Friday, December 30, 2011

Related?

I read somewhere that most Amish are related and have to marry cousins and second cousins. Are you and LV related?

No, LV and I are not related. As far back as I have been able to trace there are no connections. My parents and grandparents weren't related to each other either. LV's parents and grandparents can say the same about their marriages.

There are communities where there is a lot of intermarriage where there are hardly any options other than marrying your second cousin unless they are willing to marry someone from another community. So far I am not aware of any Amish community where it is acceptable to marry a cousin.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Canning Meat

I have often wondered how Amish preserve meat since they obviously don't have freezers and yet do a lot of butchering.

Ah yes, the work involved in canning meat. Thanks for bringing back those memories of a week spent every winter in canning a year's supply of meat for the family.

We didn't do the actual butchering ourselves. After sending a fattened steer to the local butcher shop we used to come home with hundreds of pounds of ground beef and steak that needed to be taken care of as soon as possible.

For every 80 lbs of ground beef we would mix up:

40 Tbsp salt
20 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1½ Tbsp ginger
1½ Tbsp paprika
1½ Tbsp ground sage

After making sure it was mixed well we would sprinkle it over the top of 80 lbs of ground beef and then mix it thoroughly with our hands until we were sure everything was seasoned evenly. Next it was packed into wide mouth quart jars and placed into a canner filled with cold water. Once the water started boiling we timed it for three hours and then removed the jars and let them seal before washing them off and placing them on shelves in the basement to be used when we were ready.

To use this we would slice it out of the jars and heat it often adding water and bringing to a boil and then making a gravy with it. It also made excellent sloppy joe if you chopped it up and added a few more ingredients. It was great to use to make sandwiches or if you were hungry between meals a cold slice hit the spot!

For "steak" we used to request very thinly sliced choice boneless cuts of meat from the butcher.

We would make a brine by boiling together:

1 gallon water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup salt

After letting it cool completely we put one cup of the brine into a quart jar and then dropped 2"x2" pieces of steak into the jar making sure not to pack it since we wanted brine to be able to be between each slice. It was then placed into a canner and boiled for two hours.

To eat it we would drain the brine and then fry the steak in butter and flour.

Corned beef was the most gross thing we made. It was very simple but something I never did after we got married.  We used to take a big crock and pour a thick layer of salt in the bottom and place a layer of steak on top of it and then cover it with another layer of salt continuing this way until the crock was filled to the top. We would set in in a cold dark place usually in the basement for at least two weeks. In that time the salt would melt and the meat would turn pink. To serve we used to fish out several slices of meat wash it in clean cold water and then boil it for a few minutes. It used to be extremely tender but also salty. Not a big fan!

To can poultry we used to fill the jars with meat and sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on top before boiling for 3 hours.

Those were the main meats we canned although we usually made bologna, liverwurst, and a few other things.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Thankful Christmas


Our Christmas was especially sweet this year as we spent all day enjoying our little baby boy. Sailor is especially thrilled to finally have a brother!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Celebrating Easter Amish Style

We are interested in the Amish celebration of Christmas, and Easter, too.
I shared how we used to celebrate Christmas while we were Amish here.

Christmas was my favorite holiday. Easter on the other hand was a long drawn out tiresome affair that as a child I used to be very glad once it was over.

In the community where I grew up the Easter holidays officially started on Thursday evening before Good Friday when we would have an extra big meal for supper and then a little snack yet before we went to bed. Extra care was given to make sure the house was in order.

On Friday morning we would get up, do what ever chores that needed to be done. Cows and other animals have this way of needing to be cared for no matter what else is going on. After chores were done we would wash up and then sit in the living room since Good Friday was a day of fasting it was more sober and solemn than a normal Sunday. We would read the Bible and the prayers in the little black prayer book and the German, Rules of a Godly Life book. There was no playing and any talking was done in hushed tones.

It was always a relief once the day was over. The next day always seemed to carry some of the previous days solemness with it as we hurried to do all the regular Saturday cleaning and preparing lots of food for the next two days so we wouldn't have to cook much.

Easter Sundays we would treat like any other Sunday except Mom would make soft boiled eggs for breakfast. Thankfully that was a once a year occurrence! If it was our church Sunday we would go to church. Otherwise we would stay at home and read, play games, write letters, and things along that line.

Easter Monday we again couldn't work it was a day treated much the same as any inbetween Sunday and by now we were all tired of having to sit around doing nothing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Amish Stores in Somerset County

I have read quite a bit of your blog already and have gathered that you grew up in Somerset County. I pass through that area occasionally but have never met any Amish people. Could you tell me where I could visit some of their stores or bakeries?

The Amish in Somerset County are not tourist oriented at all. You won't find a lot of stores or bakeries just by driving through the area even though there are seven church districts. The area is heavily wooded and most farms are tucked on hillsides and in valleys surrounded by lots of trees. While there are some Amish farms close to the roads many more are hidden from view.

As far as the stores go. There are Amish stores that sell fabrics and many other things that the rest of the Amish would like to purchase. How ever they are mostly known only to the Amish and often kept upstairs in their farmhouse in a spare bedroom.

I have not visited any Amish stores in the Somerset area for over seven years. There used to be one open to the public along Oakdale Rd in Salisbury but I have no idea if they are still in business or not. There was also a little bakery and variety store along Rockdale Rd in Meyersdale.  In the twenty years of living in that area I never visited that store so I can't tell you just how it is or the quality of their baked goods other than that they must be doing something right to have been in business for so long.

There are a few Mennonite operated businesses in the area including Whispering Pines, a furniture business now owned by a Mennonite family after they purchased it from my parents. It is located along Route 669 in Springs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Amish Language

Do all Amish speak German ?

If the Amish were to travel to Germany they would have a really hard time trying to understand conversations. Church services and the Bible they use are German but other than that they speak in what is know as Pennsylvania Dutch although some people refer to that language simply as Amish, Deitch, or Pennsylvania German.

There are some Amish that speak with a more Swiss dialect and the two groups Swiss Amish and mainstream Amish can not understand each other and have to speak English if they want to have a conversation.

Pennsylvania Dutch is for the most part an unwritten language and each community has some words that leave other communities scratching their heads. Even families in the same communities often have a word or two that seems to belong exclusively to them. After LV and I got married there were words that we had to decide how we would pronounce since his family had been used to one way while mine had pronounced it differently. I changed quite a few pronunciations and thankfully some of his weirdest ones were changed as well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Amish Child Training

Could you explain more of the process of how the Amish train their children to behave during such long church services? Did some moms take the children out for a time? Any other helpful tips? Also, along those lines, how do Amish women get everything done when they have very little ones?

I don't think any two families train their children exactly alike. And most babies went through a period of time when they really hated church, usually around the time they were learning to crawl and getting around on their own and the mothers had to spend time outside with them.

Thankfully that period of time usually didn't last very long. In our community when a baby was born and people came to visit the gifts they gave weren't ones you would find at a typical baby shower. But instead toys and special things the mother could use later to occupy her child during those long services.

A favorite that would probably have most baby "experts" gasping in horror was a cheerfully painted salt shaker with a dozen or so toothpicks. The mother would remove the toothpicks and then help her baby place them back inside through one of the holes on top until the baby had mastered the concept and tried to do it on it's own. There were other similar toys that kept them occupied quietly for quite a length of time and I never saw or heard of any babies that were hurt in any way playing with that type of thing under the watchful eye of their mother. Snacks were an important part as well.

In our family babies always sat on our lap at every meal for the entire meal from the day they were born until they could eat with a spoon on their own which I think helped them be used to being held quietly for longer periods of time.

About being able to get all your work done with a lot of little ones.  I'm not sure that is even possible. Even though the children were really involved in almost everything I did there were days when the dishes were simply piled into the sink and had to wait until evening to be taken care of. The windows had little hand prints on them and toys were scattered across the floor while I tried to keep them clean and fed and get the most important things done.  Since those days have passed already I can honestly say that those unfinished things and the clutter involved with little children was nothing compared to the fun we had at times laying on the floor coloring or putting little puzzles together while the dishes waited patiently in the sink.

The windows stay a lot cleaner now, the dishes get cleared away after every meal, toys hardly ever litter the floor, but every once in a while it is still fun to push schedules aside and simply take a day to do things we all enjoy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Puppy Mills

Is there truth about the Amish and "puppy mills"?
I've heard very bad things about the treatment and the connection to the Amish.


I have only heard a few tidbits through the grapevine about an incident in Lancaster involving an Amish family. I don't know the details or if the whole deal was blown out of proportion or not.

I do personally know an Amish widow who raises puppies to sell as her means of income but after visiting her and seeing how they are raised no one could possibly accuse her of doing anything wrong. She has ten dogs, each with a big comfortable shelter and a large pen where they can run around all they like. Everything is spotlessly clean and she spends hours everyday talking and playing with the dogs. Our children have really enjoyed their visits to her house where she always invited them inside the pens with her to play with the puppies and the mother dogs.

As far as I know there aren't many Amish people who raise dogs for sale.

Lately it seems all you hear is the importance of adopting dogs. I have nothing against finding a dog or puppy at an animal shelter but the people running those places aren't always the saints they would like to be portrayed as either.

Right now we don't have a dog but in the past we have adopted two dogs, and we have also bought a puppy from someone (non-Amish) that raised dogs.

Soon after LV and I got married and we lost our farm dog we went to the Humane Society in hopes to adopt one. We were both appalled at how those poor dogs were living and were feeling really good about rescuing one from those deplorable conditions and taking it home with us until we tried to go through all their red tape. Their adoption fee was ridiculously high, they wanted to know way too much personal information, and insisted we would have to take any dog we chose directly to a vet before they would even consider allowing us to think about taking it home.

We left without a dog and ended up buying a puppy somewhere else. I don't know if our experience was different from how it is at other shelters and agencies across our nation. I hope it is, because until they make adoptions easier there will always be people who would rather not try to deal with those agencies.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Choice to get Married

Do Amish parents choose who their children marry?

Will you be doing the same for your children once they are old enough to get married?


Amish parents do not arrange marriages for their children.  If they have misgivings about the choice their child is making they will voice their concerns but it is ultimately the child's decision.

When LV asked to come calling I talked to my parents first before giving him the final answer. He talked to his parents as well and neither of them had any objections.

When he asked me to marry him I said yes, but still asked my parents for their blessing the following day.


In answer to your second question. Yes, we will be allowing our children to make their own choice once they reach that age.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Writing Project

How is your writing project coming along and when can we expect to be able to buy your book?

I'm really looking forward to them and wish I could buy a boxful for Christmas gifts this year.


The writing project is coming along really well. The first book of the series is scheduled to be released in late summer 2012.

I'm feeling honored that you would like to buy them as gifts!

Will you be making your book available in other formats (such as audio) when it's done?

That decision is up to the publishers at Revell. So far I have not heard if they will be doing an audio but will certainly announce it on my blog if they do.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Amish Lifestyle

Aside from your family and close friends, what sort of things do you miss from your Amish lifestyle?

99% of the time, not a thing. There are a few instances when I do miss little things like the delightful squeal that comes only from steel buggy wheels cutting through fresh snow when the temperature drops down to the single digits.

On the rare occasion when the power goes off I'm reminded how it was to never have to worry about that inconvenience.

I don't miss the dim noisy lamps we used to have, or the treks to the phone shanty when we needed to make a phone call, or having to pay someone $40. to take us to town, or the gas powered wringer washing machine and the all the hard work that came with doing the laundry. I don't miss the clothes, or really anything when it comes to the Amish lifestyle.

The reason we don't miss anything is partly because nothing forced us to quit any part of the lifestyle that we liked. We can still garden and preserve food like we used to. I can still use my sad irons if I want to and my host of cast iron cookware. We can still enjoy working and playing together as family, I have not felt the need to fill my house with pretty things that need to be dusted all the time.

If we talk about the bigger picture or community there would be a little more. Since the Amish applied the sermon on the mount directly to their lives there are things that I miss. There isn't as much trust and forgiveness found outside the Amish or plain circles and from what we have observed it seems people get their feelings hurt much more easily from simple little things.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Answering Questions

Starting with today's post I will be working on answering the questions I received.

I am curious how you will be celebrating Christmas this year and how it differs from how you used to celebrate it while you were Amish.

While I was growing up Christmas was celebrated in a happy simple manner. We would get up a little extra early and the boys would go to the barn to help Daddy with the chores while I helped Mom prepare a special breakfast. Besides the usual fare we got to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, an orange, bacon, and cold cereal.

While Mom and I cleared the dishes away the boys would heap the wood box to beyond overflowing to make sure they wouldn't have to carry wood the rest of the day. Daddy would sweep the kitchen and somehow it seemed we all finished with our chores at the same time.

Daddy would get the Bible and read the Christmas story to us and then it was time for us children to go upstairs and wait while Mom and Daddy got our gifts ready.  We usually had handmade gifts that we dug out of their hiding places during that time so we could take them downstairs with us. Once we had them carefully in a bag we would all sit on one of the beds and read or talk until Daddy called us to come downstairs.

The youngest always got to go first and we would enter the kitchen to find little piles of gifts at every one's place at the table. Each one covered with Mom's prettiest dish towels. After we sat down we would take turns looking to see what was hidden under those towels. There was always a plate filled with nuts and candy and sometimes fruits. There would often be a new shirt or dress and usually a book or two and maybe some other small gift.  There were times when there was another bigger pile in the middle of the table that would then be shared by everyone, like a new board game or two and more books.

The afternoon would be spent reading and playing together and in the evening we would enjoy sitting around the kitchen stove while eating freshly popped popcorn and apples.

After LV and I got married we enjoyed a special breakfast and exchanging gifts before we joined the rest of my family for a big Christmas dinner, and an afternoon of laughter, visiting, and playing games.

Since leaving the Amish we continue having a special breakfast. Usually with at least twenty-five different things. After the dishes are cleared away and the house in order we will all take turns reading verses to the Christmas story before we open the gifts.  We don't do the kitchen table towel thing though. We wrap our gifts and have a small Christmas tree. We still take turns opening the gifts while everyone watches and then spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying each others company. Games and books are still a big part of the day and if there is enough snow; sledding and building snowmen are also fun.

So yes, there is a small difference in how we celebrate but the best part is still the same. The simple joy of spending a happy, relaxing, fun filled day with our family.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Taking More Questions


There is something so cozy about being inside a nice warm house when the snow is piling up outside. It seems like the perfect time to take more of your questions. You can ask anything you like and then I'll work on answering them soon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Morning's Bits and Pieces


I have enjoyed creating things with beads for quite a number of years already and when my sister-in-law gave this beaded baby rattle to Rosebud I knew immediately that I wanted to learn how to make them too. 

Life became busy and with moving several times I somehow can not find the instructions anywhere and my attempts to make them have not been exactly successful. So now I'm wondering if anyone knows where I could find instructions to make these? And yes, I realize they would probably not be deemed baby friendly but I would still love to make them even if it would never belong to a small child.

~~~~~

This summer we spent some time in the Lancaster area and while there we ate at Yoder's in New Holland. If you ever have a chance to eat there I would highly recommend you try it out!

I really enjoyed their breakfast selection. Among it was the best french toast I have ever tasted and I have been trying to find a recipe to recreate it ever since. Do you make a stuffed french toast that you would be willing to share the recipe?

~~~~~

We have often been asked about what we think of the changes we experienced when we left the Amish. While a lot of them came gradually we didn't really have a period of time where we experienced culture shock.

There is one little area though that I don't think I'll ever get used to.  Let me explain.    I have loved singing for as long as I can remember. Singing while I work, singing for hours every day, and during my teenage years I enjoyed spending two hours every other Sunday evening singing hymns with the rest of the youth. I still enjoy singing and listening to good music.

There is one kind of singing that I don't enjoy.  The first time I heard it was a number of years ago, at church. The choir was going to sing as a special treat before the regular services started. I settled in to listen and enjoy the harmony and beauty of the words and voices until near the end of the song my ears were abused with unearthly screeching and caterwauling that totally ruined the whole experience.

I have sat through many choir performances since then and it seems every time they have to finish it off by screeching. Knowing that will be coming has me tense and unable to enjoy the lovely part and I always get the urge to squeeze my eyes shut and cover my ears once that last line or two is being sung.

I'm curious if I'm the only one who wishes church choirs would omit their screeching parts?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Passing it On


If you are looking for a heart warming book to read during this Christmas season I would recommend that you pick up the latest from Suzanne Woods Fisher. Anyone who enjoys Amish fiction is sure to love this book and become attached to two different families when an unexpected winter storm brings them together at Christmas.

I have read my own copy twice already and when I heard that it's on sale right now I knew I have to pass on the opportunity for you to get a copy for yourself or as a great gift for that reader on your list. You can order it here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I have enjoyed reading other's answers to a fun weekly questionnaire for quite a long time already and finally decided that I would join in today.
                                            
1. Will you be hosting any house guests between now and the end of December? Does that thought make you happy or crazy? Do you do anything special for your guests to make them feel at home? How long should a house guest stay?

Other than having some friends drop in for a few hours at a time our December is looking very relaxing.  I try to make guests feel welcome and at home, as for how long a house guest should stay.... I'll simply quote what Daddy used to say. "Always leave soon enough for your hosts to be sad to see you leave."  In other words don't over stay your welcome.
2. Walter Elias Disney was born this week (December 5) back in 1905 ...what's your all time favorite Disney movie? 

Personally, I am not a fan of Disney movies. We have watched several but they all seem to have an underlying message that we don't appreciate. Of the ones we have seen; Dumbo we enjoyed the most.

3. What was the last thing you purchased that you realized was a mistake after the fact?

A pair of shoes that I loved at the store but after a few hours of wearing them I wished I had never seen them.

4. What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?

This year probably around 20% with the remainder being done snail mail. No going to the mall or any of my favorite stores this year.

5. Amaryllis-snowdrop-poinsettia...your favorite winter blossom?

I really enjoy seeing a nice poinsettia. There's something so festive and cheerful about them.

6. What is one thing on your personal Christmas wish list? I think we all want peace on earth so let's make this answer an actual item.

What I would really love to have is a set of shelves built for our storage room so that I'd be able to organize everything in there.

7. If you could only use one word today what would it be?

That's really hard trying to narrow it down to only one word, a single phrase would be much easier. I think I'll have to go with fine. Which would work as an answer to a host of questions I get everyday.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

It seems my random thoughts all have a way of trailing down the same path and I find myself thinking of welcoming our baby.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The New Table

After LV's Grandpa retired from farming he started a little woodworking shop. You could tell that his farming hands weren't experienced in making fine furniture but that didn't keep him from trying and with twelve children and many grandchildren he had grand ideas of making a lot of things for his descendants. Each family was to receive a table and a stand. Each grandson would get a roll top desk for his 16th birthday and each grand daughter a china cupboard, and if family had any special requests he would try to fulfill those as well. This goal would keep him busy for as long as his health allowed.

LV was only ten when his family got their table from Grandpa. They set it up and admired the nice glossy varnish and were pleased at how far it extended. With a dozen extra boards to add when visitors came it would make that everyone would get to sit around the table instead of having to wait or find some other place to eat.

For some reason having a new table made that setting it and clearing it off after meals was a little more fun as well.

Not long after the new table arrived LV's parents went on their monthly shopping trip and left their children at home. The teens had things they wanted to do outside but LV had his own ideas on how to spend the day. He loved drawing and had plans to draw a big semi just like one that he had seen in a magazine.

He spread all his supplies out in front of him on the new table, carefully studied the picture of the semi and sketched it. After it was done he decided to color it as well. Crayons seemed dull compared to how vivid he wanted the colors so after rummaging around he found his mother's supply of different colored permanent markers. Setting to work he carefully finished his picture and then held it up to admire it. But instead of feeling thrilled at how great his picture turned out he was dismayed to see that the marker had bled through the paper and now the new table had big ugly spots of red and black.

He quickly got soap and a wet dish cloth and tried to wash it off but when that didn't work he looked around for something else. A stainless steel scouring pad was sure to work. Rubbing it vigorously back and forth across the offending spots he was pleased to see them disappear. But now he was faced with an even greater dilemma. Not only had the spots come off, so had the layers of glossy varnish. The new table was ruined!

When his parents came home they weren't very happy to see what had happened when they had been gone. The table had to be used in it's ugly condition until his mother had time to refinish it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Announcing the Winner

I enjoyed taking a peek out of your kitchen windows. And now it's time to draw the winner for the sweet little Memory game. Turning to random.org ........ here we go .........


Comment # 52

65 Roses for Marcia said .......

I look out onto my back patio, retaining wall and woods.

Congratulations! Please email your address to me and I will get this shipped to you.

~~~~~
In answer to all the emails I received wondering where to get this Memory game. I shared the address where you can ask for a catalog in this post.  Since it is owned and operated by Amish you won't be able to find them online. The two options available are visiting their store or shopping from their catalog.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Traditions

There is still time to enter my current giveaway in previous post.
~~~~~

Last year one of my blogging friends shared a sweet tradition in their family where they wrap up Christmas books and then open and read one every evening until Christmas.

We won't be doing all our traditional things this year including having our usual 45 Day Fruitcake but, I think we will all enjoy this new one. As an added bonus the basket filled with those books looks so cheerful that I have to smile every time I see it.

What are some of the fun things you do each year for Christmas?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Little Giveaway


Am I the only one who has finally learned to write 2011 and is now trying to grasp the fact that it's already December?

With Christmas just around the corner I'm happy to say that my shopping is done. Most of it from the comfort of our home.  When ordering I happened to get an extra one of these sweet Memory games. Each set of pictures seems to be cuter than the next. And while I'm sure I could find a child who would enjoy it I decided to give you an opportunity to win one for yourself or to give it away.

If you would like to have one of these all you have to do is leave a comment telling me what you see when you look out your kitchen window.

To be entered twice post a link to this giveaway on your blog and then come back and leave another comment telling me that you did.

I will be drawing a winner using the Random generator on Monday Dec. 5th.

Disclaimer: The only compensation I receive from doing this giveaway is the warm fuzzy feeling I get from knowing someone else will get to enjoy this game.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Things You Really Didn't Want to Know


The weirdest little things have a way of amusing me. Like this cow who decided to spend some time sitting when it's not the normal cow thing to do at all. As anyone who is familiar with cows will tell you a cow is hardly ever seen in this position. When they want to get up they straighten their hind legs first and then have an awkward forward lunge as they get to their front feet too.

Having lived on a dairy for a number of years I learned quickly not to be right in front of a cow when she wants to get up! There is an amazing amount of power behind that head if you happen to be in the way.

While I enjoyed living and working on a farm, most days I don't miss cows. My first introduction to a cow was when I was a little girl and Mom got Jenny, a little Jersey cow for her birthday. They are a lot more feisty than some of their cousins, don't give as much milk but what they do give is rich with lots of cream.

From the time we got Jenny to about six years ago there was always a cow in my life. Jenny was eventually replaced with another little Jersey and when we got married I was faced with becoming acquainted to an entire herd of Holsteins. They seemed huge compared to the Jerseys I had been used to. I soon learned that for the most part they are slow calm creatures of habit that made the little Jersey's look like scatterbrained teens.

But one cow among the herd was different. A Brown Swiss. Big, stubborn and very set in her ways. I alternated between liking her and detesting her. Her calves were equally as stubborn and we learned that if we ever want them to drink from a pail to never let them use a bottle. If they used one for even a few days they would rather have starved than tried drinking out of a pail. We never let one starve but were inconvenienced with having to bottle feed until they were weaned.

The only cows in my life now are beef cattle. They live happily in the pastures surrounding our house. I think I like them best because they don't belong to us and I don't have to worry about them. But I can still enjoy watching them graze, seeing their calves in spring, and like the picture shows, watching one of them pretending to be a dog.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Newsletter

If you check the sidebar of my blog you may have noticed already that I have added a little button where you can sign up to receive a quarterly newsletter with all the latest about my books and bits of newsy news.


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Sign up for A Joyful Chaos Updates!




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Your email address will be safe and I can promise not to ever share or sell them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friends

We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday with a quiet day at home. We didn't have a turkey or a big extravagant meal. Other than our traditional Thanksgiving pudding the meal wasn't very Thanksgiving-y at all. But I'm not complaining about that. There will be other Thanksgivings in the years to come that we can make up for yesterday.

I could share a long list of blessings that were counted but I think I'll simply pick one and talk about it. Friends top my list of blessings. A person can never have too many friends and I consider myself very blessed indeed when it comes to friends.

First of all, I can call my Saviour, my friend. Without Him nothing else matters.

Next comes my husband. He's my best friend. He's everything and more than I had ever dreamed of.

Then there are those childhood best friends who know everything about you, the ones who stuck to our side no matter what happened. I will always be so grateful for those.

The friends that share our same views and values in life, the ones where you can sit comfortably and visit even if the windows aren't clean and there is a pair of dirty socks peeking out at you from under the sofa. The ones who don't mind all the odd little quirks about you.

The friends that you really don't know that well, but their smiles and brief conversations when you meet always leave you with a smile.

Then there are the friends that came as a result of this blog. A few that have become so close that it really feels as if we had known each other all our life.

When I think about friends there is one thing that comes to mind - the kind of friend I hope to be. One who is always ready to listen to what ever is being shared with out having a story to top or saying oh, I know exactly how you feel because I experienced so and so, something that isn't the same at all. One who knows when to simply listen and when to talk. I have been blessed with some friends like that and will always be grateful for their kind support.

There are so many different kinds of friends and I value all of them. And to all the readers of my blog, Thank-you for your friendship these past 2½ years!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grafting

In front of the big dairy barn there were two lonely rose bushes. One of them produced huge yellow roses and the other one a delicate pink. LV had a tender place in his heart for all living things and everyday he passed those bushes on the way to the barn he couldn't help but feel a little sorry for them. They were so far away from the the dozen red rose bushes that marched in a neat line behind the house.

He wished there was something he could do for them so that they wouldn't be as lonely. Consulting an encyclopedia he read everything he could find about roses and when he discovered there was something called grafting he became excited. After doing all the limited research available he felt quite capable of giving it a try. He wasn't sure though what his Mom would think about the idea since he was only nine so he waited until one afternoon when his parents went to town.

Armed with a pruning shear and his head filled with grafting information he set to work. He carefully removed several branches from the red roses and grafted them to the yellow and pink bushes. He taped them carefully and now all that was left to do was keep an eye on them and hope that they would grow.

He wasn't disappointed. Those bushes readily accepted the grafts and the next year they produced a mixture of roses, beautiful big yellow ones, red ones, and best of all yellow roses that had red stripes running through them. His Mom realized something was going on and was quite pleased to learn that he had a successful grafting experience.

Today those two rose bushes are big and still each produce three different colors of roses all because a little boy didn't want them to be lonely.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

So far I have never had a pumpkin pie that I didn't like, but there is one that stands out above the rest. It may be a little more time comsuming to make but the end results are so worth it! It used to be one of our favorite pie while I was growing up. It even made it's way into the books I'm writing, in an unforgettable incident which I'm sure you will enjoy reading about later

With Thanksgiving knocking on the door it's the perfect time of year to make some. I was feeling overly ambitious on Saturday and actually managed to make these pie and then sought out my usual corner to rest and congratulate myself at my accomplishment. I think I understand now why my mother was so pleased with herself for baking 13 pie a few weeks before one of my brothers was born. And though I only made three it still felt like a major accomplishment!


Notice the layers?

Pumpkin Pie

1½ cup pumpkin
1½ cup white sugar
1½ cup brown sugar
4½ Tbsp. flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs, separated
4½ cup milk

In a large bowl combine pumpkin, sugars, spices, salt, and flou. Mix well. Separate the eggs. Reserve the whites in a small bowl and add the yolks to your pumpkin mixture. Mix well. Add milk and mix again.  Now beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold evenly into pumpkin mixture. Divide into three 9 or 10 inch unbaked pie crusts. I prefer using this recipe to make the crusts.

Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 45 minutes.

Delicious!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Schoolmates ~ Part Two

LV arrived at school well ahead of his brothers who were still patiently walking with the new children. He joined his friends out on the playground and was surprised how every one was looking forward to meeting these new children. That didn't really make sense. He had met them already and had not been impressed.

Teacher Hannah stepped outside to ring the bell and everyone hurried inside. LV looked up the road to see if he could see the others coming. There they were appearing over the last hill. They would never make it to school on time and his brothers would be tardy all because of those slow children. He went inside and sat at his desk. Teacher Hannah stood at the window at the back of the school house and watched as they drew nearer. The clock ticked loudly on the wall as every one was quiet and waiting. More than the usual two minutes had passed between first and second bell and still Teacher Hannah waited patiently. That wasn't really fair. She never waited on anyone else before she rang the bell. LV could see it already Mary Ann and John were going to be teacher's pets.

The school door opened and they stepped inside. Teacher Hannah went to welcome them and while Melvin and Vernon hurried to their desks LV watched as Hannah had to help Mary Ann out of her shawl. What a little sissy, she couldn't even dress herself. He turned away with disgust.

A moment later he was dismayed to find Hannah telling Mary Ann to sit in the desk directly across the aisle from him. How awful! He decided to ignore her and opened his desk and started working on one of his cardboard creations that he enjoyed so much during his spare time. As he worked he could almost feel her eyes on him. He glanced over and saw that she was indeed watching him with brown eyes that seemed to be much too big for her face. He stuck his tongue out at her. That would make her mind her own business instead of staring at him. It worked, she quickly looked away and got her reading book out of her desk and began reading it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Schoolmates

LV's memories continued
Everyone seemed to be talking about the new families that were moving into the community. Four of them in only several weeks time. LV didn't pay too much attention to all the talk. It was boring and he had so much more interesting things to think and do and besides he wasn't very fond of strangers. He never knew what to say or how to act around them. Avoiding them was much more comfortable.

The first two families moved in. They were old, and didn't have any children unless you counted their Downs Syndrome girl. LV was relieved that he wouldn't be required to make any new friends. The other family was older too but they didn't have any children. This was starting to not be so bad after all. There were only two more families coming and he was hoping that they would all be old too.

The next family came. They were much younger and had two little children. They were still almost babies and wouldn't be going to school for a few more years. The last family arrived on a Monday morning and when LV's parents came home from helping unload their belongings and getting settled into their house his Mom approached them. "I need you boys to stop into the Swarey's home tomorrow morning and walk to school with their children so they know the way."

LV looked at his brothers this was terrible news. The last family had to come and mess everything up by having school age children. Melvin didn't seem to troubled at the news. Vernon didn't say much either but there was no way that LV wanted to have to stop in at those strangers house. He thought it wasn't necessary that all three of them had to do that when it only took one to show the new children the way to school. Melvin could do it very well on his own. Besides, he was the oldest.

His Mom wouldn't hear any of that idea and the next morning found all three of them on the front porch while Melvin knocked on the door. The woman that answered invited them inside to warm up while she helped her children get ready. She introduced them saying, "This is Mary Ann and John. What are your names?" Melvin and Vernon introduced themselves but LV's tongue seemed dry and he didn't say anything until Melvin gave him a nudge. "I'm LV," he said quickly.

After the children had been helped into their thick winter clothes it was time to go to walk to school. LV had never seen anyone walk as slowly as these children did. Melvin and Vernon didn't seem to mind as they walked along and talked to them. By the time they should have been arriving at school they had only walked about half of way. LV decided this was ridiculous. There was no way he wanted to be tardy and mar his perfect record for the year just because of these slow children. He started walking faster in hopes that he would get to school on time.
To be continued.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Molasses Crinkle Cookies

It has been raining all morning which makes it the perfect time to bake some cookies. This time we decided to make these. I always think the lovely crinkled sugar sprinkled top enhance an already great cookie.
Molasses Crinkle Cookies

1¼ cup butter flavored Crisco
2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup molasses (your choice of white or dark, I used white this time)
4 cup flour
4 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger

Cream Crisco and sugar together. Add eggs and molasses and mix until smooth and creamy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Using your hands shape the dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball. Pour ½ cup of white sanding sugar, or if you prefer regular white sugar into a little bowl. Place your dough ball into it and press to flatten. Place sugar side up on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake on middle rack in a preheated 350º oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least a minute before removing from cookie sheet.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Shopping


Not to make anyone panic, but did you realize there are only forty days until Christmas?

I usually like to have my shopping done early, that way I can sit back and enjoy the holidays with out the extra pressure of still having to find the perfect gift.

Other than our Christmas breakfast our celebration and gift giving is not extravagant at all. I have never enjoyed walking through stores trying to find something I liked because frankly, the things available did not appeal to me. We are not a barbie doll, action figure, electronic toys, and all the latest fads kind family in the least.

So I find myself turning to a few of my favorite catalogs from stores that have managed to wade through all the junk out there and select only the nicest things to sell. I decided to share the addresses of two of them today so that if you would enjoy browsing through one of their free catalogs you can send for one.

First up:

A.C. Sales Company
7792 Frease Road
Fredericksburg OH 44627

They offer a wide variety of household items, toys, games, books and other hard to find items. Almost anything you could think of.

Next up:

Yoder's Drieds & Gifts
7062 CR 77
Millersburg OH 44654

They offer the same kind of things A.C. Sales does but many different varieties plus they also include a craft section.

Monday, November 14, 2011

That Type of Day

It's a dreary, drab, colorless type of day that November brings so often. The perfect type of day to go digging through a sewing closet and tackling some fun projects that have been tucked away for a day like this.

It's that type of day that makes me feel like finding a nice puzzle to put together or play some board games that haven't been touched for a long time.

That fun, lazy type of day when you feel like ignoring dust bunnies and having fun instead.

It's the type of day that makes me feel like brewing some hickory nut tea and enjoying it in some cozy corner while reading a good book and snuggling under a warm blanket.

I don't think I'll be doing any of that though. Hickory nut tea isn't even possible since I don't have any nuts. 

It used to be a rare treat for us around Thanksgiving. Hickory nuts are a pain to gather and pick out of their shells, but the flavor used to be so worth it that one of these years I will have to see if there isn't a tree tucked somewhere in the woods that I can borrow a few hands full of nuts before the squirrels cart all of them away.

After toasting the nuts we used to chop them up really fine, just a little coarser than a powder and then cover them with water and simmer until the water is a nice golden brown. We would add several cups of milk and sweeten it with brown sugar. Once it was nice and hot it would be divided into small tea cups and served.  The little nut bits floated on top in a deliciously tantalizing fashion. I could never make my cup full last long enough!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good-bye Inspector

Occasionally during the summer when I have a lot of fresh ripe fruit on hand I have a slight problem with fruit flies but, I usually get them under control with in a day or two.

This past month we having been battling fruit flies beyond what I had ever experienced before. No amount of making sure there was never any food left anywhere and keeping things sparkling seemed to help. And the place where they seemed to like living the best was in the bathroom. Which was very disturbing to me.

After googling for a solution the most common answer that popped up was that they were living in the drain and that boiling water should resolve the problem. I immediately got a big pot of water boiling and poured it down the drain. I could tell that it helped some but in a few days it was a bad as ever.

After more investigation I started blaming it on the bottle of hand soap we were using. Inspector Hector Dirt Detector was a new thing we had picked up over a month earlier. The children thought it was fun to use since it had these funny little particles in the soap that were supposed to change color once their hands were clean. To test my theory a little more I put a few drops on the side of the sink and it wasn't long before fruit flies were swarming all over it.

I put a new bottle of soap out and our fruit fly problem has vanished. Inspector Hector will not be welcome back into our house again!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Instructions from Rosebud


After receiving numerous requests for the recipe for these little turkeys I asked Rosebud to write the instructions down since we had not used any having only studied a picture and tried to copy them. She set right to work and I must say I love her instructions even better than the finished turkeys.

So here you go Rosebud's step by step instructions.

Turkey Candy

Step 1. Get all the supplies you need and spread them out in front of you.

You will need:
1 pack of double stuffed Oreos
1 bag candy corn
1 bag Reese's peanut butter cups
1 box malted milk balls (Whoppers)
a little bowl of frosting
a pair of scissors
toothpicks
And now you are ready to begin

Step 2.
Open your pack of double stuffed oreos and remove two. Take the top off of one of them and eat it or give it to your sister to eat. Leave the second oreos top on.

Step 3.

Place the Oreo that lost it's top in front of you with the frosting side turned up. Take your second Oreo and make it stand on it's edge and push it into the edge of the frosting of the first Oreo making a little chair.

Step 4.

Open the bag of Reese's peanut butter cups. Take one out. Unwrap it and place it in front of you. Take the scissors and snip the very edge off of one side. Now take a toothpick and dip it into your bowl of frosting and paint the cut side of the peanut butter cup. Stick it on the Oreo's frosting  (the chair seat)with the bottom against the other Oreo (the chair back)

Step 5.

Open the box of malted milk balls. Get one out and paint the bottom with frosting. Stick it on top of the peanut butter cup.

Step 6.

Open the bag of candy corn, Get out one corn and cut the yellow top off. Cut the top in half and paint both pieces on the bottom with frosting and stick it in the Oreo in front of the peanut butter cup to make the turkey feet. They don't really look like feet close up.

Step 7.

Take two more candy corns and cut the yellow tops off. This time use the orange and white part. Paint one side with frosting and stick it on the sides of the peanut butter cup to make arm wings for the turkey. Put your candy corn scraps on a pile or in a little dish.

Step 8.

Take another candy corn and cut the white tip off and then cut it in half. Paint one side and stick it on the malt ball to make eyes. Next use the same candy corn and snip a little of the orange part off to make the beak.

Step 9.

Fill the Oreo in the back with frosting. On the top and halfway down it's side.

Step 10.

Get six candy corns out of the bag. Snip the white tips off push the tip less candy corns into the frosting you had put in the Oreo to make the tail of the turkey.

Step 11.

Divide all the candy scraps with your brother and sister and then sit and eat them while you admire the turkeys you made.

Step 12

When you want to eat the turkey fill a cup of milk because it is very sweet.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Candy Turkeys


Several weeks ago we found a picture of cute little turkeys made with oreos and candy. Rosebud thought they looked like they would be easy and ever so much fun to make. She showed the picture to LV and then we all kind of forgot about them until LV came home from town with all the required ingredients. To say that Rosebud was happy about it seems a little understated.

Last evening she set to work to try and create some little turkeys. I thought they turned out cute! They have been declared too cute to eat and so far they have been set on a shelf in the kitchen to be admired.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Search Phrases

Occasionally I like to check how people find my blog. Most google searches are for my blog name the second most popular way is when people search for Amish movies.

There are a host of others as well, a few more in the top ten are: why do Amish burp to show appreciation for their food, which then thankfully leads them to a post that dispells that myth. A lot of people stumble across my blog when they are curious whether or not the Amish listen to music.

There are always some slightly unusual phrases that make me chuckle and wonder what my blog has to do with that. But yesterday I found the most disturbing of all.... Home address for a joyful chaos blog writer.    Thankfully there was no address anywhere on my blog for them to find. I have no idea what the intentions were behind that search but it did give me a creepy unpleasant feeling.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Pines

My parents owned a woodworking business which they had named Whispering Pines. The name was fitting because of all the pine trees that surrounded our house.

The business kept us very busy but we always took time right after lunch to enjoy looking at all the mail we had received. After there was an article printed in the WOOD magazine about us, we got a lot of letters from people who had enjoyed it and wanted to learn more about us and the furniture we made. The local post office made sure we got the mail even though our address had been printed wrong in the magazine.

Then there was always a stack of catalogs that were fun to leaf through and most days brought a letter or two from some of our friends.

There was always the junk mail pile as well that we looked at a little bit and threw away but, there was one item in that category I have never forgotten.

An official looking envelope addressed to Whispering Pines. When Daddy had read it he started chuckling and then passed it around so the rest of us could read it as well.  It was from a company that printed genealogy books and they were happy to inform us that the latest Pines family book had been released and you, Mr. Whispering Pines are in it they claimed.

We talked about how ridiculous their claim was and how it would be fun to see who they thought the parents and siblings of our business were but, rather than wasting money on what we knew would be false information we pitched it into the trash. That little instance alone has made me leery of any offers we ever receive in the mail

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday Night

I have not been taking very many pictures at all during these past few months but last night when LV and Sunbeam were saying their good-byes I happened to have the camera on the end table beside my chair.

And here it is. Sunbeam had fun picking out her own outfit including the little pink bracelet for her turn going out with her Daddy for a special night of father-daughter time.

She came home excited about the shopping they did, even though it was mostly grocery. And then every little detail of the meal they had shared right down to how swirly her ice cream was. She saved most of her drink to bring home so the others could enjoy it too.

Next week will be Rosebud's turn again. I think I'll have to take a picture of that too. These little moments pass so quickly and though I'm sure they will remember their special times with their Daddy I want more than just thought memories. I would give a lot to be able to have a picture of my Daddy and me together when I was a little girl!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Ride

   LV's Memories
    Carl was an older man that lived in the neighborhood. LV and his brothers didn't know him personally but since he lived next door to some of their best friends they heard about him often. Many times when the weather was bad Carl used to give their friends a ride to school with his pick up truck.
  
One cold windy winter morning as LV and his older brothers were walking to school they could hear a vehicle approaching from behind them. It stopped next to them and Carl rolled his window down and asked them if they wanted a ride.

   They hopped on the back of his truck and sat with their backs against his cab and were on their way to school. LV was thinking that this was working out nicely. It was cold that morning and he would be getting to school so much faster this way.

      His brothers started talking. "We don't really know Carl," said Melvin. "
    "And Dad and Mom have always told us to never accept rides from strangers." added Vernon.
     "How do we know he isn't kidnapping us?" asked Melvin.

     LV was suddenly not feeling as happy about this ride. How awful that they had accepted a ride from a man that they didn't know very well at all especially after Dad and Mom had warned them never to accept rides from strangers.

     "If he doesn't stop at the school house we will simply have to jump off the back," said Melvin wisely.

      That was all LV needed to hear. It was time to jump. Clutching his lunchbox firmly he got up and jumped off the side of the truck. He stumbled and almost fell and got up feeling triumphant that they had outwitted the bad man. It was then that he noticed his brothers were still sitting on the back of the truck and just disappearing from sight over the hill.

    He started running after them as fast as he could calling. "Wait for me! Wait for me!"

    Carl had seen LV make that flying leap off the side of the truck. He backed up to make sure that he was okay and then told them that they had better walk the rest of the way to school.

    Melvin and Vernon got off the truck and scolded LV for jumping. They hadn't wanted to have their ride cut short. LV didn't think that was very nice for after all they were the ones who had suggested that they might be getting kidnapped and he had done the only logical thing in such a circumstance.

    Carl still gave their friends rides to school often but he never offered them a ride again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feelings

Last night I was feeling about as low as I can recall feeling in years. Not being able to sit at the computer for longer than a few minutes I was doing all my writing for my second manuscript from the recliner in the corner of our living room.

But yesterday afternoon I lost it all. And the very thought of having to rewrite everything that I had spent so many hours on already was almost too much. Maybe I over reacted partly because I'm already at the stage of resembling a whale that waddles like a duck and this was the last straw. I was feeling all kinds of chaotic but the joyful part was missing.

This morning the manuscript is still just as gone as it was last night but at least I am feeling much better. It's beautifully sunny outside, everyone is healthy, and I have more blessings than I can count. Feelings and emotions are such fickle things and I don't want to let troubles and inconveniences rob me of the joy of life. So with a song in my heart I am ready to start tackling my writing project again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sleep Walking

I have often wondered what causes sleep walking.  While I was growing up I used to talk in my sleep a lot and it kept on growing worse to the point where I did weird things in my sleep with only faint memories of doing them the next morning after seeing misplaced items in my room or wearing something in an odd way.

The night I remember the clearest was when I woke up shivering on the top of our kitchen roof. I have never enjoyed heights and crept my way cautiously back to my open bedroom window and hopped back inside. From that point on I always made sure my windows were latched before going to bed in hopes that I wouldn't do a repeat and maybe even fall off the roof.

Talking and walking in my sleep have both disappeared since we got married which makes me very happy. It is rather unsettling to be doing things without being aware of doing them.

Have you ever walked in your sleep? And no, staggering into the kitchen for a cup of coffee in the morning does not count as sleep walking.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Finding our "Home"

After sharing our search for a church we could call home when we left the Amish I had quite a few people asking what our final decision was and thought I would share a little more about that today.

After I was physically unable to travel the long distance to the little Mennonite church we had been attending we chose to attend a local church since we had been greatly enjoying all the messages we had been listening to on CD from them.

Once I was able to make that long trip we again traveled the one hundred and fifty miles north to attend that church. We liked the people the message was fine but it seemed as if the whole forenoon we were wondering why we were there instead of the other church. And on the way home we realized just how ridiculous our thought train had been once again. Thinking that we have to join a Mennonite church when Jesus isn't interested in denominational name tags. Having faith and trust in Him and being born again was all that mattered not a name tag.

That was the last Sunday we attended the little Mennonite church and we were so happy to have finally found a church we could call our own. Up until then we had never known it was possible to love a church that much.

When we moved half way across the country last year the hardest part of the move was leaving that church. It was the first time in our life when a move was not made because of church or church matters.

We are settled in now and have found a church but we still enjoy listening to sermons that our church sends to us each month. So now I guess you could call us blessed to be able to enjoy two churches.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Outside My Window

It's that time of year again. This morning when I looked out the window this is what I saw and I had to help the children do a happy dance. I have always enjoyed winters especially if they gave us a lot of snow.

I know this isn't a very popular opinion, but I would take winter over summer anytime! And now if you will excuse me I'm going to put on some Christmas music to listen to while I watch the snow pile up outside.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

We enjoy pumpkin related desserts year round but especially in the fall when it seems pumpkins and apples are begging for attention.
These pumpkin cookies have been making a regular appearances with several batches being made each week. We enjoy them that much!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter flavored Crisco
3 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups pumpkin
5cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
2 cups chocolate chips

In a large bowl combine Crisco and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin. Mix. Add remaining dry ingredients (except chocolate chips) and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful on cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake on middle rack in a preheated 350 oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for one minute before removing from cookie sheet.

These are delicious with or without the chocolate chips.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lessons from Rambo

Over the years we have had a lot of animals, each with their own unique temperament. There was Sally the cow who always wanted to claim every calf that was born. She would march into the barn at the front of the herd when ever there was a new calf in the barn so she could spend a few minutes nuzzling it while the rest of the cows found their stalls.

There was Dolly, the cow that was so greedy and could stick her tongue out amazingly far to swipe her neighbors choice bits of feed while she ignored her own generous pile in front of her until she was sure she couldn't possibly swipe any more from her neighbors and then was full and satisfied before she got all of her own rations eaten.

There was Buddy, the horse who loved children so much and would do everything he could to unlatch the gate and spend time with them in the yard.

Alexander, the cat who loved catching a ride every evening on one of our horse's backs. He would climb up the side of the stall and hop on the back of one of our most gentle horses every evening when it was time to take him to the water trough and into a special pen where he could spend the night more comfortably. Alexander would then hop off his back and snuggle into the straw next to the horse. I really wish we would have had a camera back then!

Then there was Rambo the pig. We had pigs before without any problems who went about their life being content with all the good food they got to eat and sleeping and rooting and doing pig things. Rambo was different from the beginning. He was a squealer which in itself wasn't that bad but he was also mean, almost evil. He would have liked nothing better than taking a chunk out of anyone who dared step inside his pen.

One week LV was gone on business.  Everything was going fine, the calves weren't giving me any problems, I was keeping Rambo's troughs filled with food being careful to stay outside his pen while filling them. Everything was going smoothly and I was almost ready to congratulate myself when Sailor came running into the house saying that Rambo is gone.

My heart sank as I went out to the barn and discovered he had somehow managed to dig a hole under the side of his pen big enough to escape. Following the trail he had made rooting across the driveway into the pasture and into the woods I finally caught a glimpse of him snorting and rooting happily under some trees. Pigs aren't the easiest creatures to herd to begin with and since Rambo was not anywhere near to being classed a pet I knew I was in for a challenge to get him back inside the barn. I could try the lasso on him but he was big and strong and I knew even if I managed to get him I wouldn't be able to pull him back where he belonged.

Nothing I tried was working as he went deeper into the woods. I remembered several of our neighbors had said if I needed anything at all while LV is gone to let them know. Now seemed to be a good time to take them up on that offer but after trying to call them and no one answered their phone I was back to square one.

Sailor was following me every where talking and worried we would never be able to get Rambo back and wondering what we were going to do. I knew there was no way I could possibly do this on my own so I said. "Let's pray."  And we did. Nothing fancy at all but it came from the very depths of my heart as I said "I can't do this God, but I know You can."  I walked back to the woods again. This time Rambo didn't run away but stood patiently as I walked up to him. I asked him to come and turned around and started walking back to the barn. Rambo was a changed pig and followed right behind us as if he were a pet kitten. All the way back to the barn and into his pen. There had never been a pig more tame or gentle anywhere.

I closed up the pen and patched the hole he had dug to make sure it never happens again. We went back to the house amazed and thankful at the direct answer to prayer we had received.

I have thought about it a lot since that happening. We have seen many answered prayers already but this is one of the few that the children still cherish and love talking about. I love those little faith builders and am glad our children have witnessed prayers being answered right before their eyes. It's something they can remember for the rest of their lives.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning

I love how refreshed I feel on Monday mornings and ready to tackle another week.  There is something about having an entire day of rest and worship that does more for me as an energy boost and renewed focus and enthusiasm for life than anything else I know.

Yesterday was not quite as relaxing as a regular Sunday usually is when we discovered that true to the nature of old farm houses in fall our house somehow failed to keep out a little field mouse which in turned gleefully scampered across the kitchen floor and disappeared under the stove. The rest of the day I could almost feel the little creature run up my leg which is a very unsettling and not at all relaxing way to be feeling.

We have not caught it yet so I'm hoping it went back outside.
~~~~~
On a brighter fallsy note. It is that time of year when pumpkins are in season and many delicious pumpkin related recipes are being trotted out.

We love pumpkin desserts and have been enjoying Rosebud's version of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. Another batch will be made today so hopefully I'll remember to take a picture of the finished product and share the recipe later this week.
~~~~~
We have started something a little different recently. We have memorized verses as a family for a while already but since we all enjoy poetry we decided to try memorizing a poem every week. I like finding fun catchy ones for the children that are amusing, touching, or something that holds their attention more than simply lines that rhyme.  For example a poem about a hornets nest and a little boy who decided to get rid of it with less than desirable results. And another one where a little girl couldn't remember the answer to 6x9 and called her doll 54 until she thought she would never forget it until the day in school when she gave her dolls real name when the teacher asked her what 6x9 was.

Next week we will be learning "When the Frost is on the Punkin" by James Whitcomb and then I'll have to do more searching for some more that we like.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Misconceptions

There are  a lot of preconceived ideas and misconceptions about the Amish out there. One of the main ones is about rumspringa. But I won't be talking about that today.

Recently I had someone try to tell me a whole row of things that they know to be facts about the Amish and I was left smiling on the inside and wondering where ever they had come up with all that.

Among other things she made the remark that she was reading about someone visiting the Amish and they had toast for breakfast and how she immediately knew that wasn't true because the Amish don't have electricity.

The electricity part she got right. But the toast part. No.

We used to enjoy toast regularly while we were Amish. While growing up and the first few years of our marriage I made toast on a kerosene stove by placing a piece of bread directly on top of the burner. The flame was more than 12" away and the heat toasted the bread nicely. After turning it over and toasting the other side it was ready for butter. A lovely piece of toast made without the aid of electricity.

Another way we made toast, especially during the winter was placing several pieces of bread into the oven for a minute or two and then place it directly on the stove top to be toasted a delightful brown. Putting it into the oven first made that there weren't as many crumbs that would stick to the stove top.

Later when we moved to a community that had gas stoves we still enjoyed toast. There was a rack contraption that could be set over the burner and with the burner on low it worked quite well. And there was always the option to make a fried toast.

I'm sure Amish aren't the only ones that make or have made toast without an electric toaster. What methods have you used already?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Favor

As many of you know I have an aunt with Downs Syndrome. You can read more about her here. Her birthday is coming up on November 5th and I would love to have her mailbox filled with cards.

If you would like to help make that a reality send me an email and I will send you her address.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Picking Rocks

A continuation of LV's memories
LV had turned four which was ever so much older than three and he was sure that he would now be able to keep up with his older siblings so much better.

There was a new church district starting 12 miles away and his parents decided to help it get started. They found a piece of bare land and made plans to build a large farmhouse and dairy barn as well as all the other buildings that they needed on a nice farm.

LV couldn't help but wonder why they called it bare land since it didn't look bare to him. There were fields covered in tall grass and several different patches containing several acres of woods.

It was fun watching the buildings grow but there wasn't much for a little boy to do except watch and play with the scraps of wood.

Between working on the buildings his Dad plowed some of the fields to plant corn. Since they were new there were lots of rocks and he decided to take several days to pick up rocks. He said LV could help them if he wanted to and he jumped at the chance. He was finally old enough to be able to help work in the fields.

While his brothers were lifting large rocks and tossing them on the box wagon LV was running around picking up stones that were more his size. He spied another stone and ran around the corner of the wagon just as his brother Mervin tossed another rock. It hit the side of LV's head knocking him down.

Sitting up he could feel and see blood gushing down his face. His Dad quickly picked him up and ran to find Mom. Together they cleaned him up and decided the gash didn't require stitches. After getting bandaged he once again had to stay with Mom while the rest went back to picking rocks.

The scar remains as a reminder of that day