First Harvest and Bread Making

Wow it has been crazy busy around here! I don’t even have a working car so it has all been on the home front, which as weird as it seems I have been loving it! Our first harvest from the garden is starting, although I lost a couple cucumbers and beans to a wild rabbit and the chickens. But I saved one little cucumber and sliced it up and made some simple refrigerator pickles. However they left  my jungle of summer squash alone. I planted a couple of black beauty zucchini plants but the green house must have gotten the sticks mixed up because what ended up coming up were yellow crook neck squash. Needless to say I was a little disappointed but the plants are growing amazingly well and after some research have discovered that anything you can do with zucchini you can do with yellow squash. First thing I am attempting is some chips, I used the slicer and made thin rings, salted them and put them in the dehydrator. I also diced some and am dehydrating them to use in soups this winter.

My basil plants are also growing like crazy. The last few years I have mostly just made pesto with them, which is great but I wanted to be able to use them in more recipes this year. My first major harvest of them I just dehydrated. I also have a plan to make some basil olive oil. I will probably do that with my harvest or at least part of it next week.

I mentioned before I have been reading the Little House books. I have always wanted to make sourdough bread, but have always felt a little intimidated. In the Long Winter, they use a sour dough starter to make bread with out yeast, and made it sound so simple. I looked up a few recipes for starters online, but some “cheated” and used yeast in the starter, I wanted a more traditional recipe. I can’t believe how simple it is! you mix flour and water in equal parts and set aside, everyday for a week you stir and add a tiny bit more flour and water to feed it.  I am on day 3 today, I can’t wait to make the bread.

While I am already mixing a starter daily, I figured why not make a Amish Friendship bread starter too. I haven’t had any in years, maybe decades! But with our sugar issues I hadn’t sound a great substitution I wanted to try, now that I have found dextrose I really wanted to try it, so I am making a starter for that too.

I have been feeling the fringes of depression hanging around, one thing I am doing is keeping busy with new projects. I have been teaching Princess how to sew, and she is loving it! we made her dolls a bed (mattress, blankets and pillows) and now are working on some clothes. By no means are they top line fashion, but they are useable and she is very proud. I also found an old quilt in my sewing fabrics, I had completely forgotten about, It got torn to shreds in the dryer a long time ago. I am planning on attempting to repair it, the task seems a little daunting, but hopefully well worth it.

I hope you find a way to thrive today, try something new!

Amy

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Tin Can Lanterns and Water Table

School books have started to arrive!! I am so excited! First thing I did was get all the teacher manuals that have arrived and started reading through and creating the lesson plan for the first week of school. Normally I would do a month at a time, but since this is Princess’ first adventure in homeschooling since preschool I need to feel out how she is going to work best, what days and times she performs best at and the best environment for her not to mention just flat out what kind of learner she is now. I did some placement test to see where to start in some of her books and I was really proud of how well she performed. Through our daily learning notebooks I have learned a bit about her style and skills as well.

I have been listening to the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder again. I love these books, I realized I have never actually read the entire series, how that happened I have no idea! But it really speaks to my homesteading soul to listen to what life was like when she grew up, the skills they knew that we have lost, and some that are returning. The younger kids were listening with me, but only made it though Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie before Fablehaven took over their interest. However, when we were picking some topics to learn more about or to try out Pioneer skills was a winner! Yay!! Today we set out to make tin can lanterns, just like the ones Laura used (ok not just like, but a decent modern replica) in Little House. I froze water in some tin cans overnight, then the kids got busy drawing a pattern for their lanterns. Next they took hammers and a nail and poked holes into the can along the design. The ice keeps the can from getting smashed while hammering. We let the ice melt and had lanterns. I want to attach some thick wire to make a handle as well. The kids were pretty into the project and they were able to do most of it with minimal help (except Monkey.)

tin can lanterns

We also recently picked up a water table at a garage sale, what a great find! Today we washed it all up, filled it with water and Monkey and Princess had a great time! It wasn’t to hot out, but still warm enough to splash and play and maybe get a little wet. Now if I can just get the animals to stop using it as a water dish, they have water but for some reason like to drink out of the water table.

water tableToday has been a great day so far, a great day to thrive!

Amy

Summer Learning and Brownies!

Since we are almost done with summer camps I decided it was time to start some summer learning. Ok so the fact that Princess’ school books arrive tomorrow might have something to do with it too. Rocket is off to Music camp, so it is just Rebel, Princess and Monkey at home. I have been prepping a Daily Calendar Notebook for Princess while we are homeschooling this year. Most of them that I found are year round. I figure why not start it now? This gives me a chance to see what she knows (she has been in brick and mortar for Kinder and 1st) and see how she learns best now before we actually start school. Plus Rebel is participating as well, so I can keep his retention up during summer as well. Lastly, it lets me see how Monkey is going to behave while we are doing school. I have no idea what to expect from him yet.

I found lots of daily learning notebooks, calendar notebooks and other such named things. I choose I to use the one from Confessions of a Homeschooler, I used her preschool programs for Princess too and we loved them. She has great ideas and tons of great printables. learning notebook

Have I mentioned we have gone sucrose and fructose free (unless it is in the whole fruit) Today, was a tad cooler, and I really wanted something chocolate. I came across a recipe for Hershey’s Frosted Brownies, I figured why not give it a try with dextrose, the sweetener we are using along with brown rice syrup. I will post the original recipe and then tell you how I adjusted it.

Hershey’s Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Prep time: 10 mins  |  Cook time: 25 mins  |  Serves: 12 Squares
Cuisine: American  |  Category: Desserts
Source: Hershey’s

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour – 1/2 cup
  • Cocoa powder – 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Butter – 1/2 cup
  • Eggs – 2
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

For the frosting:

  • Butter, at room temperature – 3 tbsp
  • Cocoa powder – 3 tbsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp
  • Powdered sugar – 1 cup
  • Milk – 1 tbsp
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Instructions:

    1. In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
    2. In another mixing bowl stir together butter, sugar and vanilla essence. Add eggs and beat with a balloon whisk till combined.
    3. Add flour mixture in batches to this while mixing with a spoon until completely mixed.
    4. Line a 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper making sure that the paper is over hanging above the pan. This is to easily pull out the brownies after they are baked.
    5. Grease the bottom and transfer the batter to the pan. Smooth the top and tap the pan on the counter to even out the surface.
    6. Preheat oven at 180 C (350 F) and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. You can see the sides pulling away from the sides of the pan.
    7. Take out the pan and holding the paper, lift the baked brownies out and let it cool.

For the frosting:

  1. In a mixing bowl beat together butter, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla.
  2. Add powdered sugar and milk and beat well to a smooth spreading consistency.
  3. Slather this frosting on the brownies and level smoothly.
  4. Cut into squares and serve. Keep it refrigerated.

Hershey's Best Brownie

For the sugar I used dextrose powder and for the honey I used brown rice syrup. I had never made a sugar free frosting, afraid it wouldn’t work with out powder sugar, but the dextrose powder is really light, so I gave it a try and it worked pretty good! Now this is not the nice fluffy buttercream frosting of  my dreams, but for a sugar free frosting it is pretty decent! The brownies are still in the oven, almost done. I will have to give you the review for them later.

Today was a great day, I thrived and so did the kids!

Amy

180 turn around in 1 day

It always amazes me how my depression can be lifted in a single day. One day I feel awful and the next something happens or a sequence of events happen and I feel the veil lift. That is what happened yesterday. I don’t know that it was one thing but several things.

First, yesterday was the last day of camp for Rebel, I got to pick him up at 10:30, I guess I didn’t realize how worried I was about him at camp. Last year wasn’t a great week for him at camp, it was the first time ever he didn’t have a great time. I really wanted him to make some friends and have a fun filled week. Which he did, I was so relived when he was in my arms again.

Then I got a call from Princess’s nurse at her camp, she was sick. I ran out to pick her up, poor baby, it was 80 something degrees out and she is under a blanket shivering. She had a fever and felt sick to her stomach. Now normally when my kids are sick it can be a trigger for my depression, but in this case, knowing she was home and I didn’t have to make that hour drive twice a day was more of a relief. She is doing a little better today, fever is gone and she is resting on the couch watching movies (which is a special treat.)

Also, I got an email from Princess’s online school that her school books have shipped and will be here Tuesday. It is like Christmas! I got so excited, we have to get the school room ready! I need to reorganize and get the calendar wall ready, her daily calendar notebook ready, decide if we are going to use work boxes (which I am leaning towards so she will know what to do while I am working with Monkey, and can schedule the activities she needs me for while he is sleeping,)

All of the sudden my babies are all home. Yes, I get a little crazy when they are gone, no wonder I love homeschooling. But I respect their choice enough to let them go to brick and mortar if they choose. I feel like I have a plan and goals again, I am excited wake up and get going again. So once again I have over come another round of depression and am ready to thrive again.

Amy

Surviving Depression One Day at a Time

I had another adventure yesterday, Almost more than I can deal with sometimes. Thank goodness for family, friends and nice people in this world. If it weren’t for them I might not get out of bed some days.

So I dropped Princess off at camp, Rocket, Monkey and I were going grocery shopping afterwards. We made it almost to the store and my car died, I was able to get it started again but every time I stopped it died again. Somehow by the grace of God, I got it into the parking lot of the store. I figured it just needed some coolant since I notice the temp had shot up. We went shopping so it could cool down and put coolant. I began putting the coolant in and it ran out the bottom just as fast. UGH! I could see that it was coming from a hose (thank goodness) but couldn’t get to it. When I tried the hose split (I thought). I called a tow service but they can only transport 2 people, and we had 3 of us. Thankfully one of my sisters lived and worked right by where we were. She was able to take the kids home on her lunch for me and I waited for the tow truck, in the hot sun. A wonderful man, (who was not the tow truck driver, because he isn’t allowed to) took a quick look and the hose had just come loose and I knocked it the rest of the way out. He was able to fix it with in like 5 minutes. Yay and immensely grateful. I was able to fill it with coolant (I had no idea how much coolant the radiator took) and was on  my way.

Once I got home I was still really shaken, my head was pounding and my stomach was queasy. I figured just stress, so ate and rested but it didn’t go away. Once kids were picked up and Jeremy got home I laid down and listened to an audiobook. Today I am a little better, my head still hurts, my stomach is still upset and I feel really unemotional and sleepy. Could be stress, could be depression, could be I hit my head in the bath tub day before yesterday.

Depression is such a strange thing. Days like this, it is so hard to battle it and not give it. All I want to do is go to bed and sleep. Hide away from the world. This is one of the ways I use to reach out beyond myself, to let out my feeling, to not hide, but to feel safe at the same time. No one should feel like they are alone in this. I am grateful I have people in my life who make sure I know I am loved, who take extra care when I feel this way. They also let me know that it is ok for me to be this way, as long as I keep trying, keep battling, and when it gets harder to battle they will help me, stand with me, hold me and love me. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I can’t imagine going through this with out the support I have.

If you feel this way, or worse, please find someone to help you. If you can’t find someone, please reach out to me. You are worth it, you are loved, even when you don’t feel like it. I will be there for you.

Amy

When it rains it pours!

The last few weeks have been a little crazy around here. It seems like one thing or another keeps going wrong. Which of course, means I have been battling depression like crazy.

First up Britney got really sick, we were in and out of the ER getting every test known to modern medicine. She had abdominal pain, lightheaded, blurry vision, spots and tunnel vision, and gross motor issues. Finally they decided she all the sudden has migraines (although she has never had headaches in the past) They are also testing her for diabetes.

Kids are all out of school and camps have started, music camps, traditional summer camps and scout camps. Which is great but a little nerve wracking. I don’t always do well with my kids not with me, it tends to make my depression worse. Not to mention scout camp is a day camp and about 1/2 hour away, so I get to make that trip twice a day this week. But Princess is having a great time so it is worth it. For Rebel, I had to spend a week cooking just so he could eat at camp. I got the menu from the camp and then recreated the meals sugar free.

We also go the news that Jeremy has Type 2 diabetes. So far it is manageable with diet and exercise and oral meds. But it was quite the wake up call. We had been working on loosing weight, ok he had more than I had, but we realized we needed to tighten up around here. I was doing some research and found out about a video on Youtube called “Sugar- the bitter truth” and I also read the book “A Year With No Sugar”  I learned so much from the video and the book. We have been doing so much wrong with Rebel and his sugar allergy, I learned also about some substitutes that I didn’t know about and how it works around his allergy.

My car is also still giving us issues so that is causing stress as well. Not to mention money is more than tight. I feel like it is a constant cycle we can never seem to get ahead of.

Oh did I mention we are in a huge heat wave and temps are unheard of around here. We are so not prepared for this type of weather.

Lately has defiantly been about surviving, living from day to day and one step at a time. But, I just keep praying it will get better. Setting small goals each day.

Today’s goal to make 4 loaves of bread. The first two are doing a final rise in the loaf pans and the next batch is doing a first rise in the bowl. Now to go put them in the oven.

Amy