Monday, March 29, 2010


Books that accurately portray the Amish are hard to find, but I have found another one "Success Made Simple" written by Erik Wesner. 

In this book Erik has interviewed many Amish people and made many friends. Not only does he share the Amish views of the business world and how they successfully navigate it but he also shares many other facts about the Amish.

If anyone is curious and would like to learn more about the culture I would recommend reading this book. If you would like to have the chance to win a copy for your own leave a comment telling me what is your favorite thing about spring.

To be entered twice put a link to this giveaway on your blog. I will draw the winner on Saturday April 3rd using Random generator.

Due to regulations I have to add this fine print..... I am not being paid to have this giveaway. My only compensation is a warm happy feeling that comes from being able to do a giveaway.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Teacher / Mom

We were soon able to get into a comfortable routine in the evenings after school. Mom would spend time preparing the next days lessons and checking the ones that had been done that day.  I thought it was interesting to see how the other children did especially when ever there had been an assignment to write stories or poems.

I found it rather disturbing though that Mom thought LV was her star student. He was unusually polite and considerate when ever she was there and he excelled in all his school work. After hearing Mom's praise of his story and poem writing skills I renewed my efforts to do better and try harder with everything because it certainly wouldn't do to have LV do better at school than I did.

Most times when Mom came to teach grammar classes she stayed inside during recess to get everything ready for the next classes. When spring came and we were once again playing baseball at recess we got her convinced to come pitch for us. She was as good at pitching as she was at teaching grammar and we all enjoyed it immensely when she had time to help us play. At one noon recess we were once again playing baseball. Daniel, an eighth grader was up to bat. We all heard the satisfying crack as the ball and bat met but instead of everything progressing like normal we were all stunned to see Mom stagger and fall. Daniel helped her into the school house while everyone else stood there not really knowing what to do.

Somehow I came to my senses and ran into the schoolhouse to see how Mom was. She was sitting on her chair and when I asked her how she feels she assured me she was going to be fine. I felt rather dubious about that since the lump on her head looked nasty. Her glasses were bent, and when she tried to stand up dizziness made her sit down again.

Recess was extended until she was feeling a little better, but I couldn't wait until it was time to go home. i was sure Daddy would know what to do to make Mom feel better.

Once we got home Mom sat on her rocking chair while I made supper. When I again brought up the subject of how badly her head must be hurting, she asked me to please not talk about it too much. She then shared that we were going to have another baby and it was important for her to not think of how painful her head really is because she doesn't want the baby to have a birthmark.

I didn't say anything about her accident again, I still felt sorry for her but I was very excited about the news that another baby was on the way. I was sure that this time I would finally be getting the sister I wanted so badly.

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Changes

As I entered seventh grade we had again had a new teacher. She had been a teacher for years at a special needs school and wanted to have the experience of being a teacher at a regular school. The only problem was she wasn't qualified to teach grammar.

The school board made quite a few visits to our house and Mom and Daddy would spend hours visiting with them while we children tried to be quiet in another room. We wondered what they wanted but since we didn't get into trouble after they left we were kept wondering.

Finally one evening after we had our evening devotions Daddy announced that after a lot of thought and consideration they decided to tell the school board that Mom would teach grammar classes several afternoons each week for the next school term.

John, David, and I sat there speechless. Mom wasn't supposed to be our school teacher. She was supposed to be at home sewing, baking, and taking care of customers in our store, and everything else that mother's do, but certainly not be a school teacher. I jumped up and ran upstairs to my room and lay on bed and cried. I had no doubts that Mom would be a great teacher. I really loved her and I wanted to keep her for myself, not share her with a lot of other children.

Daddy came upstairs to see what was troubling me, but I couldn't seem to find a way to tell him. It sounded too silly to put into words. He sat on the side of my bed for a while and talked to me assuring me that we would all work together. Mom would need a lot more help around the house since she had to make lessons for school, and that the afternoons that she came to teach would soon be my favorite times at school.

Daddy was right. The afternoons when grammar classes were taught became the highlights of the school weeks. Everyone loved having Mom as teacher and some how everything was fine even if a lot of other children learned to love her too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finishing Room

As our furniture business grew it no longer seemed to work very well to quit working in the shop when ever there was a batch of chairs and tables drying after a coat of varnish. After a lot of discussion and planning Daddy and Mom decided to add an addition to the old house right next to ours and turn it into a place to stain and varnish furniture where it could then dry while Daddy kept on working in the shop without worrying about sawdust and shavings covering the wet varnish.

One of the first things that had to be done was finally remove all the antiques from the upstairs of the old house. Most of the things were piled together to discard but some of them were set aside in hopes that we could sell them to an antique dealer.

We children removed the bunches of dried herbs and grasses that had been collecting dust for years while hanging from the rafters. We stuffed them in boxes to be carried outside and burned. They were joined with rickety old chairs and numerous boxes filled with books that fell apart when you tried to page through them the pages having become yellow and brittle with age. Stacks of old letters and pieces of weirdly carved wood all met their fate on the discard pile. I felt a little sad to be throwing everything out, especially since John, David and I had become quite fond of this interesting room filled with old dusty things.

Once everything was sorted and taken care of we called an antique dealer to come see the things we had saved. He seemed very anxious to buy everything that remained. There was a box filled with hundreds of old marbles that he offered to buy for a dollar a piece. John, David, and I sat down to count them, putting them in piles of a hundred. We felt as if we had hit a jackpot!

Once everything was sold and otherwise taken care of a neighbor came by with a crawler to dig the ground away in front of the old house. Our rosebushes, and bleeding heart plants had to find a new home as the addition was added and almost a week after we started the project Daddy finally had a nice place to finish the furniture he made.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Milestone

One summer evening Daddy announced that it was time that I learn how to milk the cow. It always looked easy when ever I watched Mom or Daddy milk our little Jersey and I looked forward to being able to milk her on my own.

I brought the cow in from her pasture and carefully measured her usual amount of grain into her little trough. After washing her udder with warm soapy water I was ready to start milking. I set the pail on the floor and held it with my knees to keep it from tipping over if Pansy should happen to bump it. Daddy showed me the correct way to squeeze so that a nice stream of milk shot into the pail. I tried it but the stream of milk I got wasn't very impressive.  I kept on trying. The pail gradually filled up but my arms ached so badly I could hardly keep on.

Pansy had finished eating her grain and was getting impatient to go back out to her pasture. Daddy finally offered to finish milking her and I was happy to hand the pail and milk stool over to him.  The next evening I tried again, and Daddy again had to finish milking her.

After several weeks with Daddy always finishing the milking I finally succeeded in doing it by myself. I was so happy about that, that after I had given the cats their bowlful of fresh milk I sent the pail into the house with one of my brothers while I borrowed a pocket knife from John and climbing up to a beam I carefully carved the words, "I milked Pansy all by myself." I then added the date in hopes that sometime once I was old I could show it to my children if I ever had any.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ice Cube

We are in the process of getting ready to move so life has been extra busy. Most days that isn't a problem since our schedule seems to be working out nicely even if it means less time spent blogging.  So far this week though my plans all disappeared soon after they were made. No amount of trying to get back on track seems to work.

This forenoon I started hearing this horrible noise, I went to investigate thinking there might be something wrong with our dryer or one of the space heaters. Those all seemed to be working just fine and the noise kept growing louder and I discovered its coming from the refrigerator. I went to open the freezer compartment and the door was frozen shut. After yanking on it vigorously it finally opened and the sight that met my eyes was not pleasant!

Evidently the ice-maker which we haven't used for several years finally decided it wants to contribute to the running of our household and proceeded to make ice. But instead of making many useful little cubes it only made one gigantic one and froze all the food inside of it. It then added a few icicles for a spooky touch.

It then decided to try to dispense some crushed ice and ground furiously but even with all it's efforts the chunk of ice was too much for even it and the harder it tried the more noise it made. I tried in vain to shut it off but it continued in a fit of rebellion with even more noise.  After several hours it finally got tired and shut off on it's own. I sat down weakly, feeling totally spent from the hours of noise I had endured.

Once my husband comes home tonight I'll ask him to pry the enormous cube out and try to separate the food. I'm hoping I won't have to thaw all of it because having a barbecue for the whole neighborhood had not been on my schedule.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In Which I Learn .....

Ever since Mom had a Country Air story published in the Pennsylvania Farmer magazine we looked forward to reading that section even more. One day when we came home from school we noticed that the latest issue had arrived. We hurried to change our clothes and then settled down to read it.

This time it was about a man that had a bull that he couldn't fatten, so he finally fed it a lot of bran and then just before it was time to take him to the sale-barn he let him drink water, the bull of-course bloated up and he got a nice price for him. The new owner was disappointed when a few hours later his nice bull was very skinny again.  For some reason this story and the way it was written really amused us and I tucked it away in my memory for future reference.

Several months later Mom's brother David and his wife Barbara came to visit us one Sunday afternoon. They had been married for almost a year, and I always enjoyed having Barbara around. She was so pretty, her laughter so musical, and she always made sure to visit with me personally. She was fast becoming one of my favorite aunts.

Today how ever I noticed that she no longer looked as slender as she used to. She was still fun to be around though and the afternoon was passing by with everyone visiting pleasantly, when all of a sudden I blurted out. "It looks like Uncle David fed bran to Barbara."  The conversation stopped as Barbara turned bright pink and Mom looked absolutely horrified. Daddy quickly started talking about something else and Mom asked me to come help her mix up a fresh batch of lemonade.

When we were by ourselves she explained that David and Barbara would soon have a baby and that is the reason why Barbara looks that way. I felt mortified that I had opened my big mouth, and was sure I couldn't go back to where everyone else was visiting and face Barbara after I had been so rude. Mom told me to help serve the lemonade, as I handed the glass to Barbara I was relieved to note that she didn't seem upset with me as she smiled her usual bright smile as she thanked me.

I was quiet for the rest of the afternoon as I mulled over the many questions I had to ask Mom once I got an opportunity.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

School Hike

Every spring, a few weeks before school was dismissed for summer vacation the teacher would pick a day for our annual hike and picnic in the woods.

Right after our usual scripture reading and songs we would all grab our lunches boxes and head down the hill behind the school house, across the creek and into the woods. There was a perfect spot in the woods where a creek ran through, there was a nice pond surrounded by lots of hemlock trees and mountain laurel bushes were scattered throughout the woods. Once we arrived at this spot we would stash our lunch boxes under a tree and start playing games. Some of our favorites were Hide and Seek, and a pioneer game we invented.

There were so many great places to hide. The big mountain laurels were excellent since they were filled with glossy leaves which made hiding under them perfect. Once we got tired of that we would go hunting for the little red berries that were almost tasteless, but quite edible. We girls would gather as many as we could while the boys tried to build a bridge over the creek and catch minnows in it's shallow waters.

It was so much fun playing, that the day never seemed to last long enough, we would head home tired but happy. The following day we used to have to write a report about our hike which wasn't nearly as fun but worth the effort since it was a required part of taking the hike which was one of the highlights of every school year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Camping in the Barn

In one of our school reading books there was a story about several children who slept in a barn on fresh hay during the summer. It was something that I found very intriguing and wished that I could sleep in our barn too.

We talked about it to Mom and Daddy. They seemed a little amused that we would rather sleep in the barn than in our nice comfortable beds, but they agreed that we could on Saturday night before our in-between Sunday. That way we could sleep as long as we wanted to.

For the rest of the week we looked forward to Saturday night and once it finally arrived we headed to the barn before our usual bedtime. Daddy went with us and spread out several buggy blankets on the hay. Mom brought out a few old quilts and pillows and after they said goodnight we settled down in our little nests. We talked for a little while and then lay there listening to the sleepy goodnight clucks from the hens, the goats were laying in there pen and were chewing their cud, their sharp little teeth sounded quite noisy as darkness started to envelope us and we could see stars through the cracks in the barn wall.

Our cats couldn't understand why we didn't want to play with them and they continually walked over our blankets and rubbed against our faces, they finally gave up and went to do what ever farm cats do during the night. As we nestled under our blankets we soon fell asleep only to be awakened a little later to a loud thump and a high pitched terrified scream. We all sat up, John had a flashlight and we all looked trying to see where the noise had come from. The light fell on one of our cats, and we watched horrified as it played and teased a terrified little mouse that kept screaming.  I couldn't stand watching it and lay down and pulled the covers up over my head to try and block out the noise. A little later it was quiet and then the sounds of a cat eating the mouse started which wasn't much better.

We finally drifted off to sleep again but awoke later in the night. The barn that had soaked up the warmth from a pleasant summer day had changed as the cold mountain night air seeped in through the cracks. We got up and added all our blankets to one nest and all lay shivering in it until the first streaks of a sunrise stole across the sky.

We hurried back to the house, but didn't really know what to do with ourselves since Mom and Daddy were still sleeping. Once they got up they asked how our night was and we told them about everything. I helped Mom fix breakfast while John, David, and Mahlon went to the barn with Daddy to do the chores and bring all our blankets in.  At breakfast Daddy asked if we want to sleep in the barn again in two weeks, but we all assured him that our beds really were the best place to sleep.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hard Times

As the school year continued John and I were getting more and more frustrated with David for walking so slowly on the way home from school. We knew better than try to run ahead of him but were annoyed that he made it impossible for us to walk with our friends.

Mom and Daddy were getting concerned that something must be wrong with him, because he was constantly fatigued. They made an appointment with a doctor for the afternoon of the last day of school. It seemed a little funny to start summer vacation having to go to Grandpa Masts, while Mom and Daddy took David to the doctor.

When they came home, we were hoping that the doctor had given something to David to make him less tired, but when we saw Mom and Daddy we knew something was troubling them. The doctor had done a few tests that they were waiting on the results, but they were pretty sure he had cancer in his lymph nodes.

When all the results came in their fears were confirmed David had cancer. They told John and me about it but warned us to not tell David that he has cancer, they wanted him to be as happy as possible as they made plans to take him to a clinic in Idaho.

John, Mahlon and I stayed at Grandpa Masts while Mom and Daddy took David for his treatments. I enjoyed staying with Grandpas. There was so many fun things to do and Vernie was there to keep it from ever getting boring, but often we would wonder what is happening with David. I wished we would have been more patient with him and I was so afraid that he was going to die.

After what seemed like a long time they came home. David had lost a lot of weight, but the doctors were pleased with how the cancer seemed to be shrinking. They had sent a lot of medicine along home and a strict diet that he had to follow for a while. They also suggested that he should be home-schooled because school would probably be too strenuous for his weakened condition.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Doing this giveaway was so much fun!  Author, Suzanne Woods Fisher contacted me again yesterday and told me to go ahead and choose five winners instead of only one since there were so many entries.

I used to choose the winners and here are the results

Winner #1  Kate said...

I like to curl up in bed and read, usually before my kiddos go to sleep. My other favorite spot is my window seat on my sun porch but I can't use that year round.

Winner #2 Sarah said...

I like to read in bed every night, but my favorite place would be my parents couch in front of their big picture windows on a sunny day.

Winner #3  Folky Dots....Treasures for the Sweetest People said...

In the corner of the couch with my sewing lamp turned toward my book.

Winner #4 Cara Beth & Kate Too! said...

My favorite spot to read is where I have been reading your blog entries for the last little front of my fireplace.

Winner #5 jennem said...

I like to lay flat out on my giant sofa.

Congratulations to all of you! If you ladies will email me with your address I will give them to Suzanne and she will ship your book to you this coming week.
Due to regulations I have to add this fine print to let you know I did not receive any kind of payment for doing this giveaway other than a happy feeling to be able to pass this book on to the winners.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sailor's Accomplishment

One of our all time favorite desserts is Hot Fudge Pudding Cake.  As a child it used to be a weekly treat during the summer when ever there was fresh fruit available. Mashed strawberries, or peaches used to be perfect when spooned on top of this delightfully gooey chocolaty yumminess.

Today when I checked in at my friend Kathie's blog she had posted the recipe and I knew I had to make it for dinner tonight. As I was ready to start Sailor asked if he could make it by himself. I found the recipe for him, tied a cooking apron on him and surveyed my nice clean kitchen as I gave him the go ahead.

I worked on the rest of supper while he carefully followed the instructions. The kitchen showed signs of a beginning baker once he was done but it was oh so worth it. The dessert was every bit as good as it always is and my little man was as pleased as could be with his accomplishment.

Be sure to check Kathie's blog to get the recipe.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Drowning in Quilts

Our little store and furniture shop were doing well and one afternoon a couple came from D.C. They had read the article in WOOD magazine and thought they would try to find us.  As they looked at the furniture and the many quilts and spent several hours talking to Mom and Daddy they finally left having bought a gallon of maple syrup and several pillows.

Mom and I started with supper when we heard the store bell jingle again and when we looked out the window we saw that it was the same people. Mom went into the store to see what they wanted. I went ahead and finished peeling the potatoes and fried up a batch of green beans and by the time they left I had supper ready.

As we were eating Mom could hardly contain her excitement. The customers had bought six quilts and several pieces of furniture in hopes they could start their own little store in D.C. selling the things that we make.

The rest of the week Mom quickly sewed several more quilt tops and gave them to Aunt Emma and several other ladies to have them quilted. The next week the D.C. people were back and bought all the quilts and wall hangers we had plus a lot of rugs and maple syrup.

It was only the start of our work. Mom would cut and piece as many quilts as she could and hired several girls to help her. Word got out that she was looking for quilters and a lot of the women from church were kept busy quilting. Our kitchen was in a constant disarray as quilt after quilt was made as fast as we could.

Mom got me started sewing wall hangers and every evening after school I would try to sew several of them. As an added bonus Mom paid me a dime for every wall hanger I sewed and I was thrilled to watch my little pile of dimes grow steadily week by week.  The only draw back to all the business we had was that now in the evenings instead of having stories read to us while we ate popcorn and apples we were much too busy to do anything except cut fabric and sew from the minute Mom got up in the morning until it was time to go to bed at night. I enjoyed sewing on my own machine beside Mom's but every once in a while I wished things could slow down a little and we could go back to the way we used to be.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Giveaway Time!

What better way to welcome in a month that promises the start of spring than having a giveaway.  As you may recall I recently told you about a book I enjoyed and was later contacted by the author offering to give an autographed copy of "Amish Peace" to one of my readers.

To enter this giveaway leave a comment telling me where your favorite spot is to curl up with a good book. Mine is on an ancient recliner/rocker in the corner of our "fun" room.

For an extra entry, post a link on your blog about this giveaway and come back and leave another comment.
The winner will be chosen on Saturday March 6th using Random Generator.
Giveaway is now closed and a winner has been chosen.