Monday, December 21, 2015

Bits and Pieces

I like doing bits and pieces of random thoughts from our life. This is one of the easiest ways for me to blog!

::We host Christmas Eve at our home for 20+ family and friends.  My dad's side of the family always gathered on Christmas Eve here on the farm. After the work load got to be too much for my grandma my Aunt and Uncle hosted.  One year they both had to work on Christmas Eve and asked me if I could host it.  We had already moved back here to the farm so it was easy to do. We have been hosting it ever since.  It is so much fun!

::Our Christmas shopping is done for the most part.  Jeremiah and I have a couple small items that we would still like to get for the kids but overall everything is done.  We made all of our exchange gifts this year. This has been a tradition for several years.  I think that it is harder for some of the extended family members who aren't necessarily crafty to come up with ideas.  I think it may change to make your gifts or purchase local, handmade gifts.

::Speaking of those gifts, they are also all wrapped.  Jeremiah and I have a custom of waiting to wrap all the gifts on Christmas Eve after everyone has gone home and the kids have gone to bed. We usually start around midnight after we have the kitchen cleaned up. We will have a couple items to wrap but not many.  We can't break the tradition!

::Today and tomorrow we will be doing most of our holiday cleaning. I would like keep Wednesday open to finish any last minute cleaning and to do food prep.  If I can get work done prior to Christmas Eve it makes the day less hectic and more enjoyable. 

::Ryder has been fighting off a sore throat and Madilynne has a runny nose/sinus crud thing going on. It isn't bad/severe but enough to keep them sidelined a little.  Hopefully after another good night of sleep they will be much better. 

::The school books have been put away for Christmas break. We will get back to school in January 2016!

::We will be going to our local nursing home to help the residents celebrate Christmas. The kids, along with another family, will be singing songs and playing instrumentals for the folks there.  We go visit them every month and the kids sing, do crafts or play games with them.  I think they bless us more than we bless them! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

December Rush!

December is such a busy month.  I think it ranks as number one for activities that happen.  I love the busyness of December. Sometimes it can feel too rushed but overall, I am totally loving December.  We are happily making gifts and writing cards.  The best part is we are not doing much shopping unless it is for food or online!

Friday we had our homeschool variety show. The kids played guitar, sang and performed with our black light squad.  It was so much fun. We are already coming up with ideas for our next production. The kids will be doing their show again for the church senior meal this week. 

I looked at the calendar for this month and we only have five days that we don't have something scheduled.*  We have helped family, visited with friends who came to our home, celebrated/will be celebrating friends and family birthdays, etc. Jeremiah's sister and her husband will be moving back to our area this weekend so we will be available to help them with that process too, if needed.

I even have my Christmas Eve menu planned.  Now, those who know me, know that I don't usually plan the meal until right before I need to go shopping for the food!  Normally my menu does not contain traditional foods like turkey or ham.  As a kid we had ham pot pie frequently for Christmas Eve. I tend to choose chicken, meatloaf or lasagna.  We have many meals to eat over Christmas so I tend to change up my menu for some variety. 

This year we will be having a chicken casserole, lasagna, salad, applesauce, red beets, rolls and my uncle decided that he is in the mood for ham so he is going to bring a small one.  It will be the first year for ham. Family will bring deserts and drinks.  I have some ideas for appetizers to hold us over until the meal but not certain which ones I want to make.  We will host about 25-ish friends and family this year.  Our smaller home will fill up fast and it will be great!  Mildly chaotic but still wonderful! 

I will be ready for the peace and calm of January when it arrives but until then we will be busy and celebrating each day God gives us.  My hope is that Madilynne and Ryder learn to help and serve others instead of focusing on material things or themselves. (not that I think they are selfish kids)  Gifts are certainly nice and I am not discrediting those but how we spend our time is also important. 

*Also just putting it out here... I do say no to things/activities that we don't want to do or would make life too hectic.  Our calendar isn't packed so full that we are getting burned out.  We are doing what makes us happy.  I hope that you can find your own peace and joy in this season. 

Jesus is the reason we celebrate!



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge




1.  Many families have a story they love to tell every year around a holiday. Does your family have one? Are you the star of that story, or does another family member take center stage? Share your story if you want.
I have a story about my grandpa that is told frequently. We were having Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents house and we were sitting in the enclosed patio. My grandparents had the sliding glass door, to the kitchen, closed to keep their little poodle from coming out while we were opening our gifts. My grandpa didn't remember that the door was shut and he was coming out of the kitchen to the patio and ran right into the door.  It must have knocked him a bit silly because he straightened his glasses, backed up and walked into it again!  Oh, how we laughed.  He had such a good sense of humor and was laughing before the rest of us!   

There was also an ice storm one year when I was about 10.  It was pretty bad.  My grandparents and uncle always pretended to have Santa come. Well, this particular year the weather was nasty and my grandma forgot to get the gifts from Santa "planted" for us.  She went to the basement and grabbed some frozen candy bars and took them to the front porch and rang the doorbell.  While she was headed back to the basement the ice was so heavy that it broke a branch on a pine tree in the front yard. We heard the branch fall almost immediately after the doorbell rang.  Everyone was scurrying to the front door; especially the adults since they knew that grandma was taking our candy bars out.  They had quite the story to hear once the evening was over because the branch that fell barely missed her!  My brothers and I were amazed that Santa would bring us frozen candy bars.  My uncle told us that it was hard to keep the candy bars room temp with the severe weather he had to fly in!  

 2. Are you afraid to speak your own opinion?

Not usually but I think you need to be kind when voicing your opinion.  Some people aren't very nice when they give theirs.

 3. Pantone has announced the
color of the year for 2016, and for the first time have chosen two shades-rose quartz and serenity. Hmmm...did you know serenity was a color? You can read the thought behind their selection here, but essentially it's blending the warmth of rose quartz with the tranquility of a very soft shade of blue. So what do you think? Are these colors I'd find in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in these shades to either place in the new year?
I like the colors but I dislike shopping so I will venture a guess that they will not make it to my wardrobe or my home. 

 4. If you could be in a Christmas carol, which one would you choose? Why?

Probably the "Peanuts" Christmas song.  I like it simple.


 5. December 9th is National Pastry Day. Will you celebrate? When did you last purchase something from a bakery? What's your favorite treat that falls under the heading of pastry? Do you make it yourself or buy from the professionals?

I am not planning on celebrating this day.  I can't tell you the last time I purchased something from a bakery.  I honestly don't know if I ever did.  Do donuts from Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme count as a bakery?  LOL  I usually bake anything like that.

 6. When it comes to holiday decorating_____________________________.

...don't call me!  I am not a good decorator at all and I don't like it.  Ask my kids. 


 7. When did you last laugh so much it hurt? Explain.

Last week.  I got together to celebrate a friend's birthday with another friend and all our kids.  We laughed the whole time!


 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Madilynne and I have been making some new recipes lately.  Several of them have been on the bad side. That is the trouble with new recipes.  We have been able to tweak some and make them better.  I always feel bad to make something that is bad and have to pitch it out.  Such a waste of ingredients.  We try to make them into something edible but sometimes, it just isn't gonna happen.  An example recently was some couscous Madilynne made....it went straight to the chickens!   

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Here I am again with more random thoughts:

::I has my nails professionally manicured two weeks ago.  It was a gift for my birthday many moons ago.  I am impressed and can totally see why ladies go and have them done regularly!

::The kids and I have been helping my mother-in-law clean out her mom's house. Grandma L. passed away this summer and the time has come to clean out her things.  This job has been a lot of work. She kept so-much-stuff!!  We have to go through everything.  I made a decision that I wasn't going to keep so much stuff.  I have been trying to pitch or donate stuff since this summer but I am even more convinced to remove unnecessary items from our house now. 

::Madilynne and I have been testing out some new recipes for Christmas jar gifts.  I love, love, love Mason jars and would like to make them for our handmade Christmas gifts.  So far the recipes we have made are so-so.  I haven't found anything that is jumping out at me saying this is awesome; give me away!  LOL  Any suggestions?  :-)

::Jeremiah and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary recently.  I am very blessed.  We started dating when we were 16 years old! Amazing really!

::I really enjoy Christmas lights and Christmas music!  I forgot how much joy these bring to me.  We recently put up our lights outside.  It was time consuming but worth it.  Jeremiah found a radio station that was playing only Christmas music.  We had the music blasting from the garage while we decorated! 

::Our homeschool group classes have ended for the year. We will meet again until February.  The break is nice but we are always eager to start classes again.  Some of our best friends have come from meeting them through our homeschool support group.   

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  May you all enjoy a very blessed day! 
 
I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays. I like that it focuses on family and being together. Thanksgiving is food based!  Who doesn't love a holiday centered around food and family?  :-)
 
We spent the day with my extended family on Saturday and today we will spend it with Jeremiah's extended family.  I was very blessed to not have to make any food for my side of the family dinner. My mom took care of almost everything. My uncle, who loves to cook, brought the rest.  Most of us were able to come only bearing desserts and drinks!  How awesome is that?
 
Today I am taking coleslaw and candied carrots.  It is actually pretty easy for me to make these dishes.  Coleslaw is simple.  I get volunteered to bring that to most dinners. I had canned quite a few quarts of carrots in August so I just have to drain those and add melted butter and brown sugar to those.  They are so good.  I usually don't bring many carrots home.
 
Have a blessed day!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bits and Pieces

I feel like writing something today but I just don't know what, ever have a day like that?

::We are experiencing some beautiful weather today.  It is very windy and the electric has flashed on and off several times but the sun is shining and making the world a happy place.

::I am married to the best guy in the world! (Not saying that your hubby isn't great to you but...ya know?) Jeremiah would turn the world upside down for us if we needed him too. He goes above and beyond to provide for us. 

::Last weekend Jeremiah put some new windows in our living room.  They are so much nicer than the old single pane windows that were there.  We have several more windows downstairs to replace but we will get to those when he has time.

::Our wood pile is getting bigger and bigger.  Jeremiah and Ryder have been cutting and splitting wood each weekend for several weeks. Madilynne and I go and help to load it and haul it home.  It isn't enjoyable work to me but we are working together as a family and that counts! The boys seem to really enjoy it though. Maybe it has something to do with using a powersaw (chainsaw) and the wood splitter!  :-)

::I have been home this week and had time to de-clutter a bunch of areas of our home.  It has been awhile since I have had time to tackle these areas but they are cleaned up now. I have more areas to tackle but I am happy with the results right now.

::I am happy that I have a washing machine.  I have been doing a load or two every day to get the laundry caught up.  I have finally scaled Mt. Laundry and it feels really good to see empty laundry baskets at least until tomorrow!

::Madilynne has been cooking and baking. She found several recipes online and makes them.  Some are good, some not so good! We have several desserts available and many leftovers! I like the break from cooking. 

::With Madilynne cooking so much, I am happy to have a dishwasher! It has saved so much time with the clean up! Yay!  I am not a fan of washing dishes.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 
 
1. In two or three sentences tell us what Veteran's Day means to you?
I come from a family of Veterans. My father, step-father and my brother are the closest relatives to me that have served in my life time. I personally feel that we wouldn't have the freedoms we do if someone didn't fight for us- all of us- no matter where your personal preference stands on fighting.
 2. What's your favorite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?

You know, right now, I can't think of any films that I like that have a patriotic theme... sorry.  When I read other posts, I'll think, "Oh yeah, I did like that movie, I forgot about it!"

 3. Flu shot-yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?

Nope, no flu shots here.  I will not get a flu shot or have my children receive them. I have had the flu and survived.

 4. I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at 
Starbucks, sans the holiday decor, and that has some people up in arms. What are your thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?
I love it!  It doesn't bother me one little bit! I had a Jars of Clay Christmas CD playing today and put it on repeat. I love Christmas music. As for decorating my own home, it depends on the year.  One year when the kids were little I put our Christmas tree up before Halloween.  The weather had changed and we received a really beautiful snow and we decided to put up the tree!  Other years, it has been almost Christmas Day and I haven't gotten to the decorations. The kids have been doing the decorating the last couple years.  Ryder and Jeremiah love the tree lit up all evening long- ok maybe Madilynne and I do too!  :-) 

Since I have never had Starbucks, I don't care about what they have on their cups.  It is just going to end up in the trash regardless of what the design is or isn't.

 5. What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?

I am going to have to say a bear.  I really don't want to encounter one.  We go for walks and we have our fair share of bears here on the mountain.  I don't wish to encounter one of them.  Second would be a rattlesnake....just thought I would mention that scary little bugger!
 6. Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?

No, I do not like to build things.  I can't remember the last thing I ever built...a block tower when the kids were little????

 7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude...what are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

I am thankful that I was able to get a lot of my house cleaned. I have too much clutter and being able to get rid of a lot of it has helped beautify our home.  I plan to continue with the cleaning again today. 

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My mother-in-law has gifted us with quite a few bags of potatoes and onions from her workplace. They need to be used up quickly so I have been making a lot of potato dishes.  Yesterday, while listening to Christmas music I was making potato salad.  I was thinking how funny it was that I thought the potato salad would be awesome paired with one of Jeremiah's awesome grilled burgers! I have my seasons messed up! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge







1. Besides Thanksgiving, something you're looking forward to on your November calendar?
My mom and I are hosting a baby shower this month for my very first niece/nephew!  This new little one will make the third grandbaby for my mom and the first grandbaby for the other Grandma!  It has been a very long time since we have had a little one in the family.  New babies are wonderful!

2.  If I gave you a thank you card right now who would you send it to and why?
My husband, Jeremiah.  He works so hard for our family and really does the best he can to give us a wonderful life.  His extra effort enables me to stay home to raise our kids and homeschool.  I am one very blessed woman!

3. Of the breads listed, which one's your favorite...bagel, cinnamon, sourdough, garlic, banana, biscuit, pita, Naan, or plain old fashioned white bread?
Oh boy this is a very hard one for me!!  I will go with plain old fashioned white bread but it is my homemade white bread.  It is what I make most often.  It is wonderful fresh out of the oven with real butter and some jelly! I also like banana bread.  It is a popular bread here too.  I make biscuits but not as frequently. Garlic bread is served with Italian foods.

4. What's something you have in abundance? Is that a good thing?
I have an abundance of dirty laundry right now and no it isn't a good thing!  I have been working on that today and probably tomorrow also! Yikes....

5. November 5th is National Love Your Red Hair Day. Are there any redheads in your family? Who's your favorite redhead?
Redheads are not in my family.  I have natural red highlights in in my hair and at one time I had dyed my hair a lovely shade of auburn. It looked very natural on me.  I don't think I have a favorite redhead....

6.  The travel website Busbud recently calculated the most Instagrammed spot in every state. Go here to see what made the list where you live. Are you happy with your state's #1? If not what do you think should be the most photographed spot in your state? Have you snapped a photo there? If you live outside the USA answer as it relates to your state, city or province.
The state that the Pine Tree Forest is located in has a good location. I have been to this particular location several times and I have taken photos there. I can not disagree that it isn't worthy to be in the top spot! 

7. I'm going to try to have something related to gratitude in this spot each week during the month of November. Here's this week's question-

What's something you've learned about yourself this year that you're grateful for?
I am trying to keep things in perspective more. I used to get worked up about little things.  I have been trying to let little things go and pick my battles carefully with my kids.  Jeremiah has always been the "fun" parent and I have been trying to be more of a "yes parent".  That can be a challenge when you have opinionated teens!  Don't misunderstand me, they are awesome kids but they are still teens! :-)

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Today has been a wonderful weather day in our Pine Tree Forest.  I love having the sun shine.  It really makes for motivation when the whole house needs some attention. School is done for the day, so I can focus on cleaning and laundry! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 
 
 

 1. Are you comfortable with silence? If you're home alone, do you like silence or do you need regular background noise? Do you seek out times and places to be silent? What's your favorite place to find silence/be silent?
I am not really a person who desires silence.  I have a radio on in the kitchen all day long.  I turn it on in the morning and off right before going to bed.  It is tuned to a local Christian radio station and I love the feeling that positive words are filling the silence in our home.  Even when I am outside, I desire to hear the birds, the cow bells ringing, wind rustling through the trees and bees buzzing.

2. October 28th is National Chocolate Day. Can't let that go by without a mention now, can we? Will you celebrate? How? Let's say you can have one of the following right this very minute... a cup of hot chocolate, a strawberry dipped in chocolate, a bowl of plain chocolate ice cream, or a slice of chocolate pie...what's your pleasure?
I will go with a cup of hot chocolate.  Here is why... I do not like my strawberries dipped in chocolate at all...that is gross to me.  I am not a fan of ice cream- I could go the rest of my life and not eat ice cream and the same goes with pie-not a fan of pie.  I would eat the pudding from the pie but not the crust! That leaves hot chocolate.  I will take that but I prefer to make my own from scratch and add a bit of good coconut oil to it.  It tastes like I am drinking a Mounds candy bar!   

3. How do you feel about blue jeans? Favorite thing in the world to wear or nope, don't own a single pair? How often do you wear blue jeans in a typical week? Do you own a blue jean jacket?
I don't mind blue jeans.  I don't think they are the most comfortable things but I will wear them. I own two pairs but only wear one.  They are the most comfy. I only wear jeans when I go out.  I refuse to wear them at home.  I change into shorts at home and that is comfy.  I do not own a jean jacket.

4. Are you superstitious? If so, in what way?
Nope, not superstitious at all.

5. If you had to come up with a costume using only things you have on hand right now, what could you come up with?
The only thing I can think of is a striped ghost using our bed sheets!  LOL 

6. What scares you a little? What do you do when you feel scared?
Getting lost. I do not like it when I go somewhere and can't find the location I want/need to be at.  When that happens I need to relax and take a deep breath!

7. Perhaps today will be the day I ______________________________.
get the honey finished.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Honey....from question 7.  We harvested the honey from our hives. I like to filter the honey to get the wax out and get it put in jars.  I am hoping to get this job finished soon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 
 
1. October 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day. Did you see the movie? The sequels? In the second film, Doc takes Marty into the future to prevent Marty's future son from making a mistake. They leave 1985 and land on a 'skyway' on October 21st, 2015. So tell us, what were you doing in the fall of 1985?
To be completely honest, I am not sure I have seen this movie.  I have seen parts of it but can't say I have seen it entirely and that would go for the sequels also.  As for the fall of 1985.... I was a youngster, 10 years old, so my life was probably revolving around school and farm work.

 2.  If time travel were possible, would you want to go to the future? The past?

I don't want to know what will happen in the future, know the joys to come or the pain of suffering and loss yet to endure. I let the future in God's hands.  The past though... oh to be a part of history and actually witness some of those great events in our past. Maybe to even visit some of my ancestors and hear their tales of why they came to America and settled in my area.  Just to sit and hear from the people who walked the land before me would be so interesting!

 3. We're not flying cars, but some of the technology imagined in the 80's film has indeed come to pass in real life 2015-flat screen TVs on the wall, tablets, fingerprint recognition, video conferencing, online banking, 3-D movies, motion controlled video games, drone cameras, and smart glasses (Google glass).  Do you worry technology is growing at a rate so fast we'll soon be unable to keep up with it's demands? Do you think the Internet does more harm than good? 

You have asked quite a loaded question, in my opinion!  I have a love/hate relationship with technology.  I love that it has made life easier but I think that our society, as a whole, has put so much faith in electronics that they forget about God. Society is teaching our kids that everything can be found on the internet or with an electronic device and not in the wisdom of our fellow man. There is something about sitting down and having a face to face conversation that trumps texts, emails and Facebook. I don't worry that we can't keep up with the demands of technology but I am concerned that it will damage families and person to person relationships.

 4. Your favorite dish prepared in a slow-cooker? Your favorite fast food?

Chicken! I enjoy making chicken in the crock pot. We use the crock pot regularly.  Even if I am going to be home, I will throw something in to cook.  It makes a busy day so much easier!  As for fast food, I don't exactly have a favorite because fast food usually upsets my digestive system.  

 5. No time like the present, down time, face time, pressed for time, in the nick of time, make time, mark time, or just in time...which timely saying most relates to your life right now? 

Pressed for time or make time would be my choices right now.  Our schedule get a bit hectic so I have to make time because we are pressed for time.  I have very few days when we can be home all day so when those days come I really want to enjoy them!

 6. Tell us about a place you went as a child or younger person that's no longer there or is now something else. How does that make you feel?

Our barn.  It is still here but as a child it was filled with animals, hay and grain.  I miss that sometimes and wish my kids could understand the responsibilities of caring for those animals and how hard we worked to make a living. There was also that sweet smell when the hayloft was filled with hay and I would open a new bag of chop for the cows that would permeate the air with molasses.

 7. Describe your comfort zone.

Home with Jeremiah and our kids. All is well when we are together.

 8. Insert your own random thought here.

Fresh from the oven bread! I make a lot of our bread all year long but there is something comforting about a warm slice of bread, slathered in butter and jelly, that warms the heart on these cooler Fall days!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bits and Pieces

I have several random thoughts that don't quite merit an actual post but I decided to blog about them anyway!

:: I have not been craving anything pumpkin.  My fall food choice, fresh apples.  I have really been hungry for apples.  I have also decided that I don't care much for a Gala apple. I bought a bag of them because a friend recommended them but it just doesn't have that "right" apple taste.  I am not saying it is a bad apple, just not my favorite.  I don't really want to eat the apples baked into anything, just fresh with a good crunch! So yummy!

:: I do not like it when people decorate for fall and throw random Halloween d├ęcor into it.  It looks like they couldn't decide what to decorate for and jumbled it together.  Several of my neighbors have a decorative touch and assembled beautiful displays of fall flowers and pumpkins.  Lovely!

:: Speaking of Halloween, it is my least favorite holiday.  I don't think that I have ever, ever liked it. I don't understand people's attraction to being scared and dressing up like something icky.  However, I like candy and enjoy candy corn this time of the year, only the orange, yellow, white candy corn combo though.  When you throw the brown on the candy corn...it looks rotten and I can't eat it...  Well, ok, I have eaten it but it just doesn't give me the same satisfaction!

:: It snowed here in my neck of the pines yesterday and has turned really chilly.  The last time I looked at the thermometer it was 28* out.  It is going to return to more seasonable temps this week (50's-60's) but I wasn't thrilled with the snow. Usually the first snow makes me happy and I get a cozy feeling but that didn't happen yesterday.  It did make Ryder very happy though.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge



1. It's October so let's get this out there first thing...have you jumped on the all-things-pumpkin bandwagon? How so? 1.
No, I have not jumped on that bandwagon.  I understand that the pumpkins are ready for harvest this time of the year but since most people don't use fresh pumpkin, they use canned, it doesn't make sense to me.  You can buy canned pumpkin all year long. I make pumpkin desserts when the fancy strikes me, not because it's fall.  That said, we will be going to my aunt's home for dinner tonight. Guess what they asked me to bring? Yep that's right- a pumpkin sheet cake that I make with cream cheese icing!  HAHA!

 2.  "We have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse to ourselves that we fancy things are impossible." Francois Duc De la Rochefoucauld  

What's something you once thought impossible, but in hindsight see as more a matter of lack of will?

I struggle with keeping a schedule.  I am not a schedule-type person so I try to keep a routine going.  My problem is I have so many things that I want to do or need to do that IF I don't keep some sort of schedule, nothing happens.  It all boils down to willpower for me. 

 3. The rose is America's National Flower, but every state also has its own (click here to see the list). Are you happy with yours? If you were in charge what would you declare your state's flower? If you're outside the U.S. what bloom would you like to see labeled as your country's national flower?

I am happy with our state's flower.  I have no desire to change it.  Since you asked what I would declare as a state flower....the daisy.  It is just a happy flower!

 4. What have you lost interest in recently?

TV.  I have never been a real big TV viewer but lately I have found that TV is just plain out boring. There are very few shows that I have found are actually suitable for family viewing and I just don't want to take the time to watch it.   

 5. In your opinion, who's the best living musician?

I know a man who is probably in his 80's and he is one of the best piano players I have ever heard!  His name is Charlie and he played piano at a church I attended.  He is fabulous and can tickle the ivories better than some of the most famous people.  Added bonus: he is also one of the sweetest, Christian men one could meet. 

 6. S'mores-love 'em or no? Ever make them indoors? Last time you sat around an outdoor fire? Are making s'mores and sitting round a fire pit on your autumn bucket list? Do you have an autumn bucket list?

I am not a fan of S'mores.  We have campfires often and S'mores are usually made.  I will occasionally eat one but not often. Indoor S'mores are positively awful after having one made over the campfire. Autumn campfires are not the normal for us.  It gets too chilly here in the evenings to sit outside and freeze.  I do not have an autumn bucket list.  Actually, I do not have any kind of bucket list.  

 7. Your favorite small town? Why?

I live in the country so small town living is normal.  I don't have a favorite small town.  Any small town is better than a city, in my opinion.

 8. Insert your own random thought here.

The leaves are turning to a glorious display of color. My dad says that the leaves are the "flowers of fall".  I think he is right. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's been a while....

It has been several weeks since my last post.  The last one was in August!  I missed an entire month.  It hasn't been that I haven't thought about posting, its just that I have just been, well, busy.  Madilynne and I canned a lot and the only thing left to process is grapes. I would like to make some jelly and juice.

September was a month of fall festivals and fairs.  We juggled our schedules and attended many of the ones of interest to us.  We learn so much from many of them.  One in particular is  basically set in the 1700's-early 1900's.  They have a log cabin and a log house, summer kitchen, an early maple sugar shack, a replica barn and an original cider mill.  They also have an original covered bridge that you can take beautiful pictures on. 

The kids can learn so much about the way life was back then. It's amazing how people truly lived and survived. We take so much for granted now.  We easily flick a switch and have light. We are hungry so we go to the fridge and quickly heat something up to eat. Our clothes are dirty so we throw them in a machine and they (usually) come out clean. If we run out of something we can run to the store and buy it.  I am not saying life was easier by any means back then but they had to honestly think about where their food and clothing was coming from.  It helps to put our blessings into perspective.

We tried some new recipes.  Some were flops, some were not. I have a cookbook from several years ago that I am trying out. If I have some time I will try to post a new herbed biscuit recipe we made.  I like recipes that have simple steps and only require ingredients that I have on hand.  Preferably none that require canned soups or processed cheese.  I like more of a real food recipe.  They seem to fill up Ryder's hollow legs easier.  

That is a short update.  Talk to you soon, hopefully!  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Kitchen Tip

   Our home is busy.  We are always going somewhere or doing some fun activity.  We fill in our days with visits to friends, going to the local bike trail, picnics, swimming, trips and family activities. Those kind of days make for a lot of laundry and a dirty house so there is a lot of cleaning to do also. I like to make quick meals when the schedule is full.  One way that I do that is by keeping browned hamburger in the freezer.
 


   I divide it in 3/4 to 1 pound containers.  Just enough for a recipe- I usually do not need to use a whole pound of meat in a recipe so it stretches the meat further. I keep the meat plain.  I have read many suggestions mentioning that they seasoned it for taco meat or add onions to their hamburger and those are great ideas.  I find that I don't care to do that because I like the flexibility to make the meat into what I need for each meal. 

   If we decide we want tacos then I add the salsa, seasoning and the optional refried beans to the hamburger.  I make the meat mix while I warm the soft taco wraps. Add corn or a veggie/salad and you have an easy meal. 

 
   If we are having spaghetti, I don't make meatballs, I just add some of the browned hamburger to spaghetti sauce and make it a meat sauce.  I take a container of browned meat out of the freezer while the pasta is cooking and sit it on the counter.  As soon as the pasta is done, I drain it and leave it in the colander.  I put the spaghetti sauce and hamburger in the pasta pot and heat it up, stirring it to break up the hamburger. When it is heated thoroughly, I add the pasta. It makes for an exceptionally easy meal served with garlic bread and a salad/green beans. Clean up consists of one pot and a colander.

   I make my own version of Hamburger Helper but you can make it even faster; just pull out a container of hamburger and add the water, milk and seasoning to the hamburger. Stir and heat and the meat will easily break up.


   Do you brown and freeze hamburger?  If you do, what is your favorite way to use it?   

Monday, August 24, 2015

100 Questions

  I was reading some blogs today and I came to Mrs. Pepper's blog and she answered 100 questions.  I thought it would be fun!

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? 

Closed

2. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotels?

Sometimes but not always

3. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?

Tucked in

4. Have you stolen a street sign before?

No, never even thought about doing that before!

5. Do you like to use post-it notes?

Yes, I like to use them.  They are convenient to stick reminders on my fridge

6. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?

All the time!

7. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees?

I would prefer neither one, but if I had to choose....I am would ask that the bear hit me hard on the head and knock me out first!

8. Do you have freckles?

Nope

9. Do you always smile for pictures?

Yes

10. What is your biggest pet peeve?

People who do NOT use turn signals when driving!  Oh, I so dislike that!!

11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?

No I don't.  I used to when my kids were little to help them learn to count. 

12. Have you peed in the woods?

I must admit that, unfortunately yes, I have had to go in the woods. 

13. Have you ever pooped in the woods?

Nope, number one was enough.

14. Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing?

I have danced without music.  It wasn't pretty but I just did it a couple days ago when the kids were messing around in the living room and I made a few ballet type dance moves to exit the room.

15. Do you chew your pens and pencils?

Nope, I don't think I have ever done that or put them in my mouth either!

16. How many hours did you sleep last night?

7.5 Hours

17.  What size is your bed?

King
18. What is your song of the week?
I can't say that I have a song of the week.  It has just been too busy here to think about that much.

19. Is it OK for guys to wear pink?

I am going to say nah.  It is just weird to me. 

20. Do you still watch cartoons?

Yes, the TV is on and there is a cartoon showing.  I don't mind watching cartoons. 

21. What is your least favorite movie?

Any horror movie! 

22. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?

In our woods.  It would be an awesome place to hide buried treasure!

23. What do you drink with dinner?

Usually ice water.  I will occasionally drink iced tea or lemonade.

24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in?

If I would happen to eat a chicken nugget, I would dip it in ranch dressing or ketchup.

25. What is your favorite food?

I will say homemade pizza or homemade pretzels.

26. What movie could you watch over and over again and still love?

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!!  I love that movie! 

27. Last person you kissed/kissed you?

Jeremiah

28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?

No

29. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?

Never, ever, ever!!!

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?

I can't remember

31. Can you change the oil on a car?

Jeremiah has tried to teach me and I don't pay enough attention I guess.  However, he has successfully taught both kids how to do it.

32. Ever gotten a speeding ticket?

Yep- one.

33. Ever ran out of gas?

I haven't  run out of gas in my own vehicle but when Jeremiah and I were dating we took his parents car to go to my grandma's house for Christmas dinner.  We ran out of gas about 2 miles away from a gas station.  We passed several gas stations on our way but they were closed for the day. I have an issue with letting my car get below a half a tank of gas.  I try to fill it up when it gets to 1/2 a tank.

34. What’s your favorite kind of sandwich?

At the moment, it has to be BLT's! I have to change it a bit though and add an O- onion!  (bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion with mayo)

35. Best thing to eat for breakfast?

I do not like breakfast.  If I have to make a choice I would say homemade cinnamon rolls or Jeremiah has been making pancakes and bacon lately and they are delicious!  I am not good at making pancakes!

36. What is your usual bedtime?

I don't have a usual bedtime.  I go to bed when I am tired- usually 11 pm or later but I wake up between 6:30 and 7 am. 

37. Are you lazy?

I try not to be.

38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween?

I can't remember dressing up for Halloween as a kid. 

39. What is your Chinese astrological sign?

Not a clue!

40. How many languages can you speak?

One

41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions?

Nature Friend and Grit

42. Which are better: Legos or Lincoln Logs?

I liked both of them but my brothers and I played with Lincoln Logs the most.  My kids have both but played with Legos more when they were little.

43. Are you stubborn?

I can be!

44. Who is better: Leno or Letterman?

Well, they are both done hosting their shows now but I would say that Leno was better.  Jimmy Fallon is a great host of The Tonight Show. He is definitely my favorite now.

45. Ever watch soap operas?

Nope, I do not watch them

46. Are you afraid of heights?

Yes

47. Do you sing in the car?

Yes

48. Do you sing in the shower?

No

49. Do you dance in the car?

I have!

50. Ever used a gun?

Yes

51. Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer?

Last year we had two weddings in the family. Jeremiah's sister got married in June and his brother in September. I was in the family pictures for them.  Before then, it was quite some time ago.... maybe 10 years ago.

52. Do you think musicals are cheesy?

Nope!  I mentioned in question 26 my favorite movie is a musical. 

53. Is Christmas stressful?

Sometimes.  I try to plan ahead but occasionally it gets a bit crazy.  I love it though and try to avoid the stress.

54. Ever eat a pierogi?

Yes, just last week!

55. Favorite type of fruit pie?

I don't like pie and not a fan of any fruit pie.  If I had eat one though, I guess I would choose apple.

56. Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a teacher.  I guess that happened since I am home schooling my kids. 

57. Do you believe in ghosts?

Not really. 

58. Ever have a Deja-vu feeling?

Yes, and it is weird!

59. Do you take a vitamin daily?

Yes

60. Do you wear slippers?

Nope

61. Do you wear a bath robe?

No, I don't own one.

62. What do you wear to bed?

Really? Does anyone really want to know that?  PJ's if you want to know!

63. What was your first concert?

I have never been to a concert.  I have been to the symphony though.

64. Walmart, Target, or Kmart?

Walmart

65. Nike or Adidas?

Neither, I don't have anything from either brand.

66. Cheetos or Fritos?

I don't think this is a fair question!  It would be like choosing my favorite kid!  I like them both!

67. Peanuts or Sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds

68. Ever hear of the group Tres Bien?

No

69. Ever take dance lessons?

No

70. Is there a profession you picture your future spouse doing?

Hopefully I don't ever have a "future spouse"!  I am happily married and pray it stays that way! 

71. Can you curl your tongue?

Yes

72. Ever won a spelling bee?

I have no clue.  I can't remember any spelling bees in elementary school.

73. Have you ever cried because you were so happy?

Yes, all the time!

74. Own any record albums?

No

75. Own a record player?

No

76. Do you regularly burn incense?

No, but we do burn candles and I have wax melter and I diffuse essential oils. 

77. Ever been in love?

I am still in love with my wonderful husband!  He can still make my heart beat fast!

78. Who would you like to see in concert?

I am not a fan of concerts so if I had to go I would choose TobyMac, Third Day or Crowder

79. What was the last concert you saw?

Well from my answer to #63 I haven't been to a concert so I can't say the last one I have seen!

80. Hot tea or cold tea?

BOTH!!  Tea is my favorite!

81. Tea or coffee?

Tea!

82. Sugar cookies or snickerdoodles?

Sugar cookies.

83. Can you swim well?

I used to be a good swimmer.  I don't swim often now so I am sure those skills are rusty!

84. Can you hold your breath without holding your nose?

Yes

85. Are you patient?

Sometimes. 

86. DJ or band at a wedding?

DJ

87. Ever won a contest?

No

88. Have you ever had plastic surgery?

No and I don't ever plan on it.  However, when I was 15 years old I had a bad cut on my eye and a plastic surgeon stitched it up so it wouldn't scar too bad.

89. Which are better: black or green olives?

Neither! I think olives are gross!

90. Can you knit or crochet?

I can crochet the longest chain length, well until the yarn runs out!  That's it!

91. Best room for a fireplace?

Living room. 

92. Do you want to get married?

I am very happily married.

93. If married, how long have you been married?

Close to 19 years! 

94. Who was your high school crush?

Jeremiah.  We started dating when we were 16!

95. Do you cry and throw a fit until you get your own way?

No, I save my tears for the happy times!

96. Do you have kids?

Yes, I do!

97. Do you want kids?

I certainly wanted kids. I am very happy with the two I am blessed to have! 

98. What is your favorite color?

Green

99. Do you miss anyone right now?

Yes

100. Who are you going to ask to answer these questions next?

No one!  If someone wants to answer some or all just let me know in the comments so I can read your answers! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. Way back when (the Hodgepodge bicentennial to be precise) several of you submitted questions as part of a giveaway I was hosting. I went back to that list for inspiration today and found a question  submitted by Marla, who blogs over at Marla's Musings. Thanks Marla!

She asks-At what age did you feel like a 'grown-up'? What keeps you young now?   

Grown-up?  I still don't feel grown up and I am 40! I feel like I am still learning and trying to keep one step ahead of the game all the time. I guess you want an answer so I think I felt officially grown up when I was 21 and Jeremiah and I got married.  My kiddo's keep me young.

 2. When did you last buy a vehicle? Was this by design or because you had no other option? Was the car/truck purchased for your own personal use or was it bought for someone else to drive? On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being delightful and 1 being 'pass the Excedrin') how would you rate the experience?

The last vehicle we purchased was for Jeremiah.  It was a personal sale and went smoothly.  No issues.  It seems that this question is leaning towards a car dealership sale and that would have been in 2004 when we bought the car that I still drive.  It is a good car even though it has had its fair share of troubles.  Jeremiah and his dad have been able to repair them.  Our experience has been very good at the dealership.  I would rate it high like a 9 or 10.

 3. Corn bread, corn chips, corn pudding, corn on the cob, cornflakes, corn chowder-your favorite of the corn-y foods listed? What needs to be served alongside your selection?

Oh boy this one is a bit hard for me to decide!  I like a lot of them.  I will go with corn bread though since we just had it Sunday.  I like it paired with chili. Wait no, corn chips, I had corn chips last night.  But corn on the cob is delicious; we just ate some of that too!  Corn chowder is good- my uncle makes some of the best! Cornflakes are good also but I don't eat much cereal. I hate to admit it but I never heard of corn pudding.

 4. What's something in your life that regularly requires you to 'put your thinking cap on'?

Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Thank you Joyce for keeping my mind sharp! You probably want a better answer than that right?  I will say when I have to sit down and go over the budget.  That requires a lot of thinking. 

 5. Share a favorite movie set in a school or classroom, or whose theme relates to school days in some way.

The kids watched a movie a while back on Disney called Lemonade Mouth.  I don't watch many movies so it's hard to even come up with a favorite, let alone a favorite school themed movie.

 6. Reading, writing, and 'rithmatic' are commonly referred to as the three R's. What are the three R's in your life right now?

School started for us on Monday so those three R's are pretty prevalent right now. 

 7. What's something you've learned or tried recently you can say was as 'easy as ABC'?

I made peach jam this past weekend.  I will admit that I was nervous about making it.  It was super easy and I am not quite sure why I waited so long to make it.

 8. Insert your own random thought here.

We have been canning, freezing and dehydrating a lot of produce lately. I like having well stocked shelves to choose from during the winter.  We are also trying new recipes and canning things that we haven't canned before.  It has been fun.  Madilynne really likes to can and has been a great help with it.  This is the first year that we have dehydrated any kind of fruit. We did some banana chips that didn't turn out too good and sliced strawberries that will be great in granola or added to cereal. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Day of School 2015

   Today started our new homeschool year.  We started homeschooling Madilynne when she was 3 years old.  She loved doing arts and crafts and learning her numbers and letters. She was so excited every day to start school. Fast forward quite a few years and she is still just as enthused to start school.  Ryder isn't quite as happy about starting school but he said the sooner he starts the sooner he is finished. Good outlook!  We had originally planned to start school two weeks ago but a family friend needed some help watching their granddaughter so we fill in for them when we can. She will be starting school again when our local public school starts back up, Sept 1, but we will keep her when we can until then.

   We had planned that our day would go smoothly with maybe the occasional bump.  Well, it didn't go quite as planned and you know what? It was all good.  We had some unexpected visitors stop by to drop off some stuff and they stayed to visit for a bit since we haven't seen them for awhile.  I also had to conquer Mt. Laundry.  I was able to tackle some of it but not all of it- tomorrow is another day.  I had started soaking some beans last night so I could make refried beans today.  That took extra time too.  All in all our first day of school was a success.  We finished our work and had an enjoyable day.  The weather was sunshiny and bright and just made the house a happy place to be today.   It also helps when you have two great kids and I am so happy that we home educate.

   I hope you had a great day today too.  Tomorrow will be another busy day of schooling, cleaning and canning.  I will post about our canning adventures sometime soon.

  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge



1. When was the last time you relocated? Did you move yourself or leave it to the professionals? Are you happy staying put or is there a move in your future? Best thing about moving to a new city or town? Least favorite and/or hardest thing about moving house?
The last time I relocated was 10 years ago in May.  We moved our belongs ourselves with the help of close family.  I am quite happy to stay here on our family farm as it has been in my family for about 150 years! I honestly couldn't tell you what is best about moving to a new city as I have only ever lived rurally in the same area.  We did live in a small village before moving to the farm and it was by a dreadfully busy road.  I didn't like that.  This house has a nice quite road with the main traffic just being those going to work.  I chuckle as I write this because I know 80% of the folks who drive by my house.  My least favorite part about moving is trying to get rid of the stuff that we accumulated and no longer used but had kept anyway!

2. When were you last 'moved to tears'? Explain.

Well, I can say that I am easily moved to tears.  It could be something sad but usually it is something sweet or loving or those proud mama moments.  I try to avoid sad tears so I don't watch sad movies or read sad books no matter how highly recommended they come!  I can't remember though when I was moved to tears last.... It was probably just this week but it is normal for me so it doesn't stand out.

3. Do you have rules about eating in the car...any forbidden foods? What's the last thing you consumed in your car? Your go-to car snack when traveling long distance?

Rules about eating in the car....umm, well the rule is if we are in the car and we need to eat, we eat! We do a lot of running so eating in the car is normal for us.  When you have a teen boy with hollow legs, food is always being consumed!  It can be anything that we packed or picked up at the grocery store or a fast food drive-thru (though we try to avoid that option). We just ate yesterday in the car on our way home from the park.  We met with some of our homeschool group friends and we pack a lunch.  We always pack extra because we are usually hungry (some starving) on our way home.  I had to stop and pick up some bacon at a little country store and they had some beautiful, local strawberries for sale so I pickup up two quarts- one to eat on the way home and one for today! Our go-to car snacks for long distances- anything with out much sugar, caffeine or dyes!

4. Share a favorite song relating to cars and/or driving.
"Overcomer" by Mandisa  This is the verse that comes to mind.
 
Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T Mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing's really going right
Looking for a ray of hope
 
5. What's your most frequently visited drive-thru...Starbucks? the bank? the pharmacy? some other window?
I guess I have to say the bank.  I have never had anything from Starbucks.  I was in the drive thru for Starbucks once because the driver of the car we were in wanted coffee. 

6. "He who hesitates is lost"...would you agree? When it comes to making decisions do you generally act quickly or do you more often than not fall into the 'lost' category?
I tend to make decisions quickly and have lost because I didn't think it through. My husband on the other hand is quicker to hesitate on a decision and it usually works out.  I think there is a balance to be found on both ends of that statement so I don't agree with it.

7. When was the last time you got lost? Was it stressful or an unexpected happy adventure?
The last time I was lost....I have to really think about it.  I guess I would have to say April 2014 when I was taking the kids to a Bible Quiz camp.  I missed a turn because I misunderstood the directions. It was more of an adventure because it was in a beautiful mountainous area that we had never been in before.  Normally though if I am lost it would fall under stressful for me! I do not get stressed though if Jeremiah is driving and we get lost.  That doesn't faze me at all.
 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
The kids and I went to a local bike trail earlier this week to meet with some friends.  Ryder takes his bike and Madilynne and I walk.  It rained pretty heavy on our way back and we were trying to get under some of the trees that overhang on the trail to stay a bit drier.  Madilynne and her friends had a great time strolling in the rain. I was doing the powerwalk to get out of it!  Ryder came rolling by with his friends- they were having a blast riding in the rain.  I saw he had a ball cap on and asked him if I could have it to keep the rain from getting my hair so wet.  He quickly took it off and gave it to me- so sweet and gentlemanly!  My hair stayed pretty decent for the errands that we had to run afterwards even though my clothes were completely soaked!
 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blackberries and Huckleberries

   The kids and I went berry picking recently.  Madilynne wasn't excited to go pick at first but once we started picking, her whole attitude changed for the better.  She really enjoyed picking.  Ryder was ready to jump into picking as soon as I mentioned it.  I think his belly and taste buds were a factor in that.
 
   The blackberries and huckleberries are ripe and ready to pick in our area.  If you aren't familiar with huckleberries they are small, dark blue berries that are really sweet.  I thought I would share some pictures of the berries we actually brought home and what was left since we ate most of them right off the bushes!




When we brought them home, Ryder started to eat them by the handful.  I am happy that he enjoys the berries as they are very nutritious.  These are all the berries I had left to freeze

 
This picture shows the huckleberries.  They are roughly the size of a pea and look similar to a blueberry. I think they are awesome frozen!


 
These are the frozen blackberries.  If Ryder doesn't finish them off they will be delicious in a smoothie. 
 
We stayed on the look out at all times because bears like blackberries and huckleberries also.  We saw some bear paw prints but no bears! We were kind enough to leave many berries for the bears, deer and turkeys to nibble on too!  I think they would thank us- if they could!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day at the Lake

   This weekend was a beautiful- sunny and comfortably warm with no/low humidity.  Our family went to a local lake to meet my brother's girlfriend's parents.  Did you follow that?  Her parents are so sweet. We had a delicious lunch before going down to the lake to ride the boat.  I am not a big fan of boat rides but I have gone before and it has been fine. This time was not the day that all would be fine.  I am not sure if age is becoming more of a factor or the lake was just too choppy but I couldn't handle it.  It was just too much for my stomach.  I tried to use a motion sickness remedy but it didn't work. I had to go back to the dock.

   Jeremiah was able to stay and enjoy watching the kids try to water ski for the first time, they weren't successful, but had fun trying. They also rode on a raft that was pulled behind the boat.  I am so glad they got to spend the afternoon on the lake.  Madilynne and Ryder both enjoy swimming so when they came back to get more drinking water, they jumped off the dock and swam around in the lake.  I spent the afternoon watching the boats go by with my mom and step-dad.  We had a good time too- on solid ground! My mom gets worse motion sickness than me.

   I hope everyone is enjoying these last few weeks before fall. The temperatures will cool down and school will start soon.  Enjoy each day and the blessings found in them!