Saturday, May 28, 2016

Picture my Week

Even though there is quite an age difference between Sailor and Buddy, they're best of pals.

We spent a lot of time outside, by the creek, in the pasture right here by the house. It won't be long before cows will be turned into it, so we're taking advantage of every opportunity we get to spend time there before that happens. Buddy is especially fond of "fishing" and while the rest of us go playing in the water he sits patiently on the bank, with a stick, trying to catch something.

On the days when it rained, and we had to stay indoors, Buddy wanted to do "school" I'm glad he really enjoys learning and doing. Hoping he'll keep that love all through his school years, and beyond.

The girls made a small batch of homemade butter. It was a treat for all of us.

What would childhood be without a swing? The girls built this one themselves. It's not the best, but it has provided hours of fun.
The first spring, after we got married, LV presented a lovely bouquet of flowers to me that he had created from the abundance of umbrella plants. I had seen those plants all my life and never realized they produce lovely flowers.
Keeping with tradition, this week brought the annual umbrella flower bouquet. It looks even more lovely in real life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When Things Go Wrong in the Kitchen

A chocolate espresso cupcake caught Rosebud's eye as she was perusing Pinterest for cupcake inspiration. After printing out the recipe she headed for the kitchen to make them. Even though she followed the recipe to the "T" they didn't turn out anywhere close to the picture that had first caught her eye. Being a bit of a perfectionist who enjoys turning out beautiful things from the kitchen on a regular basis, she wasn't thrilled at all, especially since they had been intended to be enjoyed with friends who were coming over later that day.

As we turned our attention to a tried and true recipe, I assured her that it's perfectly fine to have the occasional cooking disaster. They can easily provide memories you can laugh at for years to come, even handing down through generations, if the disaster was interesting enough.

I then proceeded to share the one "disaster" that has become a family favorite over the years.

My Mom was a young bride, intent on preparing only the best of things, and not be the absent minded cook that her sisters always said she was. Things were going great and a little more than a month had passed without burning anything when the one day they decided they would be going to pick strawberries after the evening chores were done.

There was bread to make that afternoon, and a garden to care for, and then helping with all the chores. After a busy day it was fun hopping on the open buggy and going to the local U-pick strawberry patch.

They picked until dusk and went home armed with lots of berries to be processed the following day. As they stopped in front of the house Mom hopped off the buggy and went inside while Dad continued out to the barn to care for the horse and do one final walk through the barn checking on all the animals before calling it a day.

As Mom entered the house she immediately smelled something bad. "The bread!!" She had forgotten all about it. Opened the oven door she quickly yanked out two charcoal black loaves of bread. She wrapped the bread into kitchen towels and put them on the back of the kitchen counter and then proceeded to open all the windows in hopes of getting the awful smell out of the house before Dad came in.

He came in, and didn't say a word about anything smelling bad. She was relieved, and went ahead and prepared a bedtime snack for them to eat.

As they were sitting there eating, something went "cr..aaaa..ckkk! Followed by more cracking noises. She tried to pretend she didn't hear the noise coming from beneath those towels on the kitchen counter. Dad however asked what that sound was.

She showed him the burnt bread. Even though it was solid black he was sure that they could slice it and eat the middle. Armed with a knife they started sawing and hacking their way through the bread. It was black, as black could be except for in the very middle there was an inch in diameter, round spot of brown bread.

Dad found it incredibly amusing, and Mom has laughed a lot about it over the years as well. It took her a while though before she shared the story with her sisters who had been waiting to hear about all the cooking disasters they knew she would be making once they weren't there to make sure everything was done just right.

Monday, May 23, 2016


Focusing on clothes isn't that high on my list of priorities. Partly I'm sure because growing up Amish the style of clothes we wore was determined for us, and we simply picked colors we liked from those that were permitted in our community.

Getting ready to go somewhere didn't take long. I'd simply open my closet and decide if I felt like wearing purple, blue, or teal on that particular day.

I still don't have many options, in fact people probably wonder if I have more than one shirt/blouse. I do for everyday use, but not for things like going to church where I wear the same thing every time, year round. Doesn't bother me at all.

The girls however, apparently haven't quite picked up on the same content feeling regarding clothes, even though they have way more than I do. This morning they were pawing through their closet trying to decide what they want to wear tomorrow when they have friends coming over.

Rosebud finally sighed a long sigh as she surveyed her pile of skirts ...... that she had chosen when they were acquired. "I haven't a thing to wear that doesn't look as if it didn't come straight from 'Forever 40'," was her dismal pronouncement.

That, my friends, is another little something I miss about the Amish. Everyone wore the same type of clothes and hairstyles. You had so much more time to focus on life, instead of trivial things, like clothes.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Picture my Week

These finally decided to bloom this week. The vibrant splash of color they give the front yard is welcome. Buddy keeps stopping to smell them when ever he passes them, declaring they smell like really good candy.

This stack of boxes are filled to the brim with curriculum for next year's school. I had to go through every bit of it and write up what we will be studying so I can hand it in to our local school. See that lump of red on top of the stack? That, my friends, is the delightfully cozy house coat I was wearing while working at the computer.

Sailor and I planted ten rose bushes. He did all the hard work, while I simply helped fill in the dirt around the bushes. Buddy supervised the entire process.

Our giant rhododendron bush is still quite a ways from blooming, thanks to all the shade it gets where it is planted. Somehow though at the far side we discovered a single bud has bloomed, even if the rest of them will be waiting a while to do the same.

Buddy has always loved everything to do with baseball. I spent a few hours this week pitching for him.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Creek vs Schedule

Some days it's nice to throw your schedule out the window and spend time simply enjoying life.

Today was a day like that.

After days of fog and rain the sun has broken through making everything outdoors really inviting. Seeing the geese swimming on the creek, Buddy wanted to go catch some minnows. (He never catches fish, but calls all the little stuff floating on top of the water, minnows.)

Arriving at the creek, Buddy spotted a patch of buttercups, and he couldn't go "fishing" before he picked a few for me.

I was glad I remembered to take the camera along, otherwise I would have missed a lot. These two are best of friends, and laugh ...ALL.THE.TIME.

They had a competition to see who could jump farther. The one side of the creek bank is quite a bit higher than the other at this spot. 

The stepping stone bridge they built several years ago is submerged after all the rain, but they still used it.

In the creek versus schedule debate, I'm glad the creek won. We had a lovely morning outdoors.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Tell us about a time you found yourself 'in the middle of nowhere'. Was this deliberate?

When we moved to the Midwest it felt as if we had plopped ourselves down in the middle of nowhere, but after a vacation to New Mexico where we roamed the deserts "the middle of nowhere" took on a whole new meaning.
2. What's something you're 'in the middle of' today or this week? 

There seems to be quite a lot of middles going on in our life right now.

-I'm in the middle of planning our next week's menus and grocery list.
-I'm smack dab in the middle of a writing project, having just hit the halfway mark of words needed.
-We're in the middle of a pretty huge project. Thankfully most of that rests on LV.
-I'm in the middle of doing research for next years school, by taking the ready made curriculum and digging deeper into the topics and things that will be studied. Yes, I realize I'm making life harder than it would need to be, but we all love learning, and there is so much more to learn about most of the things.(Except math.)
3. At what age do you think 'middle age' begins? What does it mean to be 'middle aged'? 

I don't know what age middle age begins. I used to think somewhere around 50, but doing a quick search on google revealed that no one is quite in agreement. Some say it's the ages between 35 and 58, others say it begins at 60. So who knows?

What does it mean to me?? I always thought it's the time in life when your body starts hurting more, and your feelings start hurting less. Or in other words, you've lived long enough to not really care about other people's opinions.
4. Ravioli, stuffed peppers, samosas, deviled eggs, steamed dumplings, pierogis, or a jelly donut...your favorite food (from this list!) with something yummy in the middle. Your favorite not on the list?

Ravioli and samosas are a nice tie as my favorite things that have things in the middle. Not on the list are the fruit filled cookies my Mom used to make, and we can't forget pie either, can we?

5. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying ''In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' Would you agree? Have you found this to be true in your own life? Feel free to elaborate. 

I think there is a lot of truth in that statement. Even speaking spiritually ...... growth often happens during difficult times.
6. What's a song you remember loving from your middle school years? Do you love it still? 

We sang mostly hymns, and didn't listen to music. My mind immediately went to two songs I used to love. Twilight is Stealing and Better Days. I still like them, but hadn't thought of them in a long time.
7. May 18th is National Visit Your Relatives Day. Will you celebrate? Which relative would you visit if time, distance, and expense were not considered. 

I will not be celebrating. Other than going to see my parents I would really love to visit my Mom's youngest brother. He's married to one of LV's cousins. They have remained loyal and friendly even though we left the Amish. Their two youngest children are the same age as our girls, and we always have a great time when ever we get to see each other.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

We had some unexpected things happen on the way to church on Sunday when our vehicle started making horrible sounds, followed by the smell of something much too hot. After investigating it was determined it's not safe to continue. It took a while to limp our way back home, but we made it safely. It has been fixed now but I still find I'm trying to not feel leery about driving alone in it.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Random Three

I'm snagging the first three random questions to answer today, from a list of questions compiled by Alyssa, back in April.

What pizza place do you usually order from?
We don't order pizza, but if we did it would be from a little privately owned pizza place in our town.

Have you ever spent over $100.00 on an article of clothing? What was it?
I have never spent that much money on clothes. Back when we were still Amish I would expect to spend between $20. and $25 on the fabric I need to sew an outfit. Since leaving I keep it less than that for ready to wear items.

What do you have for your ringtone?

Surprise! I'm one of the few people remaining who does not have a cell phone. Sadly landline phones don't come with ringtone options so all I have is the regular obnoxious ringing that has been around for ages already.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Picture my Week

Our family was invited to a cabin with some friends. It was a really cute and cozy place. It made off the grid/small house living look appealing. An added bonus was the breath taking views that the camera really didn't do justice to at all. Then listening to the history of this place made it even more special.

We've heard about the IRS phone scam for some time already, but it wasn't until this week that they started calling us. Persistently. Up to six calls a day, each time threatening that this is the final notice. They come from three different numbers, but this one amused me for some reason. Didn't they stop to think that IRS agents probably don't make calls to people about their taxes while using a cell phone?
 It continues to be cool and wet. Buddy has been spending time perched on the back of our couch staring longingly at what could be, if only it became sunny and warm.
On Thursday afternoon Rosebud and I ventured out into the rain to an event she had really wanted to attend. We came up behind an Amish man delivering a load of flowers. It was a welcome splash of pretty, and Rosebud quickly snagged several pictures of it.
 At the event, there were quite a few mallard ducks calmly waddling about. This one seemed really tame, and came right up to us.
 We were introduced to Wickles. All I can say is ....... where were they all my life? So very good! I usually pass on pickles. I don't care for dill pickles, and the sweet varieties aren't that special either, but these .... I could eat them three times a day.

Then there was this guy. Wood peckers are pretty, but there was no way we wanted this one to drill large holes into the tree in front of the house. We had to chase the persistent thing away. There are plenty of trees to choose from in our area, so there's no need for him to damage ours.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mystifying Origins

When you were little, where did your parents tell you babies come from?

The whole "where do babies come from" question used to be very intriguing to me.

I knew God was the one who gave babies to families, but just how He managed to do that without ever being seen was a mystery to me.

After a particularly embarrassing comment I made to a pregnant aunt, which you can read here, my Mom finally told me a little more about where babies actually came from. It was just a little disappointing to find out that God didn't make personal baby deliveries in the middle of the night after all.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Amish Q & A

Do Amish courting couples ever breakup? Or does the bishop not allow that?

Occasionally a courtship will end instead of leading to marriage.

 A bishop is the leader of the church, but not a dictator. He has nothing to do with whether or not courting couples break up.

Since Amish people shun modern things, what do they use for medicine. Do you have any natural remedies to share?

The Amish will go to a regular doctor when there is a need.

A lot of them do try natural remedies when they can. Some more successful than others. Several years ago I did a post of some of the remedies we used to use. You can read it here.

I've heard that Amish are often really young when they get married. How old were you?

I was 19 when we got married. Somehow that sounded a lot older to me at the time, than it does now. I have no regrets though that I was that young when we got married.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Things I Miss About Being Amish

There are certain things I miss about being Amish.

The biggest is the relationships we lost with family and friends. We knew it would be something that would happen when we made the decision to leave, but even so, there are days when I miss them acutely.

I miss the way the church looked out for each other. We could count on others to have our back. Sure there could be problems that arose among Amish families, but when faced with outside problems everyone stuck together.

I admire their stubbornness in refusing to compromise their way of doing things, and not bowing to the powers that be.

I miss the way you could be open and speak your honest opinion on things without having to dance on eggshells for fear of offending someone. The Amish aren't easily offended, even when they have every right to be offended. That's a big thing I miss in this crazy PC culture.

There are other things as well, but these are some of the main ones.
Today's post comes as an answer to this question: What do you miss the most about being Amish?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Love and .... not so Much

On the post where I had asked for questions, an anonymous comment had presented this list:

What's your favorite .....
- book
   I should say the Bible, but it's so much more than a book. It's the very word of God in book form.
Other than the Bible, my favorite book is a series that I have read more times than I can count.

- song This keeps changing. I really like the Scripture Lullaby songs, but today I'm especially liking Flawless by Mercy Me.

- tree The giant maple tree in front of our house is my favorite tree at the moment.

- flower I love flowers so it's hard to pick a single one as my favorite. I really love all the violets that have started blooming again. Impatiens and Bleeding Heart flowers always make me stop to admire them. Huge rhododendron bushes blooming profusely are some of the prettiest things to see every year. I love making bouquets from gladiolus and displaying their beauty around the house.

- restaurant I hardly ever get to go to a restaurant and most of the ones in our area I've never even tried so it's a little hard to say I have a favorite one.

- scent I wish I could answer this, but I have no idea. Not having a sense of smell I simply go by what I think sounds good when choosing things like candles, soaps, and other scented things.

- time of day Early morning when the robins are singing their little hearts out, everything else is quiet as my little corner of the world is waiting for the sun to rise.

- hobby Again this is hard trying to settle on one thing as my favorite. I really enjoy reading, sewing, crafts, cooking, baking, writing, and the list goes on.

- color You would think I have a favorite color, but it varies. I really do like blue a lot, but then purple is also pretty. Though when it comes to clothes I tend to gravitate towards warm browns.

Oh .... and take the same list I posted above, but answer all of them with your least favorite.

- book Good Night Moon, I don't understand how it ever became popular. Maybe I'm missing something, but I really never liked this book.

- song This could make a substantial list in itself. The Macaroni song the children used to love when they were itty bitty is certainly one of them.

- tree The horse chestnut tree we used to have in our front yard when I was growing up was a pain. It looked gorgeous in the spring when it flowered beautifully and it always got its leaves before other trees, but then the flowers would drop, and extremely sticky buds would stick to your feet. They stained things and the stickiness itself needed a lot of help to be removed. Later in the fall when all those prickly balls of nuts fell ..... let's just say it was my least favorite tree.

- flower I should probably say the dandelion, but I really don't mind them. And I'm loving all the dandelion bouquets Buddy has been giving me this spring. The worst flower is probably the alfalfa flower. It's pretty enough, but the allergies it causes makes me not like it very well at all.

- restaurant Again, I don't have enough experience with restaurants to say that I have a least favorite.
- scent Don't have one, other than the things that I know obviously wouldn't be pleasant to smell. Sometimes though if something, such as a skunk smells bad enough I can actually taste the smell. Unpleasant!

- time of day Evenings. It's not that I don't like this time of day. It's just that it signifies that another day is already almost over and there is still so much I would have liked to get accomplished.

- hobby Hobbies are supposed to be things you enjoy, right? As such I don't have a least favorite hobby.

- color Yellow and orange.

Monday, May 9, 2016


As another Monday morning dawns in my little corner of the world, a glance at the calendar reminds me that it's time to chose a winner for this giveaway.

After consulting the random generator I can announce that the winner is:
Comment # 3
Peggy Lineberry said ...........
April brought kidding season to the homestead. Its always a happy time but this April also brought sadness as we lost Buttons. She was our head goat and such a loving gentle soul.

Congratulations Peggy! Please send me an email with your address and I will get the package in the mail for you.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Picture my Week

We've been having wet weather. Rain showers seem to pop up very easily, and fog has a way of creeping in at any time. Having a sunny day is a rare occurrence, and needs to be taken advantage of when it happens. Sunbeam and Buddy had a lot of fun playing in our little creek, while one of their pets enjoyed accompanying them.

Several flowers caught my eye and I decided to give my camera another try in hopes of capturing a bit of their beauty. I've had this camera for almost ten years already and always thought there was something the matter with it, because it simply wouldn't do justice to pink flowers. This time I toyed with the settings, and it turns out that all these years it was me, not the camera, that wasn't doing the flowers justice.
Rosebud loves baking and trying new recipes. Her creation this week was a lovely layer cake with homemade cherry filling. She's come so far from her first baking project which I documented here.
Sometimes I forget that our older three are caught at that stage between being a child and an adult, but then something like this happens and I remember that yes, they are indeed still in that stage. I had asked one of them to put some foil in the bottom of the oven to catch any potential drips, spills, and other oven related things to keep clean up easier.
When I opened the oven door I saw this. ...... How efficient. .... Not!
Buddy loves games. LOVES them! He will get a game set up and then go on a mission to find someone to help him play. I can't even count how many times this week I found myself sitting on the floor playing Memory with him. One good thing, I can be as competitive as I like because he's really good at all the games and nine times out of ten he will win even though I did my best.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Amish Family

How is your Uncle Eli doing now? Is he adjusting? I think of him and wonder about how he is doing quite often.

My Uncle Eli is adjusting as well as can be expected. His church community has stepped in and makes that someone spends time with him every day since his wife, Sadie passed away.

The last time I stopped in to see him, he was still his very talkative self. He is having a hard time getting around without the aid of a cane, but otherwise he seems much the same as he always has.

Do you have much contact with your Amish family?

My oldest brother and I try to make that we call each other at least once a month, but other than that we don't have much contact with the rest of the family.

It's my fault, I suppose. I could always try reaching out to them, but there seems to be such a huge void between us. We no longer have things in common. They don't like talking about things going on in their life, because since we're no longer Amish it's none of our business. And almost anything happening in our life I can't talk about, because it reminds them we're not Amish any longer which in turn brings out their need to tell us how deceived and wrong we are.

I find it's easier to focus on enjoying our own little family instead of trying to cling to something that is no longer there

Psalms 27:10

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Amish Weddings

Across all the many different Amish communities, weddings have some basics that are the same. But at the same time there are so many different communities that you can't simply attend one Amish wedding and say, this is how Amish weddings look like because different communities do have different traditions.

For example ..... celery ...... Amish fiction authors seem to have latched onto the idea that serving celery is an important part of an Amish wedding, when in fact it is a tradition for Lancaster and its daughter settlements. Most Amish communities do not serve celery at their weddings. Along the same vein ...... Lancaster has weddings in the fall, while other Amish communities have weddings at anytime during the year.

Some communities the wedding celebration lasts all day, and into the night, while in others it is over by late afternoon.

In some communities the bride always wears a blue dress, while in others she has the option of any color she would like to wear.

In some the spread of food is vast, and there seems to be a never ending assortment of desserts, while others have a very simple meal.

In some the story of Tobias is shared in the wedding sermon, while in others they won't mention it.

In some they serve wine, in others they wouldn't even dream of it.

In some they send boys around to all the guests while shaking a long handled tin pan for them to throw in money. Most of them don't do this, but for some communities it's an important part of the wedding.

In some they always serve hotdogs as one of the meat options and big bowls of green and red Jell-O for dessert while others wouldn't even consider it.

Some communities have dancing at their weddings, while most others would consider it to be sinful.

In some, at the evening meal when boys choose a girl to escort to the table they will each have a spoon, but share the same plate. Most communities don't, but some do.

In some the groom will hand out cigars to all the youth boys, but others would be horrified at the very thought of doing something like that.

There are many more differences, so you get the picture. Just because one community always does weddings the same, doesn't mean that all Amish will do it that way.

Across the many different Amish communities that I have family living there are some things that are the same.

The services are always similar to a church service. Slow church type singing, two sermons, scripture reading.  The bride and groom also always join the ministers for a meeting while the rest of the church is singing, but that's about as far as it goes when it comes to things that are the same about weddings in every community.

You can read what our wedding was like here. I shared it in six parts, so click on newer posts at the end of it to read about the entire day.

This was in answer to the question by Sandi ..... What is an Amish wedding like?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's something fun you're looking forward to on your May calendar?

The girls and I have some fun craft related things planned to do in May, as well as trying out some new recipes.
2. What are some images that come to mind when you hear the word mother?

My Mom, of-course. Followed immediately by things we did together, sewing gardening, cooking, cleaning, always talking or singing while we worked.

She was patient, kind, and loving. I don't think she ever raised her voice at us. She was our safe space. No matter what else was going on in life, things were always better with her at my side.

She was my best friend, sister, and mother all wrapped up in one. (And now I'm crying, because I really miss that.)

3. What's something beautiful you own or have seen that's made of glass? 

Some dishes in my china cupboard. I still love pretty dishes.
4. Was today typical? If not what made it unusual? 

Today is only just beginning, but so far it has been typical of what my days usually look like by this point in my morning. (Other than the crying part.)
5. What is a quality you wish you could have more of?

I'm not sure I can narrow it down to a single thing, seems there are many areas in my life where I wish and strive to get better.

6. What's the next major purchase you need to make? Will it happen in the month of May? 

We really need a freezer. We've been making do with only the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. It's doable, but it would be really nice being able to have more space.

I don't see us getting a freezer in May.
7. What responsibility/job/work did you dislike while growing up but has proved helpful to you as an adult?

I used to dislike sanding furniture between coats of lacquer. With my parents' woodworking shop, that happened regularly.

I have some furniture projects here waiting for me to get to them. All of them I wish I had done last month already.  I still don't particularly enjoy it even though I'm glad I know how.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

There's still time to hop over and enter my giveaway, if you haven't done so already. You can do that here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Q & A ~ Installment One

For the letter "Q" during the A-Z challenge I had done a post where you could ask questions and I would answer them later in blog posts.

Today will be the first of many posts where I do that.

What do you do to get your Christmas cactus to bloom like that?

I don't really have any secrets for getting my Christmas cactus to bloom well. I'm actually quite horrible when it comes to caring for houseplants. I have the best of intentions, but somehow I keep forgetting that they need care.

The Christmas cactus bloomed the nicest the year where I basically forgot I had it, until it started blooming. (I wouldn't recommend that method to anyone else though.)

Can we look forward to more books from you?

I originally bought the Lily series for my daughter, but the entire family has fallen in love with this sweet spunky little girl. We would love to follow her story as she grows up.

I am hoping to share more books with you over the next few years.

Though I would love to continue the Lily series, it sadly seems to be on hold right now. Until I get a green light for it, I'm focusing my writing efforts on another series that I think you'll enjoy.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Celebration Giveaway

While doing the A-Z challenge this year, my 7th blogging anniversary came and went quietly.

It doesn't seem that long ago when I sat down one afternoon and started writing some of my childhood memories in hopes that our children will somehow be able to keep a slice of our heritage, and have a better understanding of where we came from. Even though our life was different now because we had chosen to leave the Amish, it wasn't something I wanted to lose entirely.

Today I'm celebrating the anniversary, and the fact that I successfully completed another A-Z challenge by having a giveaway.

I'll be giving a copy of the first cookbook I ever used, and a doll dressed in authentic Somerset County Amish clothes to one lucky winner

If you would like a chance to win this, leave a comment telling me about something that happened in your month of April.

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

On Monday, May 9th, I will be choosing a winner using the random generator.

Giveaway is now closed and a winner has been chosen.