Family Currents: Late Winter at the Farm

As I write this by the window, the sun flooding my pages, I have hope that the sun will shine warm again. It may very well be that the days of braving the bitter cold and snow are behind us, and I couldn’t be happier! The children have missed their bikes and the creek adventures. Not only are the humans pleased, but the sheep and the llama love every blade of grass they see even if it’s crunchy and yellow. The snow is gone, and they couldn’t be more exuberant about it. Just minutes ago, Larry the llama was trotting like a mini giraffe.

On my last visit to Trader Joe’s a picked up this little rose water. It smells clean and pleasant, so I thought I’d try it as a face toner. The little pink bottle has migrated to the girls’ room. They love spritzing it on their faces – I imagine it feels grown-up : ). And I don’t mind since it’s just water and rose extract. I haven’t noticed a difference on my face, but at least it smells of midsummer around here. Have you tried rose water as a facial product before?

All the maple trees have taps in them, and the clear sap runs constantly. The kids love taking breaks from their running around outside to pull a tube from a bucket and drink the sap straight from the tree! It tastes like slightly sweetened water. Depending on how much gets collected by this weekend, Nathan and the boys will start to boil the sap down to thick amber syrup. Stay tuned because we’ll start selling it soon!

with love. Damaris

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Our Winter Pantry

“Hey Dear, could you pick up subs for dinner on your way home?” “Babe, how’s $5 pizzas for tonight?” Other times, we’re just feeling unsinpired to make dinner. We’re all too familiar with the mealtime crisis, aren’t we?

Managing a pantry is a skill that I learned from my mom, and I’ve found that it’s especially important during the winter. Managing a pantry involves more than having a stack of canned green beans. By having a well-stocked pantry we eliminate the first road block to cooking – what’s for dinner?? It’s often the main difference between a last-minute dinner scramble (“Spaghetti again, Mom?”) and a stress-free family dinner. When we have things on hand, we’re more likely to get in the kitchen and make home-cooked meals that will keep our famlies well-nourished and happy. I realize that a stocked refrigerator and freezer are essential too, but I’ll focus on our pantry today.

How can I cook everyday, three meals a day for a family 9 without constantly running out of food? My secret to being able to rely on what’s in our pantry is having two of each food item. What do I mean? I have the food item we’re using and a new one in the pantry. Do you do something similar? For example, I have a 10lbs bag of flour in the cupboard and another unopened in the pantry. As we are running out, we add it to the grocery list. This way our pantry shelf is never depleted.

A full pantry gives us confidence that we can make nourishing meals. When days are full, or we’re sick, or life gets hard, it is so much simpler to make a healthy meal for our family. Making simple meals at home does wonders for your health and your budget. Carryout or convenience foods can pack questionable ingredients (and pack on the pounds!), but stocking our pantry allows us to have control over what is in the food that our family consumes.

I’m certain that having a well-stocked pantry allows us the freedom to bless others. We can extend hospitality without much notice because we are confident in the basic ingredients that we can quickly reach for. For me, having food on hand takes most of the stress out of hosting.

No two cooks’ pantries will contain the same exact items, but I’m sharing with you the list of foods that are in my pantry right now. They all come from Costco or Trader Joe’s. Also, I always have beer and wine for cooking which I buy at Aldi. Drumroll……. Here it is : )

Costco

extra virgin olive oil

canola oil

coconut oil

ketchup

mustard

pasta

marinara jars

canned tomatoes

tomato paste

chicken bone broth

canned pumpkin

coconut milk

vinegar (red wine, balsamic, apple cider)

mayonnaise

dried beans and lentils

brown rice

flour

sugar

tea

coffee

almond butter

Nutella (of course)

box of crackers

chocolate chips

cocoa powder

rolled oats

raisins, dates

nuts (walnuts, almonds)

corn tortilla chips

salsa jars

canned tuna

canned salmon

jam

Trader Joe’s

coconut aminos (similar to soy sauce)

baking powder

baking soda

canned green chilies

cereal bars

tomato soup

sundried tomatoes jar

tartar sauce jar

pizza sauce jar

spices and herbs

canned coconut cream

roasted peppers jar

capers jar

shelf-stable whipping cream (love it!)

FirstFruits Farms : )

vanilla

honey

maple syrup

There’s no end to the yummy goodness that can be made and shared from a well-stocked pantry. Do you have some pantry management tips? I enjoy hearing your ideas. By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day!

with love. Damaris


Family Currents: New + New + New + New = : )

Breaking into the new honey harvest!

We have bucket-fulls of raw honey from our hives. Nathan, his dad, William, and Alexander spun it out of the honey frames and screened out the wax. It’s so fun to see the difference in the honey the bees produce from year to year – this year’s bee sweetness is more gold than amber, and the raw texture is beautiful! Nathan bottles it fresh for each customer, so contact us through this post, facebook, instagram, or email. You’ll want to get a taste of this year’s honey harvest.

Fresh and green makes the kitchen feel new!

My little potted rosemary is surviving the winter in our kitchen. It’s perched on the window sill, and I water it everyday. Rosemary is my favorite herb in cooking and baking, but I’ve been hesitant to cut sprigs in case it saddens. It’s alive greenness makes me happy.

Fresh textiles bring a new mood!

Two warm days in a row and I already changed up the pillows in my bedroom – hah! Something so simple made the room reflect the sunshine and brightened up the room. It’s amazing how quickly our mood perks up with the sun warmth and glow through the windows. Now I’m off to pick up some Trader Joe’s eucalyptus and spruce up the bathrooms.

Bring on a new year!

This good-lookin’ lad had a birthday this week! He’s the firstborn, and we all enjoyed the excuse to love on him. Last year, his sisters practiced a little dance to perform in celebration of his special day, but this year,I dropped the ball. Nathan ordered a cookie dough ice cream cake for him, which was really fun. Not only did the cake make birthday dinner preparations much simpler, but it was a huge hit. First time, but may not be the last : )

with love. Damaris


Back To The Grind

This is a first for me! I always write for the blog late at night after the children are sleeping, and I’m in bed with my bedside light on. But today is different! It’s raining hard, which limits outdoor chores for the bigger kids, and instead everybody’s looking through their new school notebooks, markers, and talking. They’re always talking! Here I sit on the floor on my side of the bed and face the window. I’m kind of out-of-sight. I finished my heavily buttered toast and brought my coffee upstairs with me. Baby Samuel takes beautiful morning naps, so maybe I can get a few words in.

We’re savoring the last slow days of summer as I’m certain you are too! But the joys of fresh new school days are quickly approaching, and before the start a new year, I find it very helpful to take 2 or 3 hours to pray, plan, read teacher guides, and write a schedule. Some years I have gone to the coffee shop by myself on a Saturday afternoon and some years I quickly left right after dinner with my Bible, books, notebook and a pen. This year, Nathan was a most wonderful help, and we did the majority of the planning together a couple of days ago.

Actually, we not only made a schedule, but reassigned the chores! I gain much confidence and excitement about the new school year when we have this planning session under our belt. I will be sharing our full schedule with you soon! There usually are a couple things that need moved around once the year is underway.

Whether you homeschool or not, I wanted to share with you a little list of things that have made a difference when we’re back to the grind. As you know, days get very full and sometimes so fast paced, that we need to have a few things in place to help the days be successful for everyone!

Our Back-To-School Aids:

  • Trader Joe’s organic pops or suckers (this is a first for us). It seems to help little Providence remember to empty all the trash cans!

  • Clorox wipes (have been recently buying these) It has simplified some of the kids’ chores.

  • cooked-ahead breakfast sausages (cook up lots of extra links on the weekend) We don’t have a microwave, but the big kids can reheat these on a small skillet easily. Stored in a gallon zip-lock in the fridge.

  • soft-boiled eggs (same as hard boiled, just a little softer yellow) All the kids love these with a little sprinkle of salt. They keep well pre-peeled in a gallon zip-lock in the fridge.

  • Trader Joe’s frozen hashbrowns (love these!) We usually have them for lunch with fruit or a smoothie.

  • homemade frozen muffins (they thaw so fast!) We keep several dozen in the freezer.

  • bagels (we keep them in the freezer and thaw them the night before) This is the perfect breakfast for us on co-op days! We warm them all on a cookie sheet in a low-temp oven for a few minutes, slice and spread cream cheese on them. Ready to go!

  • freezer meals (these always save the day!) We try to keep 5 dinners ready-to-bake in our freezer.

  • paper plates and paper bowls (huge help!) We don’t have a dishwasher, and paper simplifies school day breakfasts and lunches when quick clean-ups are essential.

  • cereal (hopefully healthy) This is our first time buying breakfast cereals as a staple, and we will see if it makes mornings easier!

I realize this list is not all-inclusive, but I hope it helps as you gear up for the new school year too! What are some of your must-haves?

with love. Damaris