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Mmmmm….Crackers February 24, 2011

Posted by boaktree in In the Kitchen....
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If your kids are anything like mine, they love crackers.  Alot. 

In the name of thriftyness (and preservative free foods) I jumped online awhile ago looking for a recipe for whole wheat crackers.  This is what I found.  Not only are these crackers super cheap to make, they are also easy.  And they are really, really yummy.  They are a nice sturdy cracker, perfect for topping, or dipping in your favourite spread. Mmmmm.

Anyhow, the recipe is as follws.

1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup water

salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350

Stir together the flour and salt.  Add the oil and water, mix until blended.  On a floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch or less thick. 

 Place the dough on an ungreased baking sheet and mark squares with a knife. Don’t cut all the way through.  Prick each square with a fork several times. Sprinkle with salt.  Bake 15-20 minutes until crackers are crisp and brown.  When crackers are cool, break them apart.  Voila!  Delicious homemade crackers. 

Good luck actually keeping them in your cupboard for more than a day though.  I can’t seem to keep my kids away from these, they don’t last long in our home.

My kids love helping to make these.  They don’t quite have the muscle power yet to roll the dough out thin enough, so I do that part.  But they love doing the rest.   And considering how quickly they eat them, it’s a good thing they are helping to make them!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

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Laundry…… February 16, 2011

Posted by boaktree in Uncategorized.
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I’ve had a couple of friends ask me recently about greener alternatives to laundry detergent, so I thought it best if I wrote a quick entry about what we use in our home.

There are two things I use regularly on our household laundry.  Soap nuts, and a homemade laundry detergent.  I will say quite honestly with both of these, pre-treating stains is a must.  Neither of these things seems to deal with deep stains as well as commercial detergents.  That is a sacrifice I am willing to make in the name of being green and thrifty though!

Soap nuts are awesome, and I love them.  They are technically the berry from a Sapindus mukorossi tree.  The shell contains saponin and is dried prior to use.  There are many benefits to using soap nuts.  Some of these are that they are sustainable, all natural,  use less energy and packaging,  cheap, reusable,  hypoallergenic, non-polluting, you don’t need to use fabric softener with them, and you just compost them when you are done with them.  Again, I love them.

  To use them you can either toss a few in a little bag and then toss it in your washer, or you can do as I do, and boil several soap nuts in water to make a liquid.  I like to do this as I wash all our laundry on cold, and I find they work better this way.  There are tons of other uses for soap nuts around the house, making them very versatile (and cheap!  I mentioned that, didn’t I?) Soap nuts don’t really have a scent, so I add essential oil to my laundry to make it smell pretty.

Oh, and for that pre-treating I was talking of?  You can use soap nuts for that, too.

As much as I love soap nuts, I do also use a homemade laundry detergent for a few things.  Mainly very heavily soiled items and for our diaper laundry. (I do use soap nuts on the diapers as well, but I like to go back and forth between the two.) 

I will mention here that for whatever crazy reason, diaper laundry is the only laundry around here that gets done quickly.  All the other laundry gets washed in a timely manner, but then just sits around until I have enough motivation to deal with folding and putting it away.  But diaper laundry?  Oh, it gets washed, dried and folded neatly (much more neatly than anything else I might add.)  Go ahead and call me crazy, but something about washing and folding those diapers really appeals to me. 

 The recipe I use to make our detergent is:

I bar grated castile soap (I use homemade peppermint castile that my ever so awesome Mum makes for me)

I cup washing soda

I cup baking soda

I cup borax

That’s it.  I mix it up and store it in a large glass jar, and I use approx 3 tbsp per load, depending on the size of the load and how heavily soiled it is.  When I use this mixture I do need a fabric softener of sorts.  For this we use white vinegar.  I add it to the dispenser just as you would fabric softener.  Works like a charm, and no, our laundry does not smell like vinegar in the least.

Belle February 11, 2011

Posted by boaktree in In the Kitchen....
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I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.

  Belle is a Geurnsey calf, and I’m getting to know her quite well as she shares a barn with another dear friend of mine, Blessing, a paint mare. 

I know that Belle loves to play with the fresh straw when I’m spreading it in their pen.  She especially likes to try to toss it in the air by pushing her nose into a pile and then flinging her head up.  I also  know that she likes to press her nose into my back while I shovel manure.  She likes to show her affection for me (or so I like to think) by trying to lick my face or eat my hair while I pick out Blessings hooves.

I also know that Belle would love to eat my camera.  Not a very cooperative model I tell you…..

Yes, I’m getting to know Belle quite well.  I need to.  When she grows up,  I am going to milk her.

Belle will one day provide several families with fresh milk.  Currently her mother, Sally, does.

Twice a week we get a  pail of milk from friends of ours, Sally’s caregivers.

If you love my milk bottles (I know I do!) they are available at Lehman’s.

 Out of that we make yogurt, ice cream, have cream for our coffee and recipes, and plenty of milk for the kids to drink.  We also make cottage cheese if we are making something that calls for it.  I haven’t yet gotten into making cheeses, and I no longer make butter as we use the cream in our morning coffee.  I hope to begin making those things in the near future.

If i were paying for those items at the local supermarket the cost would look like this….

1 L plain yogurt – (cheap kind) $1.99

2 L vanilla ice cream – – $3.99

2 L coffee creamer/heavy cream – $4.29/L = $8.58 (500 ml of this is used in making ice cream, so let’s take off that cost….total =$6.44

500 mL cottage cheese –  $1.99

6 L whole milk –  approx $10.50 (I’m not positive on this b/c of the difference in brands etc)

Total – $24.91

Our cost for the two pails of milk a week –  (plus my time straining the milk, driving the 10 mins to get it, and preparing dairy products)

Eight Dollars.

I love that our milk and  the majority of our dairy products come from a well cared for cow, a family pet.   I love that they are hormone and preservative  free.  I love that my children call it “Sally Milk.”  (Well, I have to be honest, my three year old calls it “Cow Booby Milk”.)

I think it’s cool that the milk  is hand milked, and look forward to milking again someday. 

And I love that it is super thrifty.

One…. February 9, 2011

Posted by boaktree in Uncategorized.
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It’s official.  My youngest child, my last baby, turned one today.  He’s fabulous in all the ways only a one year old can be….from his wide open mouth kisses, his hilarious dancing, and the way he “talks” to me without ever using a word of english.  Utterly, and completely fabulous, my Wee Paddy is.

This last baby of mine, he wasn’t expected.  We didn’t plan to have four children.  We thought we were done with number three.  But as I’ve learned through the years and through my pregnancies, these babies seem to come of their own accord.   They also seem to be the ones to decide when to actually enter the world, as this Wee One did this day a year ago.

You see, the thing was, I had never experienced natural labour before.  Due to my own ignorance and the ideal that most doctor’s of wester medicine have of pregnancy having a “time limit” my previous three labours had been induced because I was “post-dates.”  For my fourth babe I was pretty against that idea.  In fact, we were planning on a home birth.

Last year on this day I was having tea with my sister, feeling a lilttle crampy, but not sure if I was “really” in labour.  She insisted that I was….but I just couldn’t be sure because, well, I was used to labour hurting.  Alot.  What I was experiencing was not even comparable to the contractions I had previously experienced.  She did convince me that I was indeed in labour though, so I called my husband to tell him to head home from work (we had been in phone contact all day as he also seemed to think I was in labour long before the idea actually sank in for me)… and then I sent her on her way so I could take a bath. 

So, I was expecting to have a nice bath….husband would come home….midwives would come to the house….nice peaceful birth.  Only it didn’t happen quite as I envisioned.

Out of the bath – by this time I “know” I am in labour.  Starting to get uncomfortable.  Call the midwives.  Only to find out they are all busy with other mums delivering at the hospital.  That, and due to incliment weather conditions (just love these snow storms) they could not come to my house.  Right.  I’m home alone….with three other children….no back-up plan.

Call my Mum.  Please come watch the kids, change in plans, looks like I have to have a hospital delivery.  Lay on the bed.  Ouch.  “What’s wrong Mama?” asks the two year old….”well first of all honey, you’re sitting on my head.  That, and the baby wants to come out now” I answer him through a contraction that is actually starting to hurt.  “Can I nurse?” he asks, ever so sweetly.  I shudder at the thought, and try to distract him through another contraction…I begin to realize time is of the essence, things are picking up very fast.

Husband gets home.  We wait for my Mum.  She is later than we thought….(apparently she stopped for gas, as she figured my labour would be quite long like my previous ones….sorry Mum, you were wrong)

Run out the door as soon as she gets to the house.  In the van.  Breathe.  Not sure if we’ll make it.  Know I’m transitioning.  On the highway.  Have to drive slow becuase of the snow. “Crap, I forgot the camera.” says my husband.  I look at him.  Realize we will have no pictures of those first few minutes.  Know if we turn around we’re looking at an unassisted birth at home.  Don’t feel quite up to that idea. “We don’t have time” I tell him.  Breathe.

At the hospital.  Park.  Stop to breathe through each contraction on the way to the door.  TIme – 4:45.  Nurses desk.   “Is this your first?” asks a nurse.  Head down on the counter, I hold up four fingers.

Into a room….midwife calmly getting ready.  Chit chat….she thinks we have time.  Water breaks.  Stand, face against my husbands chest.  “I”m pushing” I mumble.  He asks me to repeat myself.  Get’s the message.  Get’s me on the bed. Midwife wants to “check me”.  I tell her she can’t, theres a baby there.   One more push.  He’s here.  Time – 5:10.

One year later….I can’t imagine life without him. 

For my lovely little guy I made an outfit for his “Baby” who previously had been naked.  “Baby” is very loved.

And the cake?  Chocolate Banana Bread.  Yum!