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


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Friday, November 25, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

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

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

Notice the layers?

Pumpkin Pie

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

In a large bowl combine pumpkin, sugars, spices, salt, and flour. 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.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Schoolmates ~ Part Two

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Schoolmates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Molasses Crinkle Cookies

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

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

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


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
And now you are ready to begin

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

Step 3.

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

Step 4.

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

Step 5.

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

Step 6.

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

Step 7.

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

Step 8.

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

Step 9.

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

Step 10.

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

Step 11.

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

Step 12

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Candy Turkeys

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

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Search Phrases

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

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

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Pines

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday Night

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


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.