09 June 2019

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread


My grandma was the queen of bread baking back in her day and I remember going to her house many times and being given a warm slice of cinnamon swirl raisin bread, which always felt like a special treat. I wanted to share that with my kids, so we whipped up a batch. Serve as a side to Poor Man's Stew and you've got yourself a hearty meal! 🤤

Ingredients:

1 cup raisins
1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoons yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour (I used a few cups of wheat flour to make it healthier)
1 Tablespoon wheat germ (optional)
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons warm water

Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with hot water. Let raisins plump for about ten minutes, drain, and set aside. In a stand mixer, pour in warm water and yeast (a pinch of sugar will help it activate, if needed). When the yeast is dissolved, stir in the milk, melted butter, and salt. Add flour and mix on low speed (or hand kneed, without a mixer), for about eight to ten minutes. Toss the raisins with some flour to absorb excess moisture, then gradually incorporate them into the dough. Cover the dough and let rise until double, about an hour. Divide the dough into two pieces and work one at a time into a rectangle that is no longer than your bread pan. Brush the inside of the dough with the egg wash, except the top two inches for the seam. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle generously over the egg. Carefully roll up and pinch the seams together, putting the seam side down in the greased bread pan. Repeat for the second loaf. Let both loaves rise for about forty-five minutes to an hour. Brush with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Heat the oven to 375F, and bake for 35-45 minutes, until bread is browned. Remove from pan and let cool slightly before slicing.
She could have eaten it in one bite!
Enjoy!

06 June 2019

Round Two

It's been a few years since we've had a designated boys night/girls night but when the opportunity came for Henry and Jack to go camping with some friends, they jumped at the chance, leaving the rest of us girls (and Peter...funny these campouts always happen when I have a brand new baby at home, ha!) at home. That doesn't mean we don't have our own fun.
After smothering (sometimes a little too literally) Peter with affection, we made our very own personal pizzas. Most of them turned out decorated as a dog or cat or random Pokemon when they went into the oven.
They were identifiable enough when baked that the girls ooo-ed and aww-ed over their creations before devouring them. Seriously, I don't know where they put all that food sometimes!
Kate must be having a growth spurt 'cause there was barely half a slice when she decided she was full.
We listened to music, whipped up a mean batch of peanut butter cookies, ate a hearty amount of cookies, and then went swimming to burn off all the excess energy from all the yummy food we'd snarfed down. 🤤
The girls spent a good hour splashing, teaching Zoey to swim, digging in the mud and making mud castles (ew...we need to get some sand to redo our beach area), and racing back and forth until they couldn't lift their arms another stroke.
As usual, Peter hung out in his bassinet while he patiently let his sisters play. In no time, he'll be toddling right along side them and going for a swim.
Not to be outdone since the girls were initial jealous that Henry and Jack got to go camping, we compromised. At first, they suggested we camp in our back yard which would have been fun except knowing I wasn't going to get a full night's rest with a newborn in the house, the thought of also sleeping on the hard ground out in the humid evening air didn't sound terribly appealing. Sleeping downstairs satisfied their itch for adventure while allowing me to snuggle in my own comfy bed. 😉
The next morning, before sleep deprivation and resulting crabbiness set in, they woke me up with giggling and shrieks of laughter while they goofed around downstairs. We'd picked up a couple bags of donuts for fun, and it topped off the girls' night adventure.
All we know of Henry and Jack's adventure was that they also made pizza--which Henry dropped on the ground before getting his first bite--a muggy, humid evening, being eaten alive by mosquitoes, staying up way too late, getting accidentally whacked in the face by a friend's ill-timed swing of the stick, hardly getting any rest, waking up only to realize they'd forgotten their bag of donuts (which only Henry was sad about) and learning how to be better fishers.
 Oddly enough, it's hard to say who had more fun during round two of boys night/girls night. 😄

04 June 2019

Whipped Cinnamon Honey Butter

We wanted to thank our girls' teachers with a little something and since sending bread for Christmas gifts have been a big hit, we decided to make a big loaf of bread to put in the teacher's lounge. Before, we've sent them with apple butter but since it's not fall, we didn't have an abundance of apples at home. Instead, we made this delectable whipped cinnamon honey butter (if you've ever been to Texas Roadhouse, you know what it is), and it was a big hit. We sent a jar with the loaf of bread and kept a pint at home for ourselves. A week into it and it's almost gone! It pairs well with fresh bread, biscuits, muffins, cornbread, waffles, French toast...I've caught the kids attempting to sneak a spoonful straight out of the jar, too. Best of all, it's a quick treat that doesn't take much time to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup honey
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the softened butter until creamy and smooth, about two minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend until well-incorporated. Transfer to jars. Refrigerate until ready to eat, then remove five minutes before, so it can be served at room temperature.
Enjoy!

02 June 2019

2019 Summer Bucket List

What are your summer plans?
School's out and after a few boring things (think groceries and doctor's appointments), we're ready to have fun! Since I love checklists and want to make sure I'm an intentional mother who's more present while my children are at home with me, we've come up with this list of things we'd like to do during the precious ten weeks they're home from school. Plus, maybe it'll distract them from bickering too much. 😉 There will still be plenty of days to relax and laze around but there's only so much sitting around we can do before we lose our minds. It's all about balance, right?
We both snagged a fish on the first cast!

The Rehomesteaders 2019 Summer Bucket List
  • Go camping
  • Make at least five healthy snacks/treats together
  • Go swimming
  • Go canoeing
  • Have a watermelon seed spitting contest
  • Have a spa day/paint nails/paint toenails
  • Make a new Family Home Evening Chart
  • Go to an outdoor concert
  • Enroll in and complete a summer reading program
  • Get slushies
  • Complete a library reading program
  • Go to a movie
  • Get donuts
  • Write a letter to someone
  • Go bowling
  • Catch fireflies
  • Play Ghost in the Graveyard and/or Kick the Can
  • Go on a train ride
  • Make edible necklaces
  • Go to a theme park
  • Find good garage sales/thrift store sales
  • Sit in a firetruck
  • Go on a trail ride
  • Go hiking
  • Attend a musical/play
  • Go to an observatory
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Run through the sprinklers
  • Paint river rocks
  • Ride the horses
  • Paint something together to hang in our home
  • Have cooking lessons
  • Start piano lessons
  • Have riding lessons
  • Play at a park
  • Eat lunch with Jack
  • Go to a splash pad
  • Eat at a food truck
  • Throw a tea party
  • Make ice cream
  • Play with shaving cream
  • Make jewelry
  • Write a book together
  • Make popcorn balls
  • Ride a carousel
  • Go on a slip and slide
  • Make rootbeer
  • Get faces painted
  • Catch a frog
  • Make rock candy
  • Make salt water taffy
  • Make slime
  • Do a fun run together
  • Go to a farmer's market
  • Go to a parade
  • Have a bonfire
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Tell scary stories after dark
  • Go to an orchard
  • Pick berries
  • Make pottery/clay sculpture
  • Make a fun craft
  • Have a picnic
  • Sew a skirt
  • Have each kid help make dinner
  • Go to a rodeo
  • Hide painted rocks around town
  • Eat cotton candy
  • Have a water balloon fight
How about you? Anything you're hoping to do over the warmer months?

01 June 2019

School's Out!

It felt like only yesterday that I was sending all three of the older girls off to another year of school at their tiny country school. I blinked, and their entire kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th-grade careers are already over! For all their hard work, they're each smarter, wiser, and have more friends, and have grown and matured in ways that astound me.
The school supply dump.
They hopped off the bus, excited at the prospect that summer break brings them--unlimited swimming, staying up late to catch fireflies, family vacations, hiking, camping, s'mores, cleaning, working in the garden...okay, so maybe they don't know all the stuff I have in store for them. All work and no play is no good, but all play and no work makes for some rotten kids. Life's all about balance, right? 😉
Our art gallery, thanks to the girls' art teacher.
Not really a surprise, but all the girls excelled at school. Kate went from illiterate to a reading maniac in a few short months. Claire and Evelyn maintained fantastic grades, and each of the girls won multiple awards and rewards for their good behavior, upstanding character, and test scores.
Evelyn named me as the person she most admires at 4th grade "graduation." Aww...💕💕💕 
Part of this particular school year ending is that it's extremely bittersweet. With a lot of thought, careful consideration, and prayer, the girls will be heading to another school in a new district next year. It'll mean Evelyn can be in the same building with her sisters one more year (thus simplifying pick up and drop off, on top of the fact she likes seeing her sisters throughout the day), and it'll keep them all from having an unnaturally long bus ride to and from school once they finished elementary school. The intermediate, middle, and high school are all to the south and with that distance (and in the opposite direction of Jack's work and any type of shopping I do), it would add an hour long bus ride to and from school. So, instead, they'll be going to a brand new school being built just minutes from our house, even though we're right outside the boundaries. That way, everyone in the school will be new, and the girls can all make the transition together and when they do go to middle school, it'll be early enough and in the direction Jack goes that he can take them before he goes to work.
Still, as much as it makes sense to send them, it was hard for them to say goodbye to friends and to the school that's been so good to them.

While growing up, stayed in the same school district my entire schooling career and still know people I met on the first day of kindergarten, Jack moved around a lot as a kid and has reassured me that our kids will survive the change and make new friends.
The first day off of school was kicked off with a grocery shopping trip--the first with all six kids--but mercifully, Jack took the day off and went with us. We did a bit of work, had a lot of fun, and are going to acclimate to summer break just fine.
Grocery shopping is more fun with daddy!
They'll be back in school before we know it but until then, we're going to squeeze every last enjoyable moment out of break that we can! Children grow up way too fast (as Evelyn's been reminding me), so we're going to live up every moment together we can, work, play, fun, vacations, and all.
Evelyn teaching a math lesson about the value of fruit per pound.
 Happy summer break, all you lucky kids!
Kate's wonderful teacher, Mrs. Harrington! 

30 May 2019

Remember

Of all holidays, one of my favorites is Memorial Day. Sure, there are other more exciting holidays, like Christmas or Halloween, but Memorial Day is a simple day that doesn't incur a lot of stress or require a lot of preparing. All that it truly requires is for us to remember.
Jack teaching Kate the art of rib rub in preparation for smoking them.
One of the other benefits of Memorial Day is it's a guaranteed day off of work and school and when that happens that means we have fun together. And by fun, I mean work. Because work is fun. At least I think so (don't ask the kids).
Hay is ready to be cut! Fingers crossed it A) stops raining and B) we can find someone reliable to actually come do it.
I've been eyeing our far west pasture to first have it cut for hay and second, finish repairing the fence so we can use it for part of our grazing rotation. After we burned and reseeded it, the grass is beautiful, nutritious, and practically weed-free. Plus, more fenced pasture means I can get more animals...right?? 😉
Peter's first time in the carrier. Hands-free baby carrying is the only way to get things done around here.
The previous owner had it fenced off for cattle but the fence is so dilapidated that it looks like it hasn't been touched in about sixty years. Our neighbor has generously begun stretching new cattle fencing on one side, so we focused our efforts on the other. I walked ahead and checked t-posts and pulled wire, while Jack mowed a path so we can better put up a Woody-proof fence.
If nothing else, it makes a lovely walking path.
All the fun work was cut a bit short when a rumbling thunderstorm rolled through the area. The kids had been up on the dam playing so they didn't accidentally stumble into any poison ivy that always creeps out of the edge of the forest and with the first clap of thunder and fat drop of rain, headed for the safety of the house.
Head for the house!
Jack and I would've gone in too but right as the heavens opened up with a downpour...we discovered Dolly had escaped. We've had her separated from Woody for the past few days to dry her off so we can breed her again but she was through being separated from her baby. Usually, she's docile, if not a bit ornery but that day, she wasn't having it. She ran all over the property, into the back field we'd just been working on (good thing we had the fence restringed!) and through the garden (gah! 😒) before going back to the barn and being caught. Thankfully, all's well that ends well.
One of the things I've been trying to be better about is balancing work and fun. While I realize I'm the only one who'd be happy working all day, the rest of the family likes to have a break. So, after the rain blew through, there was still time for fishing...
...and swimming with the giant peacock...
...and painting our hand-me-down hot tub. I do believe Henry may be taking after me in finding happiness in checking things off the to-do list.
Though we didn't celebrate Memorial Day with a parade or visiting the family headstones like I used to do growing up, I realize the day was still incredibly significant. Because of those brave, honorable men and women who have and do defend our country--especially those who have paid the ultimate price, a lot of the things I have to worry about are relatively insignificant. I don't have to worry about being persecuted, whether or not we'll have food to eat, if our children will be able to go to school, if the government will protect my rights. All thanks to those who protect, defend, and serve.
Peter shares Grant for a middle name with Great Uncle Fritz, who died in WWII.
 I haven't served in the military but am proud of the heritage I share with those who have. My grandpas, great-uncles, brother, cousins, father-in-law, friends... Of those, I feel a particular bond with Great Uncle Fritz, who served and died in World War II. Though I never even met him, visiting his grave every year with my grandma, she told stories about him growing up and how he died (plane shot down over Germany), which left an incredible impression on me. To honor his sacrifice and always remember the price he and others have paid, Peter shares the name Grant with him. I hope all our kids cherish that heritage like Jack and I do.
We ended the day with an ice cream run!
To all those who serve, we thank you and hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day, remembering all the blessings we're each given because of another's sacrifice.

💖 Happy Memorial Day from The Rehomesteaders! 💖

26 May 2019

Grilled Pizza

Most Friday nights at our house mean homemade pizza BUT with near 90-degree weather and a broken air conditioner, the last thing I wanted to do was heat up the oven. Grilling pizza was the perfect answer! It made crunchy, chewy crust and kept the house from warming up. Plus, it was ready faster than if I'd put it in the oven. We'll definitely be using this technique again!

To Make:

1 batch pizza dough (here's our go-to recipe if you're looking for one)
Olive oil
Favorite pizza toppings

Prepare pizza dough according to instructions. Roll out to desired size and brush olive oil on both sides and place on a pan. Ignite the grill and heat to about 350F. Carefully put the dough on the hot grill, shut the lid, and let cook for about four minutes, checking for hotspots that might scorch the dough. Flip over and carefully put the ingredients on the top. Close the lid and grill another four minutes or until cheese is melted. Carefully transfer to pan. Cool a minute or two before slicing.
Enjoy!

25 May 2019

Double Digits

When Jack and I got married, we were excited at the prospect of welcoming children into our home as soon as we could. Apparently, Evelyn didn't get the memo because two years into our marriage, we were starting to lose hope we'd ever have kids. So, we decided to buy a dilapidated old house in Iowa while Jack went to school and I worked. It wasn't a month after we moved in that we were up on the roof, putting on the last few new shingles while I felt incredibly nauseated. I figured it was due to the intense, humid August heat and working through my fear of heights but it didn't go away when I got down and cooled off. Turns out, it was morning sickness! Nine (and a half!) months later, Evelyn decided to make her appearance.
Fast forward and we've got a brand new ten-year-old! Where has the time gone?! 🤷‍♀️
Have to take a deep breath to blow out all those candles!
As Evelyn has been with us the longest, she's been through a whole lot of interesting things in her short life. She's already lived in four states, three houses, and four apartments, and some of that time, we were desperately poor. She's a farm girl to the very core and finds all sorts of creatures fascinating, from chickens and cows, horses and dogs, sheep to emus...
...to crawdads...
...to newly-changed dragonflies...
...to plants, flowers, and trees. There's not much she hasn't held, petted, owned, fed, or cleaned up after during her ten years on earth. And after all is said and done, she maintains that she'd love to be a farmer when she grows up.
By far, her very favorite creatures are babies. Ever since the first day we brought her to meet her little sister in the hospital when Evelyn was only 18 months old, she's been smitten with tiny people. She loves to hold them and can stay for hours on end with them in her arms. She's gotten to the point that with Peter, she's probably better at soothing and getting him to sleep than I am. She gets a pass on chores if she's helping with a fussy baby. She knows it and I know it but most of the time, I'm okay with it.
Her first question when she gets home from school is always, "Can I hold Peter?"
To say she's a huge help when it comes to her younger siblings is the biggest understatement of the century.
Aww, Evelyn and baby Zoey.
I have no doubt she will be an excellent mother and as she reminds me, that'll be sooner than any of us think. When measuring the passing of time against children, time seems to pass incredibly fast.
Still helping out with Zoey!
As Evelyn has grown, so has her personality. She has a wicked sense of humor, though she has to be comfortable enough around you to let you see it, otherwise, all you'll get is a quiet, shy, polite girl who barely says two words. She's incredibly smart--when tested at school, she scored extremely high in mathematics, which would explain why she and Jack seem to communicate so well. I have no doubt in the very near future, they'll just use complex mathematical equations on their graphing calculators to talk to each other--to the bafflement of the rest of us, that's just how the two of them are. The interesting thing about it is that even though our brains are hardwired totally differently and more than I care to admit, we have misunderstandings and miscommunications, Evelyn never gives up on trying to talk out her problems, rather than clam up or shut down. When I take the time to listen, I'm always rewarded with an insight into who she is and why she does or feels or thinks the way she does.
With being the first child, I have no idea what I'm doing with Evelyn. She's my trial and error child and thankfully, takes it all in great stride. With each passing year, she's leaving childhood behind and testing the waters of adulthood by showing responsibility and independence, though she isn't quite ready to let go just yet. We talk sometimes of the future, her hope for schooling and career, making friends, moving out, getting married, and having children of her own and while she's excited about the thought of being an adult, she asked the other day if she'd have to move out right when she finished high school. When I asked why she was asking, she shrugged and said she likes living here. The thought kind of choked me up a bit, realizing she's already more than halfway done with being a kid. If anything, it was a good reminder to cherish the here and now because it goes so fast.
Once in a while, Evelyn asserts her need for alone time (heck, I need some alone time, too!) but most days will find Evelyn in the thick of things. She's a great leader and teacher, and while I'm growling at everyone to just get whatever I've asked them to do done, she can turn it into a game, organize everyone into ranks, and lead everyone out of it with a smile on their face. Usually.
She loves her siblings!
On the day of her birthday, it was jampacked, nonstop celebrating Evelyn (birthdays are kind of a big deal around here) and why not? You only turn ten once and for most, it's the first and last time they'll add an extra digit onto their age! The younger siblings and I met her at school and ate lunch with her while she filled us in about her day.
After she inhaled her food, she got Peter out of his car seat so she could show him off to her friends. That baby was literally a magnet for the other kids, most of whom have never been so close to a baby so young. Evelyn proudly displayed Peter for the entire fourth grade to see until the very last second before she had to go back to class.
If there's one thing that's true about Evelyn, it's that she enjoys a lot of decadent, over-the-top, extravagant kinds of things and when it comes to celebrating birthdays, she doesn't shy away from really celebrating. At first, she asked for cheesecake and cookie dough ice cream. Eventually, it morphed into a request to make cookie dough cheesecake and I did my best to deliver. That cake took two days to entirely make, bake, and assemble but when it was done, it was a thing of beauty. And SO delicious. 🤤
Her dinner wasn't the most outlandish thing we've ever had requested (Claire likes to feast on stuff like king crab legs for her big day) it was a hearty, delicious meal of all the things Evelyn loves.
Then the time came--presents, cake, and ice cream. The excitement was over in a matter of minutes and she was over the moon with the wide array of gifts bestowed on her, from tennis shoes to stuffed animals to a foam mattress topper. Stuffing ourselves with delicious dessert went equally fast.
That's like 20 pounds of cheesecake right there. Did I mention it was so delicious?!
To say that we've been blessed ever since Evelyn joined our family is a barely scratching the surface. She's kind, resilient, sensitive, smart, bold (when she wants to be), hardworking, intuitive, loving, hilarious, and a million other things. She's already given us glimpses of the woman she'll become and I guarantee she'll be one who shines brightly.
This sums up Evelyn perfectly.
🎂 Happy birthday, Evelyn! We love you! 💖
Our little lady.


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