21 February 2018

Cream Cheese French Toast Bake

Oh, yeah.
Now that maple syrup season is in full swing, we've been enjoying weekend breakfasts that basically center around syrup. I inevitably wake up a bit earlier than everyone else (moms really can't sleep in, I've discovered), get this in the oven, we do some of our chores and when we're dressed, the animals are fed, and the cow is milked, we sit down to this delicious meal (if you want it even faster, it can be made ahead the night before so you can get it in the oven early). A 9x13 pan of this barely lasts one breakfast!

Ingredients:

1 loaf DAY OLD French bread (if it's soft, it'll be mushy. Cut it up and toast it in the oven if needed)
6 eggs
2 cups milk
3/4 cup half and half, cream, or additional milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on your preferences)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons cold butter
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

Cut or tear bread into small pieces. Toast in oven, if needed, to prevent mushiness. Place in a greased 9x13inch baking pan. Whisk together eggs, milk, half and half (or substitute), sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over bread in the pan. ***Optional: cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.*** Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Blend with fork until mixture resembles small crumbs. Sprinkle over bread, followed by evenly spreading cream cheese cubes over the top. Cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer extremely wiggly. Bake longer if necessary.
Enjoy!

20 February 2018

Farm Kid

If you've had to chop and haul your own wood...
...if your job is to keep the cow happy while she's being milked...
...if you've had to wait in the car during cold, rainy days while chores get done...
...if you've had to form your own bike gang because there aren't any other kids who live near you...
...if you are in charge of collecting the eggs every evening...
...if running to get the mail leaves you out of breath...
...if you pass enormous sheep flocks on the way to the grocery store...
...if your idea of fun is climbing up into the hayloft...
...if you've been in charge of smashing down the loose hay...
...if a bag of popcorn, your very own tiny cart...
...and perusing the chick selection sounds like your idea of a fun Friday night...
 ...if stocking up on sweet feed makes you REALLY happy...
 ...if you've received weird things like live bees or mushrooms in the mail...
...then find inoculated-with-edible-fungi-oak logs soaking in your laundry basin...
...if you've been late to school because you were watching a red fox bury half its breakfast...
...or because your trip to school is so scenic you didn't want to rush...
...or your go-to toy is your pretend chainsaw, which you use to help around the farm...
...if you've stayed up past your bedtime, mucking stalls...
...or hanging water buckets...
 ...and your jungle gym is the treetops...
...and every time you go into your backyard, it's literally an adventure...

...you might be a farm kid.


18 February 2018

Hay is for Horses

Ever since getting a tractor, one of the biggest benefits we've experienced is its ability to move round bales. Not only are they cheaper per pound but they can feed the animals for weeks, which means no hauling square bales out to the animals twice a day.
Helping move the round bale ring.
Since switching primarily to round bales, we've also invested in a couple of round bale rings. Basically, they keep the livestock from trampling all over the hay and rendering it inedible. You'd think it being their food source would be obvious but apparently, a big bale of hay also strikingly resembles a giant bed to most animals, so they crawl all over it to eat the sweetest hay in the middle and smash the rest of it into the mud so they can enjoy an afternoon nap on a fluffy pile of dry grass.
Kate's job: smash down the hay.
The last time we had to move hay for the horses, the poor bale kind of tore apart and while we had to scrape it back into a pile and stuff it in the hay ring, we were able to salvage most of it. Then, Kate had a job to perform, which she accepted happily: smash down the hay so it didn't blow away in the wind.
She did a very good job and like most of the chores I ask her to do, she did with a smile on her face. I feel like I could learn a thing or two from her when it comes to work...
Hay is for horses.

And hard-working, fun-loving little kids.


17 February 2018

Reasons to Run

Awww! Look! Canadian geese! Sorry but you're not welcome here.
While I have a very decided love/hate relationship with running (currently, I'm leaning more toward the tolerate it side),  Jack, however, does not see the point of it. As a wrestler, running was a warm up and nothing more and though I do occasionally catch him on the treadmill, it's only for a few minutes at a time. To Jack, there are a few reasons to run, though.
A lonely mallard drake, hanging out in the last of the unfrozen water.
One of Jack's pride and joys (other than his children) is the pond out back. He's stocked it with fish, pulled out algae, dyed it to keep the algae from proliferating, sunk an aerator in it, and weeded around it. His overall vision for it is that there will be fish to eat and enjoy watching as well as a fun family swimming hole in the hotter months.
So, it's no surprise that Jack and waterfowl don't see eye to eye. The blue herons steal fish from the water's edge and the geese and ducks use the water as a giant toilet, which can pass on germs to us and the fish.
I've rarely seen Jack run as fast as when he sees someone trying to take up residence on the water. You'd think he was a racing greyhound after the rabbit. I half expected him to start barking.
And they're off!
Jack's so proud of himself.
Don't feel too bad for the birds. They have their choice of about five hundred other ponds and lakes in the area that would welcome them in their water. We'll wave as they fly by, though.

Bon voyage, birds!


15 February 2018

Love at Home

Kate was so happy to get her hands on her Valentine's Day plant!
A few days ago, Jack and I were talking about Valentine's Day 2017, wracking our brains and trying to remember exactly what we did. While I'm not a particularly talented Romeo, Jack really is. He knows how to make all the ladies of the house feel special and makes a day celebrating love a thing the whole family enjoys. Turns out, we remembered last year I was sick with the stomach flu and I wanted nothing more than Valentine's Day 2017 to be over with. So, with that standard, Valentine's Day 2018 was inevitably going to be far superior.
The kids wanted Zoey to get in the spirit so they dressed her in red and gave her a chocolate cookie.
I thought I'd do my part to make Valentine's Day special by having a yummy dinner all ready when everyone got home so we could move on to exchanging cards and gifts. Turns out, lasagne and salad might as well have been hot garbage to the kids. So, with much grumbling and whining, everyone except Zoey begrudgingly ate a couple of bites of lasagne so we could move on with our lives. Honestly, it was the first time all the kids were asking if they could trade the main course for more salad. Sure, whatever. A few extra vegetables surely offset all the chocolate and candy they'd eaten all day long.
The only child happy with the dinner I prepared. Which isn't saying a lot since she eats crayons off the floor.
One of my favorite Valentine's traditions is that since all the girls have flora-related middle names, Jack gets them all their very own plant. This year though, he planned way ahead and had fancy plants shipped to our home. Evelyn got a creeping violet that we'll plant on the rocks by the pond, Claire has a bay leaf laurel that we can cook with, Kate got a fancy Swedish Ivy that can take all the loving abuse she can dish out, and Zoey got a water iris that we'll plant right at the pond's edge.

And poor Henry was asking where his plant was. Jack deflected back that question to me since gifts for him are my department.

Mom fail.

I'll just make a mental note of that for next year...
And I got a bouquet of beautiful red roses, which is perfect for me since I'm terrible with plants and there's no expectation that I'll actually keep them alive. So far, they're doing really well in their vase, thank you very much.
Once dinner was done and plants were set high up where Zoey wouldn't try to pillage the pots for soil to eat, the kids excitedly opened their Valentine's boxes from grandma and exchanged cards with each other.
Then on to another favorite tradition of ours: the chocolate party. I sadly missed it last year since any whiffs of chocolate made my already nauseated stomach curl in agony, so I was really looking forward to the buffet of fine chocolates. Please don't think we eat like this all the time--once a year is about all we need to really enjoy the different variety of chocolate candies the world (or rather, our local grocery) has to offer.
It may have been a bit scaled down from previous years but it was plenty and everyone ate their fill.

Just don't get between the baby and her chocolate.
Yes, she is literally drooling over chocolate.
Our little Valentine's Day party didn't last long and then it was on to milking Dolly, collecting maple sap for boiling (yesterday marked the first day of maple syrup season for us!), youth activities at church, baths, laundry, and all the other day to day tasks that don't seem to like being neglected.
One last surprise for Mom and Dad!
I for one love Valentine's Day and all it encompasses. Yes, it's not the only way we celebrate love at home, love for our children, love for husband and wife, love of self, friends, and the overall lovey-dovey feelings the holiday envokes but I see nothing wrong with making a special occasion of it once in a while.

(And thank goodness it's in February. Otherwise, I'm not entirely sure I'd like anything about February).

And the day has become even more delightful as the kids join in spreading the love to everyone in existence they possibly could come in contact with. Just brightening the world in their own way!
Ah, my kids could use any card as a Valentine's day tribute. Hedgehogs? Sure. Why not?
Hoping you all had a wonderful, bright, happy day celebrating love, kindness, and friendship!

Happy Valentine's Day from The Rehomesteaders to you!

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