What I’m Into: February 2013

winter walk


maple syrup

maple syrup 2

I haven’t been consuming that much media lately — it wasn’t intentional, that’s just how it worked out — so this month’s What I’m Into post is going to be a little different.

We try to take at least one nature walk every month. This past month was the first time Lydia did the whole thing on foot. She walked the entire mile in her little rubber boots, and I found this new experience quite delightful.

We also got our seeds in the mail (woohoo!) and tapped our maple tree out front. (Maple sap starts running as soon as the temperature starts to rise above freezing during the day, but only as long as it stays below freezing at night. It runs particularly quickly when it’s sunny.)

Spring is coming!

We started boiling down our first batch of maple sap last night (it started out in the big stock pot on the left), and our house is wonderfully steamy. (We should get one pint jar out of this batch.)

snow ice cream maple syrup


Like I said last month, I’ve found that parenting a toddler and reading books don’t go together very well.

That being said, I did manage to devour Princess Academy(Shannon Hale) in about three days. (That’s saying a lot for me, because I’m a very slow reader. It means a lot of responsibilities were shirked for about 60 hours last week.)

I haven’t read any fiction for quite some time, mostly because I know that I have absolutely no self-restraint once I’ve started, so this was a treat.

It was a fun read. Hale is a talented writer, which is refreshing in YA literature after the likes of Stephanie Meyer (Not that I didn’t enjoy Stephanie Meyer. I DID.) I could tell right from the first page that she knew what she was doing:

“Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat. The world was as dark as eyes closed, but perhaps the goats could smell dawn seeping through the cracks of the house’s stone walls.”

I have to admit, I didn’t find the climax of the story — with the bandits and the supernatural powers — as interesting as everything leading up to it; but I was still pleased with the entire book. Miri is a strong, interesting, lovable female protagonist; the story is unique; and the world of Mount Eskel is totally convincing.

I didn’t do much other reading, besides looking through some more books from the library on interior design (we’re looking to redecorate our upstairs living room/play room) and Montessori activities for toddlers.


Not much to report here. I can’t WAIT until the weather’s nice enough that we can take walks every evening. Then TV can shove it.

We gave up on Downton Abbey halfway through season 2, and BOY am I glad we did. I’ve since heard about the devastating tragedies of season 3, and I know my heart could not have borne them.


We watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Good acting, interesting characters. I liked it.

In the Kitchen

I realized today that I spend a good portion of my life in the kitchen, but I rarely get the chance to talk about it. So here’s what’s new in the kitchen.

I recently bought myself a Ninja Master Prep Professional Blender, and so far am totally in love. It blends so quickly and quietly, and I can fit so much more in it than I could my crappy Back to Basics food processor! But it has literally been like four days, so I can’t say too much yet.

I don’t know how great it will be over the long run, though. See, the reason I got it is because I broke my mom’s a month or so ago. I was just using it and a little plastic piece inside snapped. The design strikes me as kind of fragile. My Mom replaced it, but then discovered the original one was still under warrantee and got the broken part replaced for free. So I bought the new/superfluous one off of her.

The point of the story: if it was that easy to break, how long is it likely to last? I like to own things I know will last a good portion of my lifetime.

I also had a revelation earlier today about making tortillas.

I’ve been making my own tortillas for about a year, ever since I started paying attention to what’s in the store-bought ones. (I was recently given a bag of commercial flour tortillas, and it had 19 ingredients listed . . . including calcium propionate, silicone dioxide, sodium metablusulfate, and polysorbate 60. What the heck is all that crap?! I don’t like my ingredients to contain numbers!!)

My tortillas, by contrast, contain five ingredients: whole-wheat flour, water, home-rendered lard, baking powder, and salt.

Anyway, I’ve always rolled them out with a rolling pin. They were always super-wonky. But I discovered that if I just flatten them by hand, I end up with much nicer-shaped, round tortillas.


tortillasToss them onto a hot cast-iron pan and there you go!

flour tortillas

And that’s what I’ve been into! How about you?

Linking up with Hopeful Leigh.

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  1. I can’t believe you could give up Downton Abbey, I can’t stop watching haha.

    I have been wanting to make homemade tortillas, I really want a tortilla press.

    I shared my favorites this month as well and your blog is included!
    Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green recently posted..What I’m Into (February 2013 Edition)My Profile

  2. Finally! Someone who agrees with me that Downton Abbey lost it halfway through the second series! Also, The Perks of Being a Wallflower was utterly wonderful. So faithful to the book.
    Adele recently posted..What I’m Into (February 2013 Edition)My Profile

  3. I’m totally jealous of your maple tree and I don’t even like maple syrup.

    Also of your home-rendered lard. You would think that being from New Mexico I would make my own tortillas, but the best ones use lard. Which I guess I could buy at the store? Anyway, we eat so many tortillas and it’s one of the few many-ingredients items we still keep around. Sigh.

    Clearly I’m stoked about your In the Kitchen addition. I might add that to my post next month! Assuming I do anything interesting…it all hinges on T-Rex’s naptimes right now. ;-)

    Also, you’re the third or fourth person who has recommended Princess Academy, so I think I may go put it on hold from the library.

    • Katie, I absolutely could not find lard at any store (not even Whole Foods), so that’s why I had to resort to rendering it at home. Of course, my family butchers a hog every year, which isn’t a common North American practice any more, so I have a rare advantage.

      I totally know what you mean about your level of adventurousness in the kitchen depending on the munchkin’s naps. I’d definitely give myself some slack for the first, oh, year or so. :)

      • Walmart sells it. At least here. It’s in the Hispanic foods section, though sometimes it’s with the cooking oils. I guess it depends on the whims of the stock-people. (I know this because I buy it to make pie crusts and certain cookies; it only recently occurred to me I might be able to make tortillas.)

        The local grocery chain sells it, too, and I bet the Hispanic markets do, too. It’s a very common ingredient in Mexican/New Mexican/Spanish cooking (i.e., tortillas!) and there’s a pretty good population of Hispanics in Oklahoma as well as New Mexico. I suppose that’s not so much the case in Canada.

        I have a giant pickle jar full of bacon grease in my fridge; does that count for anything? ;-)

        I don’t know, I think it might be harder in a year when he’s running around getting into things! Right now he might cry if I strap him in his high chair if he refuses to sleep (or he might not), but at least he’ll stay there and not sneak into the other room and poop on things.
        Katie recently posted..Smart Phones and Dumb PeopleMy Profile

  4. Ok, so I’m officially a little in love with you. You make your own maple syrup and tortillas?! Please come and live in my flat?? We can make everything from scratch, mark all the seasons and eat awesome snow-desserts every winter… :)
    Fiona Lynne recently posted..right now – februaryMy Profile

  5. I’m glad to have found your blog. Just liked you on fb. I wholeheartedly agree with your Downton sentiments. I traded the love for Lark Rise in the middle of 2nd season Downton. I’ve clicked around on your blog, then discovered you on SortaCrunchy today! One of my faves.

  6. We bought some real maple syrup from an Amish store last fall and I will never buy anything else again! It just tastes so pure. It’s cool to see your pictures of it actually being tapped. (Is that how you’d say it?) I had never really thought bout it. You are a real-life Laura Ingalls. I read about her making maple syrup when I was little, and now I can read about you making it!
    So sad that you don’t like Downton, but I’m pretty sure I’d like just about anything Masterpiece Theater put out. I’ve been hooked since I was little and watched ‘Our Mutual Friend’ with my mom.
    Bekah recently posted..Beautiful Mama Blog Award!My Profile

  7. P.S. I nominated you as a ‘Beautiful Mama’ on my latest post. If you’d like to nominate others you can use the image on my post, share three things you like about motherhood, and then nominate as many other mamas as you’d like!
    Bekah recently posted..Beautiful Mama Blog Award!My Profile

  8. Oooh, Maple Syrup! I love to see all of the lines people have going from their trees. I think it will have to be on my list of must-dos (someday) :)

  9. I am full-out jealous about your seeds and your maple sap. Incredible! I can’t have a garden where I live/rent and there definitely aren’t any maple trees nearby. I’m so impressed with all you do, right down to making your own tortillas. I’ve been reading Omnivore’s Dilemma and the Unhealthy Truth and know I need to further weed out the processed food. Sometimes it seems like an uphill battle so it’s encouraging to see how other people do it.
    HopefulLeigh recently posted..Matriarch-in-TrainingMy Profile

  10. Ooh! I’d LOVE to tap our Maple Tree and to make my own tortillas. Is there a way to make tortillas without lard? I can’t seem to find lard anywhere. Also, how do you tap a Maple Tree? Is there a lot of expensive equipment involved?
    Michele recently posted..How to Make a Mei Tai – Creating Paneling & Removable Leg PadsMy Profile

    • Hi Michele! I’ve made tortillas with a combination of other fats, too. There have been times when I’ve been out of lard and had to find something else. I think you can make them with any fat, really, but I wanted to approximate the texture of lard, and I also didn’t want any one flavour to dominate, so I’ve done a combo (equal parts) of olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. It worked just fine!

      Tapping a maple tree is easy and inexpensive, if you can find the right equipment (which is easier around here . . . not sure where you live!). You just need a drill with the right-size bit, a tap with a hook, a bucket, and (ideally) a lid. We bought them all together at a local hardware store. If you have a drill, you just drill a hole the tree, insert the tap, and hang the bucket. We have a kit similar to this, although I’m pretty sure we paid less than that.

  11. Can I can say that it makes me feel much better to have other “grown-ups” who also like YA fiction? I also devour it. I’m presently in the middle of approximately 5 books on subjects varying from growing food, to child begetting and rearing, to environmental theology. I’m slogging through them slowly, but if you put a 400 page YA novel in front of me I’d be done with it in three days, that that includes pauses to eat and sleep.
    Lily recently posted..Minimalism, Simplicity, and St*ffMy Profile

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