tied-with-cord booklets of her poems, published I-don't-know-when by Evangelical Publishers in Toronto--I'm guessing the early twentieth century, though.

Mr. Fixit is on the mend, and another dietary excursion

Our dearest Mr. Fixit is home after a ten-day stay in the hospital. The longest any of us has ever been away from home...God is good and Mr. Fixit is much better than he has been since earlier this summer.

For reasons relating to his recent illness, he has been prescribed a low-sodium diet. Mama Squirrel, while happy to accommodate, hears a tiny inner groan saying "Oh no, not another different food code." (Regular Treehouse visitors will know that this year already we've been through experiments with high protein/no sugar and gluten-free foods.)

Happily, we've found a couple of low-sodium cookbooks at the library that not only sound like they have food we could manage to cook and eat, they also encourage the use of bread machines (yes, we can do that!). If you've never looked at low-sodium diets and think of them mainly in terms of table salt, that may sound surprising. But if you're on a 2000 mg a day of sodium and a slice of commercial bread has about 200 mg, there goes a tenth of your allowance just on a piece of bread. If you can find or make lower-sodium baked goods, then you have that much more to use on more interesting things.

Works like frugality, doesn't it?

If any of you have great websites or books to recommend, I'd be happy to hear your comments.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Iris has the last word

The comic strip For Better or For Worse officially ended its long run; it's going into a sort of re-run-plus-extras mode, but the ongoing saga is finally over.

Readers of this blog may remember that I am a longtime fan of step-grandmother Iris. Well, Iris got to have the last word, at least in the black-and-white strips.

For better or for worse.

My childhood flashes before my eyes

In 16 mm, with a sputtering projector.

Each of these movies was shown at least three or four times in my early school years, but I hadn't seen any of them since until I thought of searching online. Looking for "Clown" required a bit of creative Google searching (it couldn't have been called something easy to find like "Purple Fossils From Venus," of course). But I did find them, actually without too much trouble, and the only one I haven't been able to watch is "One Little Indian"--we don't have the right plug-in at the minute. But at least I know that it exists and that I didn't make it up!

If you went to school before everything was shown on VCRs, what semi-educational films do you remember seeing?

Richard Balducci's "Clown"--description here (look under Drama), download here.

"Le Ballon Rouge / The Red Balloon." Uploaded on You-tube in four parts, first part here.

Grant Munro's "One Little Indian," made for Canada's National Film Board. Description and photo here, but I suddenly can't even find the page with the excerpt. Maybe you'll need to find a creaky 16mm projector to watch it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Back to School Lunches

Frugal Upstate's lunch-packing advice was exactly what I needed this year. And here's a bonus lunchbox post about keeping hot things hot. Thanks!
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