Fresh Bread

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I have been putting my hands to making more bread over the last few months. And, I’m so proud of myself. It’s taken me years to make an edible bread., yup, my first few tries had been tears and stress over making bread.

When our older kids where little, I would pull out the flour, yeast and whatnot, get my hands messy and try making bread, Henry would come home to find me flustered with bread in the garbage. I had no idea why my bread never turned out.

Now, I think I go into it much differently. I prepare myself mentally before hand. I tell myself to remember to be patient. I also have a special something, my Grandmothers bread bowel, given to me when we first moved back home here. For some reason, everything just turns out perfect when I mix in it. Like magic. The photo above is an easy no knead bread. If I can make this bread, anyone can. I enjoy her sense of humor in her writing and easy to follow steps.

Above is the No Knead bread with the link of the recipe below.

No Knead Bread

aThis bread is the same recipe I have had for years. I have 1 cookbook in my home and have tried this recipe many many times, years ago. This is the bread I have cried over, and swore I would never try it again.

Over 7 years later,” and my magic bowel”, this bread tastes amassing. I have also replaced the milk in the recipe with our hand made Soy Milk. It saves on money and gives it a slightly different taste. Now that I feel confident in my bread, I want to try many more recipes.

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Oatmeal and Honey Bread

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I took my soy milk bread recipe and added leftover cooked oatmeal and honey with it. I had to add extra flour when kneading it. It’s one of my best breads yet.

Do you make your own bread? What challenges did you have? Do you have a favorite recipe?

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My goals for 2014

It’s been a year and a half since we purchased our land. A lot of work has been done to get us closer to actually living there. I found the past summer was hard for me, only because I want to be living there, gardening, exploring the forest, thriving from our land together as a family. Oh, the things that I dream about each time I step foot onto our property. It’s overwhelming but exciting all in one. A workable portion is now cleared and full of stumps and root piles. So much snow now blankets it all.  My one goal for 2014 is to have a portion landscaped for a place to start our garden and another space for our children to enjoy.

Here are some other of my goals:

Spend more time reading my books on herbs and gardening. I wish to also spend more time reading other books here on my book shelf. The hard part for me is finding that extra time. Goal #2…. find more time for myself.

2Henry gave me these new books below for Christmas. He is already an expert in herbs and gardening but I too wish to learn so much more about them.

1We will need to budget ourselves and save some extra money over the next few months so we can pull out the stumps and landscape. I’ve already started a list of the seeds and I can’t wait to order them to begin seeding them out for spring. I want to learn more about using the herbs we grow and the many different things we can make with them.

3Our mantel already holds several infused herbs in preparation to add them into our handmade soaps and balms. Winter months are the perfect time to take in as much information as I can before our land is ready for the many plants we will be propagating there.

T’is the Season to Make Gifts

Oh, let me tell you that we love to make all our gifts.  To me, a handmade gift comes from the heart.  And anyone can do it. This year is no different than all the previous. We have been busy, Henry in his work shop making things with wood of course and me in my studio sewing up a storm. But we do combine our creativity with so much more. This year we both made soaps, bath salts, body creams, and chocolate. These gift sets are for our good friends…..

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Here’s what’s inside.

cBath salts to help relax and rejuvenate after the Holidays. These bath salts are quick and easy to make.

Combine equal portions Sea salt and Epsom salt together, then added dried herbs and flowers. Be creative, there are so many things you can use here.  We added some essential oils and mixed everything together.

 Note that Essential oils have many different benefits, read up on them before you mix them together.

I made some Hemp/cotton muslin bags with a draw string to hold the bath salts.

Whipped body cream.

This is much easier then I thought it would be.  After looking at many different recipes, we decided to go with equal parts of Coconut oil and Cocoa butter. A few drops of Vitamin E and scented this with Sweet Orange essential oil. It’s best to whip this up with an electric mixer until thick, like icing. Ours ending up smelling just like the Milk Chocolate Oranges  you can buy this time of year.

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We added a natural wash cloth Not made by us….. this wash cloth is made with 100% Agave fiber and is a nice exfoliant. These are made in Mexico.

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The best part of this gift set is the Chocolate.

Here are the links we used to make some simple, quick and easy chocolate barks.

Dark Chocolate:   http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/dark-chocolate-bark-almonds-seeds-53420000023756/

White Chocolate:   http://www.forkandbeans.com/2013/11/15/vegan-white-chocolate-bark/

School Garden project and local markets

It’s been a very busy week here for us. Our children Liam and Hanna were on the local CBC News talking about their tiny school and the garden the school grows each year. This is the first year our children have attended this school and we are loving it.

 Their school is the heart of Middle River. Papa and I ( and many other parents) helped the students bunch up some herbs and vegetables the day CBC news came by. The students sold some of their products to a very popular cafe close by.

hSilas also enjoyed running around with all the children and playing with some toys.

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iIt’s a wonderful feeling to see the children so excited about their hard work with the garden. They set up the tiny gym like a farmers market and waited to see what they would sell.

Also this week, we are getting ready for our first Christmas market. We are selling our handmade soaps and maybe some hemp/cotton washcloths. I’m excited to sell at a few Markets. We sell a lot of our products on line and hardly get the chance to meet more local crafters.

Not many people here know what we do or sell.

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We did attend the market yesterday and sold some soap. Talked with other wonderful vendors and met another family who just moved here. Their 2 daughters now attend the Middle River school after being home schooled for a bit.

It’s lovely to see more families join our community.

Spazieren Gehen (Going for a walk)

Now that a routine has been created with the kids in school again I’ve fallen into a daily ritual of taking Silas for an extended walk through the woods and meadows around here.

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Silas explodes with excitement as I prepare him for our adventure. Outside we are greeted by a heavy dew that has settled on everything overnight and rubber boots are in order. The cool nights help keep the pesky bugs away so we can enjoy an unhindered stroll. We begin our trip down the path behind the barn and into the woods.

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It’s a big world out here for this little “man” and countless stops are made along the way to explore anything new and intriguing. Once down the path we usually enter the woods. The trees here are pine which were intensively block planted in the mid to late 70’s to replace the  forests decimated by the spruce bud worm outbreak at the time. A pest that was created and propagated by poor forest management practices at the time which continue to this day. Anyways I’m digressing here and will save this rant for a later post.  Once we enter these woods Silas has free range to explore and play among the trees.

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The forest floor in these woods is almost completely void of any undergrowth due to the dense canopy the trees create, allowing very little sunlight in. Also contributing to this virtual dead zone is the dense mat of pine needles on the ground. We follow the straight rows of trees for at least half a mile before making a slow detour back out among the more densely packed natural forest. The world viewed through Silas’s eyes is much different than that of grownups and I enjoy taking this time to get down and absorb his perspective.

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After a couple or three miles of strolling among our wilderness we slowly saunter back. He is never very enthusiastic to return home but with a little coaxing he plods back up to the house.

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Tracey enjoys the free time she gets while Silas is out of the house, this provides much needed time for her to catch up on errands and orders she has to complete. Silas will be two years old next month and the boundless energy he now shows is just a precursor of what to expect over the next few years. I just hope he will continue to enjoy strolling through the woods and meadows with his dad when he is older.

Beeswax Hemp fabric wrap

Something has been bugging me lately with our children’s lunches. Before school started we bought them stainless steel containers so that we wouldn’t use plastic for their lunches. These are wonderful, however they just don’t hold enough food to send a child to school for the day.  We have been sending them with an extra plastic bag to hold muffins, cookies, fruit, etc… but it’s killing me.

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Every time I pull out plastic, I’m thinking, what a waist, how harmful, what am I teaching my children.

We’ve seen beeswax food wraps a few times. These are available in some lovely on-line shops but we already have hemp scraps and beeswax and lots of it too. I really wanted to try this myself so I looked up a few tutorials and got busy.

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Here’s what I did.

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 I cut some Hemp/cotton muslin into 10″ by 10″ squares to start  off for the first try. I surged all 4 sides and tucked in the threads. If you try this out you can cut your fabric to any size you wish, there is no need to surge your edges.

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I used 100% pure beeswax. You can try this with a beeswax candle if you have one. Grate the beeswax into fine shavings. Preheat oven to 150 – 170 °F. My oven was at 200 because that’s as low as I can get it.

Take a cookie sheet and apply a layer of tin foil over it.

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Sprinkle the beeswax shavings onto your fabric. I first added a small amount but had to add more so the cloth was evenly soaked with wax.

The photo above was my first try.

Place in the oven, the wax will melt in less then 10 minutes. Keep an eye on your cloth. Once the wax is fully melted, take it out of oven and quickly remove the fabric from the tin foil.

I had a string suspended over my sink and hung the fabric there with clothespins to harden.

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The first 2 turned out perfect. You can use these to place over bowls instead of plastic wrap. They are also great to wrap up sandwiches, cheese, veg’s, etc.  Just use the warmth of your hands to mold them into place.

Care for these is so easy, cold water to rinse and wipe down with a cloth. Do not use hot water because you will melt the beeswax again.

If you just don’t want to make your own but would love to buy some, check out this company here: ABEEGO

We met this lady a few years ago at a small farmer’s market in Vancouver. It was wonderful to see how well they are doing today.

Eco Christmas

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I know what your thinking….” Christmas already?????? ” It’s not even Halloween yet!

But when your someone who makes all the gifts you do need to start early.

Over the weekend our son Liam made us a beautiful, natural Christmas tree garland. He took some thick Hemp rope and natural stained wooden balls to make this. I love the natural colors mixed with the raw look of hemp rope. Each year for the last 12 years, Henry and I have made Christmas gifts for everyone. Each year is different from the previous, so it’s time we get some ideas together and get busy. This Christmas, I think I will make some Hemp/cotton comfy pants for everyone. I have lots of extra fabric and they are quick and easy for me to make.

All our gifts are made with natural and organic in mind. From herb boxes, clothing, soaps and recycled projects. I feel that a gift made by us is much more heart felt. We stay clear of the craziness in stores, the craziness of other people who forgot the true meaning of gift giving and kindness.  I have enjoyed each year making my gifts and will do so as the years go by.

We (Really me) have made pants a few years ago for everyone however, I’m thinking those all long gone or don’t fit some of them. Along with our handmade soap, this should be a wonderful gift to give.

What do you make for Christmas gifts?

Will you make something new this year?

Do you keep Eco friendly in mind with your gifts?