Natural Food Wrap

This is the year I am trying to move my family away from plastic. It is so easy to reach for the plastic to go container to store food or even seal a bowl with plastic wrap. Let’s face it plastics are harmful. The less plastic I use to store things, the better off our family is. I started by switching Brook’s lunch containers to glass ones and limiting the plastic to go containers he uses to pack his lunch. I also purchased Bee’s Wrap for him for Christmas. I really like the product and the idea of reusable natural food wrap. I decided to try making my own. It is not as great as the Bee’s Wrap but works almost as well. It is a lot cheaper to make your own and very simple. 

Melt beeswax in a double broiler/ hot water bath. I already had a chunk of wax but you can order it or find a local beekeeper to purchase your wax. 

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Line a cookie tray with parchment paper.  Cut your fabric into various sizes. I used a linen material on my first attempt and cotton on my second try. Both worked well.  Drizzle The melted wax on your fabric and place in the oven at 400. Watch carefully. The wax spreads quickly and the fabric will burn quickly too. (2-3 minutes)  Take it out and drizzle extra wax on spots that did not get covered. Transfer to another covered tray to harden. 

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Use it to cover containers by pressing the wrap on the edges with your hands. The warmth of you hands will mold to the bowl. You can also fold it into pouches to wrap sandwiches. Just wipe clean with a warm cloth when finished using it. This material is not intended for meat. 

 

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Black Bottom Cupcakes

 

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So Friday I posted via facebook (you can follow the farmhand at https://www.facebook.com/thefarmhand) that I was making black bottom cupcakes for company. They are one of my favorite sweet treats. They have simple ingredients and are quick and easy to make. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

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Black Bottom Cupcakes

 1 ½ c. flour

¼ c. cocoa

½ tsp salt

1/3 c. cooking oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 c. water

1 TBLS cider vinegar

 

Filling:

8 oz package of cream cheese

½ c sugar

1 egg

6 oz of mini choc. chips ( half the bag)

 Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake tins with liners.

For the cake part: Combine dry ingredients. Next add wet ingredients and stir until smooth. Stir together the filling ingredients. Fill cupcake holders half full with the batter.  Top the batter with 1 TBLS of the filling mixture. I use a small cookie scoop and it works perfect. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 18 cupcakes. 

Sugaring Adventure

Last week the temperature was perfect for collecting sap. It was above freezing during the day and freezing at night.  One of Brook’s Christmas presents this year was sugaring supplies since our new property has some maple trees. It was a new adventure for both of us. I was so excited for Saturday to come so we could start a fire outside and boil down the sap. I envisioned sitting by the fire most of the day while the girls played and Brook and I had quality conversation. What happened was exactly the opposite of what I had planned for our first sugaring day. It ended up being 30 degrees and windy. Too cold for kids or me to be outside for a long period of time. Brook and Hannah started a fire around 6:30 am and the first batch was going good by 9:00 am. By 10:00 am Brook got too distracted playing with the girls and the first batch burned to a crisp. He got the process started again and we were back in business. My dreams of sitting by a fire all day ended up tending to the fire inside and children who were bouncing off the walls. Brook boiled and tended to the fire until midnight only leaving it for five or ten minute intervals so that it would not burn again.  He started again after church on Sunday and finished the last 70 plus gallons of sap that evening. We filtered and canned the two gallons of syrup and ended the weekend with homemade waffles,our own bacon, berries, and syrup. We caught up on family time and talked about how we would do things differently next time around. After a dinner like that we both agreed it was worth the time and effort. We also agreed that when tackling another project we would ask four important questions:

1. Do we need time together first?

2. Do the kids need our time?

3 Do we need family time?

4. Do we have the money? 

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Thank You Seasoned Mother

Grace had no school today so we were off on an adventure. The thrift store it was for us three girls. They are learning to enjoy hunting for bargains right along side mama. I am teaching them young, just like my mama did.

It started out rough. Some sibling fighting and arguing made for one crazed mommy.  I drove too far to leave the store. We had a little conversation about kind words and sharing and thankfully attitudes were changed.

Toward the end of the trip we were having a little fun in the hat section when a seasoned mother and volunteer at the store commented on my girl’s behavior and my kind words to them. The conversation went on and I admitted I have my days. The point is, I did not know she was watching and I had the choice during the course of our morning to make a positive impact on my children and those around me or be grumpy and bitter toward my kids. All I have to say is, thank you seasoned mother for noticing a young mother and taking time to give a sincere compliment. It makes a difference and was a lesson learned for all. Thank You! I will remember this moment. 

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Sprouting

Since I can’t have a garden outside during these dreary months of winter, I brought it inside. I have been sprouting a mixture of alfalfa, broccoli, and radish seeds over the last couple of months. It is very simple and sprouts are so healthy for you. Can we say cancer fighting, good stuff all packed in those little shoots of a plant. I have a favorite health food store located in Canton, NY called Natures Storehouse. I want to pick that store up and bring it home with me. I stop in every time we visit even if I do not need anything. I found sprouting seeds the last time we were up to visit family. The brand is called Handy Pantry and you can order them online. 

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All you need is a wide mouth mason jar (quart or pint), cheesecloth, and sprouting seeds. 

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Soak seeds in water for four hours. The ratio of water to seeds is 4 to 1. So I usually do 1 TBLS of seeds to 4TBLS of water in a large wide mouth mason jar covered with cheesecloth. Put them in a dark place.

 

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Drain seeds after 4 hours and rinse them three to four times a day until the third or fourth day. Keep them in a dark place like a cabinet. 

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They will look like this after the third or fourth day. You can start using them. I put mine in the refrigerator to stay fresh. 

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Use the sprouts like lettuce on a sandwich or top a salad with them. This sandwich is made with hummus, sprouts, pepper, carrot, cucumber, green onion, feta cheese, and a tiny bit of italian dressing. 

 

Too Cold For The Birds

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It was down right cold yesterday! So cold that the sink pipes froze and I ended up doing dishes in the utility sink. Thank goodness for that utility sink. It is also being used to fill buckets of water for the horses because the outside water is completely frozen. Poor Brook, it takes him so long at night to feed and water, He is so bundled I can hardly find him in all his layers.

So, as much as I wanted to go thrifting and stick to my plans yesterday, I heard my mother’s voice in the back of my head saying, “You can’t take those babies out in this kind of cold. What if something happens? What if the van breaks down?” Yes, yes, she has made me quite paranoid in certain situations and I find myself doing it with my own children at times. So, we stayed in and kept the wood stove cranked, cleaned, and started on the organizing of closets. There were times I wanted to kick the kids out of the house for a while, but we got through it. We made bird feeders from the rind of an orange. We waited all day and looked outside often to see if any hungry birds were stopping by for lunch or a quick snack. No visitors on this cold day. It was even too cold for the birds to be out.We made muffins from the lone, overripe banana on the counter and prepared a most delicious dinner of homemade meatball sliders and salad. We even have a tray of meatballs in the freezer for those nights mama just doesn’t feel like cooking. It is days like these that feel long, chaotic, and exhausting. But, when I rest my head on the pillow at night I am so grateful for productivity, a warm house for my babes, and hot healthy food in their bellies. 

Banana Blueberry Muffins (adapted from our traditional family recipe)

1 3/4 c. flour ( I use a mixture of oat, white, and wheat)

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup sugar ( I use raw)

1/3 c shortening ( I use coconut oil because I am not a fan of shortening. It works just as well and gives a great flavor to the muffins)

2 eggs

1 c buttermilk

1 mashed overripe banana

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4 c chopped pecans (optional)

1/4 cup coconut

Mix flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Cream sugar, coconut oil, eggs. Add dry ingredients and banana alternatively. fold in nuts and blueberries. Place in lined muffin tins. top with coconut. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Makes 12 muffins. 

 

In the New Year

 

 

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So far in this new year we…

**Ate the traditional pork and kraut with grandmas and grandpas. It is so good to have the people you love around that big table to start off a new year. 

**Took in a magnificent sunset on a most chilly New Year’s Day.

**Admired the beauty of our creator and how makes all things new again, like white snow and the art work he formed on the windows. 

** Bundled up for snowy sled rides and forts making. 

** Painted and made crafts in a warm house. 

** Smoked trout (one of last years goals that never got checked off the list. If you know me, I am a list person and if it is on there it needs to get done). Learned from this book. 

** Did some seed ordering and garden dreaming

** Declared Sunday of PA Farm Show Week an at home farm show day. We kept it on TV all day and ate our own farm show pork bbq sandwiches, fries, and milkshakes. We debated kicking the chairs to the side and standing to eat while letting the kids eat on the floor for that true farm show experience. Too many germs caused illness after the show last year, we decided it was better to stay home this year. 

And dreaming of what the rest of the year will be like….

**Will it be a baby brother or sister? Eeek!!!!! We will only find out in April when he or she is born!

**Preparing to make Gracie’s room bigger by fixing up the secret nook so sisters can share a room. 

** A greenhouse for all those seeds we ordered

** Scotty camper building

** Digging our spring out for a small pond 

** More fruit trees and grapevines

**Chicks to hatch

**Most importantly growing closer to the Lord and knowing His plans for us here 

Wishing you a great start to the New Year! Embrace the blessings and adventures.