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.
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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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lists

These past months have been, let's say interesting. I haven't been able to keep up with everything on my own so with the help of lists and eager helpful children things have kept on rolling along quite nicely.

The thought of handing the children a list of things that need to be done wasn't very appealing to me and with a little thought I happened upon an idea that works very well.

Here's an example of what a list looks like.
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Straighten rugs
  • Stand on a chair and sing your favorite song
  • Eat three grapes
  • Make your bed
  • Say something nice to your sister/brother
  • Wash your nose
  • Make sure there is nothing on couch besides the cushions
  • Clean vanity
  • Wash your hands
  • Read a chapter in the book you are reading
  • Dust livingroom furniture
  • Draw a picture of a butterfly
Adding a wide variety of odd little things to their lists have made them fun and they often ask me to make another list for them to do. A win-win for all of us!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thoughts on Squirrels

I feel blessed to be able to look out the window and see a waterfall. It is looking especially nice this fall since it's framed in gorgeous brilliant orange and yellows.  This picture was taken several weeks ago just as the leaves started turning and while I would love to show you what it looks like this morning I don't want to step outside in the rain to take another picture.

Instead I took one of the little red squirrel that was busy gathering walnuts by our backdoor this morning.

We see chipmunks often but it is a very rare occasion when we actually get to see a squirrel. They are so much fun to watch. The walnuts were almost as big as this little guy and I had to admire his plucky can do attitude.

I think I may have to store this little moment away in my memory for future reference when things in life look overwhelming or impossible. If a tiny squirrel can tackle a huge walnut surely we can handle what ever gets placed in our path of life as well.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Winner

I enjoyed hearing all the things that you would enjoy learning how to do. One of the interesting things about life is no matter how old we are there are always things to learn and I'm already looking forward to adding many more things to my list of things that I can do.

But without further ado. Here is the winner.
Comment # 12

Nancy said .....
There are so many things that I would like to learn! I want to become better at spinning right now. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

Congratulations Nancy! Please email me with your address and I will get the book mailed to you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Time for a Giveaway!

Our family loves reading and we have accumulated a large assortment of books for our home library that keeps continuing to grow.

Yesterday Rosy boxed up several hundred books that we had in our living room to exchange with others that were waiting patiently in our storage room for a time like this. Among the ones that were being packed away I noticed this book.

The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life

It's filled with a host of instructions, written in a very pleasant engaging way on how to do anything from, making candles and perfume, growing a garden and preserving food, baking pie and bread, to almost anything you could think of to live a more simple life.

I found it interesting and thought you might too. If you would like to have a chance to own this book leave a comment telling me something that you would like to learn how to do. It can be anything at all from boiling water to sky diving.

I personally would love to learn how to crochet. So far I have been terrible at any attempts I have made at it.

As always if you want a second entry place a link to this giveaway on your blog and come back and leave another comment telling me you did.

I will be choosing a winner using random generator on Monday October 10th.
Disclaimer: The only compensation I receive from doing this giveaway is the warm fuzzy feeling I get to be able to give someone this book.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Indian Summer


We are enjoying what people in this area call Indian summer. We had snow flurries last weekend but things have warmed up since then and the weather is absolutely delightful right now. I would love to be able to spend time outdoors but since I am basically confined to a certain spot in the house that isn't an option.

The children are enjoying raking leaves in the evenings after school. They have the perk of being able to enjoy the piles they create which is something I never got to do as a child. We had a lot of pines and other evergreens around our house and a giant horse chestnut tree. Raking all the prickly nuts, pine needles, and the few chestnut leaves together never made a pile that you wanted to jump into.

Did you get to enjoy playing in leaves when you were a child?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vinegar

Last year, shortly after we had moved to our new home some circumstances arose that required us to be out of state for quite a while. At first we had thought we would only be gone for several weeks at a time and only took things along to make that we could survive. An air mattress, a card table and five folding chairs, and enough blankets for everyone.

We arrived at our empty house and settled in as much as possible with minimal comforts of a real home. The local library became a very important part of our life, and days were spent reading and playing. There wasn't much to do since there was almost nothing to keep clean and organized. Preparing meals was interesting since I didn't want to buy an entire kitchen worth of things to work with. I had enough things to use that we managed nicely.

As things turned out instead of being there only several weeks at a time we had to stay for almost six months. During that time the children started with the sniffles and I could see us all dealing with a cold. I didn't have any of my usual things on hand to give to them. What I did have though was a gallon of vinegar.

I went ahead and filled a glass with water and poured a healthy splash of vinegar into it and handed it to them to drink. They liked how it tasted and much to my surprise within several hours there was no more signs of a cold on the way.  From that point on at the slightest hint of a sniffle, sneeze, or sore throat we reached for the vinegar.

We have back to the comforts of a real home now for almost a year, but vinegar has remained a very good friend of ours. It's well over a year since any of us have had a cold and I'm hoping we can continue that way. It will be interesting to see what happens since another cold season is upon us.