When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Random Friday Ramblings (and an update about the ice cream makers)

Yesterday I started writing a post that was very woe-is-me in nature; I was feeling worn out and unappreciated in my role as a long-time stay-at-home mom and I needed somewhere to vent. I never finished that post, and this morning when I looked at it sitting in my drafts folder, the whole thing seemed rather melodramatic, and I was relieved that I hadn't posted it.

It's funny what a difference a day can make. Sometimes we just need a good cry, or a good talk with a loved one, or a good sleep, and the world suddenly seems right again. I had all three of those things yesterday, and by this morning all the misery I was feeling had vanished. Today the boys were home from school as it was a P.D. day; it was beautifully warm and sunny outside, and I remembered all of things I love about being able to be home with them.

Spring is an optimistic reminder that change is always around the corner, isn't it?  Tiny green shoots suddenly appear out of the earth where the day before there seemed to be nothing. Gray skies part to make way for beautiful blue ones.

Today's positive energy sparked an enthusiasm for spring-related activity at our house. The boys and I went through all of their warmer weather clothing to determine what fits and what new things we need to shop for. I was thrilled when I could cross most of the "to shop for" things off of Will's list almost as soon as I had written them down by looking in the bins of Noah's outgrown clothes, where we found jackpot of appropriately sized shorts and shirts that Will liked. We all got outside to enjoy the beautiful day -- the boys on their bikes, and me in the backyard with my gardening gloves, where I started cleaning up the flower beds to make space for this year's blooms. I had a few moments of trepidation, as I do every year, when I scooped all of the piles of dead leaves out of the window wells with my hands. I always imagine I'm going to uncover some odd, furry, biting creature living in there under the debris! Thankfully, there wasn't one. Matt and Will and I decided at the end of the afternoon to surprise Noah by picking him up from swim practice and going out to our favourite pizza place for dinner. It was so nice to have an unhurried meal all together, especially one that I didn't have to cook!

We also had a chance today to try out the individual ice cream makers I mentioned in my last post, so as I promised, I'll share our experience with them. Noah and Will walked together to the grocery store near our house to pick up the special ingredients they needed, with only a little direction needed from me via a phone call from the shop, asking exactly which kind of cream to buy and where in the store they might find coconut milk. They each made their own flavour combination in our blender (chocolate peanut butter for Noah, and strawberry banana for Will, with chocolate chips and walnuts sprinkled in), and all three of us were amazed at how well the frozen metal bowls turned the chilled mixes (both a traditional milk and cream version and a dairy-free coconut milk version) into ice cream. It took less than ten minutes of scraping and stirring for the ice cream to reach a good consistency for eating, and both boys declared their easily made creations to be really delicious. We can now very highly recommend making ice cream this way as a fun warm weather activity for people of all ages!

If you're looking for a simple dairy-free homemade ice cream base recipe, we combined one 398ml can of full fat coconut milk, 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/4 cup raw agave syrup (you could also use honey or pure maple syrup), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a pinch of sea salt in a blender jar and blended it until smooth and creamy.  To add flavour, you could also blend in ingredients such as fruit (Will used half of a banana and a handful of strawberries), or nut butter and chocolate (Noah used a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter and 1/4 cup cocoa powder).  Chill the ice cream mixture in the fridge, and then follow the instructions that come with the ice cream maker for freezing it.

I think I'll hit publish on this post tonight; there is no melodrama here (well, except for maybe the bit about the creature that might have been living in the window well leaf pile). Here's to sunny spring days that seem all the more wonderful because of the dim days they follow.

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