It’s that time of year again! With the mild winter everyone is thinking of gardening season which lurks right around the corner. The soil felt so good in my hands today as I planted lettuces, kales, asian greens, cabbages, broccolis and brussel sprouts. So happy to be working in my greenhouse and Gloria was happy to hanging out in her playpen in there as well!
Every year Jeremie and I sit down and toss around ideas for this farm of ours. Projects to be tackled. Countless items to be fixed. Purchases to be saved for. And then I add my own personal goals as well. And for the last couple years I have written down, “Learn to make cheese.”. I’ve done the easy stuff like mozzarella and goat cheese. But I want to tackle cheddar and Colby. I have no excuse now, except my own fear to hold me back! Look at this beautiful cheese press Jeremie made! He researched different methods for pressing the whey out of cheese and came up with this design. I cannot wait to give it a try. Too bad you have to wait so long to try your cheese before you know what it’s going to taste like.
We do some pretty cool science stuff around here, but we’ve never made homemade bouncy balls. Well, now we have! We visited a mobile science lab that travels around introducing students to ag related science concepts. This time the students were working with cornstarch and water and a couple drops of corn oil. While ooblek is a common item around my house, I never knew that if you microwaved it for just a minute, it would turn into a bouncy ball. Well, it will after a few hours of molding, and molding, and molding. Such a fun experience in the back of a fifth wheel cargo trailer!
We had a wonderful time visiting relatives up north! We had time to see cousins, aunts and uncles on both sides. And our naturopath Dr in Wisconsin. So many good conversations and warm hugs. There was beautiful snow, which was such fun for all the kids! We went ice skating at Jeremie’s sister’s house. And for snowmobile sled rides, until trees started jumping in front of the kids out of nowhere. My mom made homemade Baileys, which is so much better than store bought. We had treats of all kinds, including Mia’s favorite..puff pastry wrapped brie and jelly. Candlelight singing of Silent Night. All the required experiences to make it a memorable holiday. We had no car issues, which is surprising, given our past experience. It was wonderful to celebrate the birth of our Saviour with family!
Almost, if not more, important than the gift giving is the eating that goes on around here during the holiday celebrations. Mia has been baking truffles, fudge, cookies and more! Appetizers for dinner while opening gifts! We had ham and cheese stromboli bites, artichoke dip, stuffed mushrooms, bbq chicken sliders, crescent dogs, chili dip and sweets! Kid wine for everyone! I pray my home is always such a bustle of loud laughter, good times, sweet eating, loving siblings and sweet babes.
We usually have to celebrate Christmas almost a week early because we travel over the holiday. It’s puts me in a bit of a tizzy, because I am a last minute shopper and there are only so many days in December. This year was one of the most fun, relaxing, memorable celebration we’ve ever had. Just a few stories for the memory banks. Susie made Ruthie a Sofia the first doll and amulet out of clay. Ruthie swears she is Sofia when she wears the amulet and sadly tells me she’s not Sofia when she’s not. Susie and Charlotte have made Jeremie and I stockings and they delight to fill them with goodies for us on our Christmas eve. Favorite candies, soda pop and handmade ornaments, my favorite. Stocking are always my favorite part of the day, so it’s special that they have made and stuffed one for me. Jeremie gave me very special gift this year. He and Charlotte walked the local creeks and woods and collected all manner of mosses, mushrooms, lichens and ferns. They planted them in a bed of humus in a glass jar. My very own terrarium. It was shocking to me to know that Jeremie realized that I love mosses, ferns, and woodsy stuff. And I was so touched that he put that together. Thinking of him, walking and hunting for treasures with Charlotte, thinking of pleasing me, brings tears to my eyes. He’s a special man. Earlier in the year I had found a display case of LEGO friends at a Bargain Hunt. It was a fraction of the cost of new LEGOs so I purchased it for Ruthie. All the sets were already put together, but since she is too little to put them together herself, it worked out perfectly. But when she unwrapped the gift and we opened it, we discovered all the pieces were super glued together! Jeremie and Tommy had to spend a lot of time breaking the pieces apart, without completely breaking the pieces. Well, live and learn. Do not by the displays of LEGO.
One of our favorite traditions. Decorating gingerbread/graham cracker houses with friends. Yes, it’s a mess. Yes, it’s a little expensive..all that candy! Yes, it’s very unhealthy. But we love doing it! We’ve got a great recipe for icing/glue. Tastes terrible, but it’s super strong. This year we had a tank, birdhouse, Rapunzel’s tower, and some very creative houses. All these things, that we do every year, are building such sweet memories for me and the kids. I know I will look back on these days as the best times ever.
Every year I take the kids and we go pick strawberries at a local farm. Lots and lots of strawberries. Hundreds of dollars worth of strawberries. And that only gets me to January. We have strawberries in our kefir smoothies every morning. And depending on whose making those smoothies, we use quite a few berries. But growing strawberries in the garden? Whoa, that’s way to labor intensive. Until Back to Eden. Yes, wood chips are the answer again. Paul Gautchi, and many others, grow his strawberries in wood chips. Every year, after they are done fruiting, he buries them with 2 inches of chips. In the spring time, only the hearty plants emerge. The older weak ones cannot make it through the mulch. So no more cutting off runners. No more transplanting new plants. No more keeping track of which plants are one year, two year, or three years old. No more trying to keep the notoriously riotous vining plants in nice neat rows. The mulch keeps the ground springy enough you can walk on the plants themselves with relatively no harm done. So finally, I’m ready to grow my own berries. And just in time, for my MIL just thinned her berries and brought over 100s of plants! While Jeremie was tilling the hillside, I was spreading the last of my wood chips over the existing garden area, just praying that the Lord would provide more chips for my berries. If none came, I planned to mulch them with chopped leaves, straw and bark mulch, for weed control. Not ideal, but I had no more wood chips. I finished up in the garden, headed in to make lunch and one of my boys came running inside to tell me the “wood chip guys are here!” I thought he was joking. But, no, the Lord is just that good to me. And we got another load the next day. So now this hillside is covered in 6 inches of wood chips and hundreds of berry plants. Can’t wait til spring!
Now that Roo is almost three we have been slowly phasing out her pacifier. Otherwise known as a bippie. Not just any bippie, either. Her “good bippie”. Not to be confused with her “bad bippie” or her “new bippie”. She only gets to have it during sleep time. But occasionally I have found her hidden behind a door or behind the bed sneaking a few sucks. While I watch her unnoticed, she sucks it a couple seconds then puts it back up on my dresser. Crack baby.