Author Archive

Fake Great Harvest

March 31, 2014

Well, not exactly fake.  It’s real bread, but it’s not really Great Harvest.  I found a copycat recipe online here and tweaked it a bit.  I think the original person was baking at high altitude and using some kind of kneading machine.  This is in the hand kneaded midwestern version. I’ve made this with fresh ground wheat, but I have been using Dakota Maid recently (the cheapest and the best for whole wheat flour, in my opinion).


10c whole wheat flour (about 1400 grams, much easier with a scale!)

3tsp salt

2 scant T active dry yeast (yes, that’s Tablespoon, I was shocked too, but I tried skimping too far and it didn’t work as well)

4c really warm water

1/4c honey

Mix the honey and water, sprinkle yeast on top.  Let that sit while you measure the flour and salt into a big bowl. Pour the water/honey/yeast into the dry ingredients and mix it up.  Knead until it stays in a ball, then knead 10 minutes more. (Probably 12min all together). It’s a pretty wet dough, so sprinkle more flour on the table if it’s sticking too much.  Put it back in the big bowl, cover with a dishtowel and let sit 30 minutes.  Right after you set the timer, generously butter up two big sandwich-loaf sized pans, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and put a casserole dish filled with water on the bottom rack.  When your timer goes off punch the bread down (I like to give it 30 punches like the original copycat recipe says – kapow!), cut the dough in half and put it in the pans.  It doesn’t need to be “shaped” really, just pat it in there. Cover the pans with the dishcloth and let them sit somewhere warm (I leave mine on top of the stove) for 30 minutes.  When that timer goes off pop them in the oven for one hour. Get them out of the pans immediately and cool on a rack. Double wrapped the loaves freeze well.

In the world of gluten free paleo people and soaked grain traditions it’s a rather retro recipe. But so tasty. Good for snacking, sandwiches, grilled cheese, toast (french, cinnamon) – so tasty!


Emilia Margaret is here!

January 30, 2014

Emilia arrived at 11:02 on January 23rd.  She weighed in at 7lbs8oz and was 20ish inches long.  Emilia’s entrance was after a very quick labor and dramatic delivery, but we all seem to be healthy and settling in now.  She is remarkably calm and very alert at times.

Basil and Macrina are in love.  We all are.

The last picture of Macrina’s babyhood:


63 minutes later:



I wish this picture hadn’t turned out so dark.  Macrina’s eyes nearly popped out of her head when she got to hold Emilia.:

Lately Basil has become more and more enthusiastic about just about everything in a loud 4yr old boy kind of way. But when he’s with Emilia the enthusiasm quiets into a sort of blissful state.  It’s delightful. Emilia did start fussing when Basil held her the first time and Macrina quickly reprimanded him, “Basil, kiss her head!!”:

And a family photo.  We’ll keep working on it.:

Of course this isn’t Emilia’s usual look, but it’s pretty funny.:

Home again:

We have a new router that’s speeding things up, so perhaps we’ll be back here more frequently.  But really, we’ll probably just be cuddling.

Week 1 Learning Stuff Highlights

September 27, 2013

We started “preschool” the last week of August since that’s when Papa headed back to work.  Basil has no concept of “homeschool” or “doing preschool” and thinks he “goes to school” by attending Church school and French class.  I think we’ll leave it that way as long as possible since there’s no telling what we’ll do next anyways.

It was a transition week just like all the other “Papa back to work” weeks, so we had some extra emotions to work around.  But it was an especially nice time for new routines.  We’re ever so loosely using the “Harvest Time” curriculum from WeeFolkArt (just the book list and activities), attempting some Montessori math lessons, somewhat intentionally “playing Church school” at home, and continuing with French phonics lessons.  Eric is in charge of reading/writing so he’ll have to write out the nitty gritty of that if he so chooses.

Having just finished our fifth week, it’s clear our plans have been pruned by the forces of… life.  Keeping notes of the “educational” aspects of the day usually surprises me to see how much is done, and how much of it is regular life and not the planned aspects.  It also shows very varied days and a lot of missed opportunities. I’m getting a little better at planning realistically.

Bullet points and photos are less of a “day in the life” retelling, but far easier to record:

-Read “Tops and Bottoms” by Janet Stevens and “Vegetables” by Gail Gibbons for our vegetable theme.  Other books of note, because someone in the crew liked them a lot (a lot more than this were read): “Pet of the Met” by Lydia and Don Freeman, “Children of the Forest” by Elsa Beskow, and “Lentil” by Robert McClosky.  We started reading “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The story of Joseph in Egypt was read through in the Children’s Bible Reader.

-We went to the park and I tried to teach left vs right on the way there.  Lots of cute pointing out of the stroller from both children, but that’s all.  We’ll try again in a few years!  Mostly they were pretending to have a concert.  The music was… progressive?

-Restarted recording the date and important events for the month on a calendar.  Read the stories of St Elizabeth (mother of the forerunner), looked at her icon and read through her hymns.

-Joined up with a homeschool playgroup for one morning.  It was terribly terribly hot out, but we wound up pouring water all over and keeping relatively cool.

-Took a walk at the lake.

-Made paint from cornstartch.  Mixing the colors was a big hit.  This is what happens when I ask Basil to smile.

-Made salt dough vegetables to play with.  You can’t see the veggie he’s holding. But we’re closer to a smile!

-Took a trip to the grocery store to try a new vegetable.  Tried taro root (okay, kind of like spongy celery) and dragon fruit (pretty tasty, like a less acidic kiwi).  Found root, leaf, stem, flower bud, fruit, bulb, tuber and seed vegetables.

-Went to the downtown farmers market to enjoy a bluegrass concert, admire vegetables, and pick up cabbage for kraut.  Clogging was a main form of percussion for the band.  I’m a fan!  On the bus on the way to the market and then the band:

-Introduced the red rods.  (We never let pants get in the way of our education.)

-Wrote letters to friends.  This devolved rather quickly into making letters out of crayons.  (We don’t let original plans, shirts or the fact that we have moose antlers get in the way either.)

Maybe I’ll write another one of these sooner than 5 weeks from now and remember more.

Total Lack of Internet Presence

September 19, 2013

We do still USE the internet.  And I haven’t actually deleted my facebook page, though I can’t access it from home.

But the exciting wonderful news hereabouts is that there’s a new Saathoff sister!  La plus petite soeur is due mid-late January and sittin’ pretty (swimming, I suppose) now at 22 weeks.

If you are our close personal friend and somehow see this post (having bothered to keep this blog on a reader even after google-reader ended?!?) you can email and we can share pictures on snapfish. There’s lots and lots of highly unorganized, unedited and un-captioned cuteness.

In far less exciting news (and probably equally un-surprising!), we’re trying our hand at a bit of homeschooling this year.  Basil is still only 4 and compulsory education doesn’t begin until 7 in MN.  But the wide-eyed looks when people hear he’s not in PreK apparently start now.  We’ve begun some more intentional learning and maybe, just oh so maybe, this space will be used to chronicle a bit of that.

But not in the winter.  God willing we’ll be back with triple cuteness explosion photos!








Our first photo as a family of five.  Basil wasn’t having it and Macrina insisted on carrying a cross.  They’re quite pleased about the new baby now.

Beards Go Up

May 28, 2012

This morning, when Stella said she’d like to be a train engineer Basil said he’d like to drive a firetruck.  But this evening, after Basil and Papa read the picture book The Holy Monks of Mount Athos, this conversation followed:

Papa: Do you want to be a monk?

Basil: No

Papa: Why not?

Basil: Monks have beards.

Papa: You don’t want a beard?

Basil: No.

Papa: Papa has a beard.

Basil: Mama and Macrina do not have beards.  I do not have a beard.

Papa: What’s wrong with beards?

Basil: Beards go up.  (He then points out on Papa’s face how the beard comes up to connect to his hair)

Papa: Do you want Papa to be without a beard?

Basil: No.

Papa: Do you want to have one?

Basil: No, I do not want a beard.

Papa: (to Mama) Who’s teaching this kid?  Do you want to be a deacon?  They don’t have to have beards.  Does Deacon Paul have a beard?

Basil: No, but I don’t want to be a deacon.  I don’t want to be a priest, either.

Mama: What do you want to be?

Basil: I just want to be a bishop.  I want to go to the kitchen and get a big napkin to wear.


A Fair Monday

April 2, 2012

Happy Monday everyone.  And by “everyone”, I mean all those who read this blog.  I really should say “Happy Monday Basil Fans!”  And since you are all Basil fans, here’s an update on what he’s been up to this fair Monday.

After breakfast Basil got busy making some honey wheat bread.  He was an eager kneader.

After covering the dough to rise Basil was not so keen on letting it rest.  To avoid further poking and prodding we went downstairs to other duties.

Oh yes.  Laundry time!  Basil is rather fascinated with the washer.  Conveniently, our washer will continue agitating the clothes with the lid open, so we can watch the show.  (He didn’t fall in.)

A quick train stop since we were downstairs already.

And then to check on the bread.  I was nursing Macrina and trusting that the dough was not being pulverized.

The dough was safe.  But Dagmar the Duck tends to get hungry at the same times as Macrina.  So Dagmar got to nurse too.  And we all enjoyed reading “Sammy Salami” and “The Noisy House”.

               Then a bit of gluing.

And it was time to bake the bread!  I didn’t get pictures of that.  But it was followed by more food production on the earlier end of the process.  Basil planted lettuce seeds.  Carrots went in too, but they were mighty tiny seeds so I avoided having a helper.  But he did man the watering can to give our seeds a good sprinkling.Serious planting was followed by serious digging around in the dirt.  Which is a lot of work.  So we had lunch and it was such a fair Monday that we ate outside and got to exchange pleasantries with our neighbor Linda.  Squirrels keep stealing her lettuce.  We’re hoping ours doesn’t go the same route.

Tasting the fruits of his earlier labor.

Then there were a couple stories and an attempt at a nap.  It seems daytime sleep is a thing of the past for Basil.  Unless we’re in the car.  Then he’ll still fall asleep, if he’s really tired.  It’s hard to tell how much he needs it.  For now the rest hour isn’t going anywhere, that’s for sure.

Then Basil loaded and unloaded his garbage truck many many times.  I think the contents were diaper ointment and little finger puppets.  I couldn’t tell what the storyline was for the game.  This was at the same time as insisting on listening to the same song about Paris not being built in one day FOURTEEN times.  He calls it “The Ice Cream Song”.  I don’t get it.  But it is (thankfully!) a pleasant little ditty.

Then playdough.  We discussed “play” vs “real” dough since he experienced both today.  Toothpicks were added to the playdough tool arsenal today.  Very cool.

Playdough starting losing its allure about the same time dinner was done.  Basil wanted to keep playing inside, but I vetoed his plan on account of the weather.  It was far too nice out.

A bike ride all the way around the block.  With a stop to pat the bunny.  Among other stops, of course.

To the playground!

Most of the time was actually spent pulling the pulley by a jump rope someone left tied to it.  It makes a nice ding sound when it hits the end of the track.  He also nervously watched the other family that was there playing. 

Then it was back home for playtime with Papa, dinner, more stories and bedtime.

Wait… you’re a Macrina fan too?  You may be wondering where the younger sibling was during all the day’s excitement.  Macrina was surely along for the ride!  She practiced her sitting (she’s got it down, unaided (!)  but she’s only rolled over a couple times), giggled at Basil, and made goofy fake cough sounds in very conversational ways.  It’s pretty amazing how much Macrina is amused by Basil’s antics already, she really loves watching him.  She especially lights up when he comes downstairs after naptime.  The only thing better is when Papa comes home.  The lack of object permanence seems to make it an especially amazing experience everyday.  Macrina remains a most pleasant (the most ?) pleasant baby.  Last night she woke up in the middle of the night to kick her feet and smile at me.  I don’t wish the timing to be a habit, but it was heart warming.  Even in the middle of the night.

Both Macrina and I have a cold so it wasn’t really the best day for pictures.  But I did get a few good ones.

I guess watching the laundry work was… shocking?

Observing the kneading seems like it must have been a more pleasant view:

Tummy time in the kitchen is a usual perch.  It was dry and warm enough outside that Macrina got to play on the ground for the first time instead of being in arms in the out of doors.  She seemed a lot more excited about it than she appears in the pictures.

  And the usual hideouts.  

Here’s to a fair Tuesday!  (With fewer photographs.)

*Here’s the bread recipe.  It’s pretty tasty and VERY fast.  Swift enough for a 2.5 year old attention span!  I’m hoping to try adjusting the type-of-flour ratio and the honey.  *

A Joke!

June 17, 2011

It has been awhile since I posted here.  (Eric may think that’s a bit understated.)  But I’ve decided to make a blog post in honor of Basil making his first joke.  When we’re reading a book about animals, or sometimes when he’s playing with stuffed animals he labels all of them “mon-KEY!”.  When we say he’s silly and tell him the real names he continues with “mon-KEY” until he’s laughing too hard to go on.  This is a very funny joke!

Besides joking Basil has been having lots of fun outside now that summer is truly here.  Here are some photos of a morning at the beach:

There has been indoor fun as well.   One afternoon I stopped dinner prep to check on Basil as usual.  I figured he was watching the elementary school down the block dismiss (a favorite pastime).  Instead, I found him in a box!

Upon interview, the box turned out to be a “bo” on the “wa”.  While he may not have the ending of words down, Basil knows better than to sail alone.  The cat went along for the cruise:

But appears to have been dumped in the “wa”.  Oh well.

The corner of the hammock is visible in these pictures, so I might as well display it in all its glory.  Eric knows how to bargain at a garage sale and he haggled us a very nice spot to rest.

Basil has also recently enjoyed a couple visits to the zoo.  He has been caught at home enlightening the animal kingdom with fine literature.

Today Eric celebrates his last day of school for the year.  He will begin St. Kate’s training full time on Monday, but being a student promises to be much less daunting so it will still qualify as quite a “break”.

Little Patriot is flipping around nicely.  Our doctor’s appointments are weekly now and so far so good with no cervical changes since the surgery!  Tuesday will be 20 weeks, so we’re getting nearer and nearer to when things went downhill with Basil’s gestation, but we’re already in a better place to catch things early and rest as needed.  We’ll get another look at LP next week.


October happened…

November 12, 2010

and we completely failed to blog!  Oops.  Things have been busy around here in the moving, teaching, learning, cooking, playing, normal-ness of life kind of way.  We’re hopelessly behind in recording the goings-on, and the latest photos are not uploaded, so I may resort to scrolling through iphoto and telling you about the summer.  (I’m also trying to simultaneously supervise Basil’s unpacking of the purse/diaper bag… so we’ll see how this goes.)

Did we mention that we moved to Minnesota?  I guess Eric covered that, but I’m not sure he did a good job emphasizing the 6am hike in Black River Falls, WI on the way here.  Maybe because he slept through it.  Well, it was the best part!

Here are some handsome dudes right before a certain (successful!) interview and after a night of no sleep:

We celebrated Auntie Jude’s birthday on Eric’s first day of class at St. Kate’s:

And finally got some sleep in the (formerly) new digs:

Basil enjoyed his first walk around Lake Harriet, and attempted to lose his sunhat several times along the way which sent poor Yiayia backtracking quite a bit.

We hunkered down at Yiayia and Papou’s during a storm, but didn’t end up needing the basement.  I’m not sure if this pose/expression means “it’s hot out”, “I love my truck”, “give me ice cream” or what exactly…

We played at the park A LOT (I’m sparing you a lot of photos here, it’s hard to pick.)

It wasn’t a summer of all play though.  Papa had school work:

And Basil had pounding:

Me?  Mostly playing.  And constantly restocking the not so mysteriously unloaded cupboards:

And soon it was party time!  Basil got to be with all four of his grandparents on his birthday.  Here he is with his Papous:

He liked the strawberries on top of his cake better than the chocolate.  He looked happier in real life!

We hung out with Yiayia at St.Kates, and a whole lot of water fowl.

And Basil got to meet cousin Amy (one of the cousin Amys!):

Cheerios with AK = best treat ever:

We went to Chicago for Mark and Claire’s wedding, it was fantastic!  And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the only photo I got:

That’s Basil at the reception (post diaper malfunction sending him into non-wedding attire) hiding in the table linens.  It really was an incredibly beautiful, comfortable and fun wedding!  Unfortunately Eric had to leave early to drive through the night for his classes at St. Kate’s.  A baby in a front pack is really not the best dancing partner.  But the Uzbek pop music almost made up for my lack of spouse at the reception.

The next day we got to reunite with a few playgroup pals, spend a great day with Lila

and get Basil’s 12 month check up!  Surprisingly, vaccinations right before flying

was a great idea and Basil slept through the whole flight.  He didn’t cry until we landed and saw Papa.  I wanted Papa to carry the beast of a car seat and I would just take Basil.  No.  He needed Papa, IMMEDIATELY.

We got to see my aunts a couple of times this summer and we’ve spent lots of time at ProYiayia and ProPapou’s.  I particularly like this picture of Great Aunt Katina and Basil.  What fun!

Now we come the part of the summer where the camera stopped working due to high humidity.  Thanks to Yiayia’s camera we do have documentation of AK teaching Basil to smash sand castles.  If he loses all his friends at the beach, we’ll know who to blame!

Speaking of the beach, Basil LOVED it.  He had to be stopped multiple times from crawling in too deep.  It was ridiculously fun to see him experience the water for the first time.  And the look on his face when he saw just how much sand he had to work with was priceless.  (Word to the frugal, don’t spend $13 on a swim diaper like we did.  Put your child in a too-small diaper cover.  Same exact thing.  Or a one-size cover set too small.  That would work too.  The orange fishies are pretty cute though.)

We enjoyed concerts at the bandshell.  This is the Minnesota Pops Orchestra.  You can’t see them?  Oh, neither could we.  The diehard fans had the good seats, but we had the crawling space.

Then Stella came to visit!  (Auntie Katina and Uncle Jeff too).  I guess we already posted this bit of news, but I don’t think we shared that they got to meet some chickens at the bookstore.

Or that Basil is IN LOVE with his auntie:

(though he didn’t set the blackberry down for the kiss, did he…)  Seriously though, when he visits Yiayia and Papou’s he likes to page through a photo album and point out every picture of Katina.    Maybe it’s because she taught him to eat Papou’s BBQ Chicken:

And here’s general adorableness:

We went to the state fair!  I loved it (as usual), Basil thought the animals and cheese curds were pretty neat, and Eric asked if I really think I’ll want to go again next year.  Alas, I married a non-Minnesotan, I guess there is a price to pay.  The sheep barn was a hit:

As was the biggest pig in MN (a record year!):

He was not so impressed by the Princess Kay butter heads:

He did like his own little milk experience outside the dairy building:

And a different type of dairy experience happened several times this summer and was more than a big hit:

Then school started, Eric will have to talk about that.

Basil met Meredith:

We packed.

It was hard work!

We moved.

Basil met Danielle:

It was really wonderful to sandwich stressful moving times with visits from dear friends.  And I think it’s a testament to enduring friendship despite distance when you feel comfortable bringing someone into your home that is either immediately pre or post move.

The first couple of nights in the new house were a little rough in the sleep department:

But we followed with a visit from the Stiffs!  And it was fantastic.

You know it’s a good time when you don’t get any pictures until departure.

So… that’s up to the beginning of October, and now I need to find the camera cord again!


Walking and Too Hot!

September 8, 2010

Since when did this become a video blog?  Oh well, these ones are so funny and so representative of Basil these days, they must be posted.

First video is Basil walking confidently with his signature arms up style (this kid is SURE), and his stuffed hippo delivery skills.  You’ll also see at the beginning of the video his whiny refusal to get the monkey or to turn around.

This second video is Basil and I playing a hilarious game of “Feed the Lamb Cayenne Pepper!”  The game started well before the video started and continued well after it ended, even moving into a nutmeg variation.  Basil’s favorite toy recently has been the spice rack, it spins, loads, unloads and clangs around quite nicely.  For this game another player and a  stuffed lamb are required.  It goes like this:

1) Basil hands cayenne pepper to Mama.

2) Mama “feeds” pepper to Lamb and Lamb says “Too hot!  Too hot!”.

3) Basil falls over laughing (literally.)

4) Basil walks/crawls to chair and Mama returns cayenne to rack.

5) Repeat steps one through four until bedtime.  (You’ll get the idea well before the one minute mark in the video!)

We’re Minnesotans!

July 22, 2010

A real update will be coming soon.  This is just to say, we survived the move and we’re resurrecting the blog.

Here’s Basil representing for his new team: