Thursday, December 31, 2009

45 Day Fruitcake

After receiving numerous requests for my fruitcake recipe, I thought I would share it today even though I don't have a picture to show you just how good it is.

45 Day Fruitcake

Day 1- In a large glass bowl or gallon jar combine:
¾ cup sliced peaches (undrained)
¾ cup crushed pineapple (undrained)
1- 1¾ oz. jar maraschino cherries (cut in half and drained slightly)
1½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. yeast

Stir very well and cover loosely. Let set at room temperature the entire 45 days. Stir several times throughout the day.

Day 2 -Stir once.

Day 3- Stir once.

Day 4- Stir once.

Day 5- Stir once.

Day 6- Stir once.

Day 7- Stir once.

Day 8- Stir once.

Day 9- Stir once.

Day 10- Stir once.

Day 11- Stir once.

Day 12- Stir once.

Day 13- Stir once.

Day 14- Drain liquid from fruit. Squeeze enough liquid from fruit to make 1½ cup. Discard fruit. Wash your glass container and once you have it sparkling combine in it:
1-29 oz can sliced peaches (undrained)
2½ cup sugar
1½ cup liquid that was drained from fruit mixture.
Stir well. Cover loosely.

Day 15- Stir once.

Day 16- Stir once.

Day 17- Stir once.

Day 18- Stir once.

Day 19- Stir once.

Day 20- Stir once.

Day 21- Stir once.

Day 22- Stir once.

Day 23- Stir once.

Day 24- Add 2 cups sugar and 1- 20 oz. can crushed pineapple (undrained); stir well.

Day 25- Stir once.

Day 26- Stir once.

Day 27- Stir once.

Day 28- Stir once.

Day 29- Stir once.

Day 30- Stir once.

Day 31- Stir once.

Day 32- Stir once.

Day 33- Stir once.

Day 34- Add 2 cups of sugar and 2- 10 oz jars of maraschino cherries (undrained); stir well.

Day 35- Stir once.

Day 36- Stir once.

Day 37- Stir once.

Day 38- Stir once.

Day 39- Stir once.

Day 40- Stir once.

Day 41- Stir once.

Day 42- Stir once.

Day 43- Stir once.

Day 44- Stir once.

Day 45- Drain liquid from fruit. Discard liquid.

Combine:

1 Butter Recipe yellow or golden cake mix
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1- 3.4 oz pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1½ cups of the fruit
2/3 cup oatmeal.

Mix well with a wooden spoon. (Don't use a mixer) Bake in a greased tube or bundt pan at 300ยบ for 65-75 minutes .

You will have enough fruit to bake three cakes. They freeze really well and we like them so well that the thought of having three large fruitcakes make us happy.

If your family likes nuts you can also add 1 cup of pecans to each cake. You can also substitute the oatmeal with coconut if you like.

Seems like a long drawn out deal to candy your own fruit but it does taste much better than the store bought kinds. Once I actually get to enjoy a piece I always conclude that it was worth all the time it took to make it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wish No Harm

Outside the kitchen there was a large concrete porch that Daddy had plans to enclose someday and turn it into a laundry room / summer kitchen. There were no railings around it so we children had to have permission before we were allowed to be on it.

Summer evenings as darkness settled in and the first few evening stars came out we enjoyed laying on our backs and watching the corner of the eaves of the attic. We never had long to wait when the first bat appeared and took a funny little leap into the air and then went flapping away dipping and turning as they searched for insects.

We would count them as the appeared and went on their nightly flight but we never did get to stay outside until they had all flown. Mom or Daddy would come to the door and tell us it's time to get ready for bed.

One day Mom and we children were getting green beans ready to can we happened to see a bat on the porch that was making it's way clumsily toward the house. Mom told David to quickly get a broom and knock it off the porch and get rid of it. David went to do as she told him and went out on the porch but instead of getting rid of the bat he just stood there and watched it as it disappeared under the siding of the house.

I was sorely displeased with him. Bats going on their nightly flight were fine, but knowing there was one were there shouldn't be gave me the shivers and I told him rather unkindly that I hoped it would be in his room tonight.

Mom heard my rant and told me that it is never wise to wish harm or anything bad to happen to anyone. I felt a little sheepish but was still not happy that David let it get away.

That evening as we once again lay on the porch and watched the bats take off on their flight I wondered where the bat was that had disappeared under the siding and if it had made it's way back to it's family.

It wasn't long before we had to get ready for bed. After having had a busy day it didn't take me long to drift off to sleep.

I woke with a start. Everything was dark, I couldn't even see any stars through my window. I was sure I had heard something. I pulled my covers up closer as I listened. Sure enough soon I heard a scratching shuffling noise and then a bump. Some more scratching and shuffling and then another bump. I froze under my covers as I realized the noise was come from the attic stairway and the attic door opened in my room.

I kept listening to the noise as I pulled the covers over my head. After a few moments of silence I carefully peeked out from the safety of my covers just as a bat swooped close by my head. I let out a terrified scream which got Daddy to come running to see what was wrong. He saw the bat and told me he would be right back as he turned and closed my door and hurried downstairs and left me cowering under my covers as I listened to the bat flutter awkwardly about my room bumping into the walls and furniture.

Daddy returned soon with his flashlight and a buggy whip that he used to knock down the bat mid flight and then carried it outside. I got up and made sure the attic door was firmly closed and went back to bed.

The next morning at the breakfast table John and David were quite amused how the bat I had hoped would visit David came and visited me. I didn't think it was very funny especially since I hadn't been the one that had let the erring bat get away in the first place.

That evening as I got ready for bed I double checked the attic door to make sure it was latched properly. But once again I was awakened by a scratching shuffling bumpy noise and I knew another bat was making it's way to my room. I jumped out of bed and hurried downstairs and knocked on Daddy's door and told him there is another bat coming down the attic stairs. I stayed downstairs until Daddy had taken care of it before I went back to my room.

Every night the same thing happened. Finally Mom asked me if I don't want to apologize to David for saying I hope a bat goes into his room. I agreed. I had been bothered by more bats than I knew could be possible and was ready to do anything that might make that those nightly terrors would stop.

The next morning I apologized. And that night for the first time in more than a week I didn't have a bat making it's way down the attic stairs to my room.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunbeam

Sunbeam smiling bravely, on her way to her final surgery. Everything went really well and she was able to come home the same day. She is still dealing with some pain which is understandable considering the size of the hardware they had to remove from her little leg.



She will not to be able to walk for several weeks and is once again sitting on her "throne" same as she used to this summer following the accident.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nice Kitty

As spring came and warmer weather arrived it made tagging along with Daddy at choretime much more fun.

Along with spring arriving so did baby goats and several litters of kittens.. It was fun watching the kids play with each other as they ran and jumped around the barn and climbed the haystacks bleating happily the whole while.The baby kittens were so cute that I had a hard time leaving them in the barn with their mother.

One evening we were once again in the barn while Daddy was doing the chores. John and David were running with the kids when one of them managed to run out the barn door into the lean-to. The boys quickly followed it to bring it back to the barn. It didn't them very long to bring the kid back inside but they turned to go back outside again announcing that there is a nice black cat underneath a pallet that they want to bring into the barn.

They were gone for quite some time and then came back inside and asked Daddy to come help them that they can't get the cat to come out. Daddy went to help them and in no time they were back in the barn. What had appeared to be a cat was actually a skunk and the boys had been poking at it with a stick and tried pulling it out. The only reason they hadn't been sprayed was the skunk hadn't been able to raise it's tail.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

As I am creating our traditional Christmas breakfast I would like to take a few minutes to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Attic Adventures

A place that was off limits to us children and yet held so many interesting things. Our attic was filled with boxes and all manner of interesting things. It was my dream to be able to explore it to my hearts content.

Every winter Mom would clean and reorganize it since it had received many deposits during the previous year and everything needed to be put in order so she would know where to find things if she needed them.

In the evening after supper we would all bundle up in our winter coats and light several Coleman lanterns and make our way to the attic. Mom would take a chair along and sit in the middle and John and I would push and drag the boxes to her where she would look to see what was inside and then tell us where to put it.

There were boxes filled with books that she would go through to find some that we could add to our bookshelf since we could read at a higher level since the last time we had cleaned the attic. There were boxes of clothes that had to be sorted and hand me downs doled out the the happy brothers that could now wear their older siblings favorite shirt.

There were puzzles and games and box after box filled with toys. We could each choose several we wanted to add to our toy box downstairs but we had to exchange them with some we had played with the previous year. So it took a lot of thought which toys we were willing to give up in order to have some others to play with.

There were rows and rows of boxes with empty canning jars, which had to be sorted so that once canning time came the next summer we could easily find the jars we needed. Mom found large empty boxes and set them in front of the rows of jars and marked them and gave us instructions that every Saturday when we carried the weeks worth of empty jars to the attic we should put them in the correct boxes.

It took several evenings to get everything done. It had been so much fun seeing everything and now we could spend the rest of the cold winter nights with games, puzzles, and toys that we hadn't seen for a year. Next year we would put those back and choose some others, that way we never grew tired of what we had available.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fruitcake Woes

My husband enjoys fruitcake. I on the other hand have encountered so many bad fruitcakes over the years some of which were so hard and dry that my little brothers converted them to footstools. So I do my best to avoid most of them. However several years ago I found a recipe for a fruitcake that takes 45 days to make from start to finish and I thought it actually sounded kind of good especially since it required me to candy the fruit myself.

I decided to try it. It was somewhat of a nuisance to have to remember to work with the fruitcake everyday for 45 days but the end result was worth it and I had a fruitcake that we all enjoyed.

I made it again this year and today was the day to bake them. This morning after breakfast I drained my homemade candied fruit and got my bowl ready to add the remaining ingredients when I got distracted by a ringing phone. Upon answering it I was dismayed to get rather disturbing news. Somehow the fruitcake got to sit awhile while I was thus distracted.

Once I finally got it mixed and poured into the cake pan I sighed a sigh of relief as I slid the cake into the oven. After the 75 minutes of baking time were over I went to remove it from the oven only to discover I had forgotten to turn it on. I took the cake out while I preheated the oven. After allowing sufficient time for the oven to get hot I went to slide the pan in and discovered that addled brained ninny that I am I again forgot to turn on the oven.

I turned it on. And this time I actually managed to heat it and my fruitcake turned out beautiful. Since I have only one pan and most of my day was gone already I put the remainder of the fruitcake ingredients into the refrigerator to be baked tomorrow. Who knows maybe a 46 day fruitcake might be even better than the 45 day one.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

School Program

Every afternoon in school during December we had to practise for the Christmas program that would be held a few days before Christmas. We memorized poems and both Matthew and Luke's version of the Christmas story and more than a dozen Christmas carols.

We had to color Christmasy pictures to cover the walls and spent hours cutting out snowflakes to hang from the ceiling. I loved the way the school house looked as Christmas approached. It was the one place in an Amish community where it was permissible to decorate for the holidays.

Once the day of the program arrived we started for school extra early carrying a bag filled with gifts for the teacher and the pupils. The teachers gift was always something very nice but the pupils only exchanged cheap little things.

The forenoon was spent practising our program one last time to make sure there were no glitches, and right after noon buggies started driving into the school yard. Some of the parents set up a lot of benches and chairs in the back of the school room. Once everyone had arrived it was time to start.

I was glad that we had practised everyday for so long because the crowd of people sitting there watching us was a little overwhelming. I was glad to be able to focus on Mom and Daddy's smiling faces. David was sitting happily beside them watching everything and looking forward to the next year when he would be old enough to also be a part of the program. And Mahlon was sitting contentedly on Daddy's lap.

I got through my parts of the Christmas story and my poem with out messing up. But I still had to lead the song that had been assigned to me. When my turn came I managed to squeak out a quavery little sound and the rest of the children quickly joined in and helped me. There were only three verses and I breathed a sigh of relief once it was over.

The rest of the program went by with everyone remembering their parts. As we all filed back to our desks we sat down and teacher Hannah called us one by one to her desk to receive a gift from her. All the girls got a pretty glass bowl and the boys each got a game. Once we had all admired what she had given it was time for the pupils to exchange their gifts. Hannah would call one family at a time and they would go get their bag of gifts and give one to each child. Some families gave everyone an eraser, others gave a few pieces of candy or maybe a balloon or a pencil. The gifts were all very simple but we didn't mind and by the time everyone had passed out their gifts we all had quite an assortment of treats on our desk.

We placed them carefully in a bag and took them home where we divided everything with David and Mahlon. It had been fun but I was glad we only had to have a program once a year. Singing and reciting in front of so many people was not something I enjoyed doing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Dinner

The wind was blowing the newly fallen snow and whipping it up into pretty drifts. Every morning Daddy would have to go outside and shovel the snow from the driveway in case any customers wanted to come.

This was New Year's morning and he was once again shovelling snow but only a path so we could walk to the buggy without getting a lot of snow inside our boots. Mom was putting the finishing touches on several platters of snack foods and candy and checking to make sure the Cut Glass pudding looked just right. My brothers and I were dressed in our new clothes that we had received for Christmas and were excitedly waiting until Daddy would get Jim hitched to the buggy and we could go to Grandpa Masts for the Mast Christmas dinner.

When he drove up we saw he had tied our new sleds to the back of the buggy. We all climbed into the buggy. John and David asked if they could sit on the sleds and ride to Grandpa's that way. Daddy gave them permission and they jumped out of the buggy and got situated on their sleds.

Jim started up the hill. The buggy wheels squealed their noisy song as they cut through the snow. I was happy to stay inside the buggy with Mom and Daddy and only peep out the back window to watch John and David enjoying their sled ride.

After we got to Grandpa's Mom and I hurried through the cold into the house where the aunts were all busy helping aunt Emma and Grandma cook, the menfolk were all sitting in the living room visiting and the cousins were in Vernie's bedroom playing. I went to join them and we played games until we were called to get ready to eat.

Grandma's table was stretched out to it's full length and there was room for everyone to sit at it. The table fairly groaned under the weight of all the good food, because every one's favorite dish had been prepared. I tried to look at everything to pick out the things I thought looked best as there was no possible way to be able to taste everything.

Once everyone was seated we all looked at Grandpa to see when he was ready to ask the blessing. He would bow his head and everyone else did also. I used to wonder if he either fell asleep or tried to name all the food on the table. It seemed his prayer wouldn't end. I used to peep several times to see if he still has his head bowed. My neck would start creaking and I thought I just can't sit here like this any longer when we finally heard Grandpa's loud sigh signalling that his prayer was done.

Everyone looked up and started passing the food around the table. The grown ups resumed their conversations and I felt warm and cozy as my plate filled up with delicious things and the noise of all the happy families surrounded me.

After we were done eating it was time to clean everything away. Aunt Vernie, cousins Emma and Esther and I would stack the dirty dishes on the sink while Mom and the aunts would divide the leftovers to be sent home with each family and the boys were outside riding their sleds. Once everything in the kitchen was cleaned up we would all sit in the living room where we sang all the Christmas carols that we knew.

Once we were done singing. Grandma would hand out paper plates and then Emma, Esther, and I would each take a platter of snacks and carefully carry it into the living room and take it from person to person letting them pick out any snacks they wanted to try. There were lots of platters since every family brought at least three. Once every platter had been passed around we would fill our own plates and sit in the living room and listen to the grown ups conversations.

There were no gifts. But just being with family and all the good food made the Mast Christmas dinner an event I looked forward to each year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Light Bulbs

After years spent wandering about in semi darkness I have come to love light bulbs. The brighter the better. You will not find a 60 or 75 watt bulb if it is safe for me to use a 100 watt. As soon as the sun starts going down or if it's a little cloudy outside you can find me walking through the house turning on the lights. Not only in the room in which I will be working but also in any room that I can see out of the corner of my eyes.

There used to be a time in my life when I depended on flickering oil lamps and later the noisy Coleman lanterns. There was always a healthy supply of flashlights available if we needed to go into a room that didn't have a lamp lit. The only thing a light bulb meant to me at that time was the long boring evenings with a sock stretched over it so I could darn a hole in the toe or heel of the socks that kept filling the darning basket.

So you can understand my love for light bulbs that are actually serving the purpose they were designed for. I how ever do not like the new energy saving style. Imagine try darning a sock with it. But that isn't the reason I don't like them. So far all the ones we tried have not lasted longer than the old regular ones and they are a lot more expensive to buy. But the thing that really made me leery of them was the one evening while we were eating supper the one bulb started smoking furiously. We turned the lights off and removed the offending bulb but were concerned about what might have happened had we not been in the room. Several weeks later another one did the same thing, so now we really don't want to use them, and then recently for the lack of something better to read I started reading all the fine print on one of those energy saving bulb packages and was not at all impressed by what I read. Anything that requires a haz-mat team to clean up a broken light bulb is not something I want in my house.

All that aside. Over the years I have discovered the best place to hide Christmas gifts from my husband is in plain yet not too obvious sight. I had purchased his gift several months ago and hid it in our closet on a shelf hidden among a stack of assorted empty boxes. All was fine as everyday he would get what he needed in the closet and never noticed a thing and I was serenely happy knowing that it would work just as it did for years already.

It all came crashing down on me tonight when the light bulb in the closet burned out and he went to fix it. As he was standing on a chair he called me and asked "I'm really not supposed to see this am I as he pointed at his gift." I choked and stammered while he stood there looking immensely pleased with himself for having discovered his gift. As you can imagine I am not nearly as thrilled as he is and have no idea what else to get for him and Christmas is less than two weeks away. What should I do?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Memories

I used to start thinking and planning for Christmas soon after school started each fall. My options for gifts were limited since we never had an allowance so anything I wanted to give I had to make myself.

I wasn't good at running our scroll saw in the shop like my brothers were so making wooden things were out of the question. I was nine and Christmas was fast approaching and the only thing I had ready was a little picture book I had made for Mahlon by sewing pieces of paper together and gluing pretty pictures in it that I had found in old Oriental Trading catalogs.

One evening as I was helping Mom unpack a new shipment of things and place them on our store shelves I had an idea. I asked her if I could have the empty box, after she granted me permission I took it upstairs where I carefully cut off a flap, and covered it with some old wall paper scraps. I then glued a plain sheet of paper in the middle and copied a poem about a mothers love onto it. There was still something lacking. I finally decided it still needs a pretty border. My teacher gave a sticker to anyone that got 100% in there lessons and I made up my mind to try extra hard to do my lessons carefully and use the stickers to create a border. It took quite awhile to save enough. Every evening I would run home from school with my hard earned stickers and carefully place them as a frame around the edges of the motto I was making for Mom.

I asked John to cut out some heart shaped pieces of wood and varnish them for me. I then painted a blue rose on the one and wrote Daddy on it. Then painted roses on the others and personalized them for John and David. I felt pleased with my efforts of creating gifts and hid them in a drawer until Christmas morning.

When Christmas morning arrived we were awake early but Mom and Daddy had told us to not get up until they called us. As the sun rose it seemed they would never be ready. Finally they called us and we went downstairs. The boys went out to the barn with Daddy to help with the chores while I helped Mom fix breakfast. We had our regular fried cornmeal mush with tomato gravy and eggs, and then oranges and a cold cereal for something special.

When Daddy and the boys came in from milking the cow and feeding all the animals, we all sat down for breakfast. After breakfast everyone helped with the dishes. And then Daddy got the Bible and read the Christmas story. It was the only day of the year that he would read to us so we all sat quietly and listened carefully. After he was done reading we children had to go back upstairs until they told us it was time to come down. We used to get the gifts we had made and put them in a grocery bag and sit on top of the stairs to try to listen what was happening in the kitchen.

When they called us we ran downstairs and at each of our places at the table was a pile of things covered with one of Mom's pretty kitchen towels. We uncovered the pile and found a plate filled with nuts to crack and a lot of different candy. The boys each got a new shirt and I had a new dress. We each had a little German songbook. We thanked them and then we noticed in the middle of the table was another covered pile. Daddy said that was for everyone to share. We uncovered it and found a pile of books. We were thrilled. We all loved reading and new books were something we all enjoyed.

John, David, and I gave the gifts we had made. Mom thanked me for the motto and hung it on her bedroom wall where it stayed until after I was married.

After we had cracked and eaten some of the nuts and read a chapter or two in our new books Daddy said slyly. I have a feeling we didn't find all our Christmas gifts yet. Why don't we all go down in the shop. We followed him downstairs and there in the lumber bin were three of the prettiest sleds I had ever seen. We hurriedly dressed ourselves in our warmest coats and went outside to try them out. We had a nice hill in the pasture behind the barn and for the rest of the afternoon we rode down that hill and trudged back up. The longer we played the longer the hill seemed when we had to pull our sleds back up but the ride down was so fun we kept on until we were too cold to continue.

We went inside and Mom opened the oven door in our Pioneer Maid cook stove and laid a thick towel on it. We pulled up chairs and rested our feet on it enjoying the delightful warmth that the oven poured over our feet. Mom popped some popcorn and peeled a bowlful of apples and we all sat around basking in the glow of happiness of having had another great Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sunbeam Update





We had Sunbeam at the doctor today again, where they were pleased with how she healed and scheduled her next surgery to remove all the hardware from her leg.


We will all be so glad once that is done and the whole accident can seem like only a bad dream.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Great Grandmother's

Any excuse I had I enjoyed stopping in at Grandpa Masts. Aunt Emma was always working at something interesting. Vernie would be helping her or playing with her toys. Grandma would be working at her desk most of the time making scrapbooks for each of her grandchildren or writing a letter for one of her many friends.

There was however one room in Grandpa's house that I tried to avoid as much as possible. The room itself was cheerful and pretty but on the one side there was a hospital bed and in it was Grandma's mother. Great Grandma had suffered from a stroke several years earlier and ever since that day Grandma was taking care of her.

She was in her nineties and I was scared of her. When ever I stepped into her room to go into Grandma's scrap booking room she would reach out with her bony arm and ask whose little girl I was. I would hurriedly answer and dart back out of the room.

On Sundays however when we would all walk to Grandpa's house I would have to go into her room with Mom while she talked to her. I used to breathe a sigh of relief once that I was allowed to go play with Vernie.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Great Grandmother Swarey lived with one of her children. She was older than my other Great Grandma but she was still capable of taking care of herself to a certain extent.

Since she lived so far away I only ever got to meet her once. She was 103 at time. Several years later we got a letter from her son where she was living saying that she had put a pin between her lips while dressing herself as is so common among Amish women and had accidentally swallowed it.

They hadn't known about it until she complained about a pain and a trip to the doctor revealed the problem. They got the pin out. But at 106 it was too much for Great Grandmother.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Somewhere between age 9 and now, I have quit being frightened when I meet someone who has lived a full life. And I hope by the time I'm that old someone will be willing to let me have a room in their house just like my Great Grandmother's had.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Answering Questions

I hope this isn't too personal, but I have been wondering why you left the Amish?

Since I am chronicling the journey of a happy little Amish girl to where I am today. Still happy, but no longer Amish. I will come to the part where we made the hardest decision of our life. And will share everything then.

And do you ever see your family?

It has been a long time since I saw my family last. Unfortunately our choice to leave the culture we grew up in put a strain on our relationship.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Our favorite Christmas tradition is the huge Christmas breakfast I always make. We look forward to it all year long.

Have you any regrets about leaving?

We have no regrets about leaving. Our only regret is that we didn't leave sooner.

What is the most wonderful memory of being Amish?

My most wonderful memory? Hmmmm. This one requires a lot of contemplation. I have many great memories. I don't think it's possible to narrow it down to only one.

I have always wondered if all Amish communities are the same?

There are many differences between Amish communities. Some are so big that they won't even consider fellowshipping with other Amish churches that aren't bound by the same rules.

I was wondering if someone can become Amish?

Yes, there is a possibility to join the Amish. However it is a long drawn out deal, of learning two new languages (Pennsylvania Dutch for everyday conversations and German for church services.) and the quirks of living their lifestyle, and most important would be being accepted as a member of the church. Which is not an easy feat.

I'd be interested to know what church if any you attend.

We attend a non-denominational Bible believing church.

What are your thoughts on 'plain' anabaptism?

I think they have many good points and I still hold some of the convictions of being raised in that type of background. However over the years they have lost their focus on the main issues.

After your years of rumspringa what helped you make your decision on what to do with your life?

The word rumspringa means simply "running around" which is what it is called once Amish youth are considered old enough to join the youth group. Which in the community I grew up in and also a lot of others is not nearly as exciting as a lot of Amish books and movies portray it to be.

I joined the church when I started rumspringa and life was fairly boring.

For another former Amish view on rumspringa visit here.

I don't mean to be rude, but I am curious as to how old you were when you left the Amish?

I was in my twenties.

Do the Amish in your area vote?

No, the Amish in our area don't vote.

Did you all ever go out to eat?

The only time we went out to eat was when our friends from Georgia came to see us and would take us to a nearby Ponderosa. It used to be one of the highlights of each year.

What made you buy a computer when you left and how did you start blogging?

We needed a computer for a business we were in at the time. And I started this blog as a place to jot memories and have something that I'm comfortable with for the children to read online.

I have met numerous Amish people over the years and have noticed they never wear jewelry, not even wedding rings. I have often wondered why they don't at least wear wedding rings.

They class any and all jewelry as unnecessary and prideful.

Do you also speak a German dialect?

We still speak Pennsylvania Dutch at home at least 70% of the time.

I was wondering if after they leave are they welcomed back?

Anyone who leaves the Amish is welcome to come back if proper repentance is evident and they successfully pass a period of proving time. (Anywhere from 6 months to a year.)

Do Amish keep up with the current events?

Most Amish do. Some prefer not to.

Why is going barefoot so prevalent among the Amish?

It's comfortable and freeing to be released from the confines of shoes every spring especially if you are a child. Gardening is much easier if you don't have to worry about getting dirt in your shoes. And since wearing sandals isn't an option in a lot of communities I'm sure that makes a difference too.

My question is whether this was media hype because of one abusive family, which can happen anywhere, or are there some communities who are more severe with their children?

I have never been in any Amish community where it was okay to be severe with children. I have only ever known one family personally where there was a problem of abuse. There is a lot of exaggeration out there of how horrible it is to be raised in an Amish family. Some of it touted by bitter ex-Amish who are trying to inflict as much pain and damage to the Amish communities as possible.

I notice that your girls wear dresses that are plain-ish. Is this a carry-over from your Amish values or a matter of practicality? One more: do you still cover your hair?

I still have a lot of fabric left over from when we were Amish and I enjoy sewing. Also I am allowing Sunbeam to wear some of the Amish dresses Rosy used to wear. So I would call it a matter of practicality. I don't cover my hair at home, but still do most of the time in public.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just Because

Several months ago I did several question and answer posts, and lately I am getting emails asking when I'll do another session like that. So since the house is on the chilly side tonight and everyone else is curled up in front of the fireplace, I am thinking why not have another go at answering questions.

You can ask me anything you want to about the Amish or what ever strikes your fancy and I'll try to answer tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Pudding

As a child the thing I looked forward to the most about Thanksgiving was the layered pudding Mom made as one of the desserts. Wednesday evenings when we came home from school she would be cooking the top part in the double boiler, and I could hardly wait until it was time to eat it.

She would cover it and set it on the porch so it would chill well overnight. On Thanksgiving morning she would bring it inside and put it into the refrigerator. We always had church services in the forenoon and I would be sitting there thinking of the turkey stuffing and the pudding that was waiting for us at home. We never stayed very long to visit after Thanksgiving church but hurried home and got the rest of our meal ready.

This year I tried to make the pudding just the way Mom used to. It was just as good as I remembered and will be making it's way onto our Thanksgiving table in the years to come. It's a tradition that I am comfortable hanging on to.

Thanksgiving Pudding

Bottom layer:
2/3 cup orange jello
1 cup boiling water
½ cup cold water
½ cup ice (approx 8 cubes)
1- 20 oz can crushed pineapple drain all juice off and set aside

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Add cold water and ice. Stir until ice is melted. Add drained crushed pineapple. Pour into a 9x13 pan. Refrigerate until firm.

Middle Layer:

1- 8 oz extra creamy Cool Whip
1- 8 oz softened cream cheese

Beat Cool Whip and cream cheese together and spread carefully across the firm jello layer. Return to refrigerator.

Top Layer:

1 to 1½ cup pineapple juice that was reserved when you drained the crushed pineapple for the bottom layer.
Add water to pineapple juice until you have two cups full.
1 cup sugar
3 slightly rounded Tbsp flour
3 beaten egg yolks
Stir all together with a wire whisk and bring to a gentle simmer in the top of a double boiler or another saucepan if you are willing to stir without ceasing. Simmer until thickened. remove from heat and cool. After it's nice and cool spread on top of cream cheese layer and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekly Shopping

We usually make only one trip to town each week to stock up on what ever groceries we may need. Today I was busy cleaning the house with the childrens assistance and I still hadn't made my shopping list so I handed a pen and paper to Sailor and told him to write whatever I tell him.

I continued cleaning while he wrote down the needed items. The finished list is a keeper. I love nine year old boy's spelling. A few items on his list were.
  1. toylut cleaner
  2. clean nix
  3. lettus
The rest was actually spelled correctly. 

After my husband came home from work with our only vehicle I headed for town armed with the list. It didn't take me long to find everything I needed and as I walked past the Christmas department at Wal-Mart I just had to step inside to see all the pretty giftwrap etc. I ended up getting a roll of the cutest little snowmen design wrap, and then headed for the checkout.

After finding a checkout line with only one person I quickly pushed my cart in and put the little divider thingie on the belt and started piling my things onto it. The man in front of me didn't have very much and when the cashier happened to pick up my roll of wrapping paper and added it to his bill he hurriedly barked out. "That's not mine!"

The cashier apologized and as she was deleteing the entry she said, "I could have known it wasn't yours because now that I look at you, you really don't look like someone who would like Christmas."

The man muttered something about it being a big money sucking thing that he doesn't want any part of, while I was there trying hard not to laugh. Oh to have the courage to speak your mind like the brave little cashier.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Winner



Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

As promised I am drawing the name for the winner of the new Pillsbury Christmas cookbook tonight. And the winner is.......  Kathryn Kauffman 

Congratulations Kathryn! If you email me your address I will mail the cookbook to you. I hope you find many great new recipes to try.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mirrors at Midnight


It seemed as if every Amish community had some of their own pet superstitions they believed in. A common one was that if a lamp chimney suddenly broke or cracked for no apparent reason it was a sure sign that a loved one had passed away.

One rainy afternoon at recess in school we were all bored with the games to play indoors and the conversation turned to superstitions. I listened with growing dread at all the terrible things that would happen if certain events took place. Like stepping inside a grain bin on January 6th at midnight and you would see the person you would end up marrying. I didn't believe it to begin with but several of the children assured me that it was most certainly true because some of their older siblings had tried it and they had seen someone. It had scared them really badly and they would never try it again but it definitely worked. I shivered and was glad we didn't have a grain bin and I was in no danger of having that happen to me.

And then my friend Nancy said if you look into a mirror while the clock is striking at midnight you will see how you will look in your coffin. I shuddered at the thought as I envisioned peeking in my mirror and have an old wrinkly woman peering back at me.

We had a big clock in the living-room that Daddy would wind up every evening at bedtime. Up until then I always enjoyed listening and counting the slow bong bongs as the clock would strike every hour. Tonight however it was different I counted every strike and pulled the covers up over my head as I thought of the ugly corpse that was waiting to look at me at midnight. The clock struck only nine and I breathed a sigh of relief and then got up and turned my mirror toward the wall. I wasn't going to risk having to glimpse anything at midnight.

Weeks passed and I always made sure my mirror was facing the wall before I got into bed. And then one evening I forgot. That night I woke up as the clock started striking. I sat up in bed with my heart pounding as I counted every strike. 10...11.... and 12 I glanced in my mirror but all I could see was my own reflection. I fell back into bed thoroughly relieved and then the thought hit me. If that was how I would look in my coffin that meant I would die soon.

Sleep was the last thing on my mind as I tossed and turned and wondered how I was going to die. I didn't want to die in the slightest little bit. I still had my whole life ahead of me, but surely the mirror wouldn't lie. When morning came I sat at my desk and wrote a will. I wanted John and David to have my books and games and Mahlon to have my dolls and that type of toys. Daddy and Mom could have the rest of my things.

I got dressed and then picked up my will and took it down to the kitchen and gave it to Mom. She read it and wondered what was troubling me. I told her about the mirror and what I had seen when I peeked into it at midnight. She folded the will and put it into her pocket and told me not to worry. The mirror had done what it always does. Showed me my reflection and that I really shouldn't pay any attention to those superstitions, because most of them don't have anything to be based on.

I felt relieved but I still vowed to not look in a mirror at midnight ever again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Introduction


Since the day I started with my little blog I have met many great people. But this morning it was pleasant surprise to find an email waiting for me from an old friend that I had lost contact with over the years.

Thanks to a blog post I did back in April she was able to find me. After exchanging several email Sue has generously allowed me to borrow a picture from her website where she shares her experiences of traveling across America with a horse and buggy and later a team of oxen.

Her website Horsehairs is filled with many great photos and short stories to go with them. Please visit her site I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Paper Dolls

Winter evenings were the perfect time to get my box full of paper dolls out and play with them. It was fun dressing them in their many different outfits and pretend they were real. I would make them go on picnics and fine places in cities. The possibilities that my imagination came up with were endless and I spent many happy hours thus occupied.






One evening cousins Emma and Esther came to play. I had my paper dolls spread out and was in quite  another era when they came. They oohed and aahed about my lovely dolls and then we spent all evening playing with them. It was even more fun than usual, until it was time for them to go home. They helped me put my dolls away and then Mom said. "Mary Ann, why don't you divide the paper dolls and send some of them home with Emma and Esther?"

I looked at Mom, horrified at the very thought of having to part with some of my paper dolls. I loved each one and was sure I needed all of them to be able to play with them properly.

Mom was serious about sharing. I agonized over each doll but finally I chose half of them to send home with them, and gently put my half in my dresser drawer.

I have no idea if Emma and Esther played with their paper dolls but I could no longer enjoy mine. When ever I got the box out to play with them I missed the ones that were no longer there and so I would just put them away again.

I found my half of the dolls last week. They are still as pretty as when I used to play with them and after all these years I still miss the six I gave away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snow Cave

As the school year progressed I was getting more and more disgusted with cousin Emma. It seemed when ever she got close to LV she turned into a completely different person. She would laugh at all his chants he invented about me and try to chant them too. She tried making up some of her own mean things but she was the only one that ever said them. She would try to talk to LV when ever she got a chance never really realizing how he tried to avoid her at all costs too, infact he treated her with as much contempt as me but she was still thinking he could do no wrong.

At recess time the boys were digging a large cave in a snowdrift beside the schoolhouse. They didn't want any girls messing it up so most of them were sliding on the steep hill behind the schoolhouse. Emma and I stayed inside and were watching as the cave got deeper and deeper until it was big enough to hold most of the boys.

They all stood outside and admired it and then told cousin Marvin to go get one of the flying saucers and they would use that as the door. He hurriedly ran to do as they asked. He was constantly seeking their approval and bragged a lot which backfired on him and actually drove the very friends away he was hoping to gain. When he got back with the flying saucer they fitted it into the doorway. It worked. They rolled it back and asked Marvin to have the honors and be the first person to enjoy their cozy cave. He beamed with pleasure and asked if anyone else wants to join him. But they were all in agreeance that he should get to do it by himself.

I was happy for Marvin, because I felt sorry for him for not having any friends and now finally they were being nice to him. I watched as he crawled inside and they rolled the flying saucer back in front of the opening and then watched with consternation as they hurriedly heaped a big pile of snow in front of it. And then turned and walked away.

Teacher Hannah was at her desk checking books so Emma told her to come see what they did to Marvin. She came to the window just in time to see Norman, Vernon, and LV come running and then jumping on top of the cave smashing the roof down. Hannah grabbed her coat and ran outside and helped dig Marvin out of the snow. She told him to stand on the register to warm up and went to ring the bell.

As everyone went to their seats there was  an uneasy feeling in the air. The boys who had been involved in the burying of Marvin all still looked smug enough. But the rest of us could feel something bad was about to happen.

School dismissed early and as we were walking home I was sure that Emma would finally see now that LV really was a horrible boy. But to my dismay she was upset at Norman and Vernon but thought LV was still perfect.  That was the last straw. After all I had been through since meeting LV and how mean he was to Marvin I had all I could handle hearing her go on about the greatness of him, and before thinking twice I hit her hard. She started crying and I was so upset I started crying too. We came to the place where they had to turn off to go home and we choked out a tearful good by.

John and I got home and walked into the shop. Mom and Daddy were working at assembling chairs and immediately saw something was wrong. They pulled out a little chair and I sat down and told them everything that had happened that day. They were quiet for a little while and then Daddy said, "Go wash your face, and I'll take you to Alvin's to apologize to Emma."

I was sorry I had hit her, but not sorry enough that I felt like making a special trip to go tell her so. But I didn't have any choice. Emma was happy to see me and assured me that everything is okay which made me feel much better.

The next day in school teacher Hannah told me to go out to the mudroom that someone has something to say to me. I went outside and the only person there was LV I was ready to go back inside when he mumbled "I'm sorry I used to be so mean to you. I won't tease you any more," and then turned and ran out the door. I went back into the schoolhouse wondering how life would seem without being harrassed.

It was great. We didn't like each other any better but now there seemed to be a mutual agreement to ignore each other. Emma however was not in the agreement and she still adored everything LV did and said. I couldn't understand her point and just listened patiently whenever she gushed about him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Birthday Card Update

                             


When I asked for volunteers to send birthday cards to my Aunt Vernie I really didn't expect to hear anything about her reaction to receiving a lot of mail. But yesterday I discovered a little tidbit in an Amish newspaper where it said that Vernie Mast is thrilled to be getting a lot of mail due to the kindness of friends of her niece (my name)

They didn't mention how many cards she received, but I was happy to hear how thrilled she was. So thanks again to everyone who helped fill her mailbox!

Monday, November 16, 2009

From a Pig Tail to Hot Water

Someone had given us a subscription to the Pennsylvania Farmer magazine and whenever it came we immediately flipped to the page titled Country Air where people shared humorous incidents that happened to  them while living in the country.

At the end of the page they used to ask to keep the stories coming and offered to pay for any that they published. So one evening Mom sat down and wrote about the time she had to help chase a stray pig soon after she was married. She sent it the next morning and it wasn't long before she received a check in the mail. The magazine editors had loved it and planned to publish it in the next issue.

Mom was thrilled to have been able to earn a little extra money and when Daddy said she could use it to buy anything she wanted to it didn't take her long to know just what that would be. A coal fired water heater so that we could finally have hot running water.

Up until then we heated all our water on the cookstove to do most of our everyday things, but on Saturdays we would start a fire in the huge kettle in the basement to heat water for bathing which then had to be carried up two flights of stairs to the tub. And every Monday we would have to fill it up again to heat water to do the laundry. With a growing family it took an ever increasing amount of hot water and Mom was getting tired of lugging pails of water when ever we needed it.

Daddy went to an Amish hardware store that very evening and purchased everything he needed to hook up Moms water heater. When he came home he went right to work cutting pipes and fitting them to the cute little coal heater to the big tank that would soon be filled with hot water. John and I got to stay up late to watch him until he was done. I was hoping we could start a fire in the heater right away but Daddy told us to go to bed that he'll wake us in the morning once he is ready to start the fire.

He didn't have to wake us. By the time the first glow of sunrise had tinted the eastern sky we were up and ready to start the fire. We all went down to the basement and watch as Daddy scooped several hands full of coal into the heater and then laid some wood scraps on top. After studying it for a moment he sent John and I to gather some shaving from the shop. We hurriedly ran to do as he asked and then put our hands full of shavings on top of the wood and coal. Daddy lit a match and we all stood there watching as the shavings started smoldering slowly and then burst into flame Before long the wood scraps were burning and so was the coal. We stood there admiring the flames for a little while and then Daddy announced. "Why don't we go have breakfast now and by the time we're done there should be hot water to do the dishes."

I was suddenly filled with the uncommon desire to do the dishes on my own. I was sure it would be much more fun washing dishes with hot water from the faucet. Somehow it didn't dawn on me until too late that dirty dishes are dirty dishes no matter how the water was heated.

After breakfast we children ran through the house and tried all the hot water faucets and they all produced beautiful hot water. We were so excited.

A few weeks later when the magazine came we once again paged to the Country Air section and sure enough. There was Moms story titled "A Pig Tale About a Pig Tail" We all read it and chuckled about it. What we didn't know at the time was that almost every person in Somerset County subscribed to that magazine and Mom had to endure a lot of ribbing about the pig tail to which she always answered with a smile. "That tail gave us hot running water."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Colostrum

There was some concern in the Somerset Amish churches. A family had started with the whooping cough and everyone knew it would only be a matter of time before it spread through out each district.

Daddy immediately hitched Jim to the buggy and Mom gave him a gallon jar and he went from one dairy farm to the next to find someone who had a heifer that had freshened and was on the first or second milking.

With all the dairies scattered though-out the community it didn't take him long to find someone who was willing to give him a gallon of colostrum. When he came home Mom lined us up and carefully measured the thick nasty stuff in a small barrel shaped mug.

Since I was the oldest I had to take the first dose. I managed to get it down and then it was John and David's turn. They didn't like it any better than I did. We all felt sorry for Mahlon but he happily guzzled it down and asked for more.

From that evening on we each had to take a dose before we went to bed. I was looking forward to the day when it got all. But it didn't do me any good. By the time our supply got low Daddy went to find some more.

It must have worked though because even though we were all exposed to it we never got it. But even after all these years I still shudder at the thought of having to choke down my dose every evening.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that anyone should try the same remedy. If colostrum from a cow that had been treated with "Tomorrow" should happen to be used the results could be fatal.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Giveaway!



Time for another giveaway!  This time I'm giving the new Pillsbury Christmas cookbook that is loaded with great recipes that can be enjoyed all year long, not just over the holidays.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what is on your Christmas wish list.
For a second entry post a link on your blog and come back and leave another comment telling me you did.

I will draw the winner on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cape Dresses

I watched with great interest as Mom carefully cut the purple fabric. She was making my first three piece dress suit and I was excited. I had not minded wearing my other dresses but to finally be able to wear a cape and apron made me feel just a little bit grown up.

It didn't take Mom very long to get it sewed and then carefully iron it pressing the pleats in the dress and apron so that they came to a point just above the hem. After she was done I hung it on the hook on my bedroom door. It was much to pretty to hide away in the closet. I wanted to be able to admire it till I could wear it to go to church the next Sunday.

It seemed Sunday would never come. This Sunday was going to be extra special because not only would I get to wear a cape and apron but it would also be the first time I would be allowed to sit with the girls in church instead of beside Mom.

Sunday morning arrived and Mom helped me get dressed. It was more complicated to try to get pins to close my dress neatly instead of the buttons I had been used to. Once everything was pinned to Moms satisfaction we were ready to go to church. I went into the church house with Mom and hung my bonnet with hers and followed her like usual to shake hands with all the women that were already there. And once that was done I went to the coat room where the girls stood waiting until it was time to file into the church room.

I was no longer so sure that this was such a great idea. I could see that the women had already found their usual seats. Mom smiled at me while Mahlon sat on her lap looking at a little book. I wished I would be little enough to sit on her lap instead of being dressed in an increasingly uncomfortable outfit and standing with all the girls. I was glad my friend Nancy was also there. She had started wearing a cape and apron and sitting with the girls a few months earlier, and seemed quite calm and relaxed.

As I glanced out the window I could see the bishop and ministers and a long line of men following behind them make their way slowly and solemnly toward the church house. My heart starting beating faster at the thought that soon it would be our turn to file in.

I stayed beside Nancy and followed her to our seat. Church went as usual but I couldn't concentrate on the preaching. The apron belt felt too tight around my waist and I looked forward to going home and changing into my old comfortable dress that fit loosely and didn't present the danger of being jabbed with a pin.

Once we got home I was disappointed when Mom told me to hang the dress carefully because I would need to wear it to school the next week. I dreaded the thought of having to wear it again the next day. But that was only the start. The following week she sewed several more suits and I had to wear them constantly. Growing up wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. And life stretched out before me clouded with years of wearing uncomfortable dresses. Thankfully after several weeks I got used to them and life once again looked good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Alvin's Move In

Two years had passed since we had moved to Pennsylvania and I had made many new friends but that didn't put a damper on my excitement when I heard that Uncle Alvin's would be moving on the farm right next to us. I could hardly wait to be able to play with cousin Emma again.

When the day arrived that they moved in we all went to help them get settled. After the truck had been unloaded and all the other people had left for home Emma, Esther and I explored their little house. It was even smaller than ours had been. Aunt Lydia soon asked us to wash some of the dishes so they could be used for supper. We started filling our dishpan with water when the entire faucet popped off and a geyser of water shot for the ceiling. I thought it was hilarious, but Aunt Lydia didn't seem very impressed and Emma and Esther wished they would be back in their nice home in New York where faucets behaved properly. I hurriedly quit laughing because I didn't want to want them to move back to Dundee.

A few days later school started and John and I were happy to be able to walk to school with our cousins. After we got to school and everyone had been assigned their desks for the new term I was happy to be sitting right behind Emma. I wasn't very happy that LV was once again sitting across the aisle from me but I was determined to ignore him completely and not let him spoil my school year this time.

On the way home from school Emma and I talked about everything that had happened that day. It wasn't long before she started gushing about LV How smart and fun he is and much more daring than the other boys and how she really likes him. I told her what an awful boy he really was but she didn't seem to care. She was sure school would be a great place because he sat across the aisle from us. I couldn't believe that Emma, my best friend since we were both babies could be so traitorous and actually have a crush on the one person that had so often made my life miserable.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Magdalena

Every Saturday evening there was a large auction in Finzel, Daddy went several times a month and always came home with a lot of things. It was always fun to get up on Sunday mornings to see what he had bought this time.

One morning when we got up there was a nice desk and several boxes of things. I admired the desk a little bit but was more interested to dig through the boxes to see what kind of treasures were there when Daddy said that he bought the desk for my room.

I was delighted. I enjoyed anything to do with papers and books and now I had a desk of my own to keep everything in. I thought Sunday lasted very long but I knew without asking that I would have to wait until Monday morning to have the desk moved to my room.

Monday morning came and Mom and Daddy didn't seem to be in a hurry to move the desk. We had breakfast and started for school. That evening when we came home Mom had some fresh cookies waiting for us. As we ate them she told me that she wants to go upstairs with me once I'm ready to change my clothes. I didn't bother asking for a second cookie and we all went upstairs. I stood at my doorway and looked at my transformed room. It was beautiful. Mom and David had gathered some golden rod and put it in a vase on top of my desk. There was a new chair and an oil lamp standing on a doily. Everything was almost to perfect. I thanked them as they left and I changed into my play clothes.

I sat at my desk and opened the drawers. I couldn't wait to fill them with my very own scrap-booking things that Grandma Mast had given me. As I looked around my room I wished there was one more thing that would really complete it. I wanted a sister to share everything with.

With a sudden burst of inspiration I took the quilt off my bed and rolled it up. I got my favorite pink nightgown and stuffed the blanket inside and got one of my old bonnets out of  the cupboard in the hall and put it on the quilt and tied it. I set my creation on the chair and studied it. From the back it looked surprisingly real. I called it Magdalena.

I kept Magdalena for months and would hurry home from school each day and quickly do all my chores. I would spend all my spare moments in my room creating things at my desk. I would talk and laugh with Magdalena the whole time. She was one of the best friends I had that year.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hearty Chili Soup

When I was growing up we used to have soup once a day. I used to love it and couldn't imagine ever not having soup often. However since we are married I discovered not all families enjoy soup as much as my family used to. So it has to be especially good before I am able to serve it at our table.

Several years ago I discovered this Chili soup. It was so different from any chili I had ever tasted I knew immediately it was a soup that would be welcomed by everyone in our house.

With the nip of fall in the air it seemed to be the perfect time to cook a batch last evening. The recipe I have is huge so I divided it and made only a fifth which was still way more than we were able to eat in one meal. But that is fine because it freezes well. I must admit if I had seen the recipe before I had tasted it I probably would not have ever made it. And so far everyone that has had some asked me for the recipe and when they see the ingredients they do a double take. So you'll just have to take my word for it. It really is good!



Hearty Chili Soup

2 lb ground beef
1 tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp chili powder
¼ cup chopped onion
8 cups water
3 cup ketchup
1 cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
1- 28 oz. can Bush's baked beans Original

Combine ground beef, onion, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Fry in a large kettle until browned. Add baked beans and water and bring to a boil. In the meantime in a separate bowl combine the ketchup, flour, and brown sugar. Add slowly to the boiling mixture and stir constantly until soup resumes boiling. Turn out heat and let set for a few minutes before serving.

I also served cheese bread with the soup, unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the bread. I'll post that recipe the next time I make some.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Irene

One of the highlights of every month was the day Irene came. Irene was a lady that loved yard-saling and made her own little business of buying anything she thought the Amish might be interested in which she then organized and loaded in the back of her vehicle and drove from one Amish home to the next to sell the treasures she had found.

One Saturday we were canning peaches when I looked out the window and saw Irene's familiar blue vehicle pull into our driveway. "Irene is here." I called to Mom. She set the pan of peaches aside and washed her hands and asked me to come with her to see what Irene has today.

On the way out she told that I did a really good job baby sitting Mahlon all summer and I can choose whatever I want and she will buy it for me.

I was thrilled. It would be the first time I ever was allowed to choose something to buy. Irene opened the back of her vehicle and there before my eyes was the most beautiful selection of dishes and toys that I had ever seen. There was so much to choose from I thought I could never make up my mind. There were beautiful china dishes with pink  flowers and lovely water and berry sets. And then I saw it. The perfect thing. A cute sugar and creamer set that were standing on a little platter. I knew immediately that is what I want. I pointed it out to Mom and said that is what I want. She asked me if I'm sure, that I can choose anything at all. But I had made up my mind that was what I wanted.


Mom bought it and I carried it carefully to my room and set it on top of the curio. I was so pleased to be the owner of some nice dishes. It was several years later before it dawned on me that I might not have made the wisest choice when I chose that humble little set from all the beautiful dishes available. But I still love it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Raw Potatoes

One day when we came home from school there was a postcard resting on top of the pile of mail on the kitchen table. It was an invitation to the wedding of one of my oldest cousins.

Mom and Daddy talked about the up coming wedding at the supper table and they decided to attend. They would have to leave for several days since the wedding was in Michigan. They didn't want us to miss school and since Grandpa Masts and the rest of Moms brothers and families were all planning to attend the wedding as well it was decided to ask one of the teen-aged girls to come and stay with us while they were gone.

The evening before they left Daddy and John went to bring her to our home so she would be there before they left soon after midnight. John, David, and I were excited to stay at home and felt only a little bit sorry for Mahlon who was still to little to stay with us.

When Daddy came home he dropped off the girl at the end of the driveway and drove on out to the barn to unhitch Jim. I peeped out the kitchen window to see who came but I didn't know who it was. Mom went out to the porch to welcome her inside. She was carrying an old brown battered suitcase that she set down inside the door. Mom introduced us to her saying, "Susan this is MaryAnn, and David" and then proceeded to tell her what our chores were each day. And what she had for her to work on while we were in school.

I wished we could stay at home. Susan looked like she knew how to have fun. When Daddy came into the house we all got ready for bed. I thought I wouldn't be able to sleep but the first thing I knew we were waking up and Daddy and Mom had left.

Susan got up and said we need to go do the chores before breakfast. We all went to the barn with her and watched as she sat down beside Jenny and tried to milk her. It must have been her first attempt to try milking a cow because it was the most pitiful sight I had ever seen as she pulled and squeezed but only a few drops of milk plunked noisily into the stainless steel pail. John and I tried to show her how but it wasn't as easy as it looked when we watched Daddy or Mom do it. Susan finally managed to get almost  a quart of milk and decided it was good enough.

We went inside and saw it had taken much longer to do the chores than we had anticipated and it was almost time to leave for school. We quickly changed and ate a banana while Susan packed a lunch for us. School passed uneventfully enough and when we came home Susan was ready to try the chores right away. It didn't go much better than it had that morning she got a little more than a quart of milk but not much.

Once we got back to the house she asked us what we would like to have for supper. We wanted potatoes and meat. I went to the basement to get a bowlful of potatoes and once they were peeled I got a great idea. We would eat them raw. We used to each have a slice sprinkled with salt as a snack every evening while Mom peeled the potatoes for supper, but only one slice. Tonight we would get to eat all the raw potatoes we wanted. Susan looked a little dubious about our idea but with all three of us enthusiastically wanting a bowlful of raw potatoes she sliced them and set them on the table.

As we sat down I couldn't wait to be able to eat all the crunchy salty potatoes I wanted. We passed them and each took a generous helping. I sprinkled salt on a slice and ate it. It was delicious. I sprinkled salt on the next slice and ate it. Still good. The third slice wasn't a treat any longer and I would rather not have eaten the forth. As I eyed the pile of raw potatoes on my plate and the bowl that was still almost full I knew I couldn't eat them any longer. John and David were having the same problem I was. We ate our meat, but we all agreed we had more than our fill of raw potatoes.

Susan took all of them and put them in a bigger bowl and covered them with water to be used to make mashed potatoes the next day. Our grand adventure of staying at home without Daddy and Mom didn't feel very grand anymore and we could hardly wait until they came home again.

And since that day raw potatoes no longer look tempting.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thank You!

                              

I want to thank all of you who emailed and volunteered to send a card to my aunt Vernie for her birthday. It was a real blessing to know there are so many great people who are willing to take a few minutes and send a card to someone they know only through reading my blog.

Thank you all very much!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Favor

When I starting blogging I was looking for a place to jot down some of my memories. I was pleasantly surprised when people actually started reading and following. It wasn't long before Google wanted to have ads on my blog and I thought sure why not? A few extra pennies never hurt anyone. And I attached their annoying little ad sense gadget.

Six months have passed where I patiently frowned at those ads everyday, and finally this morning I got rid of them. And I'm doing a little happy dance while wondering why I didn't do it sooner.  Now I can have anything in my side bar I choose to. I don't have my own etsy store yet so I can't place a link for that, but I do have a friend who makes the cutest Waldorf dolls that I thought would be a shame not to let all of you know about.


Isn't she precious?
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And now I would like to ask a favor from anyone who is interested. I have an aunt that is very dear to me who has/is Downs Syndrome. She is having a birthday on November 5th and I would love to have her mailbox filled with birthday cards. If anyone would like to send a card to her, please e-mail me and I will give you her address.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Burdocks

Summer was always busy, but the summer that Mahlon was a baby was especially so because Mom and Daddy had planted three acres of sweetcorn to sell plus an acre of strawberries and our own vegetable garden.

Most days when Mom, John, and David went to pick strawberries or hoe the sweetcorn I would have to stay in the house to babysit Mahlon. I enjoyed it most of the time but there were days I wished I could go outside and run and play instead of having to sit on the floor and play with Mahlon.

And then the time came when the strawberry season was over and the corn no longer needed to be hoed. Mom had picked green beans and we helped get them ready to can. Once they were all in cans she told us we can have the rest of the day off.

We ran outside and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I found an old gallon paint pail and we ran behind the barn to where there was an old dry creek bed and all along the banks there were hundreds of burdock plants. We picked pail after pail of the pretty pink and purple burrs and then climbed into the corn-crib and dumped them out until we had a large pile. We sat down and started making baskets with the burrs . We had a whole row of varying sizes of baskets when I decided to make one that was extra big. I started with the sides  and as I was ready to make the bottom it struck me how much it looked like a crown. I lifted it up for John and David to admire too and then set it on top of David's head.

David was pleased to be wearing it as John and I admired him and then I wanted it back to finish my basket. But now it didn't want to let go of his hair. I pulled at it and I got a few hands full of burdocks and the rest stayed stuck to his hair. John tried to help as we pulled and tugged to get it off David started crying and started running to Mom.

We followed him leaving our finished baskets forgotten in the corn-crib. Once we got to the house David found Mom. She took one look at him and set him on a youth chair and started painstakingly picking the burrs from his hair. She got a lot of them but there were many more that were so hopelessly stuck that she had to cut them out. And for several weeks David looked funny with his choppy haircut.

I don't remember that Mom gave us a lecture but we never tried wearing a burdock crown again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Visiting

It was not unusual for parents to send messages to other families by sending a note to school with their children and they would make sure the right family would get it either by giving it to pupil from that family or if they didn't have any children in school it would be given to someone who passed their house to drop off on their way home.

We didn't get notes very often and it always made me curious what people would have to write so often. But at one noon recess we were all eating when LV dropped a note on John's desk. The day couldn't pass fast enough and we as soon as school dismissed we ran home to give the note to Mom and Daddy.

Daddy read it and said, "How nice! We have been invited to Roy's on Sunday." I couldn't really see anything nice about that since they didn't have any little girls to play with. I couldn't be expected to sit and listen to the grownups talk and I certainly didn't look forward to an afternoon playing with LV.

I was suddenly wishing we would not have received that note or that we would have happened to lose it on the way home. But there was no use in wishful thinking. Daddy had already read it and said we would be going.

Sunday came much too soon and as we were getting ready to leave Mom asked Daddy if she has to use the black baby blanket for Mahlon. Daddy thought it probably would be a good idea since Roy was one of the ministers and black blankets were required to go to church. At this exchange it all of a sudden dawned on me that maybe Mom wasn't extra thrilled at the thought of going to their house either.

Daddy hitched Jim to the buggy and we left. It was a beautiful spring day but I was not enjoying the ride as I continued to dread the thought of having to be in LV's home. When we got there Roy came out to help Daddy unhitch the horse. He shook hands with Mom and me and told us to go into the house. I followed Mom to the porch and stood there looking at all the flower beds surrounding all their buildings. I had never seen such a lovely farm before. Everything was immaculate. As Mom knocked I could hear footsteps and Roy's wife Susie came to the door to welcome us inside. We stepped inside and I felt more uncomfortable than ever. Everything looked new and perfect. There was a huge kitchen dining room and living room all in one large L shape. Everything was gleaming and I suddenly wanted to be back in our own home with small rooms and old windows that made everything look wavy when you looked through them.

As Mom went to help Susie make lunch I followed and stood at the end of the counter to watch. It wasn't long before the menfolk came inside and found a seat in the living room to visit until lunch was ready. After lunch I helped wipe the dishes and once that was done the women joined the others in the living-room. LV John and David were playing with Tinker Toys and a farm set. It looked like fun but I just sat beside Mom.

After a bit Susie told me that I can go play too if I want to, that Nancy Summy always plays with LV when ever they get together. Nancy was my best friend and so encouraged by this bit of news I went to join the boys. I sat down beside John and asked if I can play too and the daggers that shot from LV's eyes more than gave me my answer. And as he hurriedly raked more Tinker Toys toward himself I got up and went out to their sun porch where their daughter Lydia was popping popcorn for an afternoon snack. She starting visiting with me and once she was done she got a game and helped me play with it.

I had a pleasant afternoon after all, but was glad when Daddy came to announce that it was time to go home. On the way home I thought how lucky I was to have nice boys for brothers instead of someone as mean as LV.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Little Red Mailbox & Other Thoughts

Several months ago we started our own little mail system when we happened to find these cute little mailboxes. Now when there is something on the children's minds I can expect to find a letter in my mailbox. So far most of them were little love notes and my box where I am saving them is starting to bulge. I really like the system and am looking forward to continuing to use it for years to come.


The mailboxes in the girls rooms, where one of them has a note from Mom waiting to be read.
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Recently we took  Sailor and Rosebud to the library and let them get their own library card. They were excited at the thought of being responsible for their own books. Sailor of-course chose a book on building ships and has been poring over it in his spare moments and is in danger of knowing it by heart by the time the book is due back.

After we got home I finally got to read the lengthy list of rules they had given us. And I have been thinking about them since. Somehow I think it's really sad that somewhere along line it was necessary to establish some of these rules. For example rule five states that no bathing is allowed in the restroom. Really?! I can't imagine how anyone could possibly dream up a rule like that unless someone actually tried it. Rule 25 states that it is prohibited to leave a child under the age of 18 after closing time. I can not imagine trying to leave my children there unattended at any time.

After reading the list I am happy to know I am not in any danger of breaking any of their rules and I'm hoping we can conduct ourselves in a manner that no new rules are required because of our conduct on their premises.
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After the suggestion of a friend, I will be starting to add a label to each memory post stating the age I was.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Aunt Ella

 Once a year we would all go to Canada to visit Grandpa Swareys and all of Daddy's brothers and sisters. It was something we all really looked forward to. Grandpas had such a cozy little house that was built beside Uncle Solomons house. Aunt Susie and Ella still lived with them. Grandma was short and plump and very cheerful. I loved visiting with her because she had a way to talk that made you feel like you were equals and could share everything that was on your mind without the fear of being secretly laughed at.

Susie would spend most of the time cleaning vigorously or sewing quilt tops. She would let me snip the threads that held the string of sewn patches but that wasn't nearly as fun as spending time with Grandma or Aunt Ella.

Ella was not your typical aunt. As a teenager she was a victim of the dreaded disease, polio and suffered devastating effects because of it. But she was always cheerful, delightfully humorous and and all around pleasure to know. A definite favorite to her nieces and nephews. She always had the way of viewing life from the perspective of the age group she was mingling with.

I couldn't wait to show baby Mahlon to her. I knew she would love him as much as I did. When we arrived everyone came out to welcome us and I wasn't disappointed at how she and Grandma fussed over Mahlon. We unloaded the van and sent the driver to a neighbor who was willing to share a room in their house for him. It wasn't long before more vans came bringing more of Daddy's brothers and their families from several different states. The noise that came with them was delightful and we cousins went to play leaving the grownups to their grownup conversations.

The day passed swiftly and the next morning brought the rest of Daddy's siblings for a family reunion. What a noisy gathering it was. The women were cooking loads of food and the men were each cranking an ice cream freezer and we cousins were having the time of our lives. I don't remember what we had to eat except when it came time be served the ice cream. Seven of us girls approached the line of ice cream freezers where the uncles were doling out portions of all different kinds of flavors, by the time we reached the end of the line our plates were piled high. We sat on a bench under a shade tree and started eating, but had barely made a dent in the mountains of ice cream when we were simply too full to eat another bite. We sat there in pure misery trying to eat it. Taking our plates to our mothers never crossed our minds as we had all been taught to eat everything that we had been served. Finally one of us got a bright idea.... at this point it should be brought to attention that Grandpas did not have indoor plumbing. They had a nice little building that accommodated four.

We casually walked toward the outhouse bearing our heaping plates of ice cream and hurriedly scraped it down the holes. We were ready to leave when who should appear at the door but aunt Ella. She relieved our guilt by saying, "They gave you way too much. Didn't they?" She then proceeded to collect our empty plates and took them inside to be washed. She never told anyone what we did.