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Savory Breakfast Braid

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

You all know that I try to make as much of our food from scratch, with natural, wholesome ingredients, as I can.  During the holiday season this can be difficult (especially when you add a newborn into the equation!).  Time is short, schedules are busy, guests are visiting and things fall through the cracks.  However, I’m determined to keep up with our healthy eating habits during this holiday season.

That’s why I created this recipe for a Savory Breakfast Braid – hopefully you’ll find it useful too.  It is filled with a delicious blend of breakfast ingredients including: smoked gouda cheese – http://ooh.li/0768995 , eggs, spinach, and caramelized onions and the crust is made with whole wheat flour.

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

My recipe was inspired by delicious Arla Dofino Smoked Gouda Cheese – http://ooh.li/0768995 . (Click here for a $1.00 off coupon for any Arla Dofino cheese!)  I appreciate that Arla Dofino cheeses are free of added hormones and preservatives.  Smoked gouda is my husband’s favorite cheese. We bought several blocks of cheese to make an appetizer plate on Thanksgiving and we were left with some smoked gouda so I wanted to make a special breakfast the next day and thus the Savory Breakfast Braid was born.

The great thing about this recipe is that it makes a pretty large portion, which can be used to entertain a number of guests for breakfast or it can be wrapped in individual portions and reheated in the oven for a week’s worth of healthy, delicious and easy breakfasts.

Savory Breakfast Braid

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar

Filling

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 cups packed spinach
  • 1-2 cups smoked gouda cheese – http://ooh.li/0768995 , shredded (click  here – http://ooh.li/0768995 for a $1.00 off coupon)
  • 1 egg
  • salt, to taste

Directions 

Make the Dough

1.  Pour the warm water into a large bowl, mix in the sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top of the water/sugar mixture.  Leave to sit for 10 minutes (this allows the yeast to proof).

2.  Once the yeast has proofed, mix in the remaining ingredients (save 1/2 cup of flour) until you have a shaggy dough.

3.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Incorporate the remaining half cup of flour until the dough is no longer sticky.

4.  Place in a well oiled bowl, in a warm spot, to rise for 30 minutes.

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

Make the Filling

1.  Slice the onions into thin slices.

2.  Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

3.  Turn the heat up slightly and add onion to the pan.

4.  Let cook, stirring every so often until the onions turn dark brown.  Sprinkle with the sugar so that they caramelize.

5.  Add spinach and stir gently until wilted.

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

6.  Scoop veggies into a separate bowl and set aside.

7.  Melt remaining tbsp of butter in the pan and add eggs.  Salt to taste.

8.  Cook eggs until almost done.  Add veggies to the egg and stir gently.  (Eggs should not be completely cooked, as they will finish cooking in the oven.)

Assemble

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

1.  Roll dough out into a (roughly) 12×15 rectangle on a lightly floured surface or on parchment paper, if you have it.

2.  Place veggie/egg mixture down the center of the dough.

3.  Sprinkle with shredded smoked gouda cheese – http://ooh.li/0768995 .

4.  Using a pizza cutter, slice 1 inch strips in the side of the dough (see picture above).

5.  “Braid” the dough by placing the strips one on top of the other.

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

6.  Transfer completed braid to a cookie sheet and brush with lightly beaten egg.

7.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Slice and serve warm.

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

My husband and I really enjoy this dish.  It is also highly customizable!  I make an egg and cheese one for the kids and they love it.

Want some good news?!  In addition to sharing this delicious recipe, I’m also working with Arla Dofino – http://ooh.li/0768995 to giveaway a Happy Havarti Holidays Breakfast Prize Pack – http://ooh.li/4298bbe .  Keep reading to learn more.

In case you were wondering, Arla Dofino is available in a variety of retail stores nationwide.  Find Arla Dofino in the deli section (not the dairy section) of most stores.  And if you haven’t yet, click here to print out your $1.00 off coupon! 

Happy Havarti Holidays Breakfast Prize Pack Giveaway

Happy Havarti Holidays Giveaway :: Five Little Homesteaders

I’m so excited to bring you this giveaway!  We’re giving away:

  • Crate & Barrel mixing bowl
  • Anthropologie whisk
  • Crate & Barrel cheese grater
  • A coupon for one free Arla Dofino product
  • Set of Arla Dofino recipe cards

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Visit the Happy Havarti Holidays Breakfast Prize Pack Giveaway Pinterest Page and follow all the boards.
  2. Go to the Happy Havarti Holidays board and select your favorite breakfast recipe.
  3. Copy the link to the recipe and paste it into the comments section below.  Let me know why you picked this recipe.
  4. Record your entries in the rafflecopter widget below.

Winner will be chosen through rafflecopter using random.org on December 17th.  Winner will be notified via email and have 24 hours to respond.  Giveaway open to US residents only.  Prize will be shipped directly to winner by Arla Dofino.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway – http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/948fac7e16/

Today’s post is sponsored by Arla Dofino, but the recipe and my love for their naturally delicious cheese is all my own!

Savory Breakfast Braid :: Five Little Homesteaders

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Thankful.

Thankful

It’s been quiet around here, I know.

However, I do think about this little space daily.

I come up with ideas about what to post, what pictures to take, where to share my ideas….so on and so forth, but the time never comes.  The morning turns to evening before I know it and weeks go by faster than I can imagine.

Then a baby comes.

Yes, you see, as I mentioned a few months back, we were expecting our fourth child.  Well, she’s here now!  And she’s the thing I’m most thankful for this holiday season.

On the whole, I have so much for which to be thankful – my husband, my four(!) beautiful children, my home, our health, my extended family…..and so much more.  And as cliche as it might be, I’m thankful for you.  The people who come here to read and share.  Thank you.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?  Please share in the comments.

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Welcoming Fall & a $250 Mighty Nest Giveaway

Fall Baking Favorites :: Five Little Homesteaders

It’s coming.  I can feel it (and even if I can’t, I’m going to pretend that I can).

Fall.  That’s what I’m talking about.

As most of you know, our little urban homestead is placed in the middle of the Arizona desert.  This means that our seasons are a little….well…. they’re a little “off.”  Summer is more “summery” and winter is less “wintery” and those other two seasons?  Well, sometimes they get a little lost in the shuffle.  But just like it is in other parts of the country, fall is a magical time, even in the desert.

And with the change of weather (even subtle changes) comes a change in recipe rotation.  Chili and cornbread make an appearance on the menu.  Soups are simmering on the stove and then there’s the baking….. oh the baking!  Baking in the fall is wonderful.  Everything is spicy and pumpkin-y and my kitchen is just starting to feel cool enough for the oven to be turned on regularly.  (I live in the desert, remember?  400 degree ovens and 110 degree days just DON’T mix.  Trust me.)

Fall Baking

The kids love to get involved and *ahem*… “taste test” the creations that come out of the oven.  It’s a really fun time of year.

So, when I was given the opportunity to team up with several other of my favorite bloggers and work with Mighty Nest – http://mightynest.com/ to bring you a fall baking giveaway extravaganza…. well, let’s just say I was pretty excited! I know we’re all missing a few things in our baking “arsenal” and there are probably several other items that you’d love to have duplicates of.  With that in mind, head on down to the bottom of this post and enter to win $250 worth of gear! (But first you need to drool over these sticky buns that the girls and I made because come on!  They look delicious, right?)

Who is Mighty Nest?

Have you heard of Mighty Nest – http://mightynest.com/ ?  If not, you’re missing out.

Mighty Nest – http://mightynest.com/ is an online retailer that sells natural, organic, and non-toxic products – like green cleaning supplies, natural bath products, and other home essentials.  Sounds great, right?

And it gets better! Anytime you order from MightyNest, they’ll give 15% back to the school of your choice.  So you get to promote a green company, buy healthy products for your family AND give back to your kids’ school.  That’s a total win in my book.

What are you going to win?

It’s more like what are NOT going to win in this giveaway.  Mighty Nest is generously giving away $250 worth of non-toxic products.  Here’s the list:

Giveaway - $250 in Fall Baking Essentials

  • Bake & Store Glassware – http://mightynest.com/…/bake-store-glassware-with… (2 cup size)
  • Bake & Store Glassware – http://mightynest.com/…/bake-store-glassware-with… (5 cup size)
  • Endurance Silicone Spatula
  • Airtight Spice Jar
  • Stainless Steel Brownie Spatula
  • Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
  • Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
  • Cast Iron Loaf Pan
  • Glass Bundt Pan – http://mightynest.com/…/cookware-bakeware/glass-bundt-pan (10″ size)
  • Baking/ Grilling Stone – http://mightynest.com/…/ceramic…/grilling-baking-stone
  • Mini Muffin Pan – http://mightynest.com/…/stainless…/mini-muffin-pan
  • Silicone Mixing Spoon – http://mightynest.com/…/silicone-mixing-spoon-2-colors
  • Bamboo Cutting Board – http://mightynest.com/…/bamboo-cutting-board-3-sizes (12×17″ size)
  • Stainless Steel Whisk – http://mightynest.com/…/food…/stainless-steel-whisk

Entering is Simple:

Use the Mighty Nest “widget” below to enter.

Good luck!

This giveaway is brought to you by Mighty Nest.  The giveaway starts on October 13th and runs through 11:59 on October 24th.  

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

magimix Review and Giveaway

Magimix Review and Giveaway! A $499 value!

 

Greetings faithful readers!

Recently I was given the opportunity to test drive a new food processor.  But wait just one minute….. it wasn’t just ANY ol’ food processor.  I was given the opportunity to try out the magimix 16 cup, 5200 XL food processor – http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/magimix-5200xl-16-cup-food-processor/ .  And what a treat it was!

Read on to hear more about my experience and to learn how you can enter to win one of your own!

magimix 5200 XL

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I cook a lot.  I try and make as much from scratch, in my own kitchen, using whole ingredients as I can.  One thing that can make my job a lot easier is a good tool or appliance.  So, when I was given the opportunity to try out the magimix food processor – http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/magimix-5200xl-16-cup-food-processor/ , I was pretty excited.

The thing that most excited me about the magimix – http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/magimix-5200xl-16-cup-food-processor/ is its vast array of attachments and accessories.  The first thing I did with it was grate cheese.  You see, for some time I’ve been using a simple grater like this – http://amzn.to/1yqfPDY and while it works pretty darn well, it can get tiring (and painful!).  I used to buy pre-grated cheese, but then I learned that there are wood chips in that pre-grated cheese – http://www.foodrenegade.com/would-like-some-wood-pulp-your-shredded-cheese/ .  No thank you!  I’ll grate my own, thank-you-very-much.

Other accessories that this version of the food processor comes with include:

  • 2 blades
  • 3 bowl sizes
  • dough blades
  • grating discs
  • slicing discs
  • blender attachment
  • egg whisk
  • citrus press

Every attachment that I’ve used has been amazing, but I have to say that the grater discs are the most used.  However, I’m also partial to the citrus press (makes juicing citrus SO easy and quick, especially since I was using this – http://amzn.to/1qsuN1T  before the magimix came into my life) and dough blades.  I mean… dough blades?  This thing will knead your bread for you!  I know most of us make our own bread, so this is a pretty awesome accessory.

I’ve found the magimix to be heavy duty and incredibly durable.  Its safety features are great and its simplistic design makes it easy to use, simple to clean and highly functional.  Every time I have pulled it out to use (which is pretty much daily), I am continually impressed with it.

History and Background of the magimix

The Magimix by Robot-Coupe food processor is made in France.  Introduced in 1971, it was the first domestic food processor made available for home cooks.  What this means is that the Magimix is basically a commercial grade appliance readily available for home use.  How cool is that!?

Magimix by Robot-Coupe stands behind its product and now offers a 30 year warranty on its food processors.  It comes in 12, 14 and 16 cup versions.  You can also get various attachments that are sold separately.  Right now I’m saving my pennies to pick up one of the juicer/juice extractor attachment. I’ve been wanting to buy a juicer, but why buy and store yet ANOTHER appliance when my Magimix can do it all?

Giveaway

So are you sold?  Thought so.

Now, here’s the really, REALLY, good news.  You have the chance to win one for yourself.  Here’s what you have to do:

  • Leave a blog post comment letting me know which attachment (listed and pictured above) you think you’d use the most.

And for extra entries:

  • “Like” magimix on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MagimixByRobotCoupeNotableQuotableNorthAmerica .
  • Follow magimix on Twitter – https://twitter.com/MagimixUSA .

That’s it!  Pretty simple, right?  Be sure to head on down to the rafflecopter widget below to submit your entries!

Good luck!

Disclaimer: magimix provided me with a free food processor to review.  However, I wasn’t under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product.  I’ll opinions are my own.  They are also providing the giveaway product to one (U.S.) reader free of charge.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/948fac7e15/

A winner will be chosen via random.org. This giveaway ends at 11:59PM on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014. The winner will be contacted by email, and will have 48 hours to respond. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to US residents.

 

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Homemade Crackers – Parmesan Oregano

Homemade Crackers - Parmesan Oregano

Who doesn’t like a good cracker?

I will admit.  A store bought cracker can be pretty delicious.  However, they are generally highly processed and include all sorts of yucky ingredients that I wouldn’t want to eat.  That said, I’ve been testing out cracker recipes (and using my new magimix food processor – http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/magimix-5200xl-16-cup-food-processor/ to do it).

This recipe for parmesan-oregano homemade crackers was pretty delicious.

Homemade Crackers – Parmesan Oregano

Adapted from the “Seeded Crackers” recipe in  Better from Scratch – http://amzn.to/1rmHmAT  

Ingredients 

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp vegetable shortening ( I use this – http://amzn.to/1vf2hoU – not hydrogenated)
2 tbsp salted butter
1/2 cup + heavy cream

Directions

1. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar salt, pepper, oregano and parmesan cheese.  Pulse to combine.

2.  Add shortening and butter.  Blend until you get coarse crumbles.

3.  Pour in cream and blend until the dough comes together.  (At this stage, you might realize that you need more cream.  Drizzle in cream until the dough comes together in a mass.)

4.  Scrape dough out onto plastic wrap and roll up.  Let sit at room temperature for 20-ish minutes.

5.  Preheat oven to 350.

6. Unwrap dough and cut in half.  Roll out one half as thin as you can without breaking it.  Place sheet of rolled out dough on cookie sheet.  Roll out second and do the same on a second cookie sheet.

7.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

8.  Bake sheets of cracker for 15 minutes + until they are slightly brown and crisp.  Let cool and break apart into desired shape and size.

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

National Preparedness Month + Giveaway

National Preparedness Month + $100 Giveaway

Being prepared for natural disasters and other emergencies is something I’ve been prioritizing for my family.  Some of my recent posts on the topic include:

This month is National Preparedness Month and there is no better time than now to get your family prepared for an emergency.  Check out some tips from ready.gov – http://www.ready.gov/ below and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card that will help you buy supplies for emergency preparedness.

National Preparedness Month

Ready.gov – http://www.ready.gov/ is a great place to get simple and effective tips and information about preparing for emergencies.  You can find:

  • advice and printables on calling a family meeting and making a plan – http://www.ready.gov/kids/make-a-plan
  • building a kit – http://www.ready.gov/kids/build-a-kit
  • knowing the facts – http://www.ready.gov/kids/know-the-facts about different possible disasters in your area
  • and how to get involved – http://www.ready.gov/kids/get-involved .

Check out this Public Service Announcement brought to you by the Ready Campaign and the Ad Council on the importance of creating a family emergency communication plan.

Get the Supplies

If you’re going to be prepared for an emergency, you’re going to need some supplies on hand.  Below you’ll find a giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift card that will help you get your family prepared.  Some examples of awesome products you could buy include:

  • Water Brick – http://amzn.to/1mgfbn7
  • First Aid Kit
  • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  • Premade Bug Out Bag

Giveaway Details

In honor of National Preparedness Month (www.Ready.gov/Prepare), the Homestead Bloggers Network is hosting a giveaway to help you become better prepared for any potential emergency situation. Not only do you need to create an emergency family plan – http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan , but you need to have some basic supplies – http://www.ready.gov/kit at the ready. The winner of this giveaway will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card to help them get everything on their family’s preparedness list!

ready.gov national preparedness day

The giveaway will end 11:59pm on September 22, 2014. Open to US residents, 18 and older only and void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary – chances of winning depend on number of entries received.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7da37ead14/

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Herbal Sleep Tea – The Ultimate, Effective and Easy, Recipe

The Ultimate, Easy and Effective, Herbal Tea Blend for Sleep

picture via CoCreatr on flickr

I’m late to the party.

I’m sure 90% of you who are reading this post are looking at your screen saying, “Well, duh, Colleen.  I’ve been making my own sleep blend for eons!”

Well, I have to admit, I’m new-ish to the game.  Up until this point, I’ve just been buying blends at the store like this one – http://amzn.to/1qCyYhB or this one – http://amzn.to/1qCz2Ot .  They seem to work well and are tasty, but when you’re buying pre-mixed blends, you are (generally) wasting money and have less control over the ratios of herbs, specific herbs and the quality of the herbs you are ingesting (among other things, I’m sure).

Being the daughter of an herbalist, I decided to give it a go myself.

Herbal Sleep Tea Blend

Ingredients

1 oz dried lemon balm – http://amzn.to/1s7iQA7  (for flavor and its calming properties)
1 oz dried lavender – http://amzn.to/1tUafCW  (used especially for the calming, sleep-inducing properties achieved through inhaling its scent/essential oils)
1 oz dried chamomile (especially good for insomnia combined with irritability)
1 oz dried passion flower – http://amzn.to/XlJJrK  (especially good for insomnia related to stress/overwork)

Directions

1.  Combine all the herbs in a large bowl and store in an airtight, dry container – preferably away from direct sunlight.

2.  When ready to use, steep – http://the.republicoftea.com/library/tea-information/tea-101-how-to-steep-tea/  1 tbsp of the mixture for 10-15 minutes in a cup of boiling water.

3.  Drink it while it is hot/warm and inhale the vapors as you drink to get the maximum benefit of this tea blend.

** Note – Drinking tea (or any beverage) too close to bedtime might actually make it more difficult for you to sleep, as your bladder will be working overtime.  Make sure you give your body a little time to process the tea before hitting the hay. **

The Ultimate, Easy and Effective, Herbal Tea Blend for Sleep

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Preventing Soil Diseases

Preventing Soil Diseases :: Five Little Homesteaders

If you aren’t familiar with soil-borne diseases, then you can count yourself as lucky.

Many (most?) microorganisms that live in our soil are harmless and quite possibly beneficial.  However, there are also some that can cause significant damage to our plants and can even hang around in our soil for many, many years.  These include fungi and bacteria that cause root rot and wilt diseases.

The best way to deal with soilborne diseases is through preventing them on the front end, rather than trying to combat them in the middle of your growing season.  Here are the top four ways, that I know of, to prevent soil diseases.

 

Top 4 Ways to Prevent Soil Diseases

1.  Crop Rotation

I would say that crop rotation is the number one way to prevent soil diseases.  A good rule of thumb, if you have the space, is to rotate your crops so that the same/similar crop is not in the same location for 3 years.  For those of us that are urban farmers, this might be incredibly hard and/or impossible, but the closer you can get to this spacing, the better.

When rotating crops, this includes keeping crop “families” in mind, i.e. nightshades, cucurbits, brassicas, etc.

2.  Have Good Garden Hygiene

This includes cleaning garden tools and pots.  When starting seeds, I am very careful to clean all of the 4 inch pots – http://amzn.to/1pQhBtd I use thoroughly with a mild soap before planting new seeds.  Seedlings are particularly sensitive to these soil diseases and if you lost a seedling in previous growing seasons to root rot (not incredibly uncommon), that disease may still be hanging around on the pot several seasons later.

3.  Plant Disease-Resistant Crops

This may be controversial for some of you and no, I’m not talking about planting GMO crops.  However,  some crop varieties have been bred and cross bred to be resistant to certain diseases, especially soil diseases.  Obviously there won’t be many (if any) heirloom varieties that fall into this category, but it is something to keep in mind if you’re open to the idea.

4.  Don’t Overwater

Overly damp/wet plants are a playground for soil diseases, especially rot diseases.  Make sure you are always planting in well drained soil/pots.  Also, if mulching, try not to mulch right up to the stem of the plant.  Mulch at the plant stem holds moisture and promotes rot.

If you do get a soil borne disease, you might have some trouble getting rid of it.  The first step is identification, then treatment.  Often soil solarization is a great idea, especially in my fair city of Phoenix, where summer heat renders my gardening useless.  However, if you have a particularly terrible disease, replacing soil (if growing in a pot or raised bed) or moving your garden (if growing directly in the ground) may be necessary.  Start with a master gardening group, local extension office or university to help with id and treatment.

Preventing Soil Borne Diseases :: Five Little Homesteaders

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

A week of firsts…..

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Del Monte, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #DelMonteBTS   http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV – http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Back to School - A Week of Firsts:Five Little Homesteaders

And just like that…. summer break is over.

This past week was a big one on our little homestead.  Two of my three kiddos headed to school and it was a serious week of firsts for all of us.

My oldest turned 5 and then became an official kindergarten all in the same week.  Then my middle daughter packed up her little backpack and headed off to preschool.  That left me and the littlest home alone for a good portion of the day.  Going from a loud and crazy house of 3 kids 4 and under to a quiet house of just me and my little 2 year old buddy…. well…. let me tell you.  It’s been a transition.

I still can’t believe I’m a momma to TWO school age kiddos.  Overall, the start of school went great.  My middle daughter is in love with school and is already a class clown who is adored by her teacher.  My oldest excels academically but teeters on the shy/introverted side and is feeling a little overwhelmed with the length of day that kindergarteners endure (8-3!!!).  I vacillate between feeling so excited for them to be embarking on these new adventures and feeling incredibly sad that my babies are growing up.  Didn’t I JUST bring them home from the hospital?  No…. I guess I didn’t.

The new schedule is something else to get used to.  Now each morning is quite a bit more busy.  We don’t just have to feed and water the chickens….we have to pack lunches, put on uniforms and get out the door by 7:20.  Whew.  It’s taking some getting used to for this momma who appreciated the slow pace of summer break.  (And not to mention I’m baking baby #4 inside this ol’ belly and prepping the fall garden.)

Packing lunches has been a particularly interesting addition to my day.  Not only is it another thing to add to the to do list, but trying to keep it healthy, relatively non-perishable and edible (as defined by my picky 3 year old) has proven to be a challenge.

Packing Lunch :: Five little Homesteaders

I also want to make their lunches special.  I like to include a little something each day that reminds them of me and home.  Luckily they are still young and are not easily embarrassed, so I came up with the idea of creating some cute little tags to tie to one of their squeeze-y fruit pouches.  (Do you use these things in your kids’ lunches?  I was excited to try these Del Monte – http://bit.ly/1Awn2AH Fruit Burst Squeezers.  My kids love them and they are healthy!  No high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors and made with natural fruit purees and juices.  A win for both moms and kids.)  Here’s a picture of the four I created:

Squeeze-y Pouch Printable :: FIve Little Homesteaders

 

And the good news is, you can print a pdf copy of your own by clicking here : Del Monte Fruit Burst Printable :: Five Little Homesteaders  (And if there are enough requests, I can make one that says “Love, Dad” or “Love, Mom and Dad” ???? ????

I thought it would be a really fun way to show my kids that I was thinking about them when they opened their lunch boxes on the first day.  And I think it worked :)  Both girls saw the note and said that their teacher read it to them at the lunch table (again…. lucky they are little and not easily embarrassed ????   For me, knowing that my kids were thinking about me while they were away was reward enough.

Squeeze-y Pouch Printables :: Five Little Homesteaders

As I mentioned, I love the Del Monte – http://bit.ly/1Awn2AH brand of squeeze-y pouch (called Fruit Burst Squeezers) and when I went to my local Walmart Supercenter to pick some up, I was able to take part in a great offer.  From August 1 – September 13 (while supplies last), you can participate in a free back to school photo offer at SELECT Walmart Supercenters and pick up a free 5×7 photo.  I chose to have one printed of our family on the front steps of our house on the first day.  It’s a good one.  You’ll also get a a $1 off coupon for the purchase of 2 Del Monte – http://bit.ly/1Awn2AH 4-pack fruit cups or 2 Fruit Burst Squeezers.

Free Photo Offer

So, with all that said…. here’s to a great first week.  We made it.  The kids were picked up on time.  Lunches were packed and eaten and we are ready for week 2!  Bring it on!

What are you doing to prepare?  How are you feeling about the transition from summer to school time?  I’d love to hear from you :)

A Well-Packed Lunch :: Five Little Homesteaders

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Are you on Hometalk?

Happy Sunday!

Thought I’d pop in real quick to tell you about my love for the social media/sharing site Hometalk – http://www.hometalk.com/fivelittlehomesteaders .  (Picture Pinterest…. but better for us homestead-y types because it only includes projects/information about home and garden topics!)  I did a post once before about the site.  You can check it out —–> here.

Anyhow, I “curated” a board on homemade soaps and detergents – http://www.hometalk.com/b/2173613/homemade-soaps-and-detergents recently and I thought all of you might be interested in checking out the 18 different DIY projects that I clipped. Click —> here – http://www.hometalk.com/b/2173613/homemade-soaps-and-detergents to check out my board.

If you’re on Hometalk, let me know!  I’d love to follow along with your projects and boards!

18 Homemade Soap and Detergent Projects :: Five Little Homesteaders

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.