My oldest child, who is now 9 years old, has autism. Autism has gained recognition in the last few years, thanks to extensive research, awareness campaigns, and movies like "Temple Grandin".
The stereotypes of autism are beginning to fade. People ask me a lot less what my son's "special gift" is….you know, like Rain Man (a movie from the '80's about an autistic man with savant math and recall skills).
My son really has no specific "special gift", but those who know him see that he kind of is a special gift, all in himself.
He was non-verbal until he was 3, and when he did start talking, it was all non-sense and echoes from movies, conversations, or songs. For instance, he once went up to a friend and asked in all seriousness, "Do you know the muffin man!?!?". I still laugh thinking about how intense he was when he asked.
My son was recently honoured in his school with a Terrific Kids Award-for Empathy.
It seems an ironic award for a child who's disability is marked with the impairment of social interaction and understanding. I could see him winning the award for faith (aka-being stubborn, which an autistic child is known for). People with autism have a need for sameness, that is, to want their days to be predictable to help them make sense of the world. So, if someone has "random" emotions it can mess with an autistic persons day.
But empathy is different than sympathy. Empathy is simply the ability to recognize that emotions are being experienced by someone else. You need empathy to be able to have sympathy or compassion. My son having empathy is not only remarkable because of his autism, but it is an important milestone to him having true sympathy and compassion, which are important life skills.
What do I find truly interesting about him winning this award? It is our societies need for empathy. So, my son with special needs has it, but the general population doesn't? We all seem sympathetic, and compassionate, right? When we sympathize with someone, we might have compassion for that person, but not actually understand and feel what they are feeling.
That's where empathy comes in. We are often out with our son, and people stare at him because he is too loud, or grabbing his crotch (happy) or having a serious meltdown (upset). These same people who are staring us down with the evil eye probably just donated $1 at Toys R Us to help support autism research…..they should maybe save their dollar, and show some empathy to someone who has autism.
Empathy, and my son having it means a lot to this world. If he, who is supposed to be socially unaware of others can have and show empathy, I think we can learn a lot from that. He literally comes home and cries because he saw someone crying at school-he doesn't/can't do anything to help them because he doesn't quite understand sympathy, but he does feel what they feel enough to fall apart when he gets home because he is actually feeling sad with them.
I am challenged daily by my son. Not only because of his sometimes difficult behaviours, but because I see things in him that I want...To be honest to a fault, to truly empathize, and to be so passionate and driven that it hurts.
I think we all could use these things.
I have a duelling personality. One side of me loves old things to the point of clutter, the other side of me wants a place for everything, and everything in it's place.
So, I starting repurposing the things I had acquired so that I could have the best of both worlds!
This beautiful, WWII era homemade leather "basket" serves as a spice rack, of sorts. It also was used at my son's summer birthday party to hold drinks.
My Belleville Creameries box helps keep my mixing bowls, serving dishes, and platters all tidy and accessible.
I've had this Canadian Butter box for a while, and it has had many, many jobs. It was a "night stand" sitting on the floor when I had a low bed. Then it served at many parties as a bags of chips holder. It was used very temporarily to hold our cardboard and paper that we would take out to burn (a very undignified job for such a lovely box). Finally, I was trying to get our computer nook in order, and I anchored and screwed it to the wall as a shelf.
This box sits next to my stove and holds my cooking utensils as well as oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
This box literally has not been re-purposed at all, and holds the chalk for our little chalk boards!
I got this box a long time ago to hold toys for my son in his room, but it has since become the potato holder in the kitchen.
An old whiskey box holds extra quilts in the hall incase guests need an extra blanket in the night, then they don't need to go rooting through my linen closet!
An old steamer trunk holds my kids toys. At night, the toys get tossed in there, and my living room looks like an adult, relaxing place instead of an isle from Toys R Us!
Speaking of steamer trunks, my kids also have one on the front porch to hold outside toys, but the lift out part of it (that most old trunks you'll find have missing), needed a job. So, it got added to our computer nook as a shelf.
More steamer trunks….o.k, I have a problem….but let's not dwell on that right now.
These stacked trunks are also in our computer space, the bottom one is actually a little empty, but the top one has our computer paper, and some other office-y things like binders and files.
Just so you don't get it in your head that I am perfectly tidy, I am also sharing this photo from my fairly messy back room. This lovely box holds, as you can see, anything that lands in it! In here you'll find things ranging from dog treats, to a thermometer, mitts and a hat, lost nails and screws, and sidewalk chalk.
So, (I want to say "in conclusion" as though I am completing an essay) you can love something, but also put it to good use. These beautiful bits of history are a part of our house, a part of us and who we are, and they help keep things tidy! I call that a win/win....um, win!
Well, confession time. I have a thing, a serious thing for chocolate! I could (and have....and do) eat it until I'm just a smudge sick. Also, I feel passionately about the fact that a dessert may or may not actually be a dessert without chocolate in it.
So, when I decided a few summers ago to clean up my dirty eating habits, chocolate needed to be re-done. I found this recipe, and have made it a lot of times since.
1/4cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 Tbs. raw honey or pure maple syrup (more or less to taste)
Pinch of salt
*See optional modification at bottom
1.In a small saucepan, warm the coconut oil until it's melted. Then, whisk together all other ingredients over low heat until smooth. Remove from the heat and let sit at room temperature until slightly thickened.
2.If you want to add any extras, now is the time. I like to add different things. Oats, nuts. raisins, whatever I have on hand. Some times I leave it plain.
3.Put 4-5 muffin liners into a muffin tin.
4.Pour chocolate into liners. Fill about half way.
5.Put these beauties into the fridge or freezer until hardened. If your house is cold enough they will harden sitting on the counter.
I have kept these stored in the fridge for months (2-4, depending on what you put in them).
*One modification I have made is that when I'm feeling more milk-chocolatey, after the coconut oil is melted, and I add the other ingredients, I also add 1/4cup coconut milk.
These little treats help me through some serious chocolate craving moments! Do you have anything that is a super substitute for an un-healthy favourite of yours???
Word on the street is that chocolate is healthy. It's true (and not true....). It's true that cocoa has many health benefits, but over processed, full-o-sugar chocolate isn't really the greatest for you.
Cocoa being a healthy thing isn't new though.
In a book titled "Our Coloured Picture Book" (I am not sure of it's exact publishing date), there is a beautiful ad for Fry's Cocoa.
At the bottom of the ad are testimonials regarding the quality of Fry's cocoa, but also the health benefits.
My favourite testimonial is from Sir C.A. Cameron, M.D. President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, & C. (who, by the way, passed away in 1921, so, he would have said this before he died, as a clue for the age of this publication) "....It is especially adapted to those whose digestive organs are weak, and I strongly recommend it as a substitute for tea for young persons".
I love that he recommends it as a tea substitute for "young persons"….young persons in Ireland drink a lot of tea, apparently. Anyone read "Tis"?
The recipe for making hot chocolate in a Rawleigh's "Good Health Guide" that I have from 1929 involves a double boiler, another saucepan, and using a Dover egg beater (ya know, one of the old school beaters that you hold with one hand, and turn the handle for the mixer with the other). So, instead of sharing that recipe, I will share my favourite recipe, from one my favourite blogs, Chocolate Covered Katie:
As the colder weather creeps in, it's good to have a yummy, healthy hot chocolate recipe on hand. Enjoy!
Some people we knew were moving out of their house that they had lived in for 40 years. They had asked if we wanted a few things (which turned into many things!), but it wasn't all bad. They had managed an estate of an elderly woman years ago, and had some of her things that they gave us.
Inside a beautiful old Bible (that, by the notation inside, was given as a gift on Christmas day, dated 1882. Wow!), I found two copies of Rawleigh's "Good Health Guide". They were dated 1927, and 1929.
The picture below is for a "recipe" that I thought was beautiful, and telling of how children were raised then compared with now (generally). Can you actually imagine seeing this "recipe" anywhere now?
I was also struck by the length of the ads in the Guides. Ads now are meant to cater to our fast-paced society where we can't be expected to read anything over a one-liner. Pictured below is an ad I thought was sort of funny (though it's original intent was not to be).
The caption in the ad reads: "Often thoughtless folks put off getting supplies till they're needed. But because Rawleigh Products are necessities needed nearly every day in every home, thoughtful housewives everywhere always welcome the Rawleigh Retailer when he calls because they have learned from experience that Rawleigh Products are made right and can be depended upon to satisfy fully those who want only the best obtainable".
Can you imagine having a door to door retailer now? It actually sounds kind of nice! Especially if you're like me, and live out in the sticks!
I love history, and having been given these two old copies of the Rawleigh's "Good Health Guide" made me feel like a kid on Christmas! I'm such a geek!
I have a love for beautiful old things. I love history, really, and antique things that remind me of the past are the only way to "capture" history in my home.
The downside to loving old things....? Finding places for those old things!
My solution? Vignettes!
A vignette refers to many things and subjects, but in this case, it means a collection of things put together for display (more or less)!
So, when I realized I had so many lovely little things, and no place for them all to be seen, I painted a little shelf thingy I had, and worked on arranging my things. The key to a good lookin' vignette is to have levels, mix mediums, and create balance.
I'm not really 100% sure where I got this recipe in the first place. It's printed on a lined sheet of paper with a lot of other notes scribbled on it!
It is one of my favourite Gluten Free muffin recipes though, as it seems to be more forgiving, turns out yummy, and can be put in the freezer to have for mornings on the go. They are not fluffy muffins, but they are good, and good for you.
The recipe is adapted from the scribbly page I have.
Banana Nut Muffins
1/2 cup gluten free flour (I usually use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour)
1/2 cup ground flax
2 cups almond flour (I use 2 cups of whatever nut flour I have, often a mix of nut flours)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbsp melted coconut oil (butter would be o.k. too)
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
*1/4 cup unsweetened apple butter
*1/4 cup orange or apple juice (to adjust consistency)
*I actually use 1/2 cup sweet potato puree, or unsweetened applesauce. Just add 1/4 cup at first, then add the rest as needed
1.Preheat oven to 350
2.In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, and mix until well blended.
3.In another bowl, mix wet ingredients (reserving juice, or extra sweet potato puree or applesauce to thin).
4. Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing until just blended. Mixture will be quite thick.
5.Add juice or extra wet ingredient until batter is more of a muffin consistency (thick, can be poured, but not "runny")
6.Grease muffin tin, or use paper liners. Fill 3/4 full with batter.
7.Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Remove and cool on rack.
I'm not sure how long you should freeze these for, but I have them frozen for up to 2 months.
So, I turned 30 last month (yikes....).
I told my hubby that I wanted a surprise party. No, seriously I did. I'm not sure why I wanted one, maybe I thought it was distract me from turning 30.....
On the day of my birthday, my sister and her family were visiting, so we bought a cake, and I had a party....with all of our children (9 of them between us).
My husband was working on the day of my actual birthday, and he acted all sorry, and promised we could go on a date later in the week for my birthday. I was sad about no party, but my sweet husband isn't always the best planner, so I wasn't too shocked.
But, he did it. Not only did he plan a surprise party, but I was genuinely (seriously!) surprised! I cried a little! The morning of the surprise party, he even acted like he was upset that my sister and I were going antiquing, and whined about how long we would be away....all the while wanting me out the door so he could clean the house and get the party set up! Sneaky.....
My husband delegated jobs out (aka-made other people do stuff so that I wasn't wondering why he bought things like 8 bags of chips....), and invited some friends and family. He even planned out breakfast for the next morning because my family was going to stay over (because they live far away).
All of this to say: I love planning a party; picking the colour scheme, the theme, the food, prepping it all, etc. But, a party doesn't have to have those things. The theme of this party was to surprise me, and it worked!
I felt so blessed, and loved, and forgot for a while that I was worried about being "old".
I saw something on Pinterest that made me go, "Whaaaaaaat?"
It was the idea of re-growing romaine lettuce, and green onions from the "throw away" part of the veggies.
Basically, the stump of the romaine, and the bottom, white parts of the onion get "planted" in water, and are supposed to re-grow.
It seemed simple, but I didn't quite believe it. You put the veggie ends into water, in a sunny place (like a window sill), and give them clean water every few days, and let them grow.
You can see that I put the romaine in a shallow bowl, and the onions I put into a cup that would help hold them up.
These pictures were taken after 5 days. Look at those onions! I was so impressed! AND-after using them that night in our meal, I re-"planted" them in water, and grew them AGAIN! Then....yes, one more time!!! So, out of one purchase of green onions for maybe a dollar, I got fresh green onions 3 weeks in a row! I'm a fairly cheap, Dutch gal, so that warmed my heart!
The romaine grew too, but sooooo slowly. It took another 5-6 days to get enough out of this romaine for me to eat as a side salad. It was good though, and I was proud that I had grown it in my window out of "garbage".
So, I have a thing for grilled sandwiches. Incase you didn't notice....
Our wonderful neighbour gave me a lot of produce this summer, and I tried to put it all to good use.
One thing he gave me a lot of was tomatoes, and basil (well, and cucumbers, but they are not in this sandwich!)
Basil, tomato and mozzarella cheese are a flavour favourite of mine, known as a caprese salad (typically this salad is just seasoned with olive oil and salt). To me, making this 'salad' into a grilled cheese only seemed natural, basically because it has cheese already! Oh boy...
Caprese Grilled Cheese (for 2)
4 slices of bread (a really good, firm bread, like sourdough, works well)
Butter for the bread
Tomato Slices as thick of thin as you like 'em.
Bocconcini cheese medallions (or regular mozzarella works too)
A hand-full of fresh basil
Garlic (optional-but so good, you'll want to)
Heat a large frying pan to medium heat.
Butter one side each of the slices of bread.
Chop up your basil however you do it. If you've never used fresh basil, fear not. It is forgiving. Just don't use the stems, fyi.
Now assemble your sandwich!
My BIG grilled cheese tip (when adding other yummies besides cheese), is to layer your cheese! If you don't layer, you won't have enough "cheese glue" as I call it, and your masterpiece will slide apart!
So, I do something like
Lots -o- glue!
So, assemble (with buttered sides of bread facing out).
Put into hot pan, and toast. If the bread is toasting too fast and the cheese isn't melting yet, turn the heat down, and put a lid on the pan to give that cheese some good quality melting time!
Once sufficiently melted and toasty (should take 10-15 minutes, less if you used regular mozzarella and not the bocconcini), remove from pan.
The BEST part (though I said it was optional), it that when that bad boy comes out of the pan, if you have used a "firm" bread, take a fresh peeled clove of garlic, and rub it onto the toasty outside on the sandwich. Trust me....do it.
If you didn't use a firm bread, you will just smoosh your bread, so, don't rub the garlic on. Don't worry, it still tastes yummy without it.
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
Read more about me by clicking here!
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