A Year in the Life {2010}

Here we are looking at the eve of a new year. It's always such an exciting thing to ponder the memories to be made in the year ahead while reminiscing about the year that has passed. I feel like I have a foot in each place at this moment. My kitchen is filled with the smell of Joe's famous hot wings… a new years tradition! We're looking forward to watching the slide show of pictures and laughing about this years good times this evening.

Below is a glimpse of our year in photos… snippets of the life from the Gypsy Family. Oh my was it ever hard to choose just twelve!

{Completely inspired by Whichname, thank you Nicola!}






































As always, I am humbled that you take the time to stop by this place to see what we're up to. To gather in a place with kindred spirits and hopefully to smile and laugh as we stumble through life as a family. Even though many of you I have never met face to face, I feel fortunate to call you my friends….. 

May you all have the courage to take great leaps into the unknown, even if it means getting your shoes wet. (of course Sam wants you all to know he made it across that creek without falling in!)


Happy New Year!

And many blessings on a marvelous 2011. 

Much Love,


{ps ~ the locations of these photos are listed on the flickr album}



I was just reading this and this……… and I realized I am not quite ready to return to this space…. so while a photo or two may show up in the next few days… I won't be back regularly until next week…. see you then friends.



elfwork, midnight & malbec…..



handpicked giftables for her siblings ~love this~



our new furry, brown friend…. more on this very soon….



just after a visit from the jolly old elf….


really, how could we say no? (photo by Jade)


Monday Bites :: Multigrain Greek Tabouleh (with a gf variation!)

I think I spelled it right. Tabouleh, that is.

I plan on sharing a week of handmade here…. and why not start with food? This recipe was invented last week and it's just so very lovely. I eat it by the bowl full and smile with every bite. It's just so good!

Though I love the busy days and treat indulging of the holiday season…. I am always on the look out for something fresh and healthy (and easy!) to counteract the hand full of spritz cookies I ate with my morning coffee. And my mid morning coffee. And just because I passed by them in the kitchen. Or perhaps the two pieces of that newly tweaked chocolate biscotti recipe. (sharing that next week my friends!) 

When our group of homeschooling mamas first came together, we met at a lovely little greek & lebanese place to talk and enjoy good food. I had the best tabouleh there…. so good that I dreamt about about it even. I am a bit obsessed with food, as I am sure you've come to notice! I wanted to recreate that fresh wonderful flavor in my own kitchen and not pay $6 (eek) dollars for a bowl of it.

I wanted to invent a multi grain tabouleh. In coming up with some other grains to use in this salad, I accidently discovered a gluten free way of making tabouleh, along with adding a good source of protein (quinoa). I don't know if it's been done before but for all my GF pals out there that haven't enjoyed this dish in awhile, your in luck! It turns out a mix of quinoa and millet are a perfect substitute if prepared properly. I was totally not a quinoa fan until I soaked it before cooking, which makes that odd bitter flavor disappear and results in a delicious protein rich grain! We'll definitely be eating more of this. Millet cooked as directed below can also be substituted for couscous!

Recently one of our co-op farmer mamas brought in a seedless cucumber tossed in a simple vinaigrette, delicious! These seedless thin skinned cukes are a perfect addition to tabouleh and certainly more nutritious than the typical seeded, peeled cuke. I hope you make some of this. It is a bit of work to prepare the three separate grains, but well worth it since a batch of this lasts for days in the fridge! I make a double batch to feed my big crew. It stayed fresh and wonderful all week and was eaten as a main dish or snack or side dish several times a day without tiring of it. I have plans for a kalamata olive dressing for my next batch…. I'll share it here once it's perfected 🙂

So, without further adieu, my tabouleh.

(Gluten Free & Vegan notes at the end of the recipe) 



Multi-Grain Tabouleh

(makes 6-7 cups)


1 cup bulgur wheat

1 cup water


1-ish cup of quinoa, cooked & cooled to room temp (see below for cooking instructions)

1-ish cup of millet, cooked & cooled to room temp (see below for cooking instructions)


for dressing:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3-1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh if possible

2 Tbsp bragg apple cider vinegar 

1 Tablespoon honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cumin

a generous couple of grinds of fresh pepper

2 fresh garlic cloves, pressed

1-2 bunches parsley, chopped small (if you like parsley, use one bunch… if you love parsley, use two!)

3 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 of a large seedless cucumber, diced (we prefer seedless thin skin variety diced, seed & peel regular cukes)

3 green onions chopped thinly

4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled


Soak the bulgur in warm water for an hour. Fluff with spoon and add cooked, cooled quinoa & millet. Mix remaining ingredients in order to make a dressing, stir well to combine. Pour over grains and stir well again. Add extra salt, pepper or lemon juice if desired. Keeps well in the fridge for several days. This multigrain tabouleh packs a powerhouse of nutrients and is easily made gluten free and vegan! Wonderful served over a bed of salad greens with flat bread & hummus!

Cooking Quinoa: Soak quinoa for an hour. {This removes the bitter taste that made me not enjoy quinoa in the past!} Rinse well in a fine mesh colander or colander lined with cheesecloth. Add one part quinoa to one and a quarter parts liquid. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low heat, barely simmering the grains. Cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff and serve. (for the tabouleh recipe, use 1/2 cup dry quinoa & 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp of water, this makes 1-1.5 cups of fluffy grains)
Cooking MilletToast the millet first by pouring the millet into the pot and stir/shake constantly over medium heat until the millet starts popping and jumping around. It will be aromatic and lightly golden. Be sure the millet doesn't burn! Slowly add boiling water and cover the pot. Simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, 20-25 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff immediately with a fork. (Add one part millet to two parts liquid, for the tabouleh recipe you will use 1/2 cup dry millet & 1 cup of water)
** For a gluten free tabouleh, omit bulgar/water & double quinoa & millet. (cook 1 cup instead of 1/2 cup, following the directions above)
** To make this recipe vegan, omit the feta and use maple syrup in place of the honey.

Quiet Days

Firstly, a big hello to all of you stopping in to read a passage from my homeschool series back in October. Welcome! {and thank you to Simple Homeschooling for sharing the link with your readers}

We're heading into some busy days here in the Gypsy house…. the kind filled with magic and anticipation and little ones barely being able to keep their gifts under the tree a secret. Last night, after wrapping antique store finds my dear Miss 8 handed her gifts to each family member and told them "please, just open it now." We persuaded her to let us wait until Christmas…. a whole 4 days, such torture! She then ran down the hallway to her room happily yelling "I can't keep it all in!" She is not the secret keeper of the family….. and my little Luke is giving me clues. "Okay mama, I can't tell you what's in the paper, but it's fragile and it's for the kitchen." 

Does anyone have bets on these things remaining secret?

Oh the things I have to share with you after the festivities are surely piling up in my mind. Giftables, handmades & sweet kid stories. All good stuff, for sure.

For now, I realize that this space will have some quiet days….. I'm hoping to pop in with a group photo of sorts by the weeks end (getting 6 people to cooperate, oh please do wish me luck!)… but for the most part I'll be nibbling on peppermint bark and drinking coffee and finishing up last minute elves work in the upcoming days.

Wishing you a beautiful Solstice and a magical holiday.



The Gypsy Mama


~making merry~consumable gifts~

my boys

The decorating is done and we've spent the week making plenty of treats. The last bit of making merry around the Gypsy house is "use 'em up" giftables! By far a favorite gift to give and receive. I've been reading so many wonderful ideas for handmade edible & skin care gifts on blogs and thought it would be fabulous to share my favorites with all of you. As usual, do please leave a link of your own favorites!



Nicola of Which Name? shares her amazing Toffee

(I've all ready made TWO batches, one with a teaspoon of my vanilla bourbon in it, wow!)


Orangette shares the best Peppermint Bark Recipe

(I found this thanks to Nicola, above and have made two batches of this also!)


A new granola recipe to try, via Soulemama's blog

(I packaged up our granola in jars to give, but we're trying the above recipe next!)


Beer Bread in a jar, recipe by Pomegranate Girl

(we're thinking this, along with a bottle of Joe's homebrew would be awesome!)


And some wonderful gifts for pampering winter time skin……


Oat floats by Maya Made

(I am thinking these with a smidge of lavender would be wonderful!)


Valarie of A Place like this shares her Sauna Scrub

(a perfect giftable for my midwestern sauna loving pals)


Bath Salts & Scrubs by Shannon of Free Spirit Knits

(we're making both of these!)


Winter Tea on Rhythm of Home, recipe by Jennifer Tan

(drinkable warmth, pure perfection!)


I've really enjoyed reading about potlucks and ways to celebrate the many festivals in the upcoming days over at Rhythm of Home. I hope you all find the time to gather with friends & loved ones and celebrate some magic.

Eat, drink & Make Merry.



knitting in the works and such….

Oh the knitting…… it's in a bag and at my side where ever I travel these days. Knit… knit…. knit….

Remember the scarf? Oh I started that lovely piece a  y-e-a-r  ago. It was one of those mindful knittings…. the kind you actually have to pay attention to. So it got worked on in bits and pieces…. one painstakingly inch at a time. Lace patterns are certainly a challenge to a mama's overworked brain.

It seriously got to the point that Joe started referring to it as my retirement scarf (!!) Which in my most grown up of ways, I would reply by sticking my tongue out at him, and then return to my knitting. Please tell me some other married couples out there behave like this? We're ridiculous, I know.

So, here it is…. the retirement scarf… a drawn out year in the making! Uff-da.






And also in the mad works…. is this sweater. For me! Completely inspired by Soulemama's Oatmeal sweater.… perhaps even the same shade of yellow, oh my, I hope Amanda doesn't mind 🙂 The pattern can be found here. This is a very well written, easy to follow and quickly knitted pattern.






I love the Quince Puffin yarn…. so nice to the touch and such fast knitting…. well, at least until you start working on sleeves and then it seems to slow down… or perhaps it's the fact that I am an absent minded knitter and get distracted by other things. You know, like mittens.




I've come to realize I don't particularly care for knitting projects in which you must knit two of the same thing. I have a feeling socks are not in my future. Please wish me luck in making these poor things a match, oh yes and also on the thumb holes. They scare me. 

Here's to a weekend of finishing up holiday projects. May good coffee and yummy treats keep you going!

(I'll see you Saturday for a bit of Merry Making!)


because water heaters don’t know it’s christmas

Did you know that?

No matter if you ask them to please leak a month before or after December, they just don't listen. They don't know you'll stand there, looking at your husband, knowing damn well you have to pull money out of savings or empty the mason jar of kayak money to buy a new one. Or in our case a little of both. And if you yell at a water heater, in your driveway, after you've purchased three different types of pipes to connect it, your neighbors will most certainly think you are NUTS. For reals.

It's moments like this: my husband is accidently dropping tools from the attic where he is precariously perched…. and I have one foot on the wall and two hands on the vent pipe to hold in place as he anchors it above….. all the while yelling at one of my big kids to please stir dinner so it doesn't burn. I think Luke may have been running through the house half clothed and Sophia was surely somewhere singing Christmas music….. and whichever big kid was not stirring dinner was most certainly lost in a book. I wish someone had a camera, that someone would snap a photo of this hilarious moment. There have been heaps and piles of these moments in this home of ours. Remodeling an old home is expensive chaos. Things happen at the least convenient times and you've no other choice than to roll with it.

And if, like me, after a day of grumbling about money you choose to surf frugal blogs and books, hoping to find some money saving secret, you'll eventually come to the conclusion that some things are just totally worth shelling out hard earned cash for…. like hot water heaters and organic milk.

And while you might not live as cheaply as you wish, you live well. And that's good too. 

{Plus, I am constantly in awe of a man that can pull a 16 hour day and still end it by reading his 4 year old a story and tucking him into bed, before he goes back to finishing and cleaning up water heater installment chaos. Yup.}




And in the rare moment of clarity when someone does grab a camera in one of these moments, for example when I am driving the 1976 VW bus while my husband stands on top of it with a chainsaw to trim trees, because the city said the branches are too long, and a tree trimmer charges $300 per tree to trim, and we don't have a tall enough ladder…… when all this happens and our laughing 12 year old daughter snaps a photo, I will share it with all of you. 

Because when life gets bumpy, laughter is always the best medicine.


Monday Bites :: Vanilla Bourbon

So, did you know that "bourbon" vanilla actually refers to a bourbon vanilla bean? Not the liquor used to extract the flavor? Yeah, me neither. Not until after I filled an old maple syrup jar with split vanilla beans and Maker's Mark. Oops. While I am not sure what the end result of this experiment will be as vanilla extract, I can {rather sheepishly} tell you that a little splash of this in a cup of hot cocoa is down right heavenly. Naughty, I know. Don't tell Santa.

Last year we made Heather's amazing hot cocoa for grown ups. Several times. Pure Bliss. And if you follow her scrumptious little recipe and swap the white chocolate liquor for my vanilla bourbon, you will be quite pleased with the results. Yum.

So, even though my intention was to use this as extract, I must admit I am happy to find that it has dual purpose!




Vanilla Bourbon:

1 madagascar-bourbon vanilla bean, cut lengthwise with scissors

1 cup of bourbon (Maker's Mark is good stuff)


Put the beans into the jar. Top with bourbon. Store in cupboard for 2 months. Shake whenever you look at it. After a month, ours had a nice mellow vanilla flavor, good for adding to cocoa. However waiting the full two months is important if you want to use it as vanilla extract. {and most likely even better in cocoa} Every time you use a little, top off the bottle with bourbon. You'll never need to buy vanilla extract again. I hear it takes years for the beans to lose their flavor! If you have a larger jar to fill, just keep the one bean to 1 cup of bourbon ratio. 


~making merry~holiday tunes~

I love Christmas music.

We have a small collection of favorites that constantly play during this season. I usually can't bare to break them out until after Thanksgiving. However, this year a friend mentioned that Christmas music was really helping her handmade crafting groove, and she was right! It certainly isn't a white holiday out of doors, but with these tunes playing, the making of holiday gifts is even more enjoyable. (still knitting here!)

This is a list of our favorites. The links take you right to the albums on Amazon so you can listen to a snippet of the songs. I love the ability to download the songs right onto my computer (and ipod) for listening, no more packaging to throw away! Please leave a comment with your own favorites below. 


This Warm December : A Brushfire Holiday

The Hotel Cafe Presents : Winter Songs

A Very Special Acoustic Christmas

All The Very Best for Christmas

Songs for Christmas : Sufjan Stevens

Yule : Instrumental Tunes

White Christmas : Bing Crosby


Turn the music up and get your holiday groove on!



photo by Jade