Thursday, December 31, 2015

Then and Now

The first Christmas after we left the Amish was the first year we had a tree. A new tradition was born that year, of having the children sit in front of the tree for pictures. It's been fun watching them grow and seeing the difference each year makes.

The first year.

Buddy joined our family.

This year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

All About Christmas

1. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
  I can only take a certain amount of Hallmark Christmas movies before I reach my limit. There are several I do enjoy, and one I enjoy watching every year is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

 Most Christmases have been white. Part of the fun of going to my grandparents house on Christmas day as a child used to be tying our sleds to the back of the buggy and riding to their house that way.

3. Have you ever built a gingerbread house?

   I can only remember one year when we made an actual gingerbread house. We preferred using graham crackers. Building them is a tradition that I have allowed to die. Kind of sad now that I stop and think about it.

4. Candy canes or gingerbread men?

 Neither. I don't care for gingerbread at all, and candy canes while pretty are not something I want to eat.

 5. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

 We have a fake tree. It's getting to the point where it needs to be replaced. It's the only one we have ever had and it is showing its age.

6. What's the best Christmas gift you have ever received?

 This is hard. All my Christmases, except one, have been very special. I guess my favorite gift would have to be the lovely Corinthian Bells wind chimes I got several years ago.

7. Are you a pro at gift wrapping or do you fail miserably?

 I really enjoy wrapping gifts, and I'm good at it so I'll go ahead and label myself as a pro in this department.

8. What is your favorite food at Christmas?

 Our Christmas breakfast is my favorite meal of the year. It's not one specific food necessarily, but rather the combination, variety, and quantity that make this meal one we look forward to all year long.

9. Eggnog, hot chocolate, or peppermint mocha? What is your favorite Christmas drink?

 Hot chocolate! With plenty of mini marshmallows.

10. What is your favorite Christmas song?

 There are so many, but I never grow tired of listening to Rhonda Vincent's Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.

11. Do you go Christmas caroling? Do carolers come to your house?

 We don't go caroling.

Carolers have come to our house already. The first time I was not happy about it at all. Putting a cranky baby and two toddlers to bed I wanted them to sleep uninterrupted and not awakened by carolers who then went merrily on their way while I could go ahead and try to get everyone back to sleep again.

The next year wasn't much better. They had no idea what they had interrupted. We didn't answer the door and tried to stay hidden until they left.

 12. What is your favorite Christmas candy?

   While I love chocolate, my favorite is the rice krispie candy we make every year.

13. Do you make homemade candy for Christmas?
We make a variety of candy for Christmas. This year we're not making as much, but still a nice selection to choose from on Christmas day.

 14. When it comes to Christmas gifts do you prefer to buy or make the things you give? Receive?

 A little of both. We're doing more of a homemade Christmas again this year.

15. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve or wait until Christmas morning?

 We always wait until Christmas morning.

16. Do you go to Christmas Eve services at a church?
We have already, but it's not something we do every year.

 17. Have you ever had a ride in a one horse open sleigh?

 I have. It's so much fun, or at least it used to be when I was a little girl. Wrapped up in a thick buggy blanket, sitting next to Daddy, the sun making the snow glisten, and nothing but the muted sound of hoof beats and the sleigh runners gliding over the snow was every bit as fun as one would imagine it to be. Getting cold toes was worth it.

18. Do you like fruitcake?
I used to think I don't until I discovered a recipe to make one that requires you to candy your own fruit. It's a long drawn out process. (45 days) but the end result is worth it and it has become one of our traditions. We all love it and it never lasts long enough.

19. Do you make your own Christmas cookies, or do you prefer the store bought kind? Sprinkles, or no?
The girls enjoy baking Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. I don't care for sprinkles so we usually use colored sugar instead.

 20. Of the 12 days of Christmas ..... which one is your favorite?
Going by the song ...... Day five. :)

Actual 12 day celebration. I don't really have a favorite. We only ever did the twelve days of Christmas celebration once. By the twelfth day it was relief to have it be over.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1.  Many families have a story they love to tell every year around a holiday. Does your family have one? Are you the star of that story, or does another family member take center stage? Share your story if you want.

I can't think of any specific story that our family loves to tell every year around a holiday.

2. Are you afraid to speak your own opinion?

Yes and no. It depends on how well I know the person I'm speaking to.

3. Pantone has announced the color of the year for 2016, and for the first time have chosen two shades-rose quartz and serenity. Hmmm...did you know serenity was a color? You can read the thought behind their selection here, but essentially it's blending the warmth of rose quartz with the tranquility of a very soft shade of blue. So what do you think? Are these colors I'd find in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in these shades to either place in the new year?

I love those colors, but I don't have them in my wardrobe, and it's highly unlikely that they will be added in 2016.

4. If you could be in a Christmas carol, which one would you choose? Why?

Jingle Bells, or Let it Snow.

I am so ready to have snow, but day after day it keeps on being unseasonably warm.

5. December 9th is National Pastry Day. Will you celebrate? When did you last purchase something from a bakery? What's your favorite treat that falls under the heading of pastry? Do you make it yourself or buy from the professionals?

I think I will celebrate. I was wanting to bake something today anyway. One of my favorite pastry treats is the Canadian Butter Tart. I make them myself.

6. When it comes to holiday decorating_____________________________.

We hardly do anything other than put up a Christmas tree.

7. When did you last laugh so much it hurt? Explain.

There's a lot of laughter in our house, but the last time it physically hurt when I laughed was when I was recovering from a surgery.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Buddy has been getting in on the fun of helping create Christmas goodies.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Memory

      As I put the finishing touches to our Christmas preparations today and realized just how simple this years Christmas will be I was reminded of one of my favorite Christmases from my childhood.
      I was five years old, and only vaguely aware that Christmas was supposed to be something special. It had been a hard year for my parents and money was more than a little tight. Something that we didn't realize until years later.
      When Christmas morning arrived we each had an orange in addition to our regular breakfast and then it was time for our gifts.
       I got an eraser that was shaped like a shoe, and my brother John got silly putty.
       Mom sat down and helped me draw pictures and we erased our mistakes. It was a wonderful day as we drew pictures and played with John's silly putty.
       I treasured that eraser, saving it to use only on special occasions.
       To me, it's proof that time is often the best gift we can give to others.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Did you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special Monday night? Who's your favorite Peanuts character and why?

I did not watch it. I don't have a favorite Peanuts character. I know they are loved by many, but I never saw them as endearing or interesting.

"Most psychiatrists agree that sitting in a pumpkin patch is excellent therapy for a troubled mind."~Linus  

Would you agree? 

I do agree. Not that it necessarily has to be a pumpkin patch, but getting to be outside and sitting soaking up nature does a world of good.

2. Describe a sound from your childhood. What does this sound bring to mind? 

The squeal of buggy wheels cutting through the snow on a cold winter morning. I used to love that sound. It's something I haven't heard in twelve years.

Thinking about this sound takes me back to when I was a little girl. Our entire family was bundled up warmly and we children would sit close to each other in the back of the buggy while wrapped up in a nice warm buggy blanket as we headed for church.
3. You've won a trip to a winter wonderland...would that excite you? Which one of the following would you most want to experience (or which one would you dislike the least)-see the Aurora Borealis in Norway, stay in Sweden's Ice Hotel, go dogsledding in Lapland Finland, take a winter wildlife safari in Yellowstone or celebrate Winter Carnival in Quebec? 

I would love to see the Aurora Borealis in Norway. With winter being my favorite season I wouldn't mind going to any of these places. Although the ice hotel doesn't sound particularly appealing.
4. Who or what keeps you humble? 

Children have this way of keeping you humble.
5. What part of preparing for Christmas do you like the most? Explain. 

I'm not sure what part I love the most. I really enjoy this time of year. Putting up our tree is certainly a part I really enjoy, but I also really like the time the children and I spend in the kitchen creating treats and baking cookies. Our homemade Christmas lends a certain air of secrecy to the house as everyone tries to create gifts without the others seeing what they're working on.
6. Gingerbread-yay or nay? Is making a gingerbread house part of your family holiday tradition?

Gingerbread = nay. I like creating gingerbread houses, but prefer using graham crackers rather than actual gingerbread.
7. What's one thing you want to start, do, or complete before the calendar rolls into a new year? 

I had really wanted to wrap up a writing project this year.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.

There has been so much happening recently. So much I could have been blogging about, but somehow it seemed like a time to simply step back, to feel, to be there, and cherish the moments of this fleeting life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1.What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel like it's too late to learn?

There are quite a lot of things I wish I knew how to do, none of which I feel it's too late to learn as long as I apply myself.

2. Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Underwear. I don't even like walking past that part of a store, much less be seen trying to find something I want to buy.

3. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

We no longer spend half of the day in church like we used to when we were growing up. I still prepare the same foods though.

4. What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.

I was going to say I have no idea, but then I thought of my books.

I recently got a phone call from an old friend I hadn't seen in years because she stumbled across my books in a store and immediately had to call to tell me about it.

5. If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?

When I first read these questions I was going to say it would be on some type of a cooking show, but now that I answered the previous question I think it would be more fitting to make appearances on some talk shows to talk about my books.

6. Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from a roadside stand or farm shop?

We used to live on a dairy farm for the first five years of marriage. Cows, crops, weather. Yep, don't miss that headache.

There are quite a few Amish roadside farm stands in our area, but I hardly ever buy anything from them.

7. What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

There was a spectacular sunrise the other morning that I had to soak in with a sense of awe and wonder.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

Life doesn't really surprise me.

When I look at what life used to be, and how different it is now from anything I ever imagined while growing up there is plenty there to be surprised at, but it all happened at a rate that there was never really an element of surprise involved..

2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year...awesomesauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross-read the definition here), fat shame, hangry, Mx (gender neutral), and skippable. 

Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say out loud? Which word would you be most likely to use in conversation?

Of all those dreadful choices I think skippable is probably the word that has the most chance getting used.

I can't see why any of them deserve to be added to the dictionary.

3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy...which one on the list is your favorite?

I like gravy though there isn't any food that I think I have to have gravy in order to eat it, including mashed potatoes.

I make our own gravy. Most recently I made what we used to call "white gravy" when I was growing up. It's a cold gravy, one vegetarians could eat. We used to serve it every day during the summer. It was especially delicious over fried potatoes which is how we ate it last week. The children love it just as much as I used to.

Biscuits and gravy sound good right now, though not with chocolate gravy. I didn't even know something like that existed.

4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.

I have all sorts of plans. At the moment I don't need any more plans, I just need to stick to the ones I already have. 

Sadly we have had some plans fall into pieces.

5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?

We have the original version of Monopoly. The last time I played it that I actually enjoyed it was almost twenty years ago when LV, my brother John, and I visited one of the neighboring church districts and the family we had lunch with after church brought out their Monopoly game to play.

I've played it since as well, but it was more or less a form of torture.

I will not be playing it on Nov. 19th. I've never been to Atlantic City. Never had a ride on a railroad.

Parking is free in our town, though I basically never visit the town we have as our address. There's another town, a much nicer one, closer, but in a different state. Parking is not free there.

The last thing I took a chance on was getting a small block of cheese in a new flavor combination called Mango Fire. It's interesting. A little too hot for my taste, but I love the mango undertones. A little too mango-y for LV's taste, but he loves the heat. If there was a way to separate the two we'd both be happy. I'm glad we tried it, but we probably won't be getting more.

6. A song you like that has the word (or some form of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

Come Ye Thankful People, Come

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude....what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?

I think there's a lot of things we tend to take for granted until we lose it.

Clean water.

The list could go on for quite a while.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Several weeks ago I had mentioned how all the mothers other than me, sit around doing crocheting, knitting, and other crafty stuff while the children have their Christmas pageant practice.

Last week I made this thing for my mother-in-law for Christmas. She has been wanting one in green for a while already so this seemed like the perfect time to work on it.

Tonight I'll be working on one in blues.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oh No's in Church

Amish church services are very predictable. The same twenty-six chapters from the New Testament are used at their proper time every year. The same songs are sung on their required Sundays. The same prayers are read every Sunday. Church services are solemn events, but every once in a while something happens so out of the ordinary that people still talk about it years after it happened.

When I was a teenager there was a community in Wisconsin whose church service made news that spread all over Amish land. I didn't know it at the time, but one of my future sis-in-laws was living there when it happened.

Sunday morning church services had started off in much the same way as usual. This time services were being held in the loft of a barn that they had swept and cleaned in preparation. The song service was over and the first minister had wrapped up his sermon and the congregation was kneeling for their first prayer when some loud creaking and snapping was heard.

Some people lifted their heads nervously, but no one moved because one simply didn't get up in the middle of a prayer. The minister kept reading the prayers and the creaks and snaps became louder and suddenly the beams gave way and the entire congregation slid and fell into the barn below.

Everything was utter chaos, church was over for the day as people picked themselves up. Surprisingly most weren't hurt, one man however became paralyzed because of injuries he sustained.


While the church has their song service the ministers leave the room and find a place to pray, talk, and what ever it is they do in their Sunday morning meetings. Usually they find a bedroom upstairs to do this.

One Sunday morning as the last song was being sung and the ministers were making their way back to the room where services were being held something different happened.

The bishop led the way, followed by the two ministers as they made their way down the stairs the last ministers accidently slipped at the top of the stairs. His feet shot into the back of the minister in front of him knocking him down, which in turn knocked the bishop down. All three tumbled down the stairs landing in a heap at the bottom.

The singing almost faltered but kept going as they picked themselves up and went to sit in the chairs reserved for them in front of the church.

How they ever managed to preach with a straight face after that is beyond me, but there has been a lot of laughter about this incident since then.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


   Visits from Amish family is very rare, and usually when it does happen there is a certain degree of awkwardness and a general uncomfortable feeling involved.
    LV's parents were planning to be here last evening and we were hesitantly looking forward to seeing them. The hesitant part came from the expectation of having to listen to a bit of a sermon on how we should repent and come back to the Amish church.
   The sermon never happened. We enjoyed a meal together, and visiting afterwards.
   The part that still has me a little choked up this morning is when they were ready to leave LV's Dad stopped by the door and spoke a blessing over LV and our family.
    I can't even begin to express how much that meant to us.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Besides Thanksgiving, something you're looking forward to on your November calendar?

Baking day. Okay, we bake often, but we have a special day planned for later this month when some friends are coming over for a day spent baking up a lot of different things.

2.  If I gave you a thank you card right now who would you send it to and why?

To one of my blog readers. She very kindly sent a package of seeds, including some Summer Geranium seeds from her garden.  I had been searching for some ever since losing mine a number of years ago.

3. Of the breads listed, which one's your favorite...bagel, cinnamon, sourdough, garlic, banana, biscuit, pita, Naan, or plain old fashioned white bread?

Old fashioned white bread is our favorite. I'll be making some later today.

4. What's something you have in abundance? Is that a good thing?

We have an abundance of those ladybugs or whatever you want to call them, and no it is not a good thing!

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day and it seemed to make them swarm around the windows trying to get inside.

5. November 5th is National Love Your Red Hair Day. Are there any redheads in your family? Who's your favorite redhead?

In my family, no.

In LV's family. There used to be.

My favorite redhead ....... going to go with Lucille Ball for this one.

6.  The travel website Busbud recently calculated the most Instagrammed spot in every state. Go here to see what made the list where you live. Are you happy with your state's #1? If not what do you think should be the most photographed spot in your state? Have you snapped a photo there?

It's not what I thought it would be, but I'm okay with our state's most Instagrammed spot.

7. I'm going to try to have something related to gratitude in this spot each week during the month of November. Here's this week's question-

What's something you've learned about yourself this year that you're grateful for?

I'm not exactly how to answer this one. Though after being plopped in a situation where there was gossiping going on I was grateful to discover that I really want nothing to do with it. Don't want to hear it, not even a little bit.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

LV's parents and one of his brothers are coming later today. It's the first time they are visiting since we live here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Are you comfortable with silence? If you're home alone, do you like silence or do you need regular background noise? Do you seek out times and places to be silent? What's your favorite place to find silence/be silent?

I have learned to be comfortable with silence. It used to bother me when meeting new people and I didn't know what to say. Any silence was cringe worthy, but thankfully I got over that.

Complete silence is really rare in our house. There's always the fridge running in the background, and now that it's colder the furnace produces a continual noise.

There is a place I love to go to be silent. I don't get to go very often, but if you need a spot to sort out thoughts or simply soak in the beauty of nature and ponder on the greatness of God I know the perfect spot to do that. If I shared my favorite quiet spot others might start seeking it out as well and it wouldn't be quiet any longer.

2. October 28th is National Chocolate Day. Can't let that go by without a mention now, can we? Will you celebrate? How? Let's say you can have one of the following right this very minute... a cup of hot chocolate, a strawberry dipped in chocolate, a bowl of plain chocolate ice cream, or a slice of chocolate pie...what's your pleasure?

Sadly, I won't be celebrating.

If I could have any of the mentioned chocolate options I would go for a strawberry dipped in real milk chocolate, not the disgusting fake stuff that is often found in chocolate fountains.

3. How do you feel about blue jeans? Favorite thing in the world to wear or nope, don't own a single pair? How often do you wear blue jeans in a typical week? Do you own a blue jean jacket?

I'm more of a skirt kind of person.

I also don't own a blue jean jacket.

4. Are you superstitious? If so, in what way?

I am not superstitious at all, which is kind of surprising considering all the superstitions I was surrounded with while growing up.

Back in the day there were several I believed, and one in particular that gave me a bit of grief.

5. If you had to come up with a costume using only things you have on hand right now, what could you come up with?

The possibilities are endless considering all the fabrics and sewing supplies I have available. Since I don't have a lot of time for sewing I would probably just throw on one of my old Amish dresses and call it scary enough.

6. What scares you a little? What do you do when you feel scared?

Other than spiders, mice, and snakes? When I'm home alone in the dark and I hear some odd noises it always bothers me a little. I usually sing How Can I Fear and the truths of those lyrics always help.

7. Perhaps today will be the day I ______________________________.

Finally reach all the goals I set for myself this morning.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Another Christmas pageant practice tonight. I'm trying to think of something I could take along to work on while I wait for Sunbeam. I so detest handwork, but being surrounded by other moms happily crocheting, knitting, embroidery and  even fabric painting makes me think I could be doing something a little more creative with my time there than simply visiting and watching them get something done.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Clumsies

   This afternoon Rosebud was cringing about a particular clumsy, embarrassing, and yet funny thing that had happened. "I can't believe anyone else ever had to endure all that humiliation," she moaned. Which led to me assuring her, that yes, there are some people who have endured that much and a whole lot more and survived to now be able to laugh about it.
    As a teenager I used to be plagued with a certain talent of executing scenes of spectacular clumsiness.
    Like the time when I was seventeen. Mom and I had been canning peaches. I had just finished getting a new batch into the canner when a van load of visitors drove in.
    "Let them in while I wash my hands," Mom instructed me.
    On my way to the door I scooped up my baby brother. I opened the door to invite them in and as I stepped back I rolled my ankle and sank into a pretzeled heap onto the floor right in front of their politely amused stares.
     I wanted to disappear. I don't remember much of the rest of that day, but that part has been seared into my memory along with many other equally as embarrassing events.
     Things such as the first time I tried making a Thanksgiving meal for LV. Or the time I choked on a piece of lint during a wedding sermon about submissive wives. The first time LV and I had a long buggy ride together, alone, or several years later when I got to meet some of his extended family for the first time.
    Those and many more instances of awkward, cringe worthy clumsiness peppered my teenaged years.
     I'm not sure if hearing about them made Rosebud feel any better, but we both had a good laugh as I reminisced.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. October 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day. Did you see the movie? The sequels? In the second film, Doc takes Marty into the future to prevent Marty's future son from making a mistake. They leave 1985 and land on a 'skyway' on October 21st, 2015. So tell us, what were you doing in the fall of 1985?

I have never seen the movie or any of the sequels

The fall of 1985 was kind of a big deal for me. It was my first year in school. I both loved and hated it. Books and learning were great, but recess and being expected to run and play with all the other children was too much. I became an expert at slipping away and hiding until the bell rang.

2.  If time travel were possible, would you want to go to the future? The past?

I wouldn't want to travel to the future.

The past ..... yes, if it meant there was a way to undo some things.

3. We're not flying cars, but some of the technology imagined in the 80's film has indeed come to pass in real life 2015-flat screen TVs on the wall, tablets, fingerprint recognition, video conferencing, online banking, 3-D movies, motion controlled video games, drone cameras, and smart glasses (Google glass).  Do you worry technology is growing at a rate so fast we'll soon be unable to keep up with it's demands? Do you think the Internet does more harm than good?

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about technology and even less worrying about it.

Whether or not the Internet does more harm than good I think depends a lot on what you do with it. As a family we have benefited from having the Internet.

4. Your favorite dish prepared in a slow-cooker? Your favorite fast food?

It's a toss up between cheesy potatoes and Swedish meatballs.

I mostly use my slow cooker to cook chicken to be used in other things such as chicken and dumplings.

I can't remember the last time we had fast food.
5. No time like the present, down time, face time, pressed for time, in the nick of time, make time, mark time, or just in time...which timely saying most relates to your life right now?

Down time .... what's that? It's been ages since I got to truly experience any down time.

Pressed for time seems to apply best to my life. There is so much I want to get accomplished every day, and there seems to never be enough time to get everything done.

6. Tell us about a place you went as a child or younger person that's no longer there or is now something else. How does that make you feel?

There used to be a little grocery store/ gas station in the middle of our little village. It was run by an old man. He had several rooms in the back where he lived so he was always there to take care of and help anyone that stopped in.

When he passed away his children didn't want to know anything about the store and it got torn down. All that remains at the site is a few trees.

7. Describe your comfort zone.

Home. Or is that too simple?

I'm somewhat of an introvert. I like people, but one on one time is so much better than large groups.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I love waking up to a hard frost. So pretty!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Few Things .....

.... I'm thankful for.
  • That summer is officially over. I don't do well with heat, so the welcome crisp, cool days of fall are something I really, really enjoy.
  • For good friends, they mean more to me than I can tell.
  • An alarm clock that actually works. The one I used to detest finally quit working, and after several days of not waking up on time, it's actually nice having a dependable alarm clock again.
  • Books. As a family of bookworms, I am so thankful for all the quality books available to read and the authors that have taken the time to write them.
  • A son who has bravely stepped up to take care of the mice that had been terrifying his mother.
  • Family. I could get all mushy here, but truly I am so grateful every single day for the life I have been allowed to experience with those I love the most. It's not the material things that matter in this life, it's the people. We have experienced, still are experiencing this truth.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's something that has recently 'tried your patience'?

Standing in line at the grocery checkout. With more than a dozen lanes that could be in use it is frustrating when only three or four are open and each one backed up way too far to be healthy for the amount of patience I possess.

2. Do you think patience comes to us naturally or is it something you have to learn as you grow? On a scale of 1-10 generally how patient are you? (1=I blow up at the drop of a hat and 10=I've got all the time in the world).

I think some people have an easier time being patient than others, but I also think it is something you can learn as you grow. I know I have become more patient than I used to be.

On the scale of 1-10 I'm probably around a seven or eight.

3. Share about a time when you felt like you could fly. Or a time you wished you could fly. Or a time you felt like you were flying.

When I was younger, watching an eagle or a hawk flying effortlessly through the sky always made me wish I could do the same.

4. Your favorite song with the word fly in the title or lyrics, or your favorite song that relates to flying in some way?

I'll Fly Away

5. What's in your fall picnic basket and where are we picnicking in your neck of the woods this time of year?

Nothing is in my fall picnic basket. It's too cold for me to even think about sitting outside to eat. I must admit I love having that as an excuse to stay indoors. Picnics aren't my thing.

6.  Carpentry, electrical, plumbing, landscaping...which skill would you most like to possess and how would you put that skill to use today?

I think landscaping could be very enjoyable and satisfying, but of those the one I would like to use today is plumbing. Someone did some plumbing for us recently and did a perfectly horrible job. We'll have to get it redone, this time by someone who knows what they're doing.

7. What's something you think is too expensive to justify buying lately?

Brisket, lamb, and other choice cuts of meat.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day on Sunday so we decided it would be a good time to go visit the Flight 93 Memorial. Hundreds upon hundreds of other people had the same idea. The place was packed which made a somber place feel almost suffocating.

Friday, October 9, 2015

An Ark

Last evening we drove past the rusted framework of an oddly shaped structure with a faded sign stuck next to it declaring that Noah's ark is being rebuilt here. I have no idea when that project got started, but judging by the rate of progress they're making on it, not only did they want to rebuild the ark, apparently they also wanted to take 120 years to do it.

For some reason it got me thinking of some conversations my Mom and I had when I was a teenager.

It was a beautiful fall day, the leaves were gorgeous, the skies were bright blue, and I should have been feeling all energetic and happy the way beautiful fall days usually made me feel.

Instead I was feeling totally the opposite of happy. I was doing the ironing while Mom was doing the mending and I was still fuming about what had gone down at the member's meeting at church the day before.

She agreed with my assessment of everything, but then she said, "The church is like an ark, the members like the animals. In order for all those animals to get on the ark and live together peacefully they had to lay down their own wills, desires, and their very nature."

Then she asked me. "Which do you think had to change the most to get on that ark, the sheep or the lion?"

I found the analogy annoying, because I certainly wasn't feeling much like a sheep that day.

It's one of the talks though, that I remember most clearly and have thought about most often in various situations since then.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Today I'm feeling thankful for all the firewood that has been stacked neatly in our porch basement, and the big pile of coal next to it.

We're ready for the winter winds and snow. Knowing that we have plenty of wood and coal to keep us warm until spring is always one of the best feelings of fall.


My grandparents used to own a sawmill and every fall we would haul load after load of slab wood home and toss it on a huge pile where it would season until the next fall when we would load it on a cart and haul it to the basement where my brothers and I would unload and stack it.

It was one of my favorite fall activities then, and there is still something about stacking firewood that I really enjoy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 1. It's October so let's get this out there first thing...have you jumped on the all-things-pumpkin bandwagon? How so?

No. Though I do enjoy a lot of different pumpkin desserts. Things such as my Mom's Pumpkin Pie, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pudding.

Growing up Amish I never realized how pumpkin related things were considered fall related. Sure we canned our pumpkin in the fall, but we used it year round with no special time to have an extra focus on it.

Strawberries though ..... now that was something seasonal because only in June could we enjoy fresh strawberries and all the delicious things to make with them.

2.  "We have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse to ourselves that we fancy things are impossible." Francois Duc De la Rochefoucauld  

What's something you once thought impossible, but in hindsight see as more a matter of lack of will?

I don't know. The word impossible doesn't really have room in my vocabulary.

3. The rose is America's National Flower, but every state also has its own (click here to see the list). Are you happy with yours? If you were in charge what would you declare your state's flower? If you're outside the U.S. what bloom would you like to see labeled as your country's national flower?

I am happy with our state flower. It's not my favorite flower by any means, but I do think it was chosen wisely.

4. What have you lost interest in recently?

Again I don't know. My areas of interest keep growing rather than diminishing. There are things such as sewing and baking I don't do nearly as much as I used to, but it's not because I've lost an interest. With two daughters who love baking I hardly ever get the chance to bake anything, and since we no longer make all our own clothes, sewing doesn't happen nearly as much either.

5. In your opinion, who's the best living musician?

There are so many, but one of my favorites is Kathryn Scott

6. S'mores-love 'em or no? Ever make them indoors? Last time you sat around an outdoor fire? Are making s'mores and sitting round a fire pit on your autumn bucket list? Do you have an autumn bucket list?

I have only had one once, and I loved it. The last time I sat around an open fire was two years ago when we were visiting friends. Sitting around a fire pit is no where near being on my autumn bucket list. I don't really have an autumn bucket list.

7. Your favorite small town? Why?

My favorite small town is the town we live closest to. It's picture perfect especially during the winter when it could easily qualify as the picture for the front of a Christmas card.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Christmas pageant practice begins tonight. This year only Sunbeam qualifies for the age/grade bracket. She's excited, I'm feeling mixed emotions. How did we get to be old enough to have children too old to be part of the church Christmas pageant? Sniff, sniff.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

From the Bookshelf

   One of my favorite books when I was a young girl and one that our children now love as well, is the Old Squires Farm by C.A. Stephens. It's about six cousins that went to live with their grandparents in Maine, after the civil war had wrought sad havoc on their families.
     It's excellent as a read aloud since each chapter focuses on its own adventure the children had experienced. Stories of things like Grandma's dreaded vermifuge bottle she brought out when ever someone wasn't feeling quite right, and how they came up with a plan to make it bearable, which worked until the visiting minister arrived.
    A sleepwalking incident that went horribly, and yet hilariously wrong. A particularly cantankerous bull, a giant sled they built, how they had convinced a stranger to practice shearing sheep until Grandpa discovered what they were doing, and many, many more delightful tales of what life was like back in the 1800's.
    It holds a special place in our home library as one of the books that gets read and reread.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Driving to School

One of LV's memories.
  The year I was in seventh grade, my sister Lydia, was the teacher at our school. Most mornings she would walk to school early in order to have the schoolhouse nice and warm before the students arrived and work on checking books and making lesson plans.
   I would walk to school later and get there just as it was time for school to begin.
   On the days it rained we used to drive to school together.
   The first day it rained that school year Dad told my oldest brother to go hitch up the horse and then I could drive to school.
    Mervin brought the horse out to the buggy shed and opened the big sliding door. He hitched the horse to the buggy and then stood aside as I hopped into the driver's side and Lydia climbed in beside me.
   I lifted the reins and clucked "giddy-up" to the horse. He started out, but unfortunately Mervin hadn't opened the sliding door quite wide enough and the buggy wheel caught as we drove out. It lifted the door up and out before it crashed back down against the shed, making a terrific banging noise which scared the horse. He started running at top speed and we went flying down the long bumpy driveway.
    I tried pulling back on the reins to slow him down, but it made no difference. Lydia grabbed the one rein from me while I clung to the other and we both pulled on them as hard as we could, bracing our feet against the dashboard and yelling "Whoa, whoa!" on top of our lungs.
   It was then that we discovered that Mervin had forgotten to fasten the reins and we were sitting helpless in this runaway buggy. We were swaying side to side crazily and I knew it was only a little while before the buggy would dump over as we hurtled around another corner on two wheels.
    Somehow our horse must have decided that he was far enough away from that dreadful noise, and he slowed down. We managed to get him to stop.
     After collecting our thoughts we got the reins fastened properly and continued on our way to school. After a scare like that I'm still surprised Lydia was able to be ready to calmly start her day of teaching when it was time for school to start.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thankful Thursday

It's October already?!! Someone please tell me how this year has flown by so fast.
Our church begins its Christmas pageant practice next week and to keep things a little more balanced I thought I'd do a weekly post on something that I'm thankful for until Thanksgiving.

Today I'm thankful for all the rain we have been getting the past few days. Our waterfall had been entirely dried up, but it's back to normal now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Something on your October calendar that makes you smile?

Starting our traditional 45 Day fruitcake is always a fun thing to do towards the end of October.

2. Food for the soul or music for the soul...which camp are you in? Tell us why.

Though I really enjoy cooking and baking I have to go with music on this one. Apart from a good book, music is the next best thing to get lost in. I love music that speaks to me.
3. What are two or three things you've learned recently as the result of an online search?

My most recent online searches were for a sauce to go with mushroom ravioli, and how to do some computer coding. I found the answers to both queries and was able to accomplish what I had wanted.
4. Share your favorite game day recipe. You can describe it, post the how-to, or add a link to the actual recipe.

One of our favorites is Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos.
5. What are your five essential steps for creating the perfect morning routine?

I don't know that this would qualify as the perfect morning routine, but here are the first five steps to my mornings.

1. Shut the alarm clock off at 4:20
2. Get dressed.
3. Stumble down the stairs.
4. Turn on the kitchen light.
5. Start the coffee and oatmeal for LV.

6. What small thing have you taken note of today?

My day is only beginning and for the most part I haven't been awake enough to take note of any small things.

7. Sum up your September in seven words or less.

Enjoyed learning some new things everyday.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

You know the saying ..... don't cry over spilled milk.  I'm wondering if it is okay to at least whimper a little, especially since I literally have to clean up a huge mess as soon as I hit the publish button for this post.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Imposter

I love the feel of a book in my hands, but even more, I love when I'm no longer aware that I'm reading and it's as if I have climbed between the covers of the book and am living there.

There are very few books that do that for me. Very, very few. Though I love a lot of books, and many of them I have read and reread often, it takes a special book for me to feel so connected.

When The Imposter arrived earlier this week I placed it on the stand beside my chair in the living room thinking I would read a few chapters after dinner and before bedtime.

Later that evening I settled in to read a few chapters. It wasn't long before I was no longer aware that I was sitting in my favorite chair. Instead I found myself in Stoney Ridge on a moss farm. Though there was heartache, and even bigger trouble brewing there was a certain calmness throughout. I really loved the faith portrayed in this book and how it became alive and real for the characters.

By the end of the book I felt refreshed, encouraged, and excited to be serving a wonderful God who cares for His children and gives peace even in the middle of the storm.

Disclaimer: I was not asked to review this book. I simply wanted to share with you all the latest great read I had, and hope you get to enjoy it too!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Sailor enjoyed hiking with several of his cousins this weekend.
And I really enjoyed the time visiting with my sister-in-law.

It has been three years since their world was turned upside down when her husband passed away. A lot has changed since then and they're still adjusting to their new normal.

She shared some amazing stories of how God has been caring for them and answering prayers. Though we still don't understand why things happened as they did, we all agree that God is good, and He really does care for His children.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


The best bouquets are those hand picked and delivered by someone you love.
Buddy has advanced from bringing me a single dandelion to little arrangements that I display and enjoy in the kitchen. A few nights ago he brought me this one from things he found growing in our back yard.

A nice big pink/purple clover. A few small white ones. A fern frond, some yellow flowers that I have no idea what they are, and an assortment of sizes of leaves from a mallow plant.

He loves being outside, and gathering pretty things for his Mama, so today I'll be joining him and we'll gather lots of mallow leaves to dry and use as tea.

When I was growing up we used to drink it when we had a cold or sore throat and then take the leaves we had used to make the tea and make a poultice with it for anyone that was afflicted with a chest cold.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's on your September calendar? Anything fun?

Nothing special planned. Simply enjoying our ordinary life.
2. You might be described as a natural born _____________________?

I've been told that I'm a natural born storyteller.
3. September is National Courtesy Month...what one act of courtesy would you most like to see more of in your home, town, or the world at large? 

I wish the world at large would be kinder to each other, even when, or especially when there is a difference of opinion. Not every thought needs to be spoken.
4. Eager beaver, chicken out, clam up, or let the cat out of the bag...of the phrases listed, which one have you related to most recently? 

Somewhat of an eager beaver. I have taken on some different tasks that I wouldn't have had to, but I do enjoy this type of work.
5. What's your movie theatre snack protocol? Do you chow down on snacks during the previews or wait until the movie begins? Do you buy snacks or refuse to pay those kind of prices? What's the last movie you saw in a theatre? How many thumbs up would you give it?

I've never been to a movie theater.
6. Henry Ford is quoted as saying, "Nobody can think straight who does not work. Idleness warps the mind." Agree or disagree? Why?

Little bit of both.
Idleness as in lazy isn't good, but sometimes it is a good thing to sit back, relax, recharge, and contemplate on life.
I do feel more alert when I have some purpose to life, though sometimes after spending hours doing school my brain can feel like mush by mid afternoon.
7. What's the last job you completed or task you performed where you had to 'work like a dog' until it was finished?

I'm in the middle of that right now. I have lots of apples here that still need to be turned into pie filling and canned.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Apples, apples, and more apples. The tree here behind the house is giving more apples than I need or want. I have given some away. We've made applesauce. There are several jars of fresh apple butter waiting to be enjoyed. We've made apple desserts, and today I'll be making loads of apple pie filling.

I don't know what kind of apples we have, but they're huge, and make apples at the store look small.

I know I should be feeling very thankful for all the free apples we have, but right now I'm feeling appled out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


  Books have been a big part of my life as far back as I can remember.

  Growing up our family library had quite an assortment of quality books that were read and reread over and over.

   The small library in our school contained more books that we loved. It was always a day of mixed emotions when the Amish schools did a book swap. We were thrilled to have new reading material, but sad to see some of our favorites go. The one year several of us plotted a way to keep our favorite book from getting traded, but that's a story for another day.
   During the late fall, winter, and early spring months my parents would visit the library and bring home armloads of books for us to read, and for several years the bookmobile made a monthly stop at our house and we would all get to choose books we wanted to read.

   I was a substitute teacher before LV and I got married. Since all money before we reached the age of 21 was handed to our parents, I never got to keep any of it. I guess my parents felt I deserved a little something from all that work I had done and offered that I can buy some books if I want to. I became the happy owner of the Anne of Green Gables series that year.

   I used to pore over book catalogs we got in the mail and dream of how wonderful it would be to be able to have them all. The thought of being able to visit an actual bookstore was a dream I hoped would someday become true.

   After LV and I got married I was happy to be surrounded by a whole lot of books I had never read before. His family had a lot of books that my family didn't read. Books by Lewis B. Miller, Grace Livingston Hill, mysteries, and the list kept going on and on. It was great and I was in book bliss.

   That first year LV and I started building our family library. We found books at the local Amish stores, and then one day when we went to town we stopped at a real bookstore. It was almost overwhelming with all the options I was suddenly presented with.

   We ended up buying an armload of books, among them was one by Fern Michaels. The cover was pretty, I liked her name, and the little blurb on the back sounded interesting.

   That night I settled in to read it and my little book world came crashing down. It was an awful book, peppered with foul language. Even without that language the story itself was horrible, and I realized that books must be selected with care, that just because it's a book does not mean it's fit to read. It got burned, and while I was disappointed that not all books have a chance making it to our family library we never lost our love of reading, and year by year our library has kept growing with carefully selected books.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Way back when (the Hodgepodge bicentennial to be precise) several of you submitted questions as part of a giveaway Joyce was hosting. She went back to that list for inspiration today and found a question  submitted by Marla, who blogs over at Marla's Musings. Thanks Marla!

She asks-At what age did you feel like a 'grown-up'? What keeps you young now?   

I'm not sure when I started feeling grown-up. Probably some time after Sailor was born.

I still don't feel like I used to imagine being a grown-up would feel.

Our children do equal parts of keeping me young, and making me feel old.

2. When did you last buy a vehicle? Was this by design or because you had no other option? Was the car/truck purchased for your own personal use or was it bought for someone else to drive? On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being delightful and 1 being 'pass the Excedrin') how would you rate the experience?

The last time we bought a vehicle was three years ago. We needed one that would fit our entire family since Buddy had come along. It was an older vehicle, but has served us well. The experience of getting it was pretty much a 10.

3. Corn bread, corn chips, corn pudding, corn on the cob, cornflakes, corn chowder-your favorite of the corn-y foods listed? What needs to be served alongside your selection?

Corn on the cob is one of my favorite foods, ever. I don't need much of anything to be served alongside. Some fresh tomatoes from the garden might be nice, but not necessary.

When I was growing up meals used to be simple when sweetcorn season rolled around. All we needed was 80-100 cobs of corn and we were good to go. It sounds like a lot, but it was all we served, and with a family of hungry boys it took a lot.

4. What's something in your life that regularly requires you to 'put your thinking cap on'?

School. I'm creating our own curriculum for state studies this year. I had wanted to get most of it done before we start back, but instead I'm still doing a lot as we go. It has been interesting so far, and much more fun than the usual capital, state flower, bird, tree, etc. that most state studies seem to stop at when there are so many other fascinating facts and history to dig up if you take the time to do so.

5. Share a favorite movie set in a school or classroom, or whose theme relates to school days in some way.

The only thing that comes to mind is Little House on the Prairie. Not exactly a movie, but they did include a lot of school scenes.

6. Reading, writing, and 'rithmatic' are commonly referred to as the three R's. What are the three R's in your life right now?

This one is simple. Reading, writing, and arithmetic. It's what our days consist of. Even Buddy is getting into the fun and doing an hour or so of school every day.

7. What's something you've learned or tried recently you can say was as 'easy as ABC'?

Creating some things in WORD. It took me a few minutes to get it figured out, but it's easy as ABC since I understand how the program works.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

It's a good idea to not inhale too strongly before trying to blow a puff of dandelion seeds. They tickle dreadfully if you happen to inhale them.

How's that for a random thought?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bit o' History

In addition to our usual studies this school year we have added some in-depth state studies. It has been interesting doing research and pulling things together to make this possible. We decided to study them in order they became a state, so first up is Delaware.

There's so much interesting history there that we have been digging up. For the children an added bonus has been that I've been telling them the stories my Grandpa told me the winter before LV and I got married.

Delaware used to be, and as far as I know, is still the only state that has an Amish community calling the capital their home.

Of the many stories Grandpa told me about their life in Delaware there were a few that have always amazed me.

In the 40's when his children were still too young to be able to really pitch in and help around the farm, Grandpa would drive into town with his horse and wagon, to the jail and get a load of inmates to clean out the barn, and do other work. The only thing required of him was to feed them three meals and have them back at the jail by a certain time in the evening.

There was always a line of men, eager to help him. They loved Grandma's hearty meals, and most were excellent help.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. When was the last time you relocated? Did you move yourself or leave it to the professionals? Are you happy staying put or is there a move in your future? Best thing about moving to a new city or town? Least favorite and/or hardest thing about moving house?

The last time we relocated was five years ago. We moved ourselves.

I love the area we live in now and will happily stay here for the rest of my life.

My least favorite part of moving is all the work involved. All the packing and unpacking and the endless lifting and toting. I get tired just thinking about it.

2. When were you last 'moved to tears'? Explain.

I get really invested in good books, and was recently moved to tears by one I was reading.

3. Do you have rules about eating in the car...any forbidden foods? What's the last thing you consumed in your car? Your go-to car snack when traveling long distance?

It depends a little on the age of the one eating the food. We don't like having any messy food in our vehicle. Cheese curls and chocolate were both a big no-no for the children when they were younger. The last thing I ate in our vehicle was a cheese stick.

My favorite go-to snack is Chex-Mix. We usually take quite a variety of things to snack on when we travel, bananas seem to be a favorite for the rest of the family. I feel good about them eating them, even though they are at the bottom of the list of fruits for me.
4. Share a favorite song relating to cars and/or driving.

Can't think of any right now.
5. What's your most frequently visited drive-thru...Starbucks? the bank? the pharmacy? some other window?

I've never been to a Starbucks. Thankfully we don't need the pharmacy often at all. The bank is the only drive through we use.

6. "He who hesitates is lost"...would you agree? When it comes to making decisions do you generally act quickly or do you more often than not fall into the 'lost' category?

I don't really agree with this.

Whether or not I act quickly on decisions depends a lot on how much of an impact it will make on our life. Little things can usually be made quickly. Otherwise I think there is a lot of good that comes from patience, hesitation, and simply waiting on the Lord.

7. When was the last time you got lost? Was it stressful or an unexpected happy adventure?

The last time we got lost was back in 2006. It was both frustrating and hilarious.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Our new school year is off to a good start. Yesterday as part of our nature study I made a 'bracelet' using duck tape with the sticky side turned out. We went outside and collected anything that caught our eye and stuck it to the tape. The results were pretty and gave us inspiration to research some of the plants we aren't very familiar with.

Buddy loved participating and would happily have made many more nature bracelets.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Picture our Life

We've been having a pleasant summer. Here's a glimpse:

We're doing the stay-cation thing again this year, and have been enjoying a lot of hiking in the evenings. It was all great until we decided to try a different trail, which happened to be a few miles more than anticipated and I got lovely quarter sized blisters on my feet. It reminded me a little of this.

I enjoy being on our front porch when it rains. The girls enjoy the rain enough that they opted to venture off the porch and wash their hair in the rain. Results are dripping wet dresses and squeaky clean hair.

Our road is finally being worked on. After being filled with potholes for so long we're all happy to see it getting fixed. They work slow enough that Buddy can spend hours on the porch watching.

We have a lot of frogs this year for some reason. Buddy is equal amounts fascinated and repulsed by them, even when they are safely on his sister's hand.

Having my brother, his wife, and their six children stop in for a short visit was great.

Canning applesauce with apples from a friend's tree.
The apples on the trees by our house will soon be ripe as well. Those will be used to make pie filling.
Making firewood. Buddy absolutely loved trying to help. He carried most of what you see in the picture to the back of the truck for Sailor to stack it in the porch basement.