Today, Hayden is 14!!!

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Oh my goodness, I cannot believe it! Truly, I cannot. Hayden is 14 today. Last night we talked about the day he was born and all our kids, actually, ask about the day they were born. Hayden listened, as he does, quietly, and asked lots of questions. He laughed hearing about his birth day. Now, 14 years later, on a very frigid, chilly day, he turns 14. Last I checked, the thermometer said 1.4 degrees – brrrrr. Hayden has grown into such a quiet, thoughtful person – he is a thinker. He analyzes, studies, asks questions AND has the best sense of humor. His humor is rather sarcastic and makes one think when he jokes. I LOVE his sense of humor. He is growing tall – taller than me, now. This too, is hard to believe. He is the best big brother to Caleb and Eli. He is studying Architecture and someday, wants to be an Architect. So, he is working on various programs in rendering shapes – blender and sketchpad. He makes the most wonderful comics. AND, this semester, will teach a card trick class at our homeschool Co-op. So much growing up. It is neat to see him change through the years. So, Happy Birthday, Hayden!!! We Love You!

Hayden being a cool bro Christmas, 2015

Hayden a top of podium getting 1st place at swim meet

Hayden with his younger brothers

 

We are so proud of how much you have accomplished in swimming! Happy Birthday blessings to you, Hayden!!!

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Category: Birthdays

Baking Whole Wheat Honey Bread

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Today, I will be baking one of my favorite breads – honey, whole wheat. I use a flour from Bob’s Red Mill. It works really well with baking this type of bread. Here is the picture of the four:

The recipe to make this bread is super easy. I found it online –> http://www.food.com/recipe/100-whole-grain-wheat-bread-181106?photo=51985

Here is the actual recipe, if you don’t want to go to that site:

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the first five ingredients in the bowl and mix. (easiest part, here)
  2. Add: 2 Cups 100% Whole Grain Wheat Flour. (to cool the water and end up with warm dough) Mix then add 2 Tbs of Dry Active Yeast. If your not sure about your yeast proof it in a little warm water first.
  3. Add: 4 Cups of 100% Whole Grain Wheat Flour.
  4. Mix until the consistency is some what even. Then continue to slowly add flour 1/2 Cup at a time until the dough quits sticking to the sides of the bowl. It should be tacky to the touch. The trick is to have enough consistency to stand up with the least amount of flour so the bread will be fluffy. It will most likely be 6 1/2 cups but in any case do not exceed 7 1/2 cups of wheat flour. You can trade one cup of wheat flour for one cup of all purpose white if you wish. Don’t over mix or the bread will be tough.
  5. When your dough is finished, leave it in the mixer, cover the bowl and let it rise for about 30-45 minutes. The dough will be larger but it doesn’t need to double.
  6. Grease two bread pans with Crisco. You can also flour the pans to reduce sticking.
  7. Mix the dough again just enough to knock it down at least close to the original size.
  8. Drop the dough on a floured surface so you can work the dough and shape it. Shape it with your hands to make a nice ball getting enough flour on it so it isn’t sticky. Divide the ball in half and do it again. Shape the loaves by turning the dough under it’s self over and over. When the dough is shaped the sides and ends will be sealed and all you will see is a nice oblong shaped loaf with smooth sides and top. Drop the loaves in your bread pans and let them rise until almost doubled. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 36 minutes. If you forgot to preheat 41 minutes. (gas oven).
  9. When done turn the bread out of the pan to a rack to cool. You can eat it right away (a great time for real butter) don’t wrap it until completely cooled. (Condensation will make it soggy) Put in tinfoil to store on the counter. If you put it in the refrigerator it will turn into a brick. Enjoy.  As you can see, it is fairly straight-forward. Even working with the yeast is not too difficult.  (sometimes, I feed a bit of sugar to the yeast to bulk it up a bit)
  10. Here is the dough after rising the first time:

Here are the two loaves, shaped, and put in pans to rise one more time. The first rising takes about 30-45 minutes. (I put mine by a warm stove) and the second, takes about 30 minutes. Then, you bake the bread at 350 degrees for about 30.  Here are the loaves:

Right before going into the oven (they have risen even more!)

After done baking and someone already cut a piece out of it!

After the bread is done rising and baked in the oven, I will post the final results!

The final full loaf – finished!!!! Golden brown on the outside, a bit crunch too, and the inside – soft, moist and just begging for butter and honey 🙂

Category: Baking

Fixing the Chicken Coop Door (and other crazy things we do when it gets REALLY cold out)

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Aaron and Caleb are cutting the bottom off the chicken coop door. Why, you ask, are they doing this? Our temperatures have gotten so cold up here that old chicken water thrown out (goes downhill and freezes) and very hard ground, freezes up under the chicken door. It has been this way since we have lived here. Done with constantly taking the pick-ax to it, Aaron cut the bottom of the door off and now, we can open/close the door, easily. Another piece of wood is fitted on the bottom so cold air doesn’t get in. We think the chickens will be so much warmer.

You can see the opening at the bottom. Our fix was precipitated by the continual snow/ice/freeze going on and all of it getting under the door. The chickens might even enjoy a new way to get in/out.

Here is Eli using the pick-ax we have used to get under the door…only, he is cracking some ice in a water bucket:

Finally, the chickens are roosting in their house. As of today, at around noon, rarely has a chicken come out of their house – warmest today – 10 degrees.

The white Bantam is Elivis and he keeps all the ones you see roosting, in line 🙂

 

Category: Chickens and Goats

Sophie and the Goats

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Sophie was out this morning with me as I fed the goats. She is a goat-herding dog and as such, likes to be involved with all aspects of being around the goats when they are outside. When they start baaaa-ing, she starts howling. A very funny thing she does. Anyway, she bounded through the snow (2 feet in some places) and beat me to the fence. Here is the first picture:

The second picture:

The goats have been fairly comfortable with the snow. Primarily, they want to eat food and will lob their bodies through the snow, running over each other, even, to come for some sweet oats (my treat for them ) 🙂

Category: Chickens and Goats

Homeschooling in the Country

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We left the big city to move to the country, and along with the country, experience the many daily goings-on of country living. We homeschooled back in Maryland and now, this is my ninth year. I currently teach an eight grader, sixth grader and 1st grader. To make things a bit more fluid, I teach Bible, History and sometimes Science, all together.  The other subjects the guys do on their own. You know, though, the academic subjects are sort of mixed in with the country living. For example, the boys take care of the animals once they wake up (this includes caring for the chickens and goats). I can set my own schedule and we loosely do school throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Breaks are taken, lunch, talking, etc. and then we usally finish up in the early afternoon sometime. 

Over the years I have researched and used a HUGE variety of curriculum. Some have worked while others we didn’t even complete. Primarily, I wanted them to read early so they could start reading instructions within different subjects. I had never taught anyone to read before homeschooling. When first thinking on it I thought, there is no way I can teach someone to read.  This was way back in kindergarten and I was so intimidated by not knowing how to teach Hayden how to read.  Well, we learned a lot together and that year, he learned how to read. It was amazing, really, seeing him put sounds together and then words and then, reading! I even remember telling Aaron I would only homeschool kindergarten and he was cool with that. Nine years later, still homeschooling. 

You know, I thought it was going to be REALLY hard once I started teaching two – Hayden and Caleb but for some reason, we got through it (or, I should say, somehow) and Caleb also started reading and putting words together. Finally, when Eli came along I REALLY wasn’t sure how to do any of it. I guess I just planned each year and dove in. Additionally, all this time, all other parents were sending their kids to posh private schools or even public ones and I never really had a lot to talk about with them while all the kids were playing outside.  Still, we did our thing and they did theirs. 

I remember early on (and still sometimes do) thinking I was not qualified in the least to teach my kids. Many would tell me how I am depriving them of social skills, or they would ask if I was qualified and so many other questions. I let it get to me a lot but don’t really care about it much anymore. I think a lot of new homeschool moms go through this. I certainly didn’t think myself qualified or able but then again, I wasn’t sterring this path, was I? God was always guiding and building me up to have what I needed at that time. I just cannot look back and not see His Guiding Hand upon those early years. It still is this way, actually. He is the one steering; I am the one complaining and questioning. Still, He doesn’t give up on this stubborn country girl. 

 

Category: Homeschooling

LOVE THIS CUP

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I received this beautiful cup for Christmas from my mother-in-law. She finds the most personal and local items and I just LOVE this cup. Already, the coffee tastes much better and each time I look at it, I think of her. So, thank you, Karen. I am truly blessed by this and by you and your wonderful gift ideas!

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This is where we live!

this is the other side of the cup…

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Where we live is really quite unique…from boating in the summer to skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, well, it is pretty nice. This mug will be utilized so much this winter as I have some of my favorite coffee each day. 🙂

Category: Schweitzer

X-Country Skiing…for the FIRST Time

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My body aches. My muscles are in pain. I LOVED ALL OF IT! Today, Aaron and I went X-Country skiing together…we just bought our first pair of skiies, boots, etc. I was a bit hesitant because this can be a pain-inducing sport…but, I think after the pain, it will all be worth it.  We live near a mountain, and in fact, can see it from our driveway, just over the tip top of the trees…it is Mt. Schweitzer. This mountain offers amazing downhill, cross-country and snow shoeing, just to name a few things to do up there. Many have condos there, as well. Today, we set out to try out the skiis. What a beautiful day of silent snow falling, swishing in the ski track and eventually, reaching our destination – Picnic Point…here is a picture of us at that point:

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Ok, I look a bit tired because I did NOT sleep well last night – my blankets kept falling onto the floor…so, excuse the tired eyes. Back to skiing…behind us you can see part of Lake Pend O’reille and if the camera was turned a bit to the right, your right, you would see parts of downtown Sandpoint.  When we first got up there, it was snowing. My toes were numb and I wasn’t sure why.  Soon, I realized I wasn’t doing the ski stride correctly.  As soon as this was remedied, my toes sort of started thawing out. It is nice, because there exists a professional, deepish x-country ski track and when I got really tired, I popped in there and swooshed along.  Aaron and I took turns doing that. Yes, we both fell, but it wasn’t too bad, really. Just took some getting used to – the feel and movement of x-country skiing.  Aaron took another picture of me atop the hill:

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The funnest part of this type of skiing is the enjoyment of the surrounding woods, the nearly-silent environment and the downhills…you truly “earn” those downhills after slodging up a big hill…makes the skiing feel like an accomplishment.  I just loved the experience and this is something Aaron and I started because we want to do something together.  The kids are getting older and our older ones stay with our youngest and well, it is real nice getting out with my guy and doing stuff. We both realized how fun it is just to get out and fall down and laugh and spend time together. It was a neat experience.

Category: Weather

Cinnamon Rolls, Part II.

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The Cinnamon Rolls stayed in the fridge all night and this morning, I took them out, put them on the counter for an hour and then, baked them for 25 minutes.  The snow was so nice outside, blanketing the ground. The air was cold – I can tell inside of our house if the night was figid or not because the air has a cold tinge to it.  I thought that the kids waking up to Cinnamon Rolls would be nice.  The house would smell of warmly-baked bread and cinnamon.  Well, I frosted the rolls, went into the bedroom and when I came out, three were gone!  So glad. Kids kept coming back for more.  Here is a picture of the final product –> I ate this one 🙂  Oops, let me include a (before) picture from last night, right before being put in the fridge:

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This is the finished product:

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This was after taking them out of oven and frosting them.  Boys kept coming back for more, so I think they turned out ok. I will keep tweaking and trying because I know it can always be better.

Here is the recipe:

(taken from http://minimalistbaker.com/overnight-honey-wheat-cinnamon-rolls/
Prep time
1 hour
Cook time
30 mins
Total time
1 hour 30 mins
Author: Minimalist Baker
Recipe type: Breakfast, Dessert
Serves: 17-18
Ingredients
  • 1 packet rapid rise dry yeast (~1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • ~ 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • FILLING:
  • scant 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp low-fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle the yeast over warm water and allow to bloom for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth, adding in 1/2 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot for about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs, honey, salt and stir, then add remaining 3.5 cups flour to the mixture. Mix until well incorporated and then transfer to a lightly floured surfaced.
  3. As you knead add the 1/4 cup softened butter to the dough and continue kneading, adding flour to reduce stickiness when needed until the dough is smooth – 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled – about 1.5 to 2 hours.
  5. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll out into a large rectangle and brush with 1.5 Tbsp melted butter.
  6. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the butter and then starting at the long side covered with sugar, roll up the rectangle as tightly as you can and pinch the seam together as the dough allows.
  7. With the seam facing down, cut into 15-18 equal pieces (~ 2 inches), depending on how tall you want them. Place the rolls in the dish and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse your bowl for making the glaze in the morning.
  8. In the morning remove rolls from the refrigerator and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  9. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze: Melt butter in your mixing bowl and then whisk in the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whisk until a smooth paste forms adding more sugar as needed. Spread the glaze over the warm rolls and serve immediately. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh for several days.

ENJOY!!!

Category: Recipes

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

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You know, I have not ever been too gifted with making yeast rolls, breads, etc.  However, I am getting better. I’ve realized that (for me) it takes practice, practice, and more, yes, you guessed it – practice. I’m feeling more confident in using yeast.  This evening, I’ve made up some dough for overnight cinnamon rolls.  Here is the first picture:

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Above, the dought is rising and after this picture was taken, it had doubled from that size. I then, rolled out the dough, spread melted butter on it, and a mixture of brownsugar, a tad of melted butter, and cinnamon. I sprinkled that mixture all over the top.  Then, I rolled up the dough into a tube shape and cut out about 18 pieces and here is the final product:

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After being in the fridge overnight, I will bake them and then, glaze them with frosting.  So, I will take a picture of the final product tomorrow morning. Bonne Nuit!

Category: Recipes

Chef Eli (with brownies and overnight cinnamon rolls)

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Chef Eli and I just whipped some brownies together. Fitting for the task, he wore his apron and chef’s hat he received for Christmas. It fits perfectly!  So, thank you to whomever gifted us with this most adorable cooking attire. Since Christmas, Eli has wanted to bake something with his baking set, he also received two days ago. We are pretty sure Auntie Sarah gave this to him – thank you, Auntie Sarah and kiddos! So, about 45 minutes ago, Eli made his first bakery item – brownies of course ;), and now, we await their delicate, chocolatey taste.  First, here is Chef Eli:

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And now, here is the first look at the brownies…not done at all. I ran out of cocoa powder half way through and added melted chocolate chips. I use whole wheat pastry flour and it seems to work pretty well.  

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Another project I am working on is overnight cinnamon rolls. This recipe also, calls for whole wheat pastry flour. I like this flour because it is a finely ground flour and whole wheat. The taste is actually pretty good and using it in cookies, I think it is better than all-purpose flour.  So, Eli and I bloomed the yeast and added flour, honey, salt and flour and this is what we have for this project, thus far:

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We will roll out the dough, add some cinnamon and brown sugar, atop some melted butter, roll up into a long tube, cut out the cinnamon rolls, drizzle with a decadent caramalized sugar syrup and then, place in fridge to rise even more, overnight.  Tomorrow morning, the baking will take place and then, the frosting. 

Ok, back to the brownies…they are baking nicely and here is the finished product:

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a bit done on the sides but we shall see how they taste…smell good 🙂

 

Category: Baking