Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z ~ Zucchini

    Even though we had a large garden every year while I was growing up, for some reason we never planted zucchini.
    It wasn't until the year I was 18 that I was first introduced to them.
    An elderly woman had passed away in our community and I was supposed to go help with all the food preparations for the meal following the funeral. It involved baking close to a hundred pie.
    The woman's daughter-in-law wanted us to make zucchini pie. She dug out a handwritten recipe from her collection in one of her sink drawers, and we got to work. It seemed to take a long time to get all the zucchini peeled, and then grated.
     We poured vinegar, brown sugar, and cinnamon over it and spooned it into pie shells. I looked forward to tasting the finished product and was pleasantly surprised to find that it tasted just like an apple pie.
     After I got married I liked raising zucchini. It has become a favorite for our family, fixed in a wide variety of ways, including mock apple pie.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y ~ Yucca

 I always enjoy seeing wildflowers when we go on our walks. One of my favorites is rare in our area, and I'm already looking forward to when it will be blooming again later this summer.
    The lovely Yucca plant.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X ~ X-Rays

 How obvious and unimaginative was that for my "X" word of choice?

Other than going to the dentist our family has thankfully not had any x-rays needed for a few years.

Most of the time I'm quite happy, not knowing how I look on the inside, but when something happens that an x-ray is needed I do find it interesting to see what is going on.

The x-ray that has made me cringe the most is this one. So very thankful for doctors, modern medicine, and the gift of healing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W ~ Ws in my Life

Watermelon .... the girls had a lovely picnic last weekend in celebration of a milestone event. Even though they aren't in season we managed to find a small, but sweet watermelon for it.

Wet ..... it's spring, so it shouldn't be a surprise that we're having wet weather. Spring time showers are nice though, and I enjoy seeing how everything always seems to have had an extra growth spurt after a shower.

Whistling ...... spring also means our elderly neighbor is spending time outdoors. He whistles, constantly ...... a tuneless one note whistle. I try to not let it bother me.

Windmills ..... when they put in those giant monstrosities I was a whole lot less than thrilled. I still don't particularly care for them, but I've surprisingly gotten used to them.

Wooden spoons ...... still my favorites for mixing things.

Writing prompts ...... I enjoy reading them and becoming inspired, and also enjoy creating them for our children and seeing what kind of fun story they come up with.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V ~ Venus Flytrap

My grandmother loved plants. Her flowerbeds were a sight to see and the assortment of houseplants was always interesting.

My favorite plant at her house was the Venus Flytrap. She kept it in her sewing room and from the day she showed me how it eats flies, I was intrigued. I would touch the leaves one by one and watch them close until the entire plant had its leaves closed.

One day as I had worked my way through about half of the leaves, she caught me and told me how hard I was being on the poor plant tricking it into thinking it was getting a meal. It always took a while for the leaves to open again and if there wasn't a fly there for it to eat I was going to starve it.

I felt really bad about that, but the temptation to play with this fascinating plant was big. I did limit it to touching one leaf per visit to her house after that.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U ~ Umbrellas

I got my first umbrella when I was in the second grade.

We had just moved to Somerset County, PA where springtime was often some type of wet, and my brother John and I both needed to carry an umbrella to school most days.

The first few days of using an umbrella, I thought I had it made, but the novelty wore off fast. A few families always picked up their children from school when ever it rained. That meant we had to be aware of approaching horses and have our umbrellas down until they passed in order not to spook them.

Maybe I got my fill of using umbrellas, because now-a-days I would much rather run through the rain instead of messing with one.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T ~ Thoughts

The things we think can and do have a huge impact on our life. We can't help some of the thoughts that flit through our mind, but we do have the power not to meditate on the less than desirable ones.

With everything that is going on in today's world it's easy to allow thought patterns to go where we don't want them to linger. Because of this our family is currently doing a thought challenge. Any thought that doesn't conform to Philippians 4:8 needs to go and be replaced with something good within seven seconds.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S ~ Sssssss

After trying numerous different posts this morning that focused on the letter "S" and not liking any of them I finally decided to simply make a small list of things happening in our life right now that features "S"  words.

Sushi .... it had been on my list of things I want to try someday. That day happened to be last evening. I loved it. The rest of the family will all be perfectly happy if they never have to taste another piece of sushi for the rest of their lifetime.

School .... today was our 180th day which means we have officially completed another year of school. It was a great year, and I'm already looking forward to next year.

Smiles .... there's is no lack of smiles and laughter in our home. The children all possess a ready wit, and a seemingly extra large sense of humor. Even when things go wrong it is most often met with laughter.

Sweets ...... someone gave the children a huge amount of candy at Easter. The loot was divvied up and stashed around the house. I have strangely not been tempted to indulge in the chocolate part of it. My sugar craving have been officially curbed, and I can easily go without any sweets.

Sewing ...... I have a number of things stacked on the sewing machine that I was hoping to get to before the end of the month.

Sunrises ..... we've been having spectacularly lovely sunrises the past few mornings. I always have to pause my day to soak it in. They only last for a few minutes, but so pretty while they last.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R ~ Rain

Singing in the rain? Certainly not! My parents had some decided views on that.

The summer I was nine years old we had a drought. Day after day the sun came up in the morning and we had brilliant blue skies until it went down again that evening. The grass in our yard was turning brown, dry cracks were appearing in the garden. We kept watering all the plants and wishing for rain.

Finally one evening it started raining. A lovely gentle rain where every drop soaked into the thirsty ground. We were all standing on the front porch watching and enjoying it.

I was feeling thrilled, every bit of me felt like rejoicing. I started twirling and chanting in a sing song voice. "It's raining, it's raining!"

I was promptly told to be quiet and hold still or God would make the rain go away again.

I don't believe that at all ..... but, after all these years I still catch myself being extra quiet when it rains. I enjoy seeing our children laughing, dancing, and singing in the rain and will not ever burden them with the idea that they are responsible somehow for how much rain we get.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q ~ Questions

      In the past I have opened posts where you could ask any questions you want to and then I would answer them later.
      Today I'm doing that again. Ask any questions you would like me to answer and once the A-Z challenge is over I'll focus on answering them.
       They can be Amish related, but they don't have to be. You can ask me anything at all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P ~ Pen

I love pens if everything is perfect about them. They write nicely, they have their caps securely fasted to the end, and if they happen to have blue ink that's even better.

I have an aversion to pens that are missing their caps. I don't know where, when, why, or how that started, but it's kind of a big deal at our house.

The week after our wedding was announced in church we were busy with all the preparations. Part of those preparations included LV and I going to round up pretty dishes to be used to set the tables for our wedding reception.

Armed with a list of everything we needed we headed out to our family and friends to see what they could loan us. At each house as we packed up the dishes they were okay with having us use I would mark the number of each item down next to the list.

Somewhere along the line I lost my pen, and as we were packing up another set of beautiful china I wanted to note how many pieces there were on my list. LV, seeing that I had lost my pen, generously reached into his pocket and offered his to me to use.

It was all I could do to make myself reach out and take that pen. It didn't have a cap. It had been gnawed on by his Collie pup, and really it was the worst pen I ever saw. I still shudder when I think about it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O ~ Only

A few of the only-s in my life:

I grew up as the only girl in a family of six children. Most of the time I really didn't mind, though I would have loved to have a sister.
A quote my mother wrote in my autograph book, that means a lot more to me today than it did on the day she wrote it:

Only one life, 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.

I could probably write a book on how to live frugally, and living with only the very basic necessities in life.
I only get around 5-6 hours of sleep per night, and that only because it's necessary. Life feels too short to spend over a third of it in bed.

I really like this quote by Martin Luther King Jr.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N ~ Nine Patch

One of my first sewing projects when I was six years old was making nine patch quilt squares.
I really enjoyed digging through Mom's boxes filled with fabric scraps and make fun color combinations for each one.
The completed squares were tucked away until the winter before we got married and I finally turned them into a quilt top. Mom and I spent many hours that winter quilting my first quilt. It's nothing fancy, but with all the memories that got sewn into this quilt it is one of my favorites.

Friday, April 15, 2016

M ~ M Days

     Among the Amish communities I lived in we occasionally did a fun challenge that revolved around the initial of your first name.
     In school we would have a day in February where the challenge was to do nothing that didn't begin with your initial. Unfortunately my name begins with an M, and while other children had a math free day, there was no such luck for me. I could only read books beginning with M, and recess I spent time playing Memory or Monopoly with anyone else that shared my initial.
     I don't know what it was with this challenge, but it carried over into the ladies monthly work days when they would gather at someone's house to help out with what ever needed to be done. Though not as large scale as the challenge was at school it focused only on the menu. Occasionally everyone was encouraged to bring a dish that started with their own initial, while other times everyone was supposed to bring a dish that started with their hostess initials.
      I never asked anyone to do that with my initial. I could see the entire community show up with a mac-n-cheese casserole.
      I used to wish my name would begin with anything other than an M on those days, but now I'm wondering how many others felt the same way about the letter they had.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L ~ Letters

Growing up, my Mom was my best friend, my sister, and my mother all rolled up into one person. It was a sad day when my parents and younger brothers moved to a different state. Now instead of seeing each other at least once a week, we were reduced to writing letters.

The highlight of my week became the day when a fat, juicy letter arrived in the mail. She would write about everything that was happening in their life as well as thoughts and ponderings. I treasured each one and tucked them away to read again when ever I felt like it.

I am so thankful I kept those letters, and strangely enough, am now glad that they moved and made letter writing a necessity. While I will always treasure the memories of the time we spent together .... memories have this way of fading, but these letters remain the same.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K ~ Keepsakes

I have always been more on the sentimental side and have a hard time throwing things away that have some kind of warm memory attached to them.

Throughout our home there is quite a variety of keepsakes. From the tiny little footprints of our newborns to the little ceramic shoes my mother always gives to each of her grandchildren on their first Christmas. I had been looking forward to having four little shoes in a row in my china cupboard, but when Buddy's shoe arrived with his name on the opposite side of the shoe, my OCD tendencies kicked in and it now has claim to its own shelf.

I have key-chains, dishes, lamps, clothes, books, toys, and more which have all passed the stage of being useful, but still have a special place in our home, simply because they qualify as keepsakes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J ~ Journals

I kept a journal from the time I could write a string of words to form sentences, until a few weeks before our wedding. Somehow during those first years of married life I didn't get a whole lot of journaling done, which I have really regretted.

Among the Amish, journaling was basically the lazy person's diary. Something a person did who wanted to keep a diary, but couldn't commit to writing everyday.

In the past couple years I have discovered that journaling can be so much more, and I have been enjoying it a lot.

The options for journals are nearly endless. In fact there are so many different types of journals that I could have focused the entire A-Z challenge on all the different types of journals you can have.

The always fun art journal where you draw, doodle, and simply free your creative side.

I have found I really like Bible journaling where I jot down a few verses from my Bible reading and add some of my own thoughts as well as a doodle or two.

A currently journal where once a week I answer the same handful of questions about what I am currently liking or doing.

A food or menu journal is a nice way to keep track of the new recipes we try and how we liked them.

A gratitude journal, joy journal, delight journal, happy thoughts journal, inspirational journal, love journal, blessing journal are all great to do. They require you to focus on good things, and I firmly believe the things you focus on have a huge impact on your overall happiness.

I hadn't realized how many journals I keep until I went to gather them together to take a picture. There are twenty-seven of them here, and that's not even all of them.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I ~ Insignificant

Nature often makes me feel insignificant. Standing beneath towering trees, or at the side of the ocean watching waves crash onto the shore.

Looking at the stars at night and knowing that God has a name for each one, makes me feel pretty insignificant. He is so great, and I'm so small, and yet I'm loved by Him.

Sitting in a service and listening to the parents share their feelings about their much loved child that they buried, makes any problems in my own life feel very insignificant.

I think the feeling of insignificance can be a good thing every so often.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

H ~ Humor

Christy Otto is an Amish artist who gets inspiration for his work from humorous things that happen among different Amish communities.

People will write to him, sharing a humorous incident that happened in their community and he will draw a picture for them.

Last fall this happened at my nephew's school.
Click on picture to enlarge.

Friday, April 8, 2016

G ~ Gardening

One of the things I really miss, is having a big garden. I hope to again someday, but for now, the place where we live doesn't have an available garden plot.

I really want to hand down everything I know about gardening to my daughters.

Things like .... never pick your green beans while the plants still have dew one them.

The best time to plant your root vegetables.

How to properly plant things. (Usually not according to seed packet instructions.)

What vegetables should never be planted next to each other. Such as squash and melons. Sweetcorn and popcorn, and many more.

The harvesting and preservation of all the vegetables.

Gardening, especially if you depend on your garden to supply a year's worth of food for your family is a lot of work, but so worth it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

F ~ Family at Four Corners

A few weeks before we left the Amish some friends of ours took us to New Mexico where we had fun exploring the state for over a week.

One stop we made was at Four Corners, named thus because it was supposed to be where the corners of four states met. Several years ago we found out that the spot where they meet isn't where they had thought they do, so I guess that has now kind of defeated the purpose of making a stop there.

I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with me for sharing this picture with you today. It's quite cringe worthy. But here we are at Four Corners.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E ~ Enjoy

There are so many things that I enjoy in life. Most of them are simple little pleasures.
  • Watching sunrises.
  • Reading a good book.
  • Coloring with Buddy.
  • Using pretty teacups.
  • Conversations with our children.
  • Friends
  • Wild flowers.
  • Taking pictures.
  • Cooking and baking.
  • Teaching our children.
  • Creating things.
  • Journaling and list making.
  • Good music
  • Singing

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What does retirement mean to you? Are you planning for it, not thinking about it, looking forward to it, or dreading it?

I really don't think too much about retirement. We are planning for it, as in trying to save for it just in case we won't be able to earn a living any longer.

I'm neither looking forward to it, or dreading it.

2. It's International Guitar you play? Does anyone in your family play? What's a song you especially like to hear played on the guitar or a favorite song featuring the guitar?

I don't play the guitar, but Sailor does. I don't think I have a favorite song that's played on the guitar. I love songs, singing, and music. So any song that is played well, I will enjoy listening to Sailor play it on his guitar.

3. What's your comfort food?

I think pasta and bread. Basically anything loaded with carbs.

4. What's one activity or area of your life where you absolutely never procrastinate?

Shortly after 4 every morning, my alarm goes off. I always get up right away.

5. Who does the grocery shopping in your house? Does your local store bag the groceries for you or is it a do-it-yourself kind of place? Do you like someone packing your groceries?

LV and I usually go grocery shopping one night per week. We always like going to Aldis first and getting everything we can there. It is a do it yourself kind of place when it comes to bagging. Included providing your own bags, or else buying the ones they offer.

I don't mind packing my own groceries, but I also don't mind if someone else does it as long as they use commonsense.

6. What's the coolest thing you've seen in nature?

Watching a beaver fell a large tree, and then go out into the water and slapping his tail as a signal and a little later three other beavers came to join him. Working together they maneuvered the log into the water, and went swimming away with it.

7. Share a favorite quote about home.

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The set of goals we made back at the beginning of the year have been an interesting addition to our months.

For March, we made baklava. It turned out nicely, and while very rich, it was delicious!

We were also supposed to make a Busy Book. It didn't quite get done.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D ~ Dishes

   Growing up in an Amish home we were used to having the walls bare except for clocks and calendars and in some homes, a row or two of hooks for hats and coats. That didn't mean we didn't like pretty things.
     One thing we could do to satisfy the need for beauty, was collecting pretty dishes that we liked displaying in our china cupboards, or maybe next to a clock on the clock shelf.
      I was especially fond of blue, so for birthdays and Christmases while we were dating, LV would often give me some pretty dishes. I still enjoy displaying them in my china cupboard just like I did while we were still Amish.

Rosebud is also doing the A-Z challenge this year. Hop over to her blog, Little Bits of Lovely to check it out.

Monday, April 4, 2016

C ~ Christmas Carol Kauffman

Our selection of books on the family bookshelf was limited when I was growing up. The books we did have were well loved and read multiple times.

We had most of the books by Christmas Carol Kauffman. Her books were Christian fiction, based on real life accounts of people who often had very difficult lives.

Most of her books are not feel good books, and the endings aren't necessarily satisfying, but because our reading options were limited I still read them often.

Hidden Rainbow was one of my favorites by her. It told the account of a young family finding their Saviour and subsequently having their entire life turned upside down. They finally fled to America for freedom to worship the God they loved.

Search to Belong .... Davy, a little boy who was removed from his mother shortly after he was born and was given a home by a lovely family. He was reunited with his mother in the end.

For One Moment ..... A heavy book following a young man's tumultuous life growing up and then being a part of Hitler's regime. He changed his views on that awful leader, and finally moved to America.

Lucy Winchester ...... I never could see how one woman could possibly bear so much heartache. I hated the ending, but still read the book several times a year.

Light from Heaven ... I first read this book when I was around ten or eleven. I despised Joseph Armstrong's father then, and as I have grown older, I think I loathe him even more. The only redeeming quality about this book is Joseph's mother was a really devout Christian, and through her prayers and shining example Joseph grew up to be a fine young man without the bitterness that could easily, and might I say almost rightfully have come due to his awful father.

Unspoken Love .... Again, another less than heartwarming book. I shed many tears over the ending when the main character died just when I thought things might finally get better for him.

I really don't know why these books are so popular among Amish and Mennonite homes. I feel a certain loyalty towards them because I grew up reading them so often, but even though they are part of our family library I have no desire to read them again.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

B ~ Bucket List

I happen to love making lists for all sorts of different things. Goals, dreams, you name it and I probably have a list for it somewhere. I have lost track of the amount of lists floating around our house. Among all those lists, I have an ever changing bucket list that seems to have things added much more frequently than I get to check items off.

Here is a sample of the things currently on the list:
  • Become fluent in another foreign language (Working on this one.)
  • Make every recipe in a cookbook. (Working on this one.)
  • Visit the Grand Canyon
  • Learn how to play the piano
  • Tour a chocolate factory
  • Read 365 books in a year.
  • Visit the Library of Congress
  • Get to attend the Kentucky Derby
  • Eat at the places featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
  • Have Christmas Lights
  • Become really good at sign language. (Working on this one.)
  • Write at least four books per year. (Working on this one.)
  • Throw a dart at the map and travel to where ever it landed.
  • Visit a zoo.
  • Have season tickets for our baseball team.
  • Visit the Creation museum.
  • Memorize entire books of the Bible. (Working on this.)
  • Make homemade vanilla.
  • Visit Prince Edward Island

Friday, April 1, 2016

A ~ Aeolian Harp

    Flipping through the Wood magazine one day in the summer I turned sixteen, I stumbled across the directions to make an Aeolian Harp. I loved how it looked, and reading the description I got more than a little excited. It was intended to be set on the windowsill and the breezes blowing through the open window would play soothing melodies.
    Since it was an instrument intended to be played by wind instead of by humans it would be acceptable to have even though we were Amish.
     My brother John got right to work and made several of them. They did produce lovely music in the constant summer breezes, but he had tuned them carefully enough that we could play songs on it. Our music starved souls really enjoyed those harps.
     Later after LV and I started dating he was impressed with them and wanted to make one too. Armed with our patterns he proceeded to make one.
     We still have it. Sadly it's looking a little old by now after having been banished to the top of our china cupboard. Our windowsills don't work to use it in the way intended, and other musical instruments have come along replacing the need to pick out tunes on it.