Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Over 2 Months Not Buying Bread

Happy Wednesday everyone! I feel like today may drag on! Ryan, Sam and I have been growing a giant pumpkin all summer and tonight we will be cutting it from the vine and bringing it to be weighed and judged! It is a tedious plant to maintain and grow. We have lost a couple in the years passed and this is by far the biggest we have been able to grow. We know it is WAY smaller then some of the others that will be there but we are still proud of it! 

I feel like I have been doing a lot more "homesteading" this year. By definition homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. This is not an easy thing to do when you work a full time job outside of the home as well but Ryan and I have been working at growing and preserving things from our garden. Not only are we being more self-sufficient but also saves some money. 

Ever since I received my bread maker last Christmas, I have had fun making different treats. Cinnamon buns, hamburger buns, nann bread, pizza and of course, bread! 

While I loved having some homemade bread every once in a while, it was more of a treat then something that we would use everyday. 

One day I lost my mind decided it would be interesting to try and make all of our bread myself. This means a lot of bread. My husband has 2 sandwiches a day on his lunch. That's 4 slices of bread at least so it could mean more if I have a piece of toast myself. 

It took a little tweaking but I did figure out which recipe works for my machine, our climate and for our taste buds. 

This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread 

1.5 cups of water 
2 tbsp Vegetable oil 
2 tbsp white sugar 
4 cups of flour 
(I like 3 cups of white flour and 1 cup of whole wheat. We prefer the taste of whole wheat but I found adding too much meant the bread wouldn't raise enough) 
3 tsp of bread machine yeast 

I dump all the ingredients into my bread maker in that order and set it for the dough cycle. This does all the mixing and rising in 1.5 hours. 

When it's done I grease my pans and then divide the dough in two. I knead each half on a floured surface for a couple times. I like to roll it out into a rectangular shape and then roll it up and close the seams.  

I leave the pans in a warm spot for another 1-1.5 hours. 

When the dough has risen enough, I bake it for 13-15 minutes in 350 degrees. 

Immediately, when the bread is cooked, I put on a cooking rack. 

I allow the bread to completely cool. I use to not cut my bread but I noticed Ryan was horrible at this task in the morning. The slices would be very uneven and too thick. He'd be going through a loaf almost per day. So, I began to cut the bread myself to reduce waste or over consumption. 

I find the best tool to use for this is my electric knife! Cuts into the bread like butter! Perfectly even slices and I can make them as thin or thick as I want. 

I place one cut loaf in a freezer bag (I wash and re-use the bags each time!). I usually have 3-5 loaves in the freezer at all times! 

It's been over 2 months since I started making all of our bread myself. I know this saves a little bit of money but the real treat is the taste of homemade bread all the time. It was a little difficult and felt like a huge chore at the beginning. But now it feels like routine! I usually make one go (2 loaves) on the weekend. Whichever free day I have. It is really hasn't been a huge inconvenience and I love knowing what I'm giving my family. 

Happy Wednesday! 


Monday, August 29, 2016

One Of The Last Weekends Of Summer

While I know the official beginning date for Fall is a few weeks away, around these parts the upcoming Shawville Fair weekend is usually the kick off. The nights and early mornings are beginning to feel cooler. It is a VERY welcomed break from the extreme heat. 

It was a pretty low stress weekend together! Being outside and soaking up the nice weather while we could. 

Ryan was gone on Friday and Sam and I had to get to work on fixing some irrigation when we got home. We figured it out but it was leaving no time for making supper. Thankfully, while water was running we ran over to my parents house so Sam could have a bowl of cereal. Nana and Grandpa to the rescue! 

We got home and both headed to bed early! It is always no problem for all of us to get to bed early after a busy week. 

Sam has been taking about "momma and dadda's" room all week. On the weekend we like to bring him in our bed for morning cartoons. Sure enough, it was the first time he asked for on Saturday morning! 

We all had breakfast and got ready for the day. The boys were heading outside to play and I went and picked up my Mom for a belated birthday outing. 

First stop was The Rocky Mountain House in Renfrew were we both got our first Schnitzels! It was SO yummy and I am really wanting to go back! 

Our next stop was the McDougall Mill Museum! I heard about this on FB and thought it looked really neat. It's basically a museum of antiques from locals who have donated it for display. There is everything from toys, dishes, farm equipment, and my favorite part, the clothing! It such a neat place to visit! 

I got home to a quiet house as both boys were down for a nap. I quietly got a little tray ready and headed out to the pool for a few visitors I was expecting. 

The boys got up, watched some TV and then we headed out on our trails for a quick ATV drive. 

I made a quick grilled cheese supper for the boys and then we headed out to play. Sam is obsessed with his sandbox. It's fun to sit back and watch his imagination. He loves to fill his toy dump truck with sand and dump it in another spot. Over and over again! 

Sunday morning, after morning cartoons and breakfast, we took a short ferry ride over to drop off seed and visit friends Rebekka and Josh. It was nice catching up over a morning coffee and Sam loves playing on their deck. 

We had chipstand for lunch, both boys went to nap again (seriously, how does my husband need this much sleep?) and I got to work on bread for the week and getting garden veggies processed. 

We had a quiet evening. It was SO muggy outside! Got things ready for the week. When Sam went to bed we were mean parents and had ice cream cake, one of his favorites! 

How was your weekend? 


Friday, August 26, 2016

Freezer Corn

Happy FRIDAY! WOO HOO! This week kind of felt long. It has mostly been just Sam and I every night as Ryan has had something on EVERY evening this week. I am ready for some adult conversation! 

It's not only a busy time of year here at the Turf farm but also busy with stuff at home. We are in the final stretch for the garden. I have about 9 jars of pickles, tomatoes are going in the freezer every other day and corn is all in the freezer! We are getting stocked up! 

One vegetable we all like in our house is corn! We probably have some every week. And nothing is better then fresh corn on the cob! We like to get some from our local friends and neighbors (Hi Manda!). I got a kernel cutter last year and decided to try and get some corn in the freezer. I only did about 15 bags but we REALLY enjoyed having the taste of fresh corn on hand. 

This year, I decided to double the amount in the freezer! Rather then doing one BIG batch, I did 3-4 dozen a week. Here is how I get the corn ready! 

It takes a lot of work to shuck the corn. So I put the boys in charge of that! Or, I'll sit out on my rocking chair doing it while Sam plays away. It is very relaxing and because I'm outside, I don't mind the mess. 

I get my largest pot and get some water boiling. When it comes to a rolling boil, I drop in 5-7 cobs of corn. I let them cook for 5 minutes. 

I immediately place those half-cooked cobs into a bowl of ice cold water! And let them sit there until they are completely cool. While I am waiting for them to cool, I put more cobs in the boiling water. 

I take the cool cobs, and run my kernel cutter over all of the cob removing the corn. This takes some practice. Not too shallow a cut or too deep. I use this kernel cutter from Pampered chef and it is very sharp but very easy to use! 

I've seen some tutorials about using a bundt pan and electric knife. I tried that but I found the pan too shallow and it made a mess. Instead, I like to use a deep bowl. And the electric knife is too heavy for doing this much! 

I usually put 1.5 cups of corn per baggie! 

**Note the Palm Bay in the background, never necessary tool in this process**

Remove all the air and I flatten the bags for the freezer. This way they take up WAY less room! I got 11 bags out of 3 dozen cobs of corn. 

When I need to use one I just take it out of the freezer, put it in a pot, fill with warm water until corn is just covered and boil for 1 minute. Remove water and serve! 

It is a super easy and inexpensive way to get fresh summer tasting corn all year long! 

Hope you have a great weekend! 


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Frugal Fun - Sometimes You Have To Change Plans

Last weekend was awesome. Truly we had a great weekend together. The thing that you don't went in a totally different direction then what we had originally planned.

At the beginning of the summer, we were discussing some of the things that we wanted to do. One of the things that we thought would be fun was to check out Parc Omega. We have heard great things about this destination and thought it was something fun we could do.

We looked at our calendar in August and decided that the August 20th weekend was a quieter weekend that could mean a quick trip to Parc Omega. It was set.

And then I looked up the prices.

I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT! It was going to cost us over $70 for us to just drive into the facilities. To me, while it seems like a cool attraction, I like to step back and think about of that cost.

We have a family vacation happening in less then a month. A trip that we saved for and that is going to cost us a little bit of money (air planes, food and etc) above and beyond our usual budget. But we had saved and planned for this. Parc Omega, we did not.

We are very serious about our budget. We have a lofty goal of being 100% debt free in 12-24 months time. So we stick pretty closely to our spending allowances. Any extra costs we try to save or work extra for. While I know $70 is not a lot of money, it was money that we had not planned to spend. We have an entertainment allowance for every week and because we can find cheap (and free) entertainment else where, that category allowance stays low.

We decided we still want to take Sam to Parc Omega but we will go in the winter when we are looking to get outside and when we can save appropriately for the occasion. Extra bonus, it is cheaper in the winter because it is their "off season" time.

We still wanted to do something and decided we don't check out any of the trails around home enough! So I packed a picnic and we headed to a toddler friendly trail called Sugarbush Trail which is part of the NCC Gatineau park maintained area!

And we had SO much fun! A perfect activity for a little boy. Getting dirty, being outside and exploring. It was an easy trail for a toddler because there weren't many slopes or difficult hiking spots. There was a little bench area about half way through and Sam loved the bridge! The loop should take about 20 minutes to walk but it took us 45 minutes to an hour with Sam. I think he picked up every fallen stick on that whole trail (you're welcome NCC) and looking at every tree! They also had a great picnic area with a big lawn or with lots of picnic tables. 

So not only was this close to home activity loads of fun, it was free! It's a hard lesson, to learn when you are sticking to a budget and watching your pennies...Saying No. Saying no is not so much fun. We live in a fast paced world where anything we want is right at our finger tips. Ryan and I really try to live more cautiously when it comes to our wants and needs. Thinking, researching, analyzing and saving big purchases. We also REALLY want to be debt free and are working really hard to achieve that goal. For a long time restricting our spending and saying no to fun things was a downer. Now that we've been budgeting for years, we have learnt that you can easily live a fun and fulfilled life without spending a lot of money! 


Monday, August 22, 2016

August Weekend Recap

Happy Monday everyone! I hope that the weekend was slow for you! We had a great weekend together! A weekend where we can all spend time together is A+ in my books! I guess I was just feeling appreciative of being at home with Sam and Ryan. Usually at some point one of us is off some where. But not this weekend! 

I have to say, I was pretty tired on Friday but I made it through the day with a little help from coffee. When I got home, Ryan told me to lay down for 10 minutes while he played outside with Sam. That man got lots of brownie points! That little cat nap was heavenly and I could be chipper the rest of the evening. We all hung out, played and then eventually went to bed. 

Saturday morning I was up early getting a picnic packed because we were going on an adventure! The boys slept in, got dressed, ate a quick breakfast and then headed off. But more on our adventure later this week...

From such a busy morning, Sam was tired and really needed his afternoon nap. So down he went and then I went for a quick sleep as well! I set my alarm though because I hate sleeping too long. 

While we slept, Ryan headed over to the go-kart track right near our place to meet up and race in celebration of a friends birthday! He LOVED it and has been talking about going again soon. 

After my quick nap, I got to work on getting some garden fresh produce ready to preserve. My little garden has been good to me this year! I made my 8th jar of dill pickles. I had some dill seed drying to keep over the winter. 

And my tomatoes are starting to ripen. As they are ready, I boil some water, skin the tomatoes, remove the core and then place the whole tomato in a bag in the freezer. My hope is sometime when its quieter (late fall- winter) I will take all the tomatoes out of the fridge and turn it all into a tomato sauce base. Good for spaghetti, lasagna or pizza! I have SO many tomatoes but not a lot of them are ripe yet! Looking forward to when they do turn red! 

Once Sam was awake I packed up some supplies. A little homemade Sangria with white wine from our wedding! Yum!

 And we headed to Jills to sit on the deck to enjoy some pre-concert Tragically Hip music, snacks and drinks! We had a great time visiting with friends. And Sam is getting use to these Saturday parties with this gang. Ha ha! He was dancing, playing and just being a little party animal. He was EXHAUSTED when he left. 

After we got him to bed, Ryan and I (and the rest of Canada) tuned into CBC for The Hip concert live in Kingston. Again, very bitter sweet. Such awesome music, amazing concert but sad thinking about it being the last. I was very emotional during Scared and Grace, Too. 

So proud to be Canadian that night tuning in commercial and interruption free (thank you, CBC!) to give this amazing musician the proper salute he deserves. 

The boys slept in on Sunday but I was up early and decided to make some cinnamon buns to have that rainy morning. 

After breakfast and lazing around a bit, Ryan wanted to haul a couple of loads of topsoil by our pond. Of course he can't do that without his little working buddy. Who was pretty excited about his matching hat and boots like Dada's! 

In order to haul soil, Ryan and Sam needed to take out the dump trailer and he would also need the loader. SO, still in my PJS...I got to drive the big loader to the field. I felt pretty bad ass! ha ha! 

When they worked, I got to work on sorting through some of Sam's clothes. I gathered all his pants, long sleeve shirts and sweaters to take inventory of what he'd need. Happy to say besides a couple 3T sweaters, dressy shirts for church, running shoes, winter boots (which I'll get same ones as last year), mitts and toque, (we have a snow suit, woo hoo!) he is set for Fall and Winter! 

I got lunch ready for us all before the boys got back. Roast beef panini's. But I had to laugh...Sams plate just had sandwich and cherry tomatoes. Mine had a salad on the side and Ryan's had chips! My husband ate zero veggies that day! Ugh!

The rest of the afternoon we hung out, prepared food for the week and just relaxed and played! A whole weekend together! Perfect! 

How was your weekend? 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Let's Just See What Tomorrow Brings...

Happy Friday everyone! I am a little slower then usual today but as you can imagine, it was a late (early morning?) night last night!

Last night was AMAZING! I was so excited and the show was just as awesome as I was hoping!

Jill and I left work early to beat the crowds. Not to mention it was hard to stay focused in the afternoon knowing the time was getting closer to concert time!

Our first stop was supper at our favorite restaurant, Montana's! We had our usual but sipping on that pickled Caesar was starting the night off perfectly!

We had a little time to kill and traffic wasn't look too bad so we browsed around Chapters and grabbed some Starbucks! We saw this book and thought it was hilarious that the author of this romance was the same as this silly co-worker. 

We got to the CTC place in lots of time and after Jill almost got ran over a car, we looked at some merchandise and just strolled around. We found our seats and I think where we sat was awesome! In perfect view of the stage! 

It was still about 1.5 hours until show time so we walked around, met with some people we knew and then finally grabbed a couple beer to head back to our seats to wait until the show started! 

Gord came out in full swing with some classics to get everyone in the mood before bringing in some newer music. The place was so electric! I never sat down once the whole show! Everyone was singing, swaying and having the time of their lives. An amazing TWO encores ended the evening and a tearful good bye and thank you! 

It was the perfect last Ottawa show! Perfect! I'll admit I got choked up during Wheat Kings! It was magical. A life moment with the perfect theme song. Every time I hear Wheat Kings in the future I will be brought back to that night, that moment. 

“Done and done

Night accomplished
If I had a wish
I’d wish for more of this”