creative miscellany, Els' Rabbit Trails, Food, just for fun

El’s Rabbit Trail: Spring Harvest Edition.

Middle springtime down here means summer fruits are ripe for the picking, so this past week we spent a fair amount of time out picking fresh fruits. We started with blueberries:




After picking far more of those than intended when we started out (the kiddos forget that these berries ain’t free!), we moved on to strawberries:



Later in the week, we ended the first round of our spring harvest fun by picking peaches:




Not willing to let farm fresh-from-the-tree-peaches go to waste, I promptly got on with making a peach cobbler to top off Sunday dinner. Diet? What diet?






Look for my review of Miss Maitland, Private Secretary on Wednesday. Until then…

Happy Monday, all!



creative miscellany, educational, Els' Rabbit Trails, homeschool, Uncategorized

The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare. Analysis and synopsis here.

I only read this play -reportedly Shakespeare’s shortest- because our middle school aged daughter was recently a part of its production as a part of the classical education program our children are enrolled in. I am not a huge fan of Shakespeare. However, I am a huge fan of comedy and this play is really quite funny.

The language, as anyone who read Shakespeare in high school can attest, is cumbersome and often frustrating. I know for certain that there were parts of the dialogue that our daughter didn’t quite grasp and for that I am thankful. Our drama instructors, a wonderful couple who love the Lord dearly, are former New York theater people who stayed true to the spirit of Shakespeare’s original play and Shakespeare had a ribald sense of humor.

My  kid is down there in one of these outstanding costumes that a very talented mother put together from blankets, duvet covers, and other miscellaneous scraps of fabric.

comedy of errors

creative miscellany, Els' Rabbit Trails

Go check out Ljubomir Farms!

Those of you who have followed my writing or commentary know that I am a big believer in supporting the business enterprises of people I know and admire. I also like to pass along a good word for them.

I am thankful that to date, every single book written or product made by friends has been high quality or worth advertising to my friends and readers. Today I am blessed to have another opportunity to support a stellar fledgling business

Scott and Mychael operate Ljubomir Farms, a hobby farm in Texas where they sell high quality home, kitchen, and food products for a fair price. I recently received a shipment of tea towels, which Mychael got to me in record time!


She also added a jar of blackberry lavender jam which I slathered on a biscuit with butter, temporarily suspending my hiatus on wheat products. Again, it was totally worth the splurge!

I want to add an extra bit of encouragement to support fledgling business endeavors by smaller online and local Christians who for obvious reasons can’t compete with the cheaper pricing of big box stores like Wal-mart or Target. It really is worth the bit of extra money or the slight bit of trouble to make this extra effort.

We often use the promise “you reap what you sow” to remind us to do right by others and refrain from doing ill. I like to think of it in the other direction more often. When you are blessing to others, especially fellow believers, you make deposits into you own resevoir of good will and blessing.

Of course, quality matters as well, and I would never suggest you buy unworthy products, but no worries on this one. Mychael’s tea towels and jam have my seal of approval.

Other books/items from my friends for wich you can find reviews here:

Wardrobe Communication, by Amy Fleming, aka Hearth.

You’re te Cream in My Coffee, by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Christmas stockings, handmade by Joanna.

At My Savior’s Feet, a Bible Study.

creative miscellany, Culture, Els' Rabbit Trails, quotable literary quotes

Yarn Over: It’s International Crochet Day!


I have to tell you…normally I find these obscure specialty holidays just so much silliness. They serve no purpose at all. Really, who cares? Very few, not even those who are fond of the craft, food, animal, season, sport, people, or disease being thrust into the spotlight of “awareness” even care about these holidays.

I must confess that in our house, we have been known to cook one or two (or ten) of the foods listed on The Kitchn’s National Food Holidays list. That however, is just because we love any excuse to get together in the kitchen. If the aim is to prepare something new exotic or different, all the better. Still, given that the origin of the word holiday is built around the idea of celebrating Holy days, the “every day is a holiday” thing rubs me the wrong way.

When my daughter sent me the link to International Crochet DayInternational Crochet Day, the only reason it resonated at all is because our two youngest are currently planning and crocheting Christmas presents for numerous family members- in earnest. Yarn is center stage right now:



So…even though I still think the “every thing deserves a holiday” thing is kind of stupid, my kids found the fact that today is International Crochet Day  kind of neat. Because they’re kids.

Edited to add: I just remembered a quotable literary quote that well explains my acknowledging a silly holiday while simultaneously decrying silly holidays.

How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.-Jane Austen’s Persuasion

Tell me again why more people don’t spend copious amounts of time reading if they can?

creative miscellany, Els' Rabbit Trails, homeschool

El’s Rabbit Trails: Homeschool Birthday Party

Daughter number four recently celebrated her 10th birthday and her “epic” party’s theme was inspired courtesy of this year’s science curriculum, Apologia Young Explorer’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy.

She has been so engaged and interested in the subject -after only 2 weeks!- that when we asked what she wanted for her birthday party, she immediately answered “the solar system”. No tweeny-bopper, pop culture theme for this girl. I’m sure it helps that her father is also infinitely interested in the heavens. The My Little Pony themed party 7-year-old requested last year required far less thought, pulled together in one trip to Party City.

Thank heaven for Pinterest, where you can find ideas for all kinds of neat, galaxy themed foods and crafts, such as galaxy bark:


Nebula in a jar:

nebula jars

And a cake with the nine planets of the solar system on top (she insisted Pluto be included despite understanding the science behind the 2006 decision to demote its status):

The cake was actually a fail as it should have been completely covered in blue, but time constraints precluded a last minute do over. Thankfully it tasted great and the children were distracted by the sweet planets made of Rice Crispy treats and modeling chocolate.

The galaxy birthday party was a success. Homeschooling can be a challenge at times, but moments like those make it easier to deal with having things like this as wall art in our family room:

homesschool wall art

All that to say: Fall is in the air and so with it, the beginning of a new school year.

Whether your kids are in home school, public school, private, or parochial school, here’s wishing you a productive and growth-filled school year!

Expect a book review by week’s end.



creative miscellany, health and fitness

It Starts With Food

it starts with food

It Starts With Food: Discover The Whole 30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Originally published in 2014. 328 pages.

*A recipe, the inspiration for the post (along with a book review from Booky McBookerson), follows this short review.

I read this book a while back and initially decided not to review it because I had already reviewed The Whole 30. It Starts With Food is the precursor to The Whole 30, and both books offer the same tried and true advice that most Americans have heard and ignore. Namely, that a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein and less -or NO- grains makes for a healthier body and a longer life.

There is a lot of science with outlining the way our bodies react to certain macro nutrients in certain proportions. Of course, as with all such books, there are recipes and encouragement to get you started on the plan. In this case, the eating plan widely known by the moniker of  the Paleo Diet. I’ve said here before that paleo is not something this family can embrace in its entirety, but we have adopted our eating to the general paradigm about 3/4 of the time.

One of the rules for the Whole 30 plan is that pancakes are off limits. It doesn’t matter if they are made from “approved foods”. Pancakes feed into the standard American diet and are therefor off limits for the Whole 30. I don’t really like the idea of anything being strictly forbidden (except for allergic reactions and health conditions), and I really don’t fancy being told I can’t eat pancakes. I’m a rebel!

Every “paleo pancake recipe I tried left a lot to be desired. If the flavor was good, the texture was intolerable. If the texture was acceptable, the flavor was lacking. So I set out to make my own version of paleo compliant pancakes and after a couple of tries…Eureka!

I’m going to share it here, with the caveat that the measurements are far from exact, and I kind of play it by ear until I get the batter I want. I paid attention this morning to what I was doing as  I made them so this is as close to a verifiable recipe as I’ve come yet. Here’s what you need:


  •  1 very ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil (plus more for the griddle)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of baking powder
  • roughly 1 tablespoon coconut or almond milk (to loosen batter if needed).

Set griddle for 350. Mash the banana very well, and then whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and coconut oil. Mix the coconut flour and baking powder together, and then whisk in to the wet ingredients. If you’ve worked with coconut flour before you know it is full of fiber and therefore very absorbent. Don’t worry. The proportion of wet to dry is spot on here.

Pour coconut oil onto hot griddle and spoon batter to make pancakes no more than three inches.


These pancakes are extremely delicate, making flipping a particular challenge in they are too big. In fact, I found that a typical spatula is not the optimal tool for flipping them. I use an icing spreader like this one, which is thin enough to slide underneath the hot cakes so that they don’t break apart while being flipped. Cook for at least 3-4 full minutes before flipping. Don’t worry, they will be beautiful:


If you want, you can top ’em with maple syrup but the combined sweetness of the banana and the coconut flour is more than enough. The texture isn’t identical to traditional pancakes, but it’s close enough that you won’t miss the wheat. Trust me.


creative miscellany

Creative Miscellany: Quaint Country Photos

I am not much of a photographer, but when I get in the mood for it, the camera is with me every where I go.

We recently spent a few days in the country. I mean the real country, not the outskirts of suburbia where people have a couple acres, a few chickens and a garden box. I don’t mean to denigrate that lifestyle (I’ll take it over this concrete jungle), but when you spend some time in the real back woods, you see the difference in ways you wouldn’t otherwise.

Anyways, while there I couldn’t help but find myself taking pictures of the scenery before our return to real life of suburban sprawl. There’s plenty I love about our life, but the difference between roosters, goats, and crickets in the morning compared to car doors, garbage trucks, and planes flying overhead is pretty startling.

mom phone 185
Hand made by my uncle (in-law), as was the cabin we stayed in

Going outside in the early AM to calm, quiet, and a breeze rustling the trees is pretty exhilarating.

mom phone 156

mom phone 183

Little touches outside the front door to remind you of the glory of God give me the warm fuzzies:

mom phone 180

The decor in our house is pretty contemporary, but I loved this lamp:

mom phone 177

Spending a few days in a log cabin, built by the hands of a loved one, with wood from trees he cut and harvested-with his wife!- made it all the more special:

mom phone 197

mom phone 178

mom phone 164

It was sublime really, but there still is no place like home, and the very next evening after we arrived home my husband pulled over to the side of the road to snap this picture of the dusk sunset:

stormy sunset


These are truly times which try men’s souls, to borrow from Thomas Paine. Nevertheless, there is always beauty to be found for those who dare to look.There is always something to be thankful for.

 Finally… whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. ~Philippians 4:8