Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Diary of a Quiverfull Mom: Mastering Breakfast

Faintly I hear the pitter patter of little feet getting closer, closer...
...I strain to attain some sort of consciousness out of the deep, wonderful, life giving,
 (did I say wonderful?) slumber of the night.

Then there she is.  My eyes will not open, try as I might.
  Her eyelashes brush my cheek and suddenly she is kissing me, hugging me,
 like an over friendly cat that wants to be petted. 
 It is 6:09...
 I finally get one eye partially open. 

This is my life, and I adore it...most of the time.

Olivia is 3, and very lovey-dovey, in the morning, especially. 
 So, while I try to attain vision and coherence, she reads to me "Blueberries for Sal" 
in typical 3 yr old fashion.  I should have video taped it.

The inside thermometer reads 61, so Olivia and I head downstairs to start a fire.
  After a few cups of coffee, I am finally fully awake.

 The other 6 children start getting up, and I head to the kitchen to make Wednesday breakfast; 

German pancakes. 

Brian and I believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day
so we have a healthy cooked meal everyday. 
 Why do I think it is so important? 
 Because it starts the day off well, with a loving atmosphere and both spiritual 
and physical nourishment.
  When we all sit down together, hold hands, pray, and share a good meal, the days plans, 
and Bible reading, we pour the foundation for the day ahead. 

Most of my mothering life, I have delegated cooking breakfast to children, since I am
 A). not a morning person, 
and B).  over the last 22 years have usually have a nursling that needs me first thing in the morning. 

 Currently, I am the breakfast cook instead of the usual dinner cook 
because I have recently found that by the end of the day
 I am just plain too tired to deal with dinner 
and still be a human till bedtime. 
 Anyway,  I have three teenagers that need to learn to cook. 
 Last season, they took care of breakfast quite well and are now moving on to dinners. 
 They each cook two nights a week, leaving me one night,
 and that I have planned to be the weekend, not a school day,
 because I have more energy on non school days.

 It is really so much easier, I have found, to have a daily breakfast plan

 Mine goes like this: 

 Monday- egg casserole,
 Tuesday- hot cereal, 
Wednesday-German Pancake,
 Thrusday- Gluten free pancakes, (Bob's Red Mill)
 Friday- Oatmeal,
 Saturday- fried potatoes and eggs,
 Sunday- granola.

Like I said, I am not a morning person, but this meal is so important,
 it is worth the extra effort.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Building A Woodshed

This month we have spent Brian's days off building a wood shed together.
  It has been a trying, satisfying, rewarding project. 
Firstly, we planned where we would build the shed; facing away from the weather and near the cabin. Secondly, we discussed how we would build it, including a field trip to a local log built shed we admired, giving the children an idea of what we were about to undertake.
Day One: Brian and the boys selected smallish dead standing lodgepole on our property, 
cut it down, and hauled it back to the lodge. 
 Meanwhile, I darted into town to purchase pier blocks and screws.
Once home, Brian and I used the dumpy level to figure the length of our 6 support logs.
  Next, Jim used the brace and bit to drill holes for the logs to accept re-bar off the pier blocks.

Our shed is 10 x 20.  We used three logs in front and three in back, with a fall ratio of 5/12 for the shed roof.  Most of the cost for this shed is the 8 inch Torq screws we used to fasten everything together.

 On the second day, mid rafter cutting, the chainsaw broke down. 
 We ended up cutting the rest of the rafters with a hand saw. 
 This gave us much awe and amazement for all the men who have built entire log structures with hand saws!!
This really slowed us down, but was also a great learning curve for all of us.

The horizontal side pieces are notched in for a tight fit.

These smaller brace pieces could be cut with the chop saw, thankfully. 
 At the end of the day I brought home a second chainsaw from a yard sale for $40.  
 Preparedness lesson learned: Always have a backup tool!
The primary saw will be in the shop for more than a week...meanwhile...
we have to finish this shed and get to filling it.

The shed just needs the roof on yet, which will be next week's work.
  We have some used metal that we have been saving for just such a project.
We'll use some scrap 1 inch under the metal.
 Now I can see that all those piles of random building materials really are useful!

Summer is at it's end and we'll be needing that shed full of wood very soon.
We plan on putting some major time in toward that end next week...then on to canning season...
 and all the fun of fall will be here before we know it!

Blessings to you this day-


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Boys Will Be Boys

Life with boys.

  Adventurous.  Dangerous.  Gross.  Funny. 
 and Amazing!

The pictures say it all...



Then there is this classic...

And last but not least....

Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Amish Bran Muffins in July

July means swimming in the pond,
 which in turn, means the fence is bedecked continually with swim gear.
July also brings breakfast on the porch, usually with granola or muffins. 
 Our favorite muffin recipe comes from an Amish cookbook,
 but we have tweaked it just a tad, so I will share it here. 
 I hope you try them, they are really outstanding. 
 Don't let the title "BRAN MUFFIN" deceive you! 

 These moist, flavorful muffins make a huge amount of dough that can stay in the frig for weeks.
                  I love that aspect, since then it is sooo easy to make a quick breakfast in the morning.
I also favor this recipe because it is a large enough batch to make a dozen Texas size muffins
 and still have dough for another baking in a week.
If ya all don't have a Texas size muffin pan, you need to get one-- or two.
  It is that special touch that takes a muffin from "good" to spectacular
 Trust me.  Buy one.

I have to tell you a funny story about this particular batch of baking:

So there I was, (all good stories start that way) 
 scuttling around in the kitchen, 
thinking too many things at once while making the muffins,
 when I smelled something very, very odd. 
I  stood there for what seemed like a loooong time trying to figure out what that smell was!
Finally, my brain kicked in and I realized that I had preheated my gas oven 
with mint from the garden drying inside!
  Dear me!
  I then had well dried, nearly burnt, mint.
(chuckle, can't believe I am really sharing this.)
Then that song goes off in my head, you know..."The old gray mare........

Anyway, you see, my oven has a pilot light on all the time,
 so it is an ideal place to dry herbs or veggies overnight.  
This we do often in summer when produce is abundant.
We usually have a slip of paper reminding us that there is something in there, 
since it  has happened before. 
 I had not reminded myself of the mint with the usual paper,
So  that morning our kitchen smelled loudly of baked mint and fresh muffins.

Some people should not bake before 8 am or at least two cups of coffee!!

Back to the muffins in progress.....

Our secret ingredient is adding fresh picked huckleberries to the muffins.
  We have huckleberry bushes right here on our property, ( O glory!) but since most folks probably don't, 
I will say that raspberries or blueberries would also be great.
  However, even without the berries, these are still marvelous muffins.

 Now for that recipe:

5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 tsp allspice
15 oz. oat bran (about 2 cups)
3 cups sugar (I use less)
4 eggs
1 cup veg. or olive oil
1 quart buttermilk or regular milk plus 2 T. lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.  Use immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 6 weeks.
When ready to bake, without stirring, dip batter out to fill  a well greased muffin pan.
Then add a scattering of berries on top of each muffin- they will sink when baking.
Bake at 375, cook for 20 minutes or until the tops spring bake upon touching.

Here's to breakfast on the porch with birdsong serenading you, and yummy muffins with your coffee!
If you try the muffins, be sure to let me know!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Around The Homestead: St. John's Wart

Thunder is rumbling across the mountains this afternoon, it has been a stifling hot day. 
 Thankfully,we only have a few of these 90-some degree days per year. 
 Earlier, as a scattered shower cooled things off a bit,
 I eagerly sought my way out of doors to pick the fully bloomed St. John's Wart. 
 It grows all over the place here.
 I had noted on my walk the other day that it was nearly ready to be gathered in and hung to dry.
This winter we will make tea of the blossoms, added to our mint and chocolate mint,
 making a Happy Winter Tea, as I call it. 
 St. John's Wart is known for aiding depression,
 (it is common to get a little low with our 5 months of winter here) 
and... well, 
I have always thought of mint as being a happy flavor and smell. 

 Other goodness growing on our homestead.....
 the goats, getting fat on rich grass, abundant brush, and prolific tree limbs.
  We stake them out in new locals each day, since we lack proper fencing for a pasture.

We have four raised beds in which are growing lots of squash, several tomatoes,
 carrots (just barely up) and potatoes. 
 I am so thankful that, so far, the deer have stayed away.
It is not much, but it is a start, I keep telling myself.

The strawberry patch is doing well for it's first year. 
The berries are sooo scrumptious!
Nothing tastes better than homegrown/ homemade food!

Mint too, is ready to harvest for winter teas.
 That is on my "to do" list, still. 
 Usually a job for the younger children, but they are indoors (making huge sleeping bag forts)
 hiding from the heat today.
 Jim has taken over Anna's herb garden. 
 In it's third year, it is coming along quite well. 
 The garden contains mostly culinary and medicinal herbs,
 but Jim planted several hundred perennial seeds this year to add beauty and color.
So far, we have sage, mullen, horseradish, mint, chocolate mint, tarragon, lavender, and chives for our herbs. I would love to get some echinacia and fever few.
Perhaps next year.

The meadows are brimming with daisies, which makes me happy happy happy!
Don't you think daisies are a happy flower?
  I do like to keep fresh flowers on the book table,
 and I will beg, borrow, or, um, yes, steal (from a vacant homestead) if I must...
but this time I didn't, since they are abundantly everywhere.

And what does our family do here when it is 97 degrees out?
Why, legos while listening to the Man From Snowy River soundtrack,
 dress up, card games, playing with the new kittens,
 and reading, of course!

From our homestead in the woods to yours,

Blessings This Day!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Woodland Warfare

Joseph just turned 15.
 The time has flown since we brought him home from the hospital to join his older three siblings!  

Here he is now,
 a big, strapping manly fellow,
 a good friend, a leader, a hard worker,
 a delightful son.  

His greatest longing for his birthday 
was to invite 17 friends over to play woodland warfare with him.
(paintball, you know)

At the end of the day,
 despite his amiable nature,
 he had shot them all in the head--at least once. 

You may not find this quite as humerus if you are redneck deficient....for us, it was great fun!

Joseph filled his big brother's shoes nicely, 
leaving  some battle scarred, 
(which is quite a trophy to be proud of, by the way)

...and all in awe of his extra long barreled Tipman.   

Boys practicing to be heroes, competing to be the last man  standing....
....this is the good stuff for young  rednecks.... 
a day to be proud of, to tell stories of for years to come-
-the day he shot his cousin in the wrist and made him bleed...."ya, that was awesome!"

They all loved it, returning to the porch in between rounds with huge grins on their faces. 
 Gabe and I were bystanders on the porch listening to the battle sounds echoing form the woods.
  I can't believe I did not get a picture of Gabe in his camo, face paint, the works. 
 He was as excited as the rest of them, just waaaay  more cute!

As for Joe,
 he had so much fun shooting his friends that he is already making plans
 for the next time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Benefits of Children Raising Livestock

Rose adores her goats.  

She now has four years of goat tending. 
Currently she owns three alpine/nubians and one lamoncha. 
This farmer-wanna-be takes complete care of  the goats.
When their pen needs fixin, she is responsible.  
She did bribe some local help, though.

Together they doubled the pen size, which will be nice for the winter. 
 In the meantime, they are staked out every day on free food consisting of grass, tree branches, 
brush and plenty of weeds, all in abundance here.

This hand feed orphan thinks she is a puppy, 
and follows Rose everywhere..including getting in to Rose's car whenever Rose does. 
 Although Rose is very fond of her baby, she still does not prefer goat kisses.

Pretty adorable, and milk and cheese to boot.

 I am a big fan of children raising livestock.
Growing up in a 4-H predominate culture myself, I see the value in caring for animals. 
 Children who are brought up with tending livestock have an early maturity in dependability, responsibility and spotting needs without someone having to tell them what to do.

Raising goats has been a very practical help to our family, 
and Rose benefits as well by the training in responsibility that animal husbandry requires.  
There is no, "I don't feel like doing my chores this morning" with dairy animals. 
 They MUST be milked rain, snow, sickness, or come what may. 
 Of course, there is also being responsible for something other than just yourself, 
there are costs and profits to be figured, 
and a huge learning curve on fodder, illnesses, breeding, culling, shelter, pasture, and on and on.

In my perfect world, 
parents would replace worthless video games  in their children's hands 
with a farm animal to care for.
Working with your hands and tending animals, 
this is rewarding work that satisfies the soul.
And that would be a lovely gift to give our children.