Piper and Nina’s kids

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Piper’s Birthing – Two Videos

I am posting the cleanest, happiest one first. This has very little blood, guts or gore. The baby is out and Piper is cleaning her off. If you want to see more of the actual birthing, just keep scrolling down this page. I am going to do a separate post with the birthing sequence of videos in chronological order.

The video below is of Piper’s final pushes. I assist a little and baby is born!

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Lucas pets the new kid-video

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Video of new baby

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First Kid of 2015-album

This is a gallery so you need to click on each photo if you want to see it larger. I will be giving the birth story in a later post.

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How Can You Love January?

I love January like a mother loves nap time.

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In the photo above, my garden lays sleeping under layers of farmy compost and crusty snow. It is resting and regenerating. It doesn’t need me right now. Do I miss it? Nope. It will be awake before I know it!

I used to hate January. I also used to live in Alberta, Canada. (That pretty much explains it.) Cold is relative and the cold there will make you appreciate the “cold” almost anywhere else.

I’ve heard January described as a “giant bucket of suck” compared to the excitement and twinkling lights of December. I suppose it is all in how you look at it. I find December full of events and obligations and I relish in January’s quiet. It seems like there is nothing that HAS to be done in January. It’s also a fresh, clean beginning.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t suffer in the winter from the shorter light length of the days and the reduced activity outside. I totally do. I have found there are some things that help, though. So here’s my list to help beat the winter blues:

1. Farm animals. I am serious. Now, while I’ve been told that the worst about having farm animals is the winter chores, I just don’t find this to be true.  For me, it helps a great deal that I have animals who need me a couple of times every day to bring them food and water. I just don’t begrudge these chores. I always take the time to dress properly (wool socks, these gloves, and sometimes snow pants). When I am warm doing my chores, I don’t rush through them. I feel no urgency to get back to the warm house and I take my time talking to and petting the animals.

2. Get in the kitchen and make something fresh. Recently I made cabbage salsa. There was cilantro to chop, garlic to crush and a lime to squeeze. The smells and the fresh colors were a joy to be around.

3. Grow sprouts.

Yellow mustard and white clover sprouts

Yellow mustard and white clover sprouts

It gives me a real boost to see these things come to life. I use them in wraps, sandwiches, stir fries and salads. You can sprout a variety of different things and it’s really easy. All most seeds need is the temperature of your house, moisture and sometimes darkness.  I especially like sprouting yellow mustard seeds from the bulk spice section of the grocery store. You can buy specific seeds for sprouting but I find these too expensive. I feel safe as long as the seeds are intended for food.

To sprout seeds, I follow a few simple steps:

  • overnight soak
  • drain and rinse then transfer seeds to a container and spread them in a single layer
  • cover them with tinfoil to keep out the light
  • rinse twice a day
  • While this is not necessary, after they sprout their little white roots, I remove the tinfoil and set them on the windowsill to do some photosynthesis. I keep them covered with plastic to maintain the moisture. You may need to vent the plastic if the sunlight is strong or they will cook! (This wasn’t necessary for me in the winter but depending on where you live, it might be.)

Lentil sprouts

  • Once they have grown to your liking store them in the fridge.

To make the rinsing process easier, you can buy needlework canvas and make an insert for your container by stapling the corners to make a box or, like I did, sewing the edges. This will also help to keep the sprouts from sitting around in too much water. I lined the plastic tray I made with paper towel because I am not a fan of plastic touching my food.

Cross stitch seed tray

 

I’ve been sprouting mung beans (these produce the same bean sprouts you can buy for stir fry), lentils, buckwheat and clover. I plan on trying sunflower seeds, oats, quinoa, basil and peas.

Here’s an informative link if you want more details:  How to Grow Your Own Sprouts.

 

4. My last bit of advice is to find outdoor activities to do. Once, last winter, we had a memorable hot dog roast outside while it was snowing. Now my family makes it a habit to get all our winter clothes on and sit in our camp chairs around a fire. Last weekend my husband and I went sledding with our two boys. I screamed all the way down the hill. I highly recommend it!

My mother and sister in 1996

My mother and sister in 1996

So, while you might be wishing winter away, I am here whispering, “Shhhhhh, sweet January, take your time…”

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My Favorite Bread Recipe (including videos and photos)

I normally make this dough using a second hand bread machine. I don’t bake it with the bread machine but just use the dough setting. If you make a lot of dough, you might consider picking one up. I will buy any bread machine from a thrift store that looks clean and barely used.

For this tutorial, though, I am giving the instructions to make the dough with a stand mixer. If you did use a bread machine, you would just put all the wet ingredients in first and end with the yeast.

Also, if you wanted to make this with whole wheat flour, it substitutes just fine. You just may need a bit less flour. A lot of the time I will make this recipe with 4 cups of whole wheat and 2 cups of all purpose flour.

Don’t be afraid to add a little warm water or a little extra flour to get the dough to be the right consistency. After adjustments are made, it should be very soft and pliable. You just want it to come together well. Don’t worry if it is sticky.

Basic White Bread

This recipe makes 2 loaves.

  • 6 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp yeast (I use either rapid rise, bread machine or active dry yeast and it never seems to affect the recipe)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 2/3 cups warm milk (warm to the touch, not hot)
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil/melted butter
  1. Sour the milk with the vinegar and set aside.
  2. Add 4 cups of flour and all of the dry ingredients to your mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix until blended.
  3. Add all of the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until incorporated. Then increase the speed to medium high and mix for a full 10 minutes.
  4. Reduce speed and slowly add 2 more cups of flour. Mix until moistened and then change to the dough hook.
  5. With the dough hook, mix for 5 minutes more.

Here’s a video I made of the previous two steps:

Oil a large bowl and set the dough inside. You’ll want to flip it over once so all the dough is oiled.

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Cover it and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour. I turn my oven on for about 10 or 15 seconds to provide a little heat and then I set the dough inside and close the door.

After it has risen, it will more than double in size if it’s white bread. Here’s my dough after 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is a little over-risen. I would guess I let it rise for 15 minutes too much.

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Then you need to grease your loaf pans. I always use butter.

Now for the shaping! This is my favorite part. Here’s another short video showing how I shape my loaves.

Cover and let rise for about 20-30 minutes. Near the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 350.

When your loaves are ready to bake they will be cresting the pan. Here is a photo:

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I make a shallow cut down the center of the loaf so it has a little extra room to expand in the oven while baking.

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Bake at 350 for 17 minutes. Cover with a piece of tinfoil and bake for 17 minutes more.

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Don’t slice into the loaves too soon. They need to cool a minimum of 20 minutes. Here’s a photo of what the loaf should look like inside.

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Once they are cooled, I slice them and store them in freezer bags in the freezer.

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