Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Jar

Last year we made a fun list of things twelve things we wanted to do in 2013 and I'm happy to say we accomplished them. My favorite was the month we tried a new recipe every day. I enjoyed it so much I think I'll be bringing it back for a month in 2014.
 
In addition to having our family list of fun goals we have for the new year we will also be doing Happy Jars.
 
 
Rosebud made these as Christmas gifts with instructions to write happy things on little pieces of paper and dropping them into the jar throughout the next year. At the end of the year we get to read about what a great year 2014 has been.
 
I'm looking forward to this sweet little project.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas

I hope you all had a very nice Christmas!
 
We all enjoyed our day to the fullest.
 
 
I finally gave up trying to get the perfect picture of our children. Buddy thought it was a great time to play peek-a-boo once again.


 
Our homemade Christmas gifts were enjoyed by all. One of my favorites was the cookbook Sailor made for Rosebud. The recipes were his own foodie inventions, but what made me love it even more were the little descriptions he added about each recipe.
 
 
The fine print under the Spicy Potatoes recipe says: This recipe is not spicy, we apologize for the title.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Do you believe in miracles?

Yes, I do believe in miracles.
 
2. What's a recent fad you admit to trying?

I can't think of any fad that I'm trying. I'm more the kind of person that allows fads to come and go while I stay comfortably, myself.

3. Peppermint-are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite food or beverage containing peppermint?

I really like peppermint. My favorite food containing peppermint is Peppermint patties. Not the York brand though. There is another brand at our local candyland that I like ever so much better.

4. Break the ice, on thin ice, as cold as ice (emotionally, not literally)...which phrase have you run into most recently? Explain.

Probably break the ice. Having been meeting new people breaking the ice seems to be the best way to make new friends.
 
5. Have you ever broken or spilled something in someone else's home? Still friends?

When I was six I accidently broke my Aunt Vernie's treasured candy bowl. We both cried, but remained friends. My parents gave her a new one a few weeks later as a Christmas gift.

6.  'Tis the week before Christmas...are you feeling more like Buddy the Elf or the Grinch before his heart grew?

Buddy the Elf. Final preparations have already been made. The house feels as if it were bursting at the seams trying to contain all the secrets.

7. Share a favorite quote relating to Christmas.

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

8.  Insert your own random thought here

So excited that one of my brothers is coming to visit this weekend!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's Beginning to Look....

... a lot like Christmas!

I think I may have mentioned before how this year we're having a homemade Christmas. So far we have been having a lot of fun and by tonight I think we'll be done with our preparations, a full week ahead of time. Yay!

 
Rosebud made a set of potholders for each of the Grandmother's.

 
Sunbeam created a yarn doll.

 
Buddy loved helping shell peanuts to make peanut clusters.

 
Even a power outage didn't cloud our Christmas-y spirit, thanks to the Glo-lite candles a friend introduced to me.
 

And with it snowing beautifully outside right now I think I'll relax, prop up my feet, and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Are you doing anything special to mark this season of Advent? If so please share.

Nothing special at our house. I found so many fun Advent ideas on Pinterest, but that is the closest I got to doing anything for it. Maybe next year.

 2. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...and of course you recall, the most famous reindeer of all...so, which reindeer name best describes you this week?

Dasher, seems I'm constantly dashing somewhere. I keep hoping things will slow down a little, but seems there's always something that needs attention somewhere.

 3. What's worse-too quiet or too loud? Which have you had more of lately?

I don't like noise, so I'm going with too loud. Too quiet can be a bad thing too, especially involving a toddler. Recently when I realized things were too quiet and went to investigate Buddy had created a cloud of baby powder. It covered every single surface in the living room and he looked like a combination between some kind of tiny old person and a sad snowman. The mess he created was far from fun to clean up.

 4. This question comes to you from Zoanna over at A Penchant for Pens-thanks Zo!

 When you are administratively gifted, how often do you find yourself not trusting less gifted people to do what they've committed to do?  If you are not so gifted that way, but are reliable, how do you feel when the stronger person (in that area) goes ahead and covers it before giving you a chance to come through?


I would rather do the things assigned to me than take charge, and if a somewhat "controlling" person thinks they have to have their fingers in everything it doesn't bother me too much to let them take over even if I would have been perfectly capable of doing an equally good or some cases better job at it.

5. What is your most dreaded task relating to the holidays? Your most looked forward to holiday task?
Most dreaded task is getting Christmas cards out in time. I used to write a handwritten letter for each of them, each one different, but as our list of friends has grown I simply can't keep up with that tradition. A little note scribbled inside cards is about as far as I get except for my parents.

My most looked forward to tradition is a tie between putting up our tree and shopping for Christmas breakfast.

 6. Facebook has released its list of the 'most talked about' topics of 2013. Pope Francis took the number one spot.  Does that surprise you? He was followed by election, royal baby, typhoon, and Harlem Shake. Your thoughts? What was your most talked about topic in 2013? (Facebook, around the kitchen table, or wherever it is you talk)

Each of those topics hardly got any attention from us. The most talked about topic in our house is probably school.

 7. What's something you consider a necessity that others might view as a luxury?

Paper towels.  I was sixteen before I was introduced to that luxury, but it has become a necessity for our family.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

This year instead of focusing on gifts we are having a more food related Christmas, similar to what we had while growing up Amish where food and fellowship was always more important than gifts. Rosebud and I consulted Pinterest and added quite a few treats to our list of things we hoped to create.

So far we have made:
  • Eight batches of rice krispie treats
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Party mix
  • Butterfingers
  • Bounty Bars
  • Oreo Krispie treats
  • Raisin clusters
  • Pomegranate clusters
  • Pretzel s'mores
  • Chocolate coated pretzels
  • Fruitcakes
  • Frozen chocolate coated banana slices (so good)
  • Kiwi candy
  • Rolo pretzel bites
  • Ritzy chocolate caramel bites
We are a little over half way done. Next up is homemade Three Musketeers and popcorn balls and some more salty snacks. I'm thinking we'll get our entire list complete. So much fun!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fruitcake Day

After spending 45 days working on my fruitcakes the day finally arrived when I was supposed to bake them.

You would think after waiting that long on a fruitcake I would have learned the art of patience, but apparently not.
 
The cake on the left I inverted almost immediately after removing it from the oven and the poor thing broke into pieces, the children cheered, because that meant they would be getting to eat it much sooner.
 
Cake two cooled in the pan before I tried removing it and it turned out beautiful. Two down and one to go and my fruitcakes will be done until next year when I start the process all over.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the 2013 word of the year is 'selfie'. Your thoughts? When did you last take a selfie? Do you post them online somewhere?  Do you prefer to be in front of the camera or behind the lens?

I don't take selfies, since I don't ever enjoy being in front of the camera taking a selfie would practically be self inflicted torture.

 2. Will you send out Christmas cards this year? If so, are they ready to go? If not, are you glad or sad about leaving that tradition behind?

I will be sending out some Christmas cards this year. I really should get started on them in hopes I'll get them sent in time to arrive before Christmas.

 3. Do you trust easily?

I do trust easily. Though not quite as much as I used to years ago.

 4. Pine-cinnamon-peppermint-vanilla (as in sugar cookie)...of those listed, which one is your favorite December scent?

Since I don't have a sense of smell I can't tell which would be my favorite scent. According to taste I would go with vanilla.

 5. Did you do more talking or more listening yesterday? Was that by choice or necessity?

Listening, definitely listening. The children always have way more to say than I do. One interesting thing I listened to was all about how cashews grow.

 6. What's the last song that got stuck in your head? Sorry if it's back there now :  )

"Starry Night" a song the girls have to sing at our church's Christmas pageant and therefore sing almost non-stop around the house.

 7. Which world explorer (in the whole history of the world) would you most like to have traveled with, and why?

Just the thought of being an explorer, especially if it required walking and camping and all the other outdoorsy stuff makes me weary. If I had to choose one it would probably be Lewis and Clark.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Every week I assign each of the children a book they are supposed to read. For a family a bookworms that is something they enjoy. This week's selection includes, Kazan, the Wolf Dog,  Caddie Woodlawn, and On the Banks of Plum Creek. I love seeing them enjoying books I loved as a child.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Are you settling for something?
I'm very happy with my life, I can't think of anything that I'm simply settling for.

 2.  It wasn't that long ago almost every store in the US locked doors and turned out lights on Thanksgiving Day. This year many will be open all day Thursday, giving shoppers a jump start on 'Black Friday'. In your opinion is this a good thing or a not so good thing? Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

I feel sorry for all those who have to work on Thanksgiving. I don't think it's a good thing. I will not be part of the reason why someone else has to work on a holiday, I'll stay at home. If everyone would do the same no stores would have the reason for asking their employees to work instead of spending time with their family.

 3. Speaking of shopping... I saw a recent article on the twelve best shopping cities in the world. In order they are-

New York, Tokyo, London, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, and Seoul.

Ever shopped in any of the cities listed? In which city would you most like to pull out the plastic or cold hard cash?


I haven't been to any of those cities, but I would love to visit New York City someday.

 4.  When did you last dine by candlelight?

Several weeks ago the children decided they wanted to cook a meal for us and set the dining room table with our best dishes, and a nice arrangement of candles. It was by no means a five star meal, but I enjoyed it more than almost any other meal I've ever had.

 5. What do you have too much of?

Fluffiness.

 6. The Hunger Games...are you a fan?  Did you read the book(s)?  Will you/have you seen the movie?  Will you/have you seen Catching Fire?  No spoilers please!

I have not read the books or seen the movie, so I don't know if I would be a fan or not.

 7. Share your plans for Thanksgiving Day. The who, the where, the what...especially the what! As in what's for dinner?  If you're one of my International visitors, whose homeland doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving (the whole world doesn't ya know!), then still tell us your plans for Thursday.

We will be at home alone. Don't feel sorry for us, we actually really enjoy spending holidays with just our family. We don't do turkey choosing to have a ham and this year also a rack of ribs. Several kinds of salad, sweet corn, dill bread, and regular homemade dinner rolls, potatoes, our traditional Thanksgiving pudding, several kinds of pie and some appetizers, and dips to enjoy later on.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Snow and ice make today a perfect day to stay inside. Who knows, I might even get some extra treats made for tomorrow.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Love

This weekend I stumbled across a quote that made me stop and think.

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

What great advice packed into one little quote! The world would be a much happier place if everyone practiced that.

I'll try to do my part today and speak only of things I love.
  • Snow. I like that the ground has a cover of white and am eagerly looking forward to the snowstorm that is supposed to come this week.
  • Sailor's weekly guitar lessons are paying off. I love listening to him play. He's getting quite good at it.
  • Good books. I'm currently rereading the Amethyst Heart by Penelope Stokes. It's one of those books that I like reading every year or so.
  • My family. I think that's pretty self explanatory. They're my favorite people in the world!
  • Butter fried chicken breasts. No seasoning, no breading, just fried to a beautiful deep golden brown in real butter. Juicy, and delicious! A family favorite.
  • Chocolate, especially milk chocolate. Need I say more?
  • Rugs made by my Aunt Emma. They're simply the best, they last and last, and they don't slip and slide all over the floor.
  • Cold water from our well.
  • Words spoken by a toddler. Love Buddy's version of names for his siblings, and how he calls our dog, Gypsy, Dippy.
  • Tide laundry detergent.
  • Stationary, notebooks, and office supplies of all kinds. They make me happy!
  • Pinecones. Don't ask me why I like them so well, I'm not sure I can explain.
That's only a small list of things I love. What would you add to it?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What lesson has failure taught you?

It has taught me that sometimes I'm focused on the wrong things, that it's time to step back and re-evaluate. Failure isn't always a bad thing. Some of the best things that have ever happened to us is because of failure.
 
2. What decision are you glad you made?

Other than my faith and marrying LV. I have never once regretted our decision of leaving the Amish.

3. I've been a little bit surprised to see fully lit and decorated Christmas trees popping up for the past several weeks in friend's Instagram feeds. So tell the truth-is your tree up and decorated, and if so when did that happen? If not, when will you be decking the halls?

Our tree is not up and decorated yet. We usually wait until sometime after Thanksgiving. I have been listening to Christmas music and the girls have been in full blown Christmas spirit for quite a while already. They secured their very own scrawny little tree and put it in their room.

 
4. Solitaire-Poker-Rummy-Hearts-Go Fish-Old Maid...which game of cards would you most like to join? 

From the options here, I'd choose Solitaire. My favorite game of cards is Phase 10. LV and I have played that more times than I can count. I love it even though he wins way more often than I do. The children love Uno and Dutch Blitz so we play those quite often as well.
 
5. This question comes to you courtesy of a Facebook friend, who once upon a time had a blog...When you're feeling stressed do you snack a lot or are you more the 'can't eat' type?

That depends on the stress. Deadlines looming have a way of making me hungry, but if it's more of an upsetting type of stress I can't eat.
 
6.  Have you ever reviewed a product or service on line? Was your review favorable or less than favorable? 

I have reviewed products online. Mostly purchases from Amazon, but only if I could give a favorable review.
 
7. What was the best conversation you had yesterday? 

Trying to think. Probably at the supper table last evening when we were all discussing the happenings of our day.
 
8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I have been having some weird blogs pop up on my blog reader even though I never subscribed to them or even heard of them before.

I don't like it, don't like it at all!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Traditions

Traditions can be a good thing, they can also put a lot of unwanted pressure on you that had never been intended when ever the tradition had started.

Thankfully I'm at a place in my life where I'm okay with not following traditions unless they actually add something to our family.

I have been browsing Pinterest for ideas for special snacks and treats in hopes of reviving our family tradition of having a snack-tastic Christmas. It sort of fizzled out for a few years, but with eager helpers in the kitchen it feels like the year to celebrate like we used to. Several different pins that kept popping up had to do with the twelve days of Christmas and ideas what to do on each day. I'm contemplating whether or not it might be something to do this year. I had tried our own version of it for our first Christmas and we loved it, but children and added responsibilities they bring made that it never became a tradition.

The first time I heard of celebrating the twelve days of Christmas was as a teen one of my friends lived in the Amish community in Milverton, Ontario and there they all celebrate it quite properly. Beginning on the day after Christmas and continuing until January 6th they have a continual Christmas celebration of visiting friends, having special food for each of the days, including roast goose, mincemeat pie, fruitcake, poached pears, and what ever else was considered to be the proper food to eat each day.

It used to make me weary just thinking about having almost two whole weeks of not working. As far as I know they are the only Amish community to celebrate like that and I can't help but wonder how many of them wish they could quit the tradition.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Describe a typical Sunday from your childhood.

There were two distinctly different typical Sundays in my childhood, since the Amish only have church every other Sunday.

A typical church Sunday started with all of us getting up bright and early. Mom and I would prepare breakfast while Daddy and the boys went out to the barn to milk the cow and get our horse ready. After breakfast Daddy would be humming or singing the slow church tunes while Mom and I did the dishes. Once everyone was changed Daddy would go hitch the horse to the buggy while Mom inspected everyone to make sure we were all spotlessly clean.

The ride to church in the back of the buggy was good most times although there were times that we got irritated at each other for taking up too much leg room. The two back seats faced each other and required interlocking knees, and lots of patience with siblings.

Arriving at church Mom and I went inside while Daddy and the boys went out to the barn with the rest of the menfolk until it was time for services to start. Two or three slow church songs were sung (taking up to 20 minutes per song) next came the preaching of two sermons and a scripture reading, and then the 15 minute prayer where I tried to keep my knees from creaking. Another slow song and church was over and we could visit with our friends until it was time to go home.

Sundays we didn't have church were my favorite. During beautiful summer weather we would often go for a drive in our spring wagon, other times we had friends over, or we simply enjoyed reading, playing games, or writing letters. In-between Sunday's never seemed to last long enough.

2. How comfortable are you with uncertainty? Explain.

I think I'm fairly comfortable with it. Our future is uncertain, but knowing God holds the future I don't have to worry about what it holds.

3. What have you accomplished recently that might be described as crafty, as in 'arts and crafts' crafty?  If crafty doesn't work for you, how about handy? Or both?

Last evening I started making several hand towels for the kitchen. The ones I have now are in desperate need to be replaced and I'm finally getting it done.
 
4. Have you ever worked in a 'food place'? What did you take away from the experience?

I have never worked in a 'food place' other than my kitchen. I love how the kitchen seems to be the heart of the home and how so many memorable family times occur over good food and great conversation.

5. Cold turkey, talk turkey, what a turkey...in recent days, which turkey phrase or idiom best applies to you and why? Click on the word turkey if you need to read more about the meaning behind each phrase.

Probably talk turkey. I'll wait to say what it involved until some later day.

6. If you could have any one guest join your Thanksgiving dinner table, who would it be?

Nothing would make me happier than having my parents at my Thanksgiving table and have us all enjoying each other's company.

7. What is one thing you must accomplish today?

I have some bills I have to pay today. Blah!

And then later this afternoon we will be having friends over. Yay!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Seeing LV take time to play with Buddy even though he is in the middle of an interesting book never fails to warm my heart.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Living Life

Q. What have I been up to that an entire week has managed to pass since the last time I did a post?
A. Simply living life.


 
I've been trying to remember to take care of my 45 Day Fruitcake everyday. I'm on day 18 so I still have a way to go.
 
~~~~~
 
I've been reading to Buddy. A lot. He still enjoys some of his baby and toddler books, but his book of choice is Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. He'll bring it to me and sit and listen intently while I read it. He seems to think Fudge is hilarious.
 
 
~~~~~

We have been busy learning new things, for example, did you know that when a violet seed pod bursts, the seeds shoot through the air as far as sixteen feet?

We all found that to be fascinating.

~~~~~
 

Buddy loves animals. When ever he sees cows he will tug at my skirt and hurry me over to a window so I can see them too. Lately they've been camping out behind the house which made my trips to go see them quite frequent.

~~~~~

We have been having friends over, taking the children to their practices, the sewing machine has been humming away, at least as much as a treadle machine is able to hum. The kitchen has been the center of activity as we tried new recipes and did some fun experiments. We're planning a more homemade Christmas so all manner of crafty things seem to be appearing where ever I look.

Evenings have been times of reading books, playing board games, and doing puzzles.

While I was occupied with simply living and enjoying life, my poor little blog got just a tad neglected. I'll try to do better.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Young Men and Washing Machines

Monday morning arrives and carrying on with the tradition I was used to it means laundry day. I have tried washing a load everyday but find it aggravating and tiring, I would much rather have laundry only on one day even if it means there is a mountain of laundry that needs to be done, because then I can go about the rest of my week blissfully free of that chore.

This morning when I opened the washer I was greeted with dog hair. Sailor had decided to wash his dog's blanket and the result wasn't pretty for my washer. He helped me clean it up while I gave him a few tips on how to successfully wash the blanket next time with out gunking up the machine.

Growing up with five younger brothers there was more than one time the washing machine became interesting. Especially as they grew older and didn't always think things through.

The memory that comes to mind is of one young man, being hopelessly in love, wanting his black wool hat to look like new to impress his young maiden. While Mom's back was turned the hat made it's way into the washing machine, where much to his dismay instead of a beautiful black hat emerging from the soapy water, the water turned black and the hat turned into a soggy mess that resembled a blanket much more than a hat. He scooped it out of the water and was stuffing it into the furnace just as Mom came back.

He did get a new black hat, and somehow I never did find out if it impressed his young maiden. I'm guessing she was much more enthused seeing the person wearing the hat, than the hat itself

Friday, November 1, 2013

Winner

November is here and with it came dull gray and brown scenery, the perfect time of year to curl up somewhere cozy with a good book. There are so many good books out there and occasionally I like sharing some of my favorites from when I was growing up, which brings us to the reason of this post. Choosing the winner for The Language of my Heart, the true journal of a young Amish girl now in book form.

After consulting the random generator the winner is.....


Comment #9 Noelle the dreamer said .......

I think most of us have tried our hand at keeping a journal (a little like blogging) but I agree some are far more interesting than others! My Granny kept traveling journals and I am blessed to own those! Her schooling stopped at age 9 but she was multilingual and would have loved to become a playwriter!
'The Journal of Anne Frank' comes to mind as most teens have read it (at least overseas). Unforgetable!
Kindly add my name in the hat for 'The Language of my Heart' Mary Ann. Just the title has my imagination going!
God bless,


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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's something you're dealing with that might be described as tricky?

One of the trickiest things I have to deal with is successfully transferring Buddy to his crib after rocking him to sleep without having him wake up. It's next to impossible and there are many days when his naps occur on my lap only.

2.  What's your treat of choice?

Chocolate if we're talking food.  Reading an entire book without interruptions is always a treat for me since it happens so very rarely. I'm still in the "Mommy come! Mommy see! A wiggly worm. A red scraped knee. Painted pictures. Blocks piled high"  .......... stage in my life so reading uninterrupted seldom happens.

3. Did you/will you carve a jack-o-lantern this month? Which real (living or dead) or fictional 'Jack' would you most like to meet in person? Why?

We don't carve jack-o-lanterns.

I can't think of a single real or fictional Jack I would like to meet. The only Jack that comes to mind is a "jack-in-the-box" I met him often when we visited my grandparents. I had a love / hate relationship with him. I loved cranking the handle, but hated how he always jumped out of the box at me.

4.  In your opinion, what's the grossest sounding word in the English language?

Don't laugh at me, but the word sirloin makes me want to gag.

5. When did your heart last skip a beat?

When I accidently sent an email to the wrong person. It had been intended for LV.  I think my heart skipped more than a single beat as I realized what had just happened.

6. Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Picket, Michael Jackson's Thriller, Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon, or Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters...your favorite 'scary' tune?

I don't know any of those, and I really don't listen to scary music.

7.   It was a dark and stormy night when______________________________.

I was nineteen, the youth were all at my Uncle Eli's house for our Sunday evening hymn sing when a tornado ripped through the area. Passing behind their house and totally destroying LV's brother's house.

It was dark and stormy for a while after that as we tried to pick our way home safely. Blocked roads, downed power lines, and constant lightning all added to the challenge and made it a night we will never forget.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

There are still a few days left to enter my giveaway.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Language of my Heart

Diaries and journals have always interested me. As much as I journaled while growing up I was always curious what other people wrote in their diaries.  There were several different times when there were some journals among the things Daddy brought home from estate auctions and we always enjoyed reading them. I still remember the day I discovered my Mom's diary's in the attic. And how disappointed I was when she went and destroyed them. I have always wondered what all she had written and wished that there would have been a way to read them and learn to know the teen that grew up to be my mother.

Another box I discovered several months later contained hundreds of letters from her sister that she wrote to her while she had been a teacher in Gorrie, Ontario, far from home. I read those letters and enjoyed them immensely. A whole series of books could be written simply from the contents of those letters. The peek into the life of a young Amish school teacher's life was delightfully entertaining. I laughed and cried my way through the entire box of letters. Later I was really glad I did when my Mom returned the letters to her sister.

One of my favorite books from when I was a teen was called The Language of my Heart it was the real journal an Amish girl wrote during her teen years. I read and reread my copy more times than I can count, it was out of print for quite a while but last year the publishers decided to do a reprint and today I'm offering you the chance to have your own copy by having a giveaway.



To enter the giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment telling me if you ever tried journaling.

For a second entry post a link to this giveaway on your blog or Facebook and come back and leave another comment telling me you did.

I will be choosing the winner on Friday, November 1st.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. When it comes to good manners, what two top your list of most important?

Saying please and thank you. And simply obeying the golden rule.

2. Let's open a proverbial can of worms...Common Core.  Are you familiar with the term (talking education reform in the USA)?  If so, care to share your thoughts? In your opinion, what is one of the biggest issues schools (in your home country) face today?

Common Core? My parents tried to teach me, if I don't have something good to say, to say nothing at all. I'm choosing to follow that advice here.

3. Name a celebrity whose fashion sense you admire and share why.

I have so much going on in my life that I pay next to zero attention to fashion. I don't care what anyone chooses to wear. I don't have any celebrities that I can think of that have a fashion sense I admire. I couldn't care less what they wear.

4. How are you affected by the changing seasons?

I love all season changes except when spring turns to summer. I'm loving this season change. More time to enjoy working on indoor projects. It's that time of year when crafts get pulled out and worked on, many new recipes are tried, and we begin making plans for the holidays.

5. Scariest book you've ever read?

The scariest book I have ever read has to be a tie between The Neighbor and The Haunted Mesa. Both of them had me looking over my shoulders days after I finished reading them.

6. What time of day are you most hungry? What's your go-to snack?

I'm most hungry late afternoons. I don't really have a go to snack. Most of the time it is what ever we have on hand, it might be anything from baby carrots to chocolate chip cookies.

7. Do you lean more towards being too needy or too independent? Which do you find harder to deal with in others?

Probably too independent. I don't care what others think of me and following the crowd and keeping up with the Joneses is something that I never have to worry about trying to do. I'm happiest doing my own thing.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

It's snowing!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Outside my window instead of a clear blue October skies it appears as if November would have already arrived. Bleak, gray, and drab.

It makes me feel like doing some sewing and trying my hand at some Pinterest-y crafts.

~~~~~

I'm making our favorite fruitcakes. It takes quite a while to make it. A full 45 days. But the end results always make me say it was worth all the aggravation, so I'm doing it again this year.

~~~~~

October is fire safety month and Buddy seems to be playing the part. He loves Sailor's old fireman hat.
 
~~~~~
I have been enjoying some good books lately and when digging through our big book cupboard I found some books I had bought in hopes to share them with you. Stay tuned for some fun giveaways in the near future.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Speedy Brownies

One of our favorite sweet treats happens to be brownies. They get made quite often because we really like them, an added bonus is that they are one of the easiest things to make.
 

Speedy Brownies

2 cups sugar
1¾ cup flour
½ cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
5 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

In a large mixing bowl measure all ingredients in order given. Mix well. Pour into a greased 9"x13" pan. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

Rosebud likes sprinkling candy coated chips on top before baking, but that is totally optional.

Simple, easy, and yet so delicious!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What was your biggest worry five years ago?  Is it still a worry?

One of my biggest worries five years ago was that Sailor would have a really hard time with school, especially with math.

Thankfully that is no longer a worry. Somewhere along the line something clicked and he is now a math whiz and counts it among his favorite subjects.

2. Yesterday (October 15th) was National Grouch Day...what makes you grouchy? What cheers you up when you're feeling grouchy?

Heat makes me grouchy. Having a nice air conditioned place to cool off cheers me up, as well as a tall glass of ice cold lemonade.

3.  In one word, how does it feel to be photographed?

Awkward.

4. Besides your parents, who would you say had the greatest influence on you in choosing your life path?  Explain.

LV.

All the major decisions and happenings in my life have been directly influenced by my husband.

5. The crisp days of autumn are here ...what's something you like to eat, but only if it's crisp?

Iceberg lettuce.

Sailor loves cooking and experimenting in the kitchen and I usually cheerfully taste any concoction he creates, but being served with wilted lettuce dripping in melted butter was too much.

6. What's the most useless object you own?

A bread dough mixer. I never, ever use it. It's much faster and easier to simply make a loaf or two by hand than drag out that contraption and use it. Maybe if I'd make six loaves of bread at a time like we used to while I was growing up I might give it a try again, but for the past fourteen years it has been resting in the storeroom.

7.  Share a favorite fall memory.

One of my favorite fall memories is the day LV and I attended a wedding in a neighboring church district. The twelve mile ride in the buggy was perfect, the horse seemed to know we weren't in a hurry, having started off early enough to allow him to walk most of the way. Orange and yellow leaves glistened in the morning sun as the frost melted away. We both knew that the entire community would find out we were courting that evening when all the steady couples entered the house together and we would be among that group.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Rosebud and I are already working on choosing our Thanksgiving menu. We don't do the whole turkey thing since we would all much rather have a feast of our favorite foods and try out a few new recipes as well.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Fun

The tree in front of our house has lost most of its leaves and Sunbeam and Buddy have been enjoying playing in the pile that has gathered around the trunk.
 
 After hiding in the pile Sunbeam calls to Buddy to come find her.
 
 He walks over to investigate and she sits up.
He turns to run away with shrieks of laughter as she bounds out of the leaves after him.

Moments like this make me wish I was a child again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Algerian Meatballs

We have been trying new recipes ever since Rosebud expressed an interest in trying foods from other countries. Since she had been studying about Algeria we decided to try some Algerian meatballs last evening. They turned out to be delicious and we enjoyed them a lot more than the recipe we had tried that included brown rice, plantains, and peanut butter.

 
Algerian Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp onions, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Bake at 400º for 15 minutes.

In the meantime sautè in 1 Tbsp butter

½ cup diced onions
7 cherry tomatoes, chopped

Once onions are translucent add:

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sautè for an additional 30 seconds.

Add two tablespoons of drippings from your baked meatballs and simmer for a minute or so. Spoon your onion mixture over meatballs and serve,


We liked these well enough that we'll be making them again!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's one thing you learned in September?

I can't really think of anything new I learned, but I was reminded of a whole lot of things I had thought I already knew. Like it's okay to be flexible with schedules, that every cloud has a silver lining, and that spending time with family is really my favorite thing in the world.

2. Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, zucchini squash, or blech! hold the squash... what's your favorite squash? What's your favorite way to prepare your favorite squash?

I like all squash. Zucchini stir fried with onion and garlic is something we all enjoy. Butternut squash is also a family favorite. I like them thinly sliced and fried in butter and flour.  We also used them as a substitute for pumpkin in pumpkin pies and desserts. So much easier to work with and no one ever knew the difference.

3. The older I get the_______________________________.

The more I try not to let the little things bother me.

4. What's your favorite television theme song ever?

I haven't watched enough television to have a favorite theme song.

5. What do you wish you'd spent more time doing five years ago?

I wish I would have spent more time journaling.

6. What item do you most need (or want) to add to your wardrobe this fall?

A new pair of shoes, maybe.

7. On October 2, 1950 the Peanuts cartoon was introduced to the world. What was your favorite cartoon when you were a kid?

Cartoons weren't a part of my childhood. Comics were considered to be part of the forbidden parts of the world and we were discouraged reading even the few that made their way into our house as part of the newspaper packing in boxes from mail order companies.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.


Rosebud and Sunbeam are in a phase of having real tea parties. The daintiest foods are being created and lots of tea brewed and all served on a pretty china tea set. If they keep this up I might actually learn to enjoy tea more.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Signs of Fall

Our daily walks are quite refreshing since the chilly nip of fall is in the air. Last evening was beautiful and we went quite a bit farther than usual and now I'm sporting a blister on one of my toes. Buddy loves each outing, lucky little boy gets to ride in a stroller.

 
While Buddy enjoyed his ride, I enjoyed taking pictures of anything that caught my fancy.


 
The deer in this field stood and watched us for a little while before turning and bounding back into the shadowy safety of the woods.

 
After many more pictures we got back home where we were greeted by our kittens. Buddy was excited to see them and kicked his blanket off revealing his bare feet.
 


I was happy to take him inside and sit down to relief my poor aching feet, but I did feel a little sorry that LV had to back track and try to find Buddy's missing foot wear.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 1. When did you last sing happy birthday to someone? When were you last sung to? Does that embarrass you or do you enjoy being the center of attention on your special day?

The last time I sang Happy Birthday to someone was on Sunbeam's birthday. The last time it was sung to me was on my birthday by LV and the children. I don't mind if they sing it to me, but I would like to shrivel out of sight if it's a group thing. I used to hate it in school, and it was even worse in one of the Amish communities we lived in and they sang it after the Sunday evening hymn sing. I didn't enjoy that even the teeniest little bit.

2.  Name a famous or 'infamous' person (living or deceased) who shares your birth day and month. Is that someone you'd like to meet in person if it were possible?

Queen Elizabeth shares my birth month. Would I like to meet her? Not necessarily, though I would rather meet her than most other famous people.

3. Someone hands you a box tied up in a lovely bow...what are you hoping to find inside?

A great camera, or maybe an ipad.

4. What can you guarantee about yourself?

If you ask me to keep a secret I will not share it with anyone.

5. Talking art and beautiful cities here...'The Last Supper' in the Santa Maria della Grazie Abbey in Milan Italy or 'The Mona Lisa' in The Louvre, Paris...which would you most like to see up close and in person?  Why?

The odds of me ever visiting any of those cities is slim to none. And art is not my thing. Most of the famous pieces I wonder why they ever got to be famous.

6. Your favorite dessert?

Favorite dessert is probably homemade cherry pie, though I do love warm freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, vanilla pudding served in chocolate shells with a strawberry compote is simply delicious. I'm not sure I can pick a favorite there are so many great options to choose from.

7. This coming weekend marks the official start of autumn (in the Northern hemisphere)...what is something you do to get ready for fall? What is one thing you're looking forward to on your fall calendar? Spring or fall-which do you prefer?

Something we do to get ready for fall is fill the coal bin. Our fall calendar has various fun fall themed baking days. I prefer fall, the blessed signal of the end of summer and knowing winter is just around the corner.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Clean up continues after the fire at my parents' bakery/store. It still feels like a bad dream.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fire

Yesterday we spent all day driving home from a fun filled vacation, looking forward to spending a few relaxing hours reading, catching up on email, and for Buddy playing with all his favorite toys before it's time to head to bed.

We entered the house and the light on our answering machine was blinking. Amazing how many messages are waiting I thought to myself, and then scrolled through the caller I.D. before listening to any of them. Multiple calls from my brothers, a few from my cousins, among others.

I checked the time they had been calling. Something bad must have happened that they were all trying to call at the same time and only a few hours before we had arrived home. I could feel my stomach clench, and before I got to listen to any messages the phone rang again. It was my brother David, "Dad and Mom's store burned down," he said. "We're on our way to see them right now."

I'm glad they live only a few hours away and at a time like this they could go to them to offer moral support. The Amish in their community have turned out to help with clean up, but I haven't heard if they will be rebuilding or not.

I'll share pictures later, but right now I'm sure they would appreciate prayer.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mom's Cookbooks

When I was growing up Mom had two main cookbooks, Amish Cooking and Big Valley Amish Cookbook. She also had a recipe box filled to the brim with our family's favorite recipes that she had collected over the years.


 
Daddy brought a box full of books home from an auction one day and hidden in the bottom was the giant Joy of Cooking cookbook. I spent hours poring through it, but somehow it hardly ever got used.

And then one day the mailman brought a package for Mom. Open on your birthday was written all over it. I thought she should open it right away, but she placed it on top of a cupboard where it waited until her special day. When I got up on the morning of her birthday I climbed up and removed the package and placed it next to her plate at the breakfast table to make sure she would open it first thing and finally reveal what was inside.

We all watched as she slid her knife through the tape and opened the box. I was almost as thrilled to see what was inside as I would have been had that beautiful glossy new cookbook been my own. Page after page of recipes each with their own mouthwatering photo. I was sure that was the best cookbook in the world.

Mom paged through it a little and then we ate. That forenoon I started looking through it, reading every recipe through as I went, by the time I had to help get lunch ready I wasn't even half way through yet so I propped it up on the recipe holder stand until I had time to return to it.

As we were eating lunch Daddy suggested he take Mom and the little boys to a nearby yardsale, while John, David, and I cleaned away the dishes.

Dishes were some of my least favorite things to do and we each had another helping of dessert after they left before getting started on the dreaded task of cleaning up. As I was getting up from my chair David flicked a spoonful of water at me.

I quickly flicked one right back at him. It kept going for a little while and John joined our little waterfight. This wasn't really fair, two against one. I picked up a glass of water and as they splashed me again I swung my arm in a wide arc determined to soak both of them really well.

They got some of the water, but the majority of it landed on Mom's new cookbook. Our laughter and waterfight came to an abrupt end and we got the dishes cleared in record time and had mopped up all the water on the kitchen floor before Mom and Daddy got back.

Mom walked in the kitchen and seemed pleased how clean everything looked, until she discovered what had really happened. All her fun yardsale finds were packed away until later. We had, had quite enough fun for one day.

I felt horrible about that book for a long time and was happy to be able to replace years later after I was married.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's the best thing about growing older?

I'm not that old yet, but I find I am not nearly as self conscious or easily embarrassed as I was when I was younger.

2. When did you first feel like a grown up?

It was somewhat of a process. It wasn't until after our second baby arrived that I finally felt I had really entered the grownup world.

3. Chocolate cake with white icing or white cake with chocolate icing?

Chocolate cake with white icing. Preferably the secret Wonder Frosting recipe my Mom uses in her bakery.

4. What's the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?

One of the nicest things a stranger ever did for us was when this older couple was ahead of us at a check out and once we were ready to pay for our things they had already paid for everything.

5.  What's something you learned from your grandparents?

My Grandpa was a wonderful example to everyone around him. He always looked for the best in people, was always ready to help anyone that needed help, he was always thinking of others happiness and needs before his own. I never saw him sad or troubled even at times when he could have been. He always believed that God was in control and therefore he had nothing to worry about. The world truly lost a great man when he passed away.

6. Wednesday marks a sad day in the history of planet earth-9/11...what's something you do (or can do) to bring peace to your little corner of the world?

Not getting easily offended helps keep peace in my little corner of the world.

7.  Share a favorite quote, scripture, or song containing the word peace.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

This morning as we were doing our usual morning chores Rosebud found a weird little plastic piece on the floor. She picked it up, examined it, and I overheard her saying to Sunbeam. Another thing to add to Mom's birthday freak out box.

I wasn't about to wait months to find out about that box. Upon inquiring they admitted they had been saving bottle caps, tabs from orange juice containers, and other little oddities, because they thought it would be hilarious to give me a box full of things that I can't stand.

Yes, I realize that I have a weird quirk. But I really can't make myself touch little things like that unless they are exactly where they belong. For example pen caps on pens are fine, but I hate them if I see them on the floor or somewhere alone. I've been known to use a napkin to pick them up so I don't have to touch them.

And don't even think about asking me to hand you a thimble. That will never happen.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Surprise for Lily Winner

I really enjoyed reading all your comments of things that have surprised you. So many great surprises!

Now to pick the winner.....

Comment #12

Linsey said........
My biggest surprise in life was , when during one of my pregnancies , my doc could not find the heartbeat of our baby , sent me off for an ultrasound only to discover that I was pregnant with twins!!!! Talk about being in the valley , mourning the loss of your baby to being on a mountaintop with rejoicing that I was carrying not one but two healthy babies.Shock of my life.

Congratulations! Please send me an email with your address so I can mail the book to you.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Honk, Honk, Honk!

Honk, honk, honk! The noise of a blaring horn outside the house caused me to sit up in bed and try to collect my bearings.

Apparently it had jolted LV out of his sleep as well because he was frantically trying to get his clothes. He sensed that I was awake and said, "Please hold the alarm clock for me, so I can see."

I got the alarm clock and held the snooze button which makes plenty of light to see what time it is, but surprisingly little when you need to see what you're doing.

Honk, honk, honk! The horn kept on blaring.

"Who is here?" I asked.

"Nobody," LV answered pawing even more frantically at his clothes. I happened to step on the truck keys in my pant pockets when I got up and now I can't find them.

I pressed the snooze button again and set the alarm clock on the floor and reached to help him find his keys quickly before the feeble little light goes out. LV moved a little and the alarm clock went flying across the room, leaving us in total darkness.

The fan was going but reaching up to find the little chain to turn on the light can be extremely challenging when it's pitch dark. Instead LV groped his way across the room and located the one flashlight we have in case of power outages and finally had enough light to find his keys.

He got the dreadful honking stopped, and I collapsed back into bed in gales of laughter. He wasn't quite ready to see the humor in all of it. "Just think, the entire neighborhood was wondering what was going on, and all the traffic that passed could see the lights blinking in the garage."

Somehow in my sleep addled state I found this to make the whole thing even funnier.

We went back to sleep and  when morning arrived LV was ready to laugh about it too.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Surprise for Lily

A little less than a year ago I was celebrating the release of my first book. This morning I'm pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming that it's already time to celebrate the release of A Surprise for Lily, book four in the Adventures of Lily Lapp series.
 
 
I'm inviting you to join the celebrating. I will be giving away a signed copy of A Surprise for Lily, a cute Lily coloring book, and a few other surprises will be included in the giveaway package.
 
For your chance to win all you have to do is leave a comment telling me about something that surprised you.
 
For a second entry post a link to this giveaway on your blog or Facebook and then come back and leave another comment telling me you did.
 
Giveaway ends on  Saturday September 7th at which time I will be consulting Random Generator to choose the winner.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Labor Day weekend (in the US of A) is approaching...what's something you've labored over this year?

Algebra. Having attended an Amish school and graduating in eighth grade, I never felt I had an inadequate education, but I went ahead and got my GED. I had to brush up on algebra before the official test, I'm not sharing my score, except to say I was very happy with it.

2. What is one word to describe your 'job' or career?

Blessed.

3. What was your worst or least favorite job ever? Why?

My worst job ever was when I had to work for a family doing their canning and cleaning. My Dad rescued me from that place before I was done. Thankfully. I still shudder to think what may have happened, had my parents not been on guard and followed their intuition.

4. How do you measure contentment?

Can contentment be measured?

I'm content with my life. I have always had dreams and goals in my life, but I don't allow them to rob me of the pleasure of living in the presnt.

A quote on contentment I heard often while growing up:

He who isn't content with little, will never be content with much.

5. Pickles-like or dislike? What is something you eat that requires a pickle? Dill, bread and butter, sweet gherkins...what's your favorite kind of pickle?

Breaded and fried spicy dill pickles are delicious! We have them frequently. My all time favorite pickle is the cinnamon pickles we used to make. I think I still have a few pints in the basement that I've been hoarding to use on some special occasion.

6. In your current house-town-state, what is it you like living close to?

In our current house, I love that we have a waterfall I can see when ever I look out the window.

7. What is one thing on your 'want-to-do' list before summer draws to an official close?

I'm not that much of a summer person. Winter has never come too early for me. There is a beach outing planned before it gets too cold and I'm wondering, is it wrong of me to be praying for rain? As you can tell, I'm not a fan of the whole beach thing.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I have bread dough rising on the kitchen counter and as soon as I'm finished here I need to make a double batch of dough for cheese bread. While it is rising I'll tackle several chocolate cakes and some apple dumplings.

I agreed to cook for a church dinner tonight. Looks like a busy, busy day ahead of me.