Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday=Picture Time

I can't believe October is almost here.  I've taken a picture a day for almost 3/4 of a year!  Of course there were a few days that were missed, but I sure feel like I've learned a lot about capturing the little moments in life.

Here are some of those moments from this week...

Sunday, September 21:

 At 21 weeks, it was time to drag out the tub of maternity clothes from the basement.  Sydney found herself a cute little bed in the middle of sorting through them. 

Monday, September 22:

Owen's most current med change has been interesting.  He's so tired during the day, but doesn't sleep too well at night.  Here he is all curled up on the couch trying to catch some mid morning Z's.  We're hoping as he adjusts to the change things start to flip-flop a bit and he sleeps more at night again.

Tuesday, September 23:

 I had a work crew helping me milk this morning.  Simon woke up Sydney and Sydney woke up Ellie, and one wanted to go back to sleep (except Mommy!).  So we all trekked out to the barn for morning chores. 

Wednesday, September 24

My mom's birthday.  I tried my hand at making a German Chocolate cake from scratch.  Somehow my layers didn't end up the same size despite baking them one at a time in the same pan.  Oops! It's hard to hide that with frosting.  But, it tasted good.  Grandma had lots of help blowing out the candles. Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, September 25:

Jeff ran himself out trying to help lock up the turkeys for the night.  We got all but one right away, and that one decided he wanted to be out and about for a while longer.  To save time, Jeffrey decided to avoid opening the gate and just climb through. 

Friday, September 28

Simon is cutting his first molars and had a miserable day.  He found comfort in my arms and also in Jayme's.  She curled up with him for a while so I could make lunch.  They sure look cozy.

Saturday, September 29

Bryan captured this beautiful sunset this evening.  I love the colors! 

Hope you had some great moments this week!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Bagels

As I've mentioned before, bagels are a favorite treat around this house!  The kids and I all love them, though I prefer a hefty spread of cream cheese while the kids favor plain butter.  No matter how we top them, they are delicious!

I realized I hadn't yet shared our method for making them, so I wanted to get that done.

Our go-to recipe for making bagels was found here.  We didn't really change much, just added a bit more water since we increased the flour to more whole wheat, and changed the order in which some ingredients get added to help achieve a better rise.

Cinnamon raisin bagels make a deliciously simple snack!

Ready?  It's not a complicated process at all.

And the best part?  If you make a large amount, you can just freeze the rest and then pull them out when life gets too complicated for baking.

What you need (this is for a double batch--about 24-26 bagels):

5 cups warm water
4 T honey (or 1/2 cup brown sugar if your honey supply is low!)
5 tsp. sea salt
6 cups whole wheat flour (we use white whole wheat)
4 cups all purpose flour
2 T. gluten powder
4 tsp. yeast

For the water bath step:
1 gallon of water
1/3 cup sugar

What you do:

1.  Put 1 cup of water, honey (or sugar), and yeast in a large bowl then mix
2. Wait five minutes or so while yeast gets bubbly
3. Add the remaining water (4 cups), the salt and the gluten and stir
4.  Add the whole wheat flour and mix well
5.  Slowly add the all purpose flour (about a cup at a time) until your dough is only slightly sticky (remember your mileage on flour may vary so don't feel like you have to use it all)
6.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes
7.  Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap until doubled (about an hour)
8.  Add in any extras--dehydrated onions for onion bagels, garlic for garlic bagels, raisins and cinnamon--whatever you like!  Feel free to divide the dough into smaller chunks and flavor each differently, especially if you're making a large batch.
9.  Divide the dough into baseball sized balls (approximately 24-26 from this double batch)
10.  Take each ball and use your thumbs to create a hole in the middle as you work the dough into a bagel shape.  Stretch it out to about 2 inches since the hole will shrink.
11. Place each shaped bagel on a greased cookie sheet and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
These bagels are resting...shh!
12.  While bagels are resting, prepare a water bath for them by bringing a gallon of water and 1/3 cup of sugar to a boil.  You can also start your oven preheating to 350 at this time.
13.  When your bagels are done resting and your water is boiling, drop a couple of bagels (however many will fit without touching in your pot) into the boiling water.  Set the timer for 30 seconds.
14.  Using a large slotted spoon (or something similar) flip each bagel over.
15.  Boil for another 30 seconds.
16.  Place boiled bagel back on greased cookie sheet.
17.  Repeat until all bagels are boiled. Careful--boiling water is hot!
18. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
19.  Remove from oven and pan and let cool on a rack.
20.  Spread with topping of choice and enjoy!

 What's your favorite bagel flavor and topping?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Pic Round up

Brought to you via the iPhone Blogger app on a state highway between Grand Coulee and Wilbur...

Sunday, September 14

We are learning about Creation for the first trimester or so of school, and since I teach Sunday School to my littles we start each week's lessons there. Here a felt board and its pieces are being explored. 

Monday, September 15

I think this sight was a first on our dusty county road. Some dutch work was being done.

Tuesday, September 16

Learning about sound vibration in science, the kids made hornet toys. They enjoyed twirling them around and making different sounds.

Wednesday, September 17

My Hillbilly portrait! 

Thursday, September 18

Jeffrey has been hard at work learning to make his own bed. He's getting better! 

Friday, September 19

After a quick trip to the library we played at the park. Owen loves the texture of the rocks. 

Saturday, September 20

A first for everyone in our family... We headed to Grand Coulee Dam and took in the laser light show. It was amazing, and we really enjoyed the trip. Most of the summer it starts too late on the evening for our family with so many littles. But in September it starts at 8:30. Perfect! We can be home by 11:30 or so. And my parents are going to milk for me in the morning since we have such a late night. Thanks Mom! 

Here is a pic Bryan captured. 

Well, off to enjoy the drive home.  Have a great evening everyone! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Farm Fresh Apple Juice

Ah--autumn is almost here, and the apples are getting ripe.  I normally just make applesauce, until I remembered that Grandma had given me a steamer/juicer a few years back.  It's been hanging out in my basement, just waiting for me to have that ah-ha moment!

I'd never used one of these before, but the directions were pretty simple.  Core the apples and throw them in the fruit section.  Boil water in the water section.  Put the lid on and let it cook.  Once steam started appearing, the timer was set for 80 minutes. 

I had to add water once during that time.  A tip I read said to use marbles in the bottom section, so when you heard them you'd know the water was getting low.  That worked swell!

Once the timer went off, we released the clamp, and look at this:

Juice!  Straight from the tree to the jar.

A 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full of small apples produced just under half a gallon of juice.  We added a wee bit of sugar, as our apples are pretty tart.  The juice was good once it cooled!

And the best part?

All of that fruit that was left in the top section...yup--that became applesauce.  Just had to use the immersion blender on it in a bowl for a few minutes and add our cinnamon and sugar mixture.

I hope to make more soon! Getting applesauce in the freezer will be great.   

Have you ever used a steamer/juicer?  Any good recipe ideas for me to try? 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Playing with Playdough

The kids were super motivated today, and chores and breakfast were all accomplished by 8--a whole hour earlier than normal.

School wrapped up by 930, and we had a whole lotta extra time. So we out Simon down for his morning nap, and whipped up a double batch of playdough.

Since the only salt I had on hand was my semi-expensive sea salt, I searched the Internet for salt free recipes. I didn't want to use a cup of that! 

In my search, I learned that this kind is better for playdough eaters (Owen) since there isn't a high sodium content. That never even crossed my mind, I have to admit, but I felt better as he quickly ate his small ball of dough and any others he could get his hands on.

The recipe we used called for flour, olive oil and water. We added food coloring and mixed it all up. No cooking! Of course it won't last as long, but it was simple.

We got out the cookie cutters, garlic press, rolling pin and a handful of spaghetti noodles to see what creations we could come up with. 

I made a porcupine!

It was such a relaxing time, just playing together and enjoying a simple activity. We often get so overstimulated with noise and activity and to-do lists that it's important to relax once in a while. 

Squeezing playdough between your fingers is a lot of fun! So is experimenting with different things. 

The garlic press made great hair and noodle type strands, and  we all took turns making a bird nest with eggs. This was definite fine motor practice, but no one even knew it had an academic twist! 

The spaghetti noodles also added a textual element. Jayme experimented with using them as supports--like you would do with wire in sculpting.

After almost an hour of play, we decided to stick all the colors together. We thought we would end up with a messy brown, but instead we got...

A beautiful tie-dye! Then we had to play with that for a while too.

Eventually our stomachs got the best of us, and we had to clean up for lunch. But not before turning on the "do You Want to Build a Snowman" song from Frozen and having a snowman building frenzy.

Aren't they beautiful? Definitely messy, but all created with love and enjoyment. 

And yes, in case you were wondering, the food coloring mess came off the table. We used diluted wood oil soap and it cleaned right up!  (Well the food coloring did--we still have fingernail polish and sharpie to figure out how to get rid of!)

Productive children, fabulous playdough play AND a clean table? That's what I call a great morning! 

What are your favorite play dough tools?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Farm Life: Setting Some Learning & Action Goals

Having a huge list of things you want to learn/do is great!  But if it remains a list, that's not so great.  There comes a time when you have to actually apply some effort to your list.  And that's what we've been doing around the farm. 

After some discussion, Bryan and I have set five goals for ourselves between now and next summer.  Ready to see what they are?

1.  Add meat rabbits. 

Cute?  Yes.  Cuddly?  Sure.  But rabbits provide a great source of lean protein.  And they reproduce quickly, which is great!  Some specifics for this plan.

Build/Rummage rabbit cages.  I know my parents used to have rabbits.  And when we were looking, we found feeders, which means we won't have to buy those.  There's enough wood around that I think we'll be able to build them (ok--honestly, Bryan will be able to build them) fairly inexpensively.

Acquire 2 does and 1 buck.  We are thinking a New Zealand mix. There have been some on Craigslist lately, so when the time is right, I think it'll be easy enough to find what we desire.

Get a breeding schedule.  I've been reading about that here, and found some good ideas. 

Learn to butcher a rabbit.  We know someone who is willing to help us learn which is a huge blessing.

2.  Add earthworms beneath the rabbits.

Since we are going to be having hanging rabbit cages at least in the winter, having a group of earthworms underneath them turning all that rabbit poo into rich compost sounds like an easy plan.  Plus we'll then have plenty of worms when we want to fish in the creek next summer!

We've done some research on this one as well, and it sounds pretty low maintenance. 

3.  Learn to make cheddar cheese

This one will wait until next spring when I have three cows freshen.  That'll be a lot of milk to experiment with.  Before then, we are going to find an old fridge (hopefully from Craigslist for cheap!) to adapt to use as a cave. 

Part of the perk of having a milk cow (or three!) is homemade dairy.  While I've dabbled in soft cheeses, hard cheese is something I've never tried.  I'm looking forward to it!

4.  Make homemade charcoal and build a temporary water filter

Emergency preparation is great.  But eventually the bottled water will run out, and we'll need to turn to another source (like our creek!)
See all that water just waiting to be filtered and drank?
 But, without filtering and boiling, I wouldn't want to drink the creek water.  So we want to try this process when it isn't an emergency situation, while we have internet access to walk us through the steps

5.  Last, but not least...Add bees to the farm.

This is a goal we share with my older sister and her husband.  We learned about an easy method of bee keeping during Between the Rivers, and this site.  The winter is the perfect time to build a hive (or two).  Then we'll get the bees in spring of 2015, and be able to harvest our first honey in 2016.  Yum!

My grandpa, who was the first generation of my family to live here, used to keep bees, and we still have some of his gear down in the basement.  I'll have to go through it and see what condition everything is in, but I'm thinking it's possible we won't have to spend a ton!

So there you have it.  Our five goals for the next several months.  We'll be adding rabbits and worms first, followed by making cheddar cheese.  The bees will join us sometime in late spring, and the charcoal--probably something we can tackle this fall once the burn ban is lifted. 

I'll keep you updated with our progress.  Makes me have a little more accountability for actually getting these done!

Do you have any big upcoming goals? 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 7-13 Picture Time

My dad let us borrow season one of a new to us show, "Elementary"--the newest CBS rendition of Sherlock Holmes.  I really didn't know what to expect, but so far I'm enjoying it.  Of course, in the back of my mind I'm kind of expecting it to go south in subsequent seasons like so many other shows on TV these days, but for now it's been something different

So since the kids are all tucked in, this blog post is going to be a quickie, as Bryan and I have a show to watch!

Sunday, September 7

Jayme enjoyed spending the time between church services at a friend's birthday party.  While there, the girls used fabric paint to decorate a shirt.  Here's what Jayme decided to doodle...

Yup--that's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She likes the 1980s variety, though she has seen some of the newer ones as well.

Monday, September 8

We have a butcher date for our pigs--September 29th.  That's great news.  Know what's even better?  I was able to successfully sell our extra one on Craigslist for the price I wanted--$2.25/pound hanging weight plus cut & wrap.  And I sold it on the first day!  Praise the Lord--I wasn't sure how that process would work.

Jayme is really looking forward to some fresh bacon, and I really want some more sausage!

Tuesday, September 9

Owen had a doctor appointment at the neurologist (they adjusted one of his meds due to increased seizure activity), and while we were waiting for the appointment, we walked around the fourth floor of the hospital a bit, and I snapped this picture of three of the kids.  At first it was just Ellie on the table in the middle asking me to take her picture.  Then Sydney and Jeffrey decided they couldn't be left out.  I kind of like the streams of sunlight coming in.

On another note--this day we also had my first appointment with the midwife.  Baby's heartbeat was in the 150 range, and she believes I am measuring right on track for my estimated due date of early February! Ever since our missed miscarriage between Jeffrey and Ellie, I always breathe a little easier once we hear the heartbeat after the first trimester has ended...  What an answer to prayer!

Wednesday, September 10

School is going really well!  In order to conduct an experiment on whether sound travels better through solids or gasses, Jayme had to cut two pieces of string to 30 cm each.  Here she is measuring.  She learned that it travels better through solids in case you were wondering.

Thursday, September 11

One of the many blessings of the kitchen remodel was that we were able to use cupboards we didn't need in the kitchen elsewhere in the house.  We now have extra storage in the bathroom, utility room, dining room and office--wow--that is a lot of storage!

I finally got to work in the utility room, and cleaned off all of the junk that used to be on top of our extra fridge, on the washer and dryer and along the shelf behind those appliances.  It looks so much better!

Friday, September 12

We were blessed with many cucumbers and green beans from a couple from church.  I made gallons of pickles--some freezer pickles and some are fermenting in my crock.  I've never done fermented pickles before, so I'm looking forward to trying them in a couple of days.

I worked during quiet time, and decided Ellie could use some additional instruction on safely handling a sharp knife, so she and I worked together.  She did really well cutting slices for me.

Saturday, September 13

Remember that rope ladder we started last week?  Bryan helped us finish it today!  Here he is securing it to the apple tree in the backyard for the little ones to use. The cinder block provides a step for them to get up on, and also allows the bottom of the ladder to be secure.

Jeffrey was so excited!  He got to measure the boards and mark them where they needed drilled, and help tie them on.  Ellie and Sydney love the idea of the ladder, but are too scared yet to go up more than one or two rungs.  They sure enjoyed playing together with it though!

Well, off to watch another episode. Have a great rest of your weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Some Ramblings: Raw Milk

In case you haven't picked up on this theme before now, I am a huge fan of raw milk.  I think it's made a positive impact on our health, especially our dental health.  It's super nutritious and a great way to get in vitamins and minerals that aren't added to the product to enrich it.

But, when I dry my cows up in November, I will not be purchasing raw milk for my family to drink. 

Nope--I'll stick to milk from Costco for cooking and yogurt making (the whole variety--none of this low or non-fat junk), and low temperature pasteurized from a Spokane dairy that's available in some stores for drinking.  And we'll be cutting down our consumption by a lot. 

Want to know why I'm not planning on purchasing raw milk?  Here are my thoughts.

1.  I don't know the cows.

Sick cows are fairly easy to pick up on.  When you know them.  If one of my milk cows is feeling off, I know it almost immediately.  They just act a little different.  I've thankfully never had one sick enough to require vet treatment, but I have had a few days where something just seemed off, and I decided to feed the milk that day to the animals instead of consuming it.

Drinking raw milk from sick cows?  Not something I'd recommend. 

I also don't know that the cows are on pasture and not forced into a dinky lot somewhere.  

2.  Cows poop and pee.  A lot!

And those exit valves are really close to where you milk.  I can't tell you how many buckets of milk I've dumped because a cow got busy during milking.  While it's never actually landed in the bucket, when pee hits concrete it splatters a lot.  Urine in my milk is not something I'd enjoy.  I'll just dump it thank you very much.

3.  Cows can get really dirty.

Even though they have plenty of pasture space and some nice bedding in the barn, a few times a year (especially in the spring with all of the runoff) I think my cows desire to sleep in the muddy poop just to make more work for me.  While I clean the udders before milking, there are times when they are just too dirty for me to feel right about keeping the milk.

But--I don't know if others would feel this way.  

4.  It's going to be winter.

There's not a spot in our local area where cows can be eating pasture through the winter.  Nope.  Snow pretty much covers it all.  So if the cows are going to be eating hay and perhaps grain anyways, the benefits of raw milk are reduced from what they are in the spring, summer and fall. 

It's also a lot harder to keep everything clean in the winter when you have to deal with freezing weather!

4.  Raw milk is expensive!

We're talking $8+ a gallon expensive.  And yes I know that dairy over all is expensive right now.  Which goes with why we'll be cutting consumption as well.

But I can't justify spending that much money on milk. 

I'm sure there are other reasons out there, but those are the ones my tired brain came up with right off the bat. 

So from November until the cows freshen again, we'll be without raw milk.  You better believe I'll be really ready for it again come spring!

Do you purchase raw milk? Why or why not?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saturday Picture Time!

We survived the first week of our homeschool year!  I'm really enjoying what we're doing this year, and one of these days I'll take time to write it down. 

In the meantime, here are some images from our week. 

Sunday, August 31

Ellie thought Simon needed a little bit of post breakfast love.  She is totally happy, him...not so much! 

Monday, September 1

A Labor Day trip to Bryan's mom to spend time with family.  The kids had a great time playing outside and enjoying the sunshine.  This was a nice break from the hard remodel work that last week brought.

 Tuesday, September 2

First day of school!  This year, Jayme is in 7th grade.  Jeffrey is kind of K-1 (age wise he should just be starting, but we did low-key K last year).  Ellie is Pre-K-K, and Sydney is a low-key Pre-K.  Owen should be in grade 2, but since he spent so long in Pre-K, I just have him and Jeffrey going through together. 

Here Sydney, Jeffrey and Ellie are decorating their special school water glasses with foam stickers from Grandma Linda.  Thanks--it was a great first day of school project!

Wednesday, September 3

Simon got lots of sibling love this week.  We have a car seat in the dining room right now, and Simon was sitting in it.  Owen decided to sit on Simon's lap.  Ah--brothers....

Thursday, September 4

No pictures

Friday, September 5

Jeffrey and Ellie have wanted a tree fort with a rope ladder ever since we first read the Berenstain Bear book No Girls Allowed. He decided today was the day to get started, and asked to make a rope ladder for his game. 

We took bailing twine and cut six strands all the same size.  Then we divided into groups of two with three strands each, and sat to work twisting rope.  Jayme and Jeffrey set up a pulley system in the apple tree that worked well. 

The ladder isn't done yet, but we now have two ropes!

Saturday, September 6

Do you know what is worse than having a creepy popcorn spider in the barn where you water the cows?

Creepy spider--pic from last week
NOT seeing the creepy spider.  Because then you're wondering where it is...and if it's going to drop down on your head or something...

Just the web--no spider....
Ew!  I don't like spiders!

Have a spider free weekend!!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Quick & Easy Breakfast

Breakfast is an important meal.  You've all heard that before.  But finding time to make breakfast can be a hassle.  That's why I'm always on the lookout for quick and easy breakfast recipes that contain ample amounts of protein to keep us going for a while.

When I came across this recipe on a blog a few years ago, I knew it was a keeper. 

It was originally called a Dutch Baby, and on this blog it was a Dutch Puff.  The kids didn't like that name though, so we call it a Dutch Blintz.  Don't ask--I'm not entirely sure why.  But we do.  And it's become a family favorite.

To make one of your own, you'll need the following:

1/2 cup butter
8 eggs
2 cups milk
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400. While it is preheating, put the stick of butter in a 9×13 pan and put it in the oven.  This will melt the butter while you prepare everything else.

In a bowl, beat eggs, milk and flour until smooth.

Once the oven is preheated, remove the pan with the butter (careful--it's hot!) and pour egg mixture into the melted butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.

This will puff up beautifully.  We like to pour some maple syrup on the top, and dust with a little powdered sugar before cutting.  I like this because it actually cuts down on the amount of syrup the kids eat. 

We've also gone the savory route with this, and added shredded cheese and ham.  Both are good!

And it doesn't take long for us to pretty much devour it all!

Oh--if you don't need quite as much, you can easily scale this recipe down.  Use 2 eggs for every 1/2 cup of flour and milk. 

Breakfast that cooks quietly in the oven is much less intensive than flipping pancakes or anything else.  I can work on getting kids dressed, dishes washed or whatever else needs done.  

What are some of your go-to breakfasts for busy mornings? 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Organization: No Easy Way Out...

Well, my kitchen cupboards are once again being used, and the dining room floor is remarkably bare of boxes.  Life is slowly returning to normal around here, which is good since we started homeschooling again on Tuesday.

When it came time to unpack the boxes, I took the plans that I had made (what things need to go in pantries), and drew out a simple sketch of the kitchen.  I labeled and rearranged and labeled some more.  When I was finally satisfied with how the drawing looked, we began unpacking. 

I have one pantry that houses my milking supplies (no more leaving those on the counter!), onions and snacky type foods; one that houses my tomato canned goods and carb stock ups (whole wheat pasta, rice, etc.) and one that keeps everything else.

We did run into a few snafus--for instance we have a single cupboard above the dishwasher now.  So that contains both glasses and plates.  And my dishtowel drawer is half the size it used to be, so I need to get a basket that will fit in the cupboard part under it to keep surplus in.  But the kitchen works!  And I'm happy with how it functions, though I imagine I'll move some things around as I get in it and use it more.   

I was thinking that by having all of this space, I'd just automatically be more organized.  But you know what I'm learning? 

Organization takes effort.  Even though my tupperware cupboard may not look like this anymore (and I've been smart enough to move it to an upper cupboard where babies can't climb in...:

It takes work to keep it organized.  I have to actually remember to put the lids where they go.  And remind Jayme (my dishwasher unloader this school year) to put the little pieces inside the big pieces.  Otherwise, it quickly returns to chaos. 

Pots and pans are the same way.  Actually--know that I think about it, every space in our whole house is like that.  We can't be lazy and pile stuff on any flat surface we find.  We have to take the time to put it away.

And if we do it the first time, it's much easier than if we wait until we have huge piles that we have to sort.

Crazy--it does take more effort at first to be organized, but it saves stress in the long run.  Who'd have thought? :)

I am loving my new kitchen though.  Except the kids (and me) still go to the stove to throw stuff in the sink (since that's where the sink used to be...).  Looking forward to it become more natural to automatically go to the new location.

And...there aren't any potato bags on the floor.  I'm really looking forward to our monthly shopping trip on Tuesday--and being able to actually put EVERYTHING away.   That'll be a first!

I think I'll still keep looking  for shortcuts to organization, and keep making things as streamlined as possible.  But I also have to remember that keeping things organized takes some time.  And that's okay!