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Choices….. November 5, 2012

Posted by boaktree in following your heart, In the Kitchen....
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Pssst.  Look who decided to come out of bloggie hiding……..

Today, I want to talk to you about choices.

So recently, Anson and I came to the conclusion that it is quite costly, raising four children, not to mention keeping all of our animal friends.  And yes, Mom and Dad, I know you tried telling me this each time I got pregnant…..I finally get it, okay?  However belatedly, I do understand.

Back to the large family being costly part, though.  So, we realized this, as we have been revisiting our budget, much as we hate to do that.  And as we went over the numbers, I came to the conclusion that I needed to make a choice.  I needed to choose to either become somewhat of a financial contributor in our home again, or start saying no to my children a lot more.  I don’t really like saying no…….

And so I looked at my options.  Should I go work in my field as a Developmental Service Worker?  Go back to waitressing, because the tips are nice?  These were my main options to earn a small income, but as I worked on my resumes, I began to feel more and more downhearted.

So I took a good look into my heart, and understood clearly that it is my calling to be a Homemaker.  To be “Mama”, in the Home.   To be present for my children, first and foremost.

And I know without a doubt that the more time I am in the home, the more ways I find to save us money, which in itself makes me a contributor.  But more on this in other posts.

So I understood what was in my heart.  But what was in the heart of my family members?

I asked the older two children how they felt about me going out to work part time.

I got this answer…..

“We don’t want you to go away.  We like our lifestyle. We like You.  Isn’t there something we can work on together here to make a little extra money?  We’ll help you.”

Listening to my eager helpers, my lovely girls, I knew we had to at least give it a go.  So I got to work planning, and talked to my husband about it, asking him if he’d give us a few months to see if we could start making a small income from home.  He gave his approval, being much happier with this idea himself than he was with me working outside the home.

I feel loved, I’ll tell you that.

And so it began.  We brainstormed, and with the help of a dear friend of ours, decided on “The Plan.”  A fun little business based around an activity we enjoy, for the benefit of our furry friends.

So it looks like life will be a wee bit, or a lot, possibly, busier for us quite soon, depending on the level of our success.  But I am excited for this, as I will be busy spending some quality time with my girls, learning together along the way.

So wish us luck, friends, with our little family project.  We hope to be ready for business quite soon!

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Pet Food (the 2nd addition) March 1, 2011

Posted by boaktree in In the Kitchen....
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I wanted to post an update about how my pets are doing with their homemade diet. 

In one word? Fabulous.

Honestly, I can’t believe the difference.  My cat was obviously allergic to come component of his commercial food, because almost all of his health issues have gone away.  His eyes are bright, his fur is coming back in nice and soft (it had been falling out, poor thing), and he is so happy!  Especially at meal time, he absolutely loves his new diet. 

 My dog as well can’t wait for his food at meal times.  They both gobble it right up (which is also so nice, as I am no longer picking up kibble off the floor all day long as I was when I was free feeding them.)  When eating a commercial diet my shih tzu also had some skin issues (also most likely allergy related) and those have disappeared as well since he has been eating the homemade food.

In all honesty, I would recommend a raw diet to anyone willing to do it for their pets.  I don’t want to eat dry cereal all the time, (in fact I don’t eat cereal ever) so why would my pets want to?  They are not designed to eat that way any more than we are. 

My pets were both having health issues.  I could have simply spent tons of money at my local vets, and given them medicines etc in an attempt to heal them.  Instead, I checked online to self-diagnose them, determined that their issues were most likely allergic reactions to their food, and changed their diet.  And they are getting better, healing from the inside rather than simply having their symptoms treated. 

Obviously if my pets were in serious need of medical attention I would have a professional see them, but in this case I’m very glad I solved the issues myself.

What do you feed your four-legged friends?

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!

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.

But those come in a package…… January 10, 2011

Posted by boaktree in In the Kitchen....
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I don’t hugely enjoy cooking.  I wish that healthy, delicious food would appear before my family each meal without any effort from me.  However, I accept the fact that it doesn’t work that way.  So, as the Stay at Home Parent in the family I prepare most of the meals.  I’ve started making meal plans the past while, finding that it is easier for me to get inspired to enter the kitchen if I know ahead of time what it is I’m going to be making.

For this past Saturday night I had planned on making enchilada’s.  For us, these include a filling of basmati rice and lentils (seasoned) topped with homemade salsa and shredded cheese.  Pretty easy.  Or so I thought.

Only we were out of tortilla wraps.  Crap. I was not going to the store for one item.  I had made a pact with myself to cook more from scratch. 

I’ve made homemade bread tons of times before.  But had never considered making wraps.  Those just come in a package don’t they?

(Before The Challenge we were guilty of getting take out quite often on the weekends, but that didn’t fit into The Challenge, our budget or my standards for healthy food.  Sigh.)

So, I looked online for a recipe for homemade tortialla wraps.  Ya know what?  They are surprisingly easy!  And they taste great!  My 6 year old normally doesn’t even like wraps, and she loved these.  They were a hit with the whole family.

This is the recipe I used.  It makes 12 (I doubled it so i could make large ones though)  We’re making more of these today (along with trying out homemade crackers) to eat with our hummus.

1.5 cups of flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp soft butter (I used vegan becel, you could also use shortening etc i believe)

2/3 cup warm water

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in bowl.  Rub in butter.  Make well in center, add water and mix to form a soft dough.  Knead a couple minutes, place in bowl and cover.  Let rise 10 minutes.   Listen to three year old ask you twenty times if it is done rising yet….

Divide dough into twelve equal parts.  Use lots of flour on surface and watch three year old try to roll out each tortilla.  Finish making each one into a thinner circle than the three year old can manage.  Answer him gently about why his just aren’t quite thin enough to cook.  Heat pan with oil, cook each tortilla on med high about 1-2 mins, flip and cook another 30 seconds.  Ta da!  Lovely  tortilla’s!

This took me about 40 mins or so I think.  Though i imagine it could take quite a bit less time if you aren’t working with a three year old apprentice.