Friday, April 30, 2010

Shoe Blessing

Ruthie's (my sister) wedding if quickly approaching!  She asked if Tim would be the ring bearer.  Tim is very shy and declined very quickly!  He instantly got the "deer in the head lights" look.  So Addan was the next choice.  I asked him how he felt about it and he was excited to be in it and walk with his cousin Violet.  (Funny, how the boys have such different personalities!)
Violet is wearing a frilly, beautiful green dress.  So we began our search for a little vest and dress suit set.  We did green for our Easter outfits, so Addan has a nice green dress shirt.  This Wednesday, while doing our weekly grocery trip,  we found a perfect little vest/shirt/pant set for Addan.  He's been so excited about it!  We'll take the green and white shirts to see which one goes better with Violet's dress.  So all's we had left to find were black dress shoes.  

Today I went to the first yard sale of the season.  I just love yard sales!  I know in my head what we "need" and what clothes the boys "need".  I was looking through a boy's table and there on the table were the only pair of shoes I saw.  Addan's size and not too worn.  Perfect,  shoes for the wedding! (Only 25 cents too!)
When I walked in the door with my treasures, I said to Addan, "Come see!  God gave you the perfect pair of shoes for the wedding and He knew your size too!"  A huge smile came across Addan's face as I held up the shoes to the bottom of his feet to size them.  God is sooo good to us!  These little blessings are so personal and shows me every day how much He cares for the little things in my life.  What a sweet friend He is!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

They're Out!

Due to cramped quarters and horrific odors, the peeps are now outside!  YIPPEEE!  

Miss Duck's lovely, spacious, quiet home has now been invaded with 20 loud, mess-making friends!  What a gracious hostess Miss Duck has been.  

Although, I think at times, Miss Duck enjoys the company and the extra food in her home, despite the racket she makes when the little fellas walk past.

She even has a new furnace (heat light turned on at night) to keep her tail feathers warm.  The humans even cover the home up with blankets when the temperature drops below freezing at night (the last 2 nights!!).  

All in all,  we think Miss Duck is happy with her new arrangements and leaves the morning feeders a lovely egg to show her appreciation!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ironing for 10

As a child, my Dad had to wear a shirt and tie each day to work.  I remember clearly the day my Mom taught me to iron his shirts.  I loved doing it.  Thinking of my father wearing it to work, smelling his left-over cologne as I ironed and hearing my Mom praise my hard work made it so enjoyable.  Little did I know way back then, that I'd get to iron 9 dress shirts, twice a week!!  I may have decided not to learn :)
This chore each week is the one I really struggle with enjoying!  I've tried everything to help it go by but I just don't enjoy this chore.  Suggestions have been made to get them out of the dryer real quick and hang them up to avoid ironing.  I tried that and didn't like that they looked like they just came out of the dryer.  Probably that goes back to my Mom's training,  stressing the NEED for a nice crease down each sleeve!  My Mom is a neat freak and that is probably the ONLY area she rubbed off on me :)   (She has confessed that is one of the reasons she only had 2 children--(well, later in life they had one more)).    The book I've shared lately about gratitude is helping me with this.  I'm trying to focus on the positive and not be negative.  Saturday nights is when I tend to "whine" the most about it.  I've usually done alot of work on Saturday, gotten Sunday's meal together, my Sunday School lessons prepared and put the younger ones in the tub.  Then I must start ironing and I just don't FEEL like it.  I need to conquer that feeling and change my attitude!  I'm thankful for the Lord's continuing work in my life to make me more like Him,,, I must get a grip on my whiny attitude about ironing!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Busy Hands and Minds

Keeping the younger boys busy while we're doing school can be a challenge.  I have found a few tried and true "toys" that help to have at home.  Even on rainy days in the summer or wintery afternoons in winter, a few things always get used! 
Play dough is one of those items.  We have this purple tool box that holds all the play dough and supplies.  It's on a shelf in the dining area that they can grab and put on the table and use.  I have them put the cutting board under it to help with the clean up,, it gets in the wood of the table and is a pain to clean. 

The Draw Write Now Series has been another tool that we have used for years (I remember Jordan and Brendan using them when they were younger, making books and maps with them!).  The books give step by step illustrations on drawing very fun, kid- friendly pictures.  Each drawing also has a short penmanship lesson that can be used too.  

As a child, I remember my Mom setting a bunch of fun, creative stuff out on the table and my sister and I would be attracted to the table and would end up spending hours there. (She had a box where she put stuff to save,,,, the cotton out of pill bottles, the plastic ring off the milk jug, beads, buttons, shells, etc and we'd glue that to all kinds of fun pictures!  I remember the paste was made from glue and water and I thought it tasted so good!)  She still does this for my boys.  When we go for a visit, she sets bowls and cereal out on the table each evening for the morning food frenzy but she also sets out all kinds of puzzle books, word searches, Sudokus, etc on the table with a bucket of markers and pencils.  She has gotten Brendan hooked on Sudokus :).   Such fun memories of my Mom! 
I do the same thing on a rainy summer day.  Last summer, I remember putting the books out with a box of colored pencils (stock up on these and crayons in the fall when WalMart has them WAY reduced!), markers and crayons.  It was a cozy, rainy day on the porch and I could hear laughing and chatting as they colored and drew.  Such fun memories and creativity going!  I'm so thankful for the memories growing up with my parents  and pray the boys have sweet memories of their childhood with their siblings and parents!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I had "goals" for today, I always start my day out with what I want to get done for that day.  Today's goal was to start getting the potatoes into the ground.

  Every fall I buy about 200 lbs of potatoes to last the winter.  Man, that's alot, I just realized how much we go through!  Plus, one of the families from Mark's school gave us another 75 lbs!  I guess we do eat alot of potatoes.  So this year I decided I wanted to grow our own.  Now I'm realizing I may have not gotten enough seed, so may have to get some more.  I started a new garden this spring.  It's where the old clothes line was.  Mark built me a new one (much bigger) where the pool was.  


I started by cutting the potatoes in sections.  Then I went out to the garden to dig the rows.  Mark took the boys and got me a load of manure!  How sweet, he knows I love that stuff for my garden.  This was from a farm near by and it was already starting to rot and was loaded with worms!  So I got 2 rows in and had to quit to unload the manure.   
When Jordan and Brendan were near by, I rounded them up to help me build a better grape arbor.  So while they were busy getting that done, I got 2 more rows in.  Ugh, my goal was to get 5 lbs in.  I needed one more row to be done to reach my goal.  I went in for a drink and realized the time, past lunch hour  and only an hour and a half til we had to leave for the boy's first softball game.  Sadly, I went and started lunch, thinking I wouldn't get that last row in.  

We ate lunch and headed out to the game.  It was a fun game but sad because our team didn't win, in fact, they lost badly, but it was fun.  Hunter is old enough to play now, so I have 4 dudes to cheer for!  Although, they make me nervous too.  Brendan got trapped between 2nd base and 3rd, with both of the opposing team mates throwing it back and forth to get him out.  Brendan finally slid into 3rd and barely made it!  I was shouting a bit at that one :)   On the ride home, the air started to "smell" of rain.  We unloaded and I jumped into the garden and got that last row in!  Yippee, I reached the goal.  I got about 1/3 of the potatoes in but that's what I was hoping for.  The rain to come tonight is perfect timing, get those babies a good watering. 

There they are, 5 rows of potatoes, waiting to become Thanksgiving meal, shepherd's pie, and lots of yummy meals.  (the top part of the picture is where they are nestled, the sticks on each end are the row markers)

Couldn't resist a picture of my lovely manure pile.  I just have to work it in and then have some great, dark dirt for my veges to grow in.  That's garlic in the front.  I grow lots of that good stuff! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our Bread Recipe

This is the bread recipe I use for the bread we eat.  I end up making it every other week.

Hand method (2 loaves)
1/3 C honey
1/3 C Olive oil
2 1/2 C warm water
1 1/2 Tbs yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt
6-7 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tbs dough enhancer

Large Mixer Method (5-6 loaves)
2/3 C honey
2/3 C olive oil
6 C warm water
3 Tbs yeast
1 1/2-2 Tbs salt
16-20 C whole wheat flour
3 Tbs dough enhancer
2 eggs (I added this)  :)
I sometimes also add flax seeds and sunflower seeds

Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 cups fresh whole wheat flour in large mixing bowl.  Allow to sponge 15 minutes.  Add the honey, oil, dough enhancer, salt and 4-5 C (12-16 if using the larger recipe with a Bosch mixer).  Dough should be elastic and smooth.  
Knead bread by hand 7-10 minutes, (6-10 minutes with the Bosch mixer on level 1 and then 2). 
Form dough into 2 loaves if using the hand method or 5-6 loaves if using the Bosch larger recipe.  Place dough into greased loaf pans.  Rise until doubled in a warm place (about 30-60 min).  
Bake loaves 25-30 min in 350 degree oven. 

I use fresh ground wheat made from organic hard winter wheat.  I use the Bosch mixer and it saves SO much time and effort!

Choosing Gratitude Challenge, part 2

If you want to join me in the challenge, email me or leave me a message on FB.  It's good to have a group to encourage and pray for eachother.  I'll keep you posted on the progress of our "group."  :)

Choosing Gratitude Challenge

I'm reading this great book!  It's called Choosing Gratitude by Nancy DeMoss.  I realize that my nature is to be very ungrateful and selfish!  My personality is very pessimistic and something I have to constantly keep in check!  I tend to see the negative and judge a situation on the "wrong" side before seeing the good!  I'm realizing that alot of that is due to an ungrateful heart!  How humbling considering all the Lord has done for ME!

Romans 1:21 says "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."    This verse is pretty scary stating where unthankfulness can lead!  It's the "fountainhead of all the other evils listed in this chapter. The fact is, when we give in to whining, murmuring and complaining-not honoring God or giving thanks to Him- we embark on a destructive slide that can take us down to depths we never could have imagined going."  (quoted part taken from Nancy's book.)  Read the whole chapter (Romans 1) to see where it can lead!

Sadly, the ones I tend to complain about are the ones I love the most!  Nancy told about a challenge she has given to women for years.  I thought it would be a good challenge to take myself and offer to all my "cyber" friends.    It's called a 30 Day Encouragement  Challenge.  The two "rules" are

1.  Purpose not to say anything negative about your husband-not to him and not to anyone else about him.
2. Every day express at least one thing you admire or appreciate about your husband.  Say it to him!

My husband's "love language" is words of affirmation and it's one of the hardest for me to do,, so this will be VERY good for me!    So for the month of May, let's try to take this challenge and be more grateful!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Funny Farm

Some days I really feel like I live on a "funny farm"!  Life with animals and boys can be interesting!  
Tim has peeps,, 20 of them.  We moved them out to the front porch with their light because they were starting to  have a not to lovely odor and were getting TOO dusty!  (They scratch and dust flies all over the place!)
About 3 days ago, we heard one peep squawking rather loudly!!  We went out and checked what her issue was.  All the other peeps were pecking it's tail feathers until there was a bloody spot so they were pecking that too. (Chickens are cannibalistic and will peck eachother to death.)  So Tim and I got a cardboard box and put this poor peep in the house behind the woodstove in her box.  She got to like perching on the edge of the box.  Soon, that wasn't enough.  We found her little "evidences" that she was walking away from her box.

This morning was it, she's going out to be with her peers, bloody tail feathers or not!  She was peeping rather loudly in the kitchen, following us around!

Tim grabbed her and put her out.  Her peers didn't seem to peck her too much.  We moved them all into the movable coop with Miss Duck so they have more room to flap their little wings and get some sun!  So cute seeing them running around, flapping wildly!   Every morning seems to be something interesting with the boys and their animals!  I love our life!  Such fun memories!

Notice the light behind the stove.  That is her box and light to keep her warm.  Although, we've had the woodstove going each morning and she seemed to really like perching up right close to it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sprouted Beans

I've got two friends that are encouraging me to eat healthy, garden and be efficient housewives.  We all are getting seeds together,, comparing gardens.  We each just got chicks and share stories about our baby birds.  We're all trying to feed our families healthy while living tightly.  It's been such an encouragement to do this with them!  
Last week we had our "lesson" on sprouting.  I tried it!  It was fun!  I tried mung beans, lentils and navy beans.  For some reason, the navy beans didn't sprout, just got real stinky!  Today they were big enough to eat.  Yippee!  I added them to our supper.  

These are the lentils.  Probably once a week, some times twice, I do a two pot meal.  It would be like a stir fry.  Either I serve it on brown rice or egg noodles.  Our family was given a freezer full of venison so I added that to our meal tonight.  It's venison sausage so it adds some spice too.  I also use chicken breast too (half a bag so it cost $3).   I try to make our meals healthy and not too expensive.  My goal is to have our whole supper not be over $10, which is very hard!!!  Some week I want to journal all our meals and show the cost.  Our family budget for groceries and household expenses is between $150-200.  So I'd like to journal and share all the meals we eat for that price.  

Here's the finished pot of food.  This will serve us all one full plate, Mark's lunch and that's it.  So, I'll have a bowl of peaches or some other small thing to go with it.  Happy tummies,, that's my goal!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dandelion Vitamins

The weed with a long root and yellow flower.   Yet this weed is so good for us.  It's good for our blood, it's one of the best blood purifiers and builders available.  It's high in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium.  It's one of the best liver cleansers,  increases activity of the pancreas and the spleen,   good for female organs,  helps open urinary passages,  used to treat skin diseases, and it's free!  

Today I got 3 of the fellas to help me pick some from our yard.  You want to make sure your source is free of poisons.  We don't treat our yard so our's are safe to eat.  I've read it's best to pick them before they flower or they tend to be tough and more bitter. 

I brought them in and washed them good.

I got the Nutra Steamer out and steamed 2 big batches.

I'll put the cooled dandelions into bags and freeze them to use in soups and stews.  I'm also going to save the water from the bottom of the steamer pot and use that in soups tooThe How to Herb Book.  That has lots of good vitamins in it.

My Grandparents used to pick these at golf courses and eat them.  They remind me of them!                                                The How to Herb Book

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bag Tutorial

A friend from church is having a baby soon and I'm going to her shower Monday.  I got a gift but thought it was kind of boring so got thinking of what I can make for the Mom to be.  I remember from watching her other children in nursery, she's like me and not a big diaper bag person.  I noticed there were many times she just sent the child in with a diaper and that's it.  So I thought, maybe I'll make her a cute bag for her baby.  This is her 6th baby, she has a daughter, 4 boys and now is having a girl again.  So it would be fun to make this real girlish :)

I suggest reading through all this first before attempting it, helps to visualize it first :)  If you have questions,, be sure to email me or FB me, I'd love to help, if I can! 

So, I'll use her bag as our lesson.  
First,,, cut some squares in 4 inch squares.  You will 28 squares in all.  They don't have to follow a pattern but for this bag, I chose just 2 fabrics to work with.  I've done many of these bags with all different square patterns.  It's very versatile.

Next, begin sewing your squares together.  I sew them in long, continuous pieces.  I don't cut the threads and start again with each set. Be sure to just back stitch the beginning and ending of each square.  Saves on time and thread.  

Start sewing them in rows of 4.  You'll need 6 rows of 4 in all.   Three rows of 4 for the front and 3 rows of 4 for the back. 

Next, cut 2 squares in half and sew one of each piece to one set of blocks sewn together.  This is the bottom piece of your bag.  I will have sewn a 4 inch pink to a 4 inch green and a 1/2  pink to the 4 inch square and vise versa. 

You sew the bottom to the square, matching the seems.  

Sew the front and back together, connected by the bottom strip (the piece with the 1/2 pieces on the ends).  
Iron the bag so all the seems are smooth.  Use this as your pattern.  Cut a piece of batting and a piece of fabric, which will be your lining.  

After you've used your bag as your pattern,, you'll begin to sew the bag together.  Sew up the side seems.  You will end up with a hole like this.  Stretch that out and squeeze it together.  You may pin it, if that helps.  

Sew that hole shut.  Do this on both sides.  This creates the bottom of the bag.  

Here is the outer bag done... look how pretty you can make bags and so easy too!

On this bag, I made pockets.  I put them on the inside on the lining piece.  I wanted Mom to be able to hold her things too, if she needed or other baby items too.  
I took a piece of matching fabric, folded it in half and pressed under the bottom edges.  I stitched the bottom edges down and then vertically to form pockets.  I sewed them a few times to make them rather stable. 

Here are the pockets on both sides of the liner.  

Now, I laid the liner on the batting, wrong sides on the batting.  I closed it (right sides together) and stitched it just as I did the outer part of the bag.  

Here are the two finished pieces.  I stick the liner and batting pieces right inside of the outer bag part.  I do a basting stitch on the top to hold them together. 

I cut a 3 inch wide strip of fabric and ironed it in half.  Then I folded each edge in about 1/4 inch to make a nice finished bias type piece.  I iron under the ends to have a nice finished end.  I pin the "tape" over the edge of the bag.  Then I stitch it in place.  I did a pretty leaf type stitch :)

I cut 2  3inch wide pieces for handles.  I made these about 20 inches long.  I ironed them just as I did the bias type pieces.  I added a piece of batting in the middle  for alittle more substance.  I sewed them shut and added two more rows of stitching.  So there are a total of 3 rows of stitching on the handles,, on the each edge and one in the middle.

I stitched them into the insides of the bag.  Wala,, it's done!!!!  
I've made lots of these and sold them at craft fairs too.  This is also the same type bag I did to match my Easter skirt.  
I wanted to make one more fun thing, so I stitched a tag with the baby's name.  Her name is going to be "Jacqueline".  I made a flower and added that to the tag.  I love it!!! 

I had so much fun making this bag.  I made it during 3 mornings of school with the boys,, helps keep the sanity while listening to reading and checking math between rows of squares :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Penmanship Curriculum

For some reason, it's very important to me that our boys have neat penmanship.  Not just for the normal reasons (so people can read what they're trying to communicate) but for Godly reasons.  The Lord asks us to do things decently and in order; do all to the glory of God!  It's also a testimony of a child being brought up in a Christian home and being trained in the home.  So it reflects our home and our Lord!  

I found a new curriculum for next school year.  I tend to get all our new school books in April as the company I get the biggest bulk from has a big sale in April.  I can relax the rest of the summer, knowing next year's books are all tucked away, waiting for the pencils to begin!   My new penmanship came two days ago.  I opened it and it's just a disc.  No directions, nothing.  Uh-oh, what did I get myself into.  I need directions!  I popped the disc in and waited to see what to do.  I followed the directions and the printer started printing (thankyou Tonya,,, I have used it TONS!).  As the copies for 1st Grade began to come pouring out, I got more and more excited!  I love it!  There are great quotes each lesson from different Presidents.    Here is lesson 32's quote:  Do not pray for easy lives.  Pray to be stronger men.  ~J. F. Kennedy    

The disc has grades first to senior high.  So I can use this disc over and over again for all the boys!  One investment for the rest of  our home schooling days, I like that kind of stuff!!    I got the curriculum from the Boyer's site.  I truly admire the Boyers.  They have a large family (I think 14 kiddos) and have home schooled all of them and their children have "turned out" as they have trained them.  No straying but joy to their hearts.  It can be done and there are families to look up to as examples and learn from and this in one family the Lord has brought into our lives and we're so thankful for that!  There site is

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fowl Morning

Fun morning!  I went out to feed the duck and this goose was in the pond.  

Of course, as I snuck up and took her picture, she flew off.  Such a pretty sight seeing her in the pond though.  She's been out there every morning for the last week.

Here's Mrs Duck eating her breakfast.  Notice her egg laying there.  There were actually two in her pen but the other one was farther up in the coop. 
I love looking out the kitchen window and see her little head peeking over that board at me.  Always makes me smile!

Of course, there were the weirdo guinneas right near by in the strawberry patch.  Such strange birds,, running around chasing eachother every day!

And this hen,, she keeps forgetting to go in the coop at night.  Hunter's been letting his chickens out each day (only until I get my gardens seeded,, then their freedom is banned!!!) but  every morning she's already  freely walking about, strutting to her sisters that she's NOT in the pen!    Such a fun morning,, going out and seeing God's creation.  What peace and contentment it brings! 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yummy Salad Dressing

I finally found a salad dressing that isn't loaded with "junk" and we all like.  I fix a  raw, green salad  every night to eat with our meal.  It's just spinach and whatever veges we have on hand.  I know it's not near enough greens for our day but it's some!  :)

Celery Seed Sweet & Sour Dressing
1 small onion
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 C vinegar
3/4 C raw sugar or honey
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp real salt
1/2 C olive oil

Blend everything except oil in blender.  Add oil.  Blend on high for a few minutes.
That's it!!!  So cheap and so yummy.  Of course, having the right kitchen tools is so helpful.  I use my Bosch mixer for this!  I tried to figure out a few times what would be my most used/favorite kitchen tool.  This one may be it,, but my Whisper Mill is a close second.  The kitchen aid mixer is right up there too!  But my Bosch mixer is used for anything a blender would be used for and it's super heavy duty and sharp!(In the summer months, it's gets used tons with ice and fruit to make yummy smoothies!!!)   I love it!  And it's a MUST have for doing all the bread I do!  I couldn't even imagine mixing and kneading 12 loaves every other week by hand!!!    It was quite an investment for us so that also makes it so valuable to me. (I think we may have used our tax refund money one year for them).   I'm SO thankful for the help these tools bring  to help my day go quicker and help with our healthy eating.