Thursday, December 31, 2009
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.
1 Butter Recipe yellow or golden cake mix
2/3 cup vegetable oil
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 300º 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
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
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
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
Thursday, December 24, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
You can ask me anything you want to about the Amish or what ever strikes your fancy and I'll try to answer tomorrow.