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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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!

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!

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.

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!

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.