Saturday, December 30, 2017

Picture my Week

    Our week started off beautifully. The little graham cracker houses the girls made had their place of honor in the living room where we admired them for a few days until they decided to devour them.

    We did our traditional Christmas morning photo. I enjoy seeing the difference year by year as they keep getting older on me. It's such a bittersweet feeling.

    Earlier this year Rosie Mae had found a vintage crochet pattern for nose warmers. We all got a good chuckle out of them, not dreaming she would decide to make some as gag gifts for Christmas.

    She wrote a poem to accompany them. It was appreciated more than the nose warmers.

     There are no pictures of the hassle I was going through when someone somehow got access to my card information and decided to treat themselves to several vacations. The card has been canceled, and necessary paperwork filed to try to get our money back. Certainly not the way I was wanting to spend my days after Christmas.

    It's been cold, really cold. Even the sunrises look frozen.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Picture my Week

Sharon and Steven were able to build a little snowman before the snow melted.
Rosie Mae created a fun cake for Steven's birthday. He was delighted when he saw it.

As part of his birthday activities we took masking tape and all the rooms on our main floor to create a life size version of a maze type game that he enjoys.

This mysterious creature showed up, and put the girls and me in a slight state of panic for a few minutes.

The annual Christmas box from my parents arrived. It's always fun seeing what treats they have included. The big block of cheese is the winner of the foods this year.

Several years ago Rosie Mae received her own timer which she lovingly named Beaky. With all the baking going on in our house she brought him out to participate. After he took a turn he was sadly sent away. He didn't do a great job of timing the cookies as he was supposed to.
Rosie Mae's verdict ... "He's cute, but he dawdles."

Yesterday the girls tried their hand at using royal icing to decorate Christmas cookies. They turned out pretty and tasty. I usually don't care for cut out cookies, but these taste good. A new "light" gingerbread recipe and an orange flavored shortbread. Yummy!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. Where have you found unexpected magic or delight this holiday season?

I haven't had any unexpected magic or delight this season, though I have been thoroughly enjoying it. The air of excitement and secrets, the making and wrapping of gifts, the evenings spent playing games, reading, and talking. The yummy treats we made and nibbled on. The music we've been listening to. The tree as it sparkles and glows in the corner of our living room. Watching our favorite Christmas movies, while eating popcorn and sipping hot chocolate. Sending and receiving Christmas cards. It's really been a delightful season so far!

2. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering? Will you/have you gathered in your favorite way this month?

My favorite type of holiday gathering is when all the family gets together for a Christmas meal. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents all together enjoying good food and fellowship. We won't be gathered that way this month. We haven't in quite a number of years. I could get sad about that, but since we have our own family I simply focus on it, and look forward to many years of enjoying time together over the holidays.

3. Time has named 'The Silence Breakers' (women who came forward with stories of harassment)  'person of the year' for 2017. Would you agree? If not, who do you think deserves the title?

I won't go into too much on this subject, though it bothers me that it focuses only on women. There are a surprising amount of men that could step forward with their own #metoo stories, but don't.

4. How did you spend your time this year? Are you happy about that? Elaborate.

Our year was one with dizzying up and downs, surprise curve balls, and changes. Through it all though, God was our one constant. There are things that I wish would have been different, but also a lot that I'm thrilled about. I've learned to trust more, and to let go. I'm happy about that.

5. Bid farewell to 2017 in ten words or less.

You'll always be known as the year of plot twists.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

We've been doing the 12 Days of Christmas once again, this year. We had a number of years break from it, but I'm glad we're doing it again. It is a lot of fun.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas at School

    Our little school was planning its Christmas program. It wasn't going to be much of a production. Mostly just singing Christmas carols and reciting poems, and the Christmas story from Luke 2. The fun part would come when we got to exchange gifts.
     Everyone threw their name into one of the boy's hats. Teacher Ruth added her name too, even though every family was expected to give her a nice gift.
     The day of the program arrived. It was a little overwhelming having to stand at the front of the school room while the entire Amish community had gathered to see our performance. The singing went well. I stood uncomfortably with my hands clasped behind my back the entire time, just like Mom had instructed me to. Beside me cousin Emma was playing with her apron, not minding what her hands were doing as we were singing. It looked more comfortable than my position, but somehow I managed to stick to it, and when my turn came I recited a little poem about a snowman.
     Another song or two and then we were free to go back to our seats and it was time to exchange gifts. I had been eyeing the heap of nicely wrapped gifts that were piled on the teacher's desk, secretly hoping that the one huge box would be mine.
     Instead I received a much smaller, lumpy package. It contained an apple shaped candy dish and a paint by number set. I was thrilled with it, and carefully set it on my desk as I watched the rest of the children open their gifts.
    Finally the biggest box was presented to Abe, an eighth grader. He tore the wrapping paper off and opened the box only to find another box inside it. Inside that box was another one. And so it continued until finally he got down to the last one. It contained a simple coloring book.
    Teacher Ruth was rolling with laughter. She was the one who had drawn Abe's name for the gift exchange.
      I was only six, but that didn't stop me from burning with indignation at the injustice of it all. I slipped Abe a pack of smarties as we were leaving for home. Hoping that it would help his school Christmas be a little better.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Picture my Week

Our daily walks became a little more difficult with all the snow. Steven gallantly led the way and made a path for me to follow.

The girls and I made numerous Christmas treats.  Rosie Mae's hands bear the tale of some chocolate dipped treats that were rolled in red sprinkles.

We have all been enjoying the pretty splash of color from the poinsettia on the kitchen table. Kenneth received it as a prize for winning a game at a Christmas party we attended. He in turn, gifted it to me.

Friday, December 15, 2017


    My earliest Christmas memory is from when I was almost four years old.
    Daddy and Mom were going to a town a little farther away than our horse Jim could take us to. They had hired a driver to take them, and for some reason Grandpa and Grandma couldn't babysit that day which meant John and I got to go along.
    After we arrived at the store Daddy and Mom each got a cart. John went with Daddy and I got to sit in the cart that Mom had. It was the most interesting store ever. They had toys, and toys, and more toys. Mom pushed her cart up and down the aisles looking for something while I was too awestruck to do anything except look wide eyed at everything.
    She finally selected a package of wooden blocks that had the alphabet printed on their sides. After paying for it we headed back outside to sit in the car where we waited for a few minutes until Daddy and John came out to join us and we went back home.
    The next few days Mom made a few pans of rice krispie candy and a batch of caramel corn, but packed it away until later.
    One morning when John and I got up we were greeted with a cup of hot chocolate and an orange next to our usual breakfast. Daddy and Mom seemed extra happy as they wished us a Merry Christmas and waited semi patiently for us to slowly enjoy our delicious breakfast.
     Once the dishes were cleared away they gave John those wooden blocks Mom had bought and I received a Memory game. They helped us play with them and then we got to eat those treats Mom had been making earlier. It was a great day!
     This thing called Christmas was fun! I wished they would do it more often.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. 'Hurry less, worry less'...what's your strategy for making that happen this holiday season? How's it going so far?

I don't really have a strategy for that. I have plenty I want to do, but I'm not getting stressed about it.

2. Do you have a list of to-dos that need accomplishing in order to prepare your home and/or property for the winter season? What are some of the jobs on your list? Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone to accomplish these tasks?

Winter is here already and everything is blanketed in a layer of white. Our preparations had been done for a while already. We don't have a big list of things that we do to prepare for winter. Mostly just make firewood, buy coal, and bring in the wind chimes.

We are a do it yourself family. It's been years since we hired anyone to do anything for us. The last time was in Missouri when we hired someone to fix our stove while LV was gone for a week at a time working, and I couldn't fix it on my own.

3. According to dietitians surveyed, the most popular health foods for 2018 will be -turmeric, sprouted foods (bean sprouts, breads with sprouted grains, etc), veggies in place of grains, dairy free milk, and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc).  What's the first thought that ran through your head when you read this list? Of the foods listed which one might you add to your regular diet? Also, can milk really be dairy free? Is it still milk?

It doesn't sound very appetizing to me, though I do love sprouts. My mother used to keep them on hand during the winter months so we have something fresh to eat year round. I have no desire to eat bread made with sprouted grains ... and dairy free milk is simply a milk substitute to me.

4. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. According to the Pantone site 'Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking pointing us to the future.' What say you? Do you like the color purple? Did you see the movie or read the book-ha!?  Is purple a color you wear often? Describe for us one purple item in your home without using the word purple.  If you were in charge of such things what color would you select for 2018?

I love the color purple! I Have not seen the movie or read the book. I do wear purple quite regularly. Other than clothes though not much else is that color in our house. One of the quilts I have has some in it, but it's not the main color. The only other thing would be the computer mouse pad and maybe a book cover or two. In fact book three in my series just happens to have some.

5. Favorite book read this year?

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I don't know why I've never read it before, but I really enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of the Anne of Green Gables series.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

The girls and I have been busy making Christmas snacks and treats. We're down to only three more things and we'll be done for this year. Today we'll be making the fruitcake! We made it all the way to day 45 once again. I'll be so glad to get it off the kitchen counter, but somehow I already know we'll be doing it again next year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

School Days

     First grade started off great after I got over the newness of the first day. My teacher Lydia Troyer was kind and efficient in teaching a one room school with grades 1 through 8. We all loved her, but after six weeks something happened that she had to go home, and since that was out of state the school board had to find a new teacher fast.
     On Monday morning when we got to school we were greeted by Ruth Miller who had agreed to finish the term. She didn't look as if she knew how to have fun as she sat grimly at her teachers desk and looked sternly at us.
     We all sat there quietly and looked at her. I started feeling a lump in my throat again, I wanted to go home or have Lydia back, I looked over at cousin Emma and she looked scared too. Finally Ruth cleared her throat and said that we need to forget we had a teacher before her and that she will be making some changes. For starters she wants the upper grade children to go take down all the art that is on the walls.
     I watched in dismay as they took down all the art that we had created during happy art periods the previous six Fridays. They laid them on her desk and she took them all, crumpled them, and threw them in the trash can, and stated "There, that's the last of that nonsense! We come to school to work, not to play." And proceeded to give us our assignments.
     It wasn't long before it was obvious, that she didn't like cousin Marvin. He had a problem with stuttering that grew a lot worse after she started teaching. One day when the second grade was having their reading class, he was having an especially hard time with his stuttering and Ruth got very frustrated with him and told him that since he is too much of a baby to read to go back and sit in his seat.
     I watched in consternation as he walked to his seat blinking back tears, and Ruth grabbed the trash can which was almost half full of crumpled papers and shavings from sharpening pencils and roughly placed it upside down over Marvin's head and shoulders. The trash fell on his lap and the floor around him as she told him he has to sit there like that for the rest of the day.
     I tried my best to please her, to avoid experiencing her temper, but like everyone else I got to experience it directed at me a time or two as well.
     Once the school term was over Ruth was not hired again. There were rumblings of problems in the community and everyone decided to home school the next term.

Monday, December 11, 2017


     Mom used to make a weekly trip to town with Jim and one of our buggies. Most of the time John and I would stay at Grandpa Masts while Aunt Emma went with Mom.
    We always had a lot of fun playing there. Often if Mom was gone over lunchtime Grandpa would sit on his creaky rocking chair and ask us to come to him. He would have both hands closed and tell us we can have whatever is inside. We would tug and pull at his fingers until we finally had them open, and then get the treats he had hidden there for us. Most often it was a kids chewable papaya tablet, that we called monkey candy, other times there would be a few sunflower seeds. We didn't really mind what he held in his hands, the most fun was in opening them.
     One day after Mom came back from town and we were talking to Grandma yet before we started for home, she told me that she bought something for me and I could go look in the back of the buggy in a certain bag.
     I ran to the see what is there, and found a tin lunch box with Care Bear Cousins. To me it was the most beautiful one I had ever seen. I showed it to John and David and then had to run and find Vernie and Grandpa to make sure they see my new treasure too.

     Mom told me I could use it to go to school. I was so excited and eagerly counted off the days until I could finally use it.
     When the morning dawned for the first day of school I watched excitedly as Mom packed my lunch. I wore a new green dress that Grandma had made for me. Mom hitched Jim to the buggy and we headed for school. Once we got there they went inside with me and helped find the desk that had my name on it. There was a brand new pencil laying on top and several shiny new books. I loved books and could hardly wait to start coloring and writing and what ever else was involved with this exciting new event.
     But then Mom said "Good-bye" and went out the door with John and David and headed home without me. My shiny new lunchbox and the books and pencil lost their charm as huge lumps started forming in my throat. I wanted desperately to cry and run home to Mom. Cousin Emma was also in first grade and was sitting right across the aisle from me. She wasn't having any qualms about going to school and told the teacher that "MaryAnn is going to cry." The teacher was very friendly and soon had me calmed down with some pretty pictures to color.
     By the end of the first day Mom was waiting for me as soon as school let out. I decided school isn't too bad, there were a lot of interesting things to do and all my friends were there too. And at the end of the day I could go to the place I loved best. Home.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Picture my Week

I'm pleased at how my walking/hiking is getting easier. Though I can walk much farther and faster than I used to, my energy still doesn't match that of my daughters. On Sunday afternoon we headed to a nearby hiking trail. The girls ran ahead, and this is what met my eyes when I caught up with them. It almost made me feel dizzy just seeing them sit p there like that.
The tunnel doors have been closed for the winter. I was a little disappointed to not be able to walk through it, but have put it on my list of goals for 2018.

Steven played Joseph last night in our homeschool group's Christmas show.

We've had a busy week with school, Christmas play practices, making gifts, and working on getting our Christmas treats made. Even so Rosie Mae took a few moments to join Steven under the Christmas tree when he wanted someone to admire the beauty from a different angle.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Making Noodles

     Several times a year Grandma Mast would have a noodle making day at her house. Aunt Lydia and her children, several other aunts, and Mom and we children would arrive early in the morning with eggs and flour. Grandma had lots of eggs too from her flock of a hundred hens.
     We cousins would watch as they measured flour into 20 qt. bowls and separate the eggs, the yolks would be added to the flour and the whites were put into glass gallon jars. Cousin Emma and I were allowed to carefully measure in the salt. There was no talking as everyone was concentrating on counting the amount of ingredients they were measuring. Once everything was measured Aunt Vernie and all us cousins went to play until the dough was kneaded. Kneading noodle dough was hard work and took quite a bit of time.
     Once the dough was done to their satisfaction, we would eat the lunch that aunt Emma prepared. Afterwards Vernie would wash the dishes while cousin Emma and I dried them. Once we were done with the dishes we watched as the women rolled out the dough on Grandma's big table. They rolled it into thin strips 6 inches wide by  5 feet long. Grandma had a noodle cutter, she would turn the handle as Mom and the aunts held onto the long pieces of dough and fed it through. It was fun watching as long strands of noodles came out of the other side.
     As each piece was turned into noodles Aunt Emma would gather them up in a big bowl and take them upstairs in one of their many spare bedrooms and spread them on cloths that she had prepared earlier as a place to dry them. We used to run upstairs with her and help her spread them out gently so they wouldn't be piled on top of each other. It was slow tedious work, but we didn't mind, it felt good to be considered big enough to help in such important work. Brother David and cousins Esther, Rueben, Mervin, and Lizzie Ann could only watch and hope that by the next time they would be big enough too, they spent most of their day playing with Vernie so I'm sure they didn't mind too much.
    Once the last noodles were spread out to dry and the mess was cleaned up, we headed home with a gallon jar full of egg whites that would be used to make angel food cakes and other special treats. Aunt Emma would bring our share of the noodles once they were dried. It was something to look forward too, but for now we were anticipating all the yummy things that Mom was going to make with our egg whites.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond 
1. What title would you give this current chapter of your life?

Embracing the Changes, While Savoring the Moments

Back when the children were younger and older women would tell me to enjoy this time because they grow up so fast. I would smile and nod. I was enjoying "this" time, but the growing up fast part didn't really register as truth to me then. But they were so very right. So now I'm embracing the changes, happy for my children at the opportunities they have and the decisions they are making, but I savor the moments we have together, knowing that the changes I'll be asked to embrace are only getting bigger.

2. December 6 is National Microwave Oven Day. Who knew? Besides popcorn and coffee reheats, what's the most common thing you microwave? Could you get along without a microwave?

I'm not a fan of microwaves. We hadn't used one in years, but then someone gave us a small one and before we trundled it off to the attic, Sharon used it for some of her science experiments, and then because it was sitting there it became a convenient thing for a quick reheat. 

It has been banned from the kitchen counter, but today may be the day when it gets wiped down and tucked away.

3. If you could insert yourself into any Christmas carol and experience the lyrics in real life, which Christmas carol lyric would you choose and why?

While I always thought it would be exciting to be one of the shepherds and be there when the birth of Jesus was announced in While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night  I'm going to have to go with Jingle Bells. Not exactly what I would call a carol, but it's the one song I could actually experience in real life.

I think I'd enjoy it for a few minutes, minus the getting into a drifted bank and being upsot part.

4. Describe the most beautiful drive you've ever taken.

We love road trips and have enjoyed spectacular views on many different drives, but the one drive that really sticks to me was much more simple, and unexpected.

Sharon and I were on our way to meet someone less than a mile from our house. There is a narrow dirt road with trees on both sides which creates a tunnel like experience during the summer. This time as we entered the "tunnel" the air was filled with hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of butterflies. I drove slowly as Sharon sat beside me, breathlessly silent, her little hands clasped in delight and wonder. When we emerged from the other side she gave a happy little sigh and said, "That was the most magical thing ever!"

I had to agree, and that's why I'm choosing that little drive as the most beautiful I have ever taken.

5. What's something on your Christmas list this year? (an actual list or figuratively speaking, either one)

The very word lists, makes me happy.

I have a number of Christmas lists. One of them has the food we want for our traditional Christmas breakfast, another has the groceries I need to buy to make that breakfast. Another one has the gifts I want to give, while a different one has the names of everyone I want to send a Christmas card to this year.

As for a list for things I would want. Well, I'm really easy to please, no lists needed.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Everywhere I go, there are hushed whispers and excited giggles. The girls will take turns spending hours in their room. There's a lot of silence, but then there are rustling noises, and then the hum of the sewing machine. Day by day the stack of gifts they are working on keeps growing.

Steven is caught up in the spirit of it all as well. His options are a little more limited, but he'll come asking me to help him wrap up another picture he drew for someone. I know I'll love mine.

This afternoon we'll be making Christmas snacks and treats. Steven loves helping in the kitchen so I suggested he wrap up some treats to give as well. He was so excited about the idea, I'm almost surprised he didn't wake up way early in hopes of getting started sooner.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My First Sewing Machine

      Everyday Mom would fill a quart jar with fresh milk and put it in an old rusty baby stroller and John and I would push it over to the Coffers. Sue would invite us inside their cabin to rest a while and always had something interesting for us to see. Mr. Coffer used to spend his evenings whittling tiny toys for us from various things. He made the cutest tiny baskets from peach stones, tiny little yokes for John's toy cows and many other things. Some days we would watch as they set their printing press for another page of the book "Horse Hair in my Soup" they were printing that chronicled their journey across America.
     After we had rested a bit we would start back home, during the spring and summer we would gather flowers along the road to present to Mom once we got home, she always loved the wild roses saying that they make the entire house smell sweet and fresh, there were larkspurs and bluebonnets, and if nothing else there was always the option of a dandelion bouquet.
     One day when we got there, Sue showed me a treadle sewing machine they had found somewhere and asked me if I would like to have it for my own. She wrote a note to Mom about it, handed it to me, and we headed for home. There was no dawdling along the way this time as we ran until we were out of breath and then walked the rest of the way.
     When we arrived home Mom read the note and told me that John and Sue wanted to give me the sewing machine as a thank-you for supplying them with milk everyday. And once Daddy has time we can go pick it up.
     I could hardly wait until Daddy came home to tell him the news. He listened as I excitedly told him all about it and sensing my eagerness offered to hitch Jim to the spring wagon and go fetch it right away.
     The following days were spent learning how to sew. Mom let me go through her fabric scraps and cut pieces to make nine patches. I made stacks and stacks of them, which were then eventually sewn together to make a quilt that is now being used by our children.

      I still use the sewing machine too. What started out as the most exciting thing ever for a little six year old girl, is still my first choice to use whenever I want to sew anything. I suppose it always will.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Wash Day

     Wash day used to be a day to look forward to. We used to have a huge kettle outside, under some trees. It had a built in firebox that we used to heat water to do the laundry. On Monday evenings John and I used to use the garden hose to fill it up.
     Mom would sort the weeks worth of dirty laundry and we'd put each pile into a five gallon pail and then fill the pails with water yet too and let them soak overnight.
     On Tuesday morning Daddy would get up early and start a fire in the kettle, and by the time we were done with breakfast the water would be boiling. He would fill the washing machine before he left for work.
     We would hurry with the dishes and then head out to the washing machine, Mom would check the gas in the little Honda engine and start it up. She would put the Sunday clothes in first and let them wash for a few minutes and then got a long wooden stick that Daddy had made for her and lifted the clothes out and let them drop into the rinse water. She would add some more soap and turn the wringer to the side of the machine and lifted a 5 gallon pail that was filled with the soaking dirty clothes, up on a backless green chair and start feeding the clothes through the wringer into the washing machine.
     Once the pail was empty she would go to the rinse tub and take one piece of clothing at a time and plunge down into the water as deep as it could go and then lift it up and let the water run off a little and then plunge it in again. She would repeat this three times with each article of laundry. John and I helped with the smaller pieces. We didn't mind getting splashed as we all rinsed the clothes with energy, singing the entire time we were doing it.
     As each piece was rinsed it was put through the wringer and into a pail and then we'd head for the clothes line where we would hand the clothes to Mom, which saved her from having to bend down for every piece she hung up.
     And so it continued until every batch of laundry was done, and all the clothes were flapping merrily in the breeze.
     We would eat a quick lunch and then head out to check to see if the first few batches were dry already. Mom would take the clothes off and John and I would stand beside her with our arms stretched out and she would fill them with the dry clothes. We would run in and put them on the table and then run back outside to get another load.
     There used to be a big mountain of clothes on the table by the time Mom got back inside. and we would all start folding. John and I got to pair the socks and fold the smaller things while Mom did the rest. She made up a little song that she sang whenever we were folding and putting everything away.

Thank you Lord for this nice day.
Bless us as we put away,
All the garments clean and bright
That were dried by wind and light.

Friday, December 1, 2017

"Ordnungs" Church

     Since the Amish community in Dundee was still young, they didn't have their own bishop yet. Instead a bishop from a nearby community would come whenever there was something going in the church that required a bishop to be there.
     Every spring and fall there were two special church services that lasted all day. The first one was called "ordnungs" church. I used to love these services. They were one long Bible story that would start at the Garden of Eden and ten on to Noah and his ark, Lot and his family, Abraham and Isaac, then how Jacob married and finally moved back to his homeland. I would shiver through the story of how Joseph was sold to the Egyptians and how God used his life, I could see baby Moses in his basket floating on the river and thrilled when the daughter of Pharaoh wanted him for her son. But my favorite part was when Moses was supposed to lead the children of Israel back to Canaan I used to envision all the plagues that came and imagined how scary and yet exciting it would have been to have been there and watch as Daddy would stroke blood over the door frames so that the angel would pass over our house. I marveled at how the Red Sea parted and everyone got to the other side and rejoiced when the waters swallowed the entire Egyptian army. I enjoyed the stories of their journey through the wilderness and the many things that happened while they were there. My mouth would water when Joshua and Caleb came back from spying in Canaan carrying huge clusters of grapes. I used to envision the grapes to be the size of apples. I thrilled when Joshua and his army marched around Jericho and how the walls tumbled down, and only Rahab and her house were saved.
      Somewhere close to the story of Joseph it would be time to eat lunch. The lady of the home where church was being held would come and dismiss one bench of women at a time to go eat. It seemed a little strange to only have a few people eating the normal church peanut butter sandwiches in a very hushed atmosphere. We would hurry and then file back to our seats and the next bench full would leave.
     When the minister was finally done telling all the Bible stories the bishop would announce that after the closing song was sung the children would be dismissed and everyone that is a member please stay seated.
     This used to be lots of fun. I used to be really curious what happens behind those closed doors, but it was good to be able go play after sitting on a backless bench for six hours.
     This time the entire Dundee Amish church had joined the Prattsburg community to save the ministers from having to go through that long service twice.
      After we children were dismissed we were told to go to a certain room. When we entered I could hardly believe my eyes. Never had I seen so many toys. There was a child sized china cupboard, a sink with real running water, a stove, and everything else you could dream of. The Prattsburg children, our cousins, and John and I stood and looked at it. It seemed too good to be true. The lady of the house smiled at us and told us to enjoy ourselves and then left closing the door behind her.
     We turned to go play with all the wonderful things, but there was a beautiful little girl with black curly hair standing in front of the little china cupboard with her arms crossed stating emphatically that no one is allowed to touch her toys, and then proceeded to start playing by herself, we were all dumbfounded for a moment, but cousin Emma soon lost her awe of the little "Queen" and went to join her. It was not a good idea. She grabbed the dishes out of her hands and slapped and scratched Emma's face. Stating, "NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO TOUCH MY TOYS!" We all stood against the wall and watched her in amazement, we had never met anyone even remotely like her before. After a while she looked us all over and announced that she doesn't mind if that little boy helps her play, pointing at John.
     John went to join her, and faithfully followed her instructions. But after they had set her little table for two he made the mistake of offering me a drink from one of her little teacups. She grabbed his hair and snatched the cup away from him. And he was once more reduced to the lot of the rest of us standing and watching a selfish little girl trying to play with her lovely toys.
     That hour and a half shut in that room was one of the longest I ever had. We were so happy when our parents came saying it is time to go home now.
     On the way home we had to tell Mom and Daddy all about that little girl. Daddy told us that we should feel sorry for her, because she doesn't have any friends, and that friends are much more important than anything else we can have.
     Two weeks later we went back to the same place for communion church. I enjoyed the sermon that touched a little on the same subjects as they had two weeks prior, and then the birth and life of Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection and finally at 3:00 when they served communion to all the members. I enjoyed watching as the women washed each others feet, but what I was really looking forward to was once church was over I could give that little girl a pack of balloons and some of Mom's delicious chocolate chip cookies that John and I had helped to make the day before.
     Once the last notes of the parting song faded away and people started visiting Mom nodded at me and I got the package and gave it to the little girl. She opened it and ate the cookies and put the pack of balloons safely in her room where no one could get them.
     We left for home. I never saw that little girl again, but have to think of her occasionally and wonder how life is treating her.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Rooster and Red Buttons

      We used to have a chicken coop filled with 24 hens and one big rooster. Daddy had built rows of nesting boxes for them and everyday John and I would go out to gather the eggs. It used to be a lot of fun.
     We would try to pet the chickens and we'd talk and sing to them, occasionally Mom would give us stale bread and we would break off crumbs and throw it to them. It used to be really fun watching them run after the crumbs as we threw one piece at a time to make it last longer.
     One day Grandma came and brought a new dress for me. It was a light tan with a row of bright red buttons down the back. I thought it was very pretty and wanted to wear it right away. When it was time to go gather the eggs I went skipping to the chicken coop still happily wearing my new dress.
As we were gathering the eggs our big friendly rooster, turned into a huge mean rooster. I was happily gathering eggs when he flew at my back and knocked me down, my basket of eggs went flying and all the hens went running to happily peck at the broken mess. The rooster wasn't enticed by the sight of broken eggs and kept right on attacking me. I started crying and John ran to get Mom.
     She came running to my aid and shooed the rooster away, and helped me back to my feet. Once we got into the house and I got changed into a clean dress she held up the dress that was dirty from laying on the floor of the chicken coop and told me that the rooster didn't mean to hurt you he just saw the bright red buttons and wanted to eat them.
     I never again wore that dress while gathering eggs and the rooster was the gentle sane rooster he was supposed to be.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1.  What's something blogging has taught you about yourself?

I have learned that I keep changing. When I read back over the first year or two of blogging there are quite a variety of things that no longer really apply to me. One is the utter loathing with which I used to view shrimp, and now I love them.

2.  Leftovers...are you in the 'reheat and eat' camp or the 'put them in the fridge until they spoil and then toss them' camp? What's your favorite thing to have leftover? What can you not abide as a leftover?

We try to reheat and eat all our leftovers, but there are occasional ones that slip through the cracks and end up being tossed. I always feel bad when that happens.

3. 'Me time'...your thoughts?

Tell me, what is that foreign concept of which you speak? Me time isn't really a thing for me unless you count blogging and writing as such. Though I do enjoy the few moments of quiet I have every morning before the rest of the family gets up.

4. When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

The three main things people approach me with for help are:

1. Writing/publishing
2. Homeschooling
3. Child training

I don't feel all that qualified to answer any of those questions, though I do try to always do my best.

5. If your childhood had a smell what would it be? Tell us why.

The smell of fresh wood shavings. My Dad had a woodworking shop in our basement where he made lovely dining room furniture. Our days were filled with the noisy hum of his machinery, and during Christmas season, the nights did as well.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

My daily walks and hikes have been reduced to staying close to the buildings. Making laps around the outside of the house or walking to the barn and back several times is as much as I feel safe doing during deer hunting season. I don't want to risk being mistaken for a deer.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Potatoes

    For our family, no Thanksgiving is complete without these potatoes. We dream of them all year, but only indulge on this one special day.

Thanksgiving Potatoes
8 medium potatoes
1 - 8 oz package cream cheese (softened)
4 - Tbsp butter + small dollop
1 package Wind & Willow Bacon Stuffed Mushroom Appetizer Mix
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Peel and chunk potatoes, rinse in cold water and drain. Place in cooking pot. Personally, I prefer using my dutch oven. Cover potatoes with water, add half a teaspoon of salt, and a small dollop of butter. Bring to a boil. Cook until soft. Drain off water, and mash the potatoes thoroughly. Add cream cheese, butter, and the Wind & Willow mixture. Mix thouroughly. Add cream and mix again. Add milk a little at a time until the potatoes have reached your desired consistency. Taste to see if you need more salt ... adjust to suit your taste. Return to stove and heat, while stirring constantly. Dish out, serve and enjoy!

Monday, November 27, 2017

School Books and Shop Lofts

     One late summer day John and Sue Coffer stopped in for a short visit. Amid the course of conversation they were having over chocolate milk and cookies they mentioned the fact that one of their acquaintances was a teacher at a school that was getting rid of a lot of their older books that were no longer being used, and wondered if we'd be interested in them or at least storing them in the loft of our shop until they found someone who might be interested in them.
     Daddy and Mom agreed and several days later several vehicles came loaded with books and other school supplies. They carried everything up to the loft and then stayed for a few hours yet to visit and enjoy fresh peaches and cream.
     After they left we all went up into the loft and started digging through all the boxes. I had never seen so many books in my life and was thrilled with everything, there were boxes with paints, pastels, construction paper, microscopes, and any other school supply you could dream of.
     We took some of the things into the house and Mom got us started on some art projects. It was so exciting thinking of all the things we could do with everything we had.
     A few days later John, David, and I were playing in the sandbox when we decided to go up in the loft and look at more of the books and things that were waiting on us. We were soon settled contentedly amid the piles of boxes, looking at the pictures in the reading books, David soon got bored and started playing with the door knob. John and I didn't pay him any mind, the books and microscopes were much more interesting.
     After a while we noticed several wasps flying around and I told John to go get a fly swatter, he ran to the door but couldn't open it. I went to help him but couldn't turn the knob either. We tried to unlock it without success. The loft suddenly didn't look inviting as we started calling for Mom. She didn't answer and we started crying, the wasps kept buzzing around, the sun started going down, we were getting to be very warm, and our voices almost hoarse from crying by the time Mom heard us. She came with a key and released us from our prison.
     We were so happy to get back into fresh air again..
     We still enjoyed the days when Mom would say, lets go to the loft children. We would select some things to take into the house. We enjoyed the introduction of using a microscope and marveled at the way our hair looked and exclaimed over what was revealed when you looked at a drop of water. But we were never tempted to go to the loft without Mom.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Picture my Week

     Can you believe I didn't get any pictures of our Thanksgiving Day?! I don't know why other than I was too busy enjoying our day.

    Here are a few of my favorites from our week.
    One of our neighbors dumped off their fall decoration pumpkins to the cows. They absolutely loved them.

When trying to dig out our Christmas tree from the back of the storage room I saw all of our German books were covered in green mold. Nothing else was. Strange! I brought them down and cleaned them and laid them out to make sure they dry properly before returning to the storage room. Steven was fascinated with the weird squiggly letters.

We got our Christmas trees set up. So far I haven't been able to decide which one I like the best. The lights on the one in the girl's room don't work, but I love all the homemade ornaments.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Quilt Rachel

      One afternoon there was knock at the door and when Mom went to see who it was, there was a friendly lady standing there. She introduced herself as Rachel _____ and said she heard that Mom does odd jobs such as mending and baking and various other things for other people and wondered if she would be interested in quilting a quilt for her.
      Mom looked at the quilt she had brought along and agreed at a price of 35 cents for each yard of thread used.
      That was the start of a steady income. Mom would hand quilt a quilt every two to three weeks. John and I liked drawing up chairs beside her and watch as she made her needle fly in and out of the quilt. She showed us how to measure off yard long pieces of thread for her and taught us how to help wrap in the quilt frame whenever she had quilted everything she could reach.
      Another favorite was sitting under the quilt and pretending it's our house. We would arrange all our toys and had the grandest times living in our own little world under a quilt that day by day grew smaller until the day it was time to take the quilt from the frame.
      Mom would loosen the clamps that were holding the frame together and unwrap the quilt. Then she would give us each a small bowl and we would each choose a side and start pulling pins out. John and I would try our best to get our side done before Mom but usually she had to help us with the last few pins on our side.
      Mom would fold the quilt and the next day "Quilt Rachel" would be back with a new one to be quilted. It was always exciting to pin them into the frame and see what pretty colors and designs it would be this time. No two were ever the same.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. tightly do you cling to tradition when it comes to holiday gatherings and celebrations? For instance do you always do the cooking, never eat at home, always go to grandma's, never miss the parade, always watch football, never change the menu, always eat at 2 PM, etc.? Have you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving away from hearth, home, and family? How did that feel?

While we like our traditions, we have flexibility to change things up and maybe even start a new one or two along the way and drop those that don't necessarily mean that much to our family. We're able to adjust to what ever works for us each year.

The girls and I do all the cooking. We have a small kitchen so having the entire family working in there is too much and we just get into each other's way. LV and Kenneth will help dish out the food though and help put the finishing touches on the meal.

We record the parade, but fast forward through most of it when we watch it.  Football isn't important to me at all, but yes, LV will watch it between napping after our big meal.

We usually add a something new to our menu each year. If we all love it we'll make it again the next year, otherwise it gets dropped. We have eleven dishes that always appear on our Thanksgiving menu, but the rest is more flexible.

We have celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving away from home already. We don't care for it.

2. it easy for you to ask for help or are you a do-it-yourselfer? How is that a good/bad thing?

I am more of a do-it-yourselfer. I don't like bothering other people with my things. I know everyone has plenty to do without having to help me. There are times ... few and far between ... when I will ask for help if I really need it.

3. Abundance...what is there an abundance of in your kitchen?

At the moment there is an abundance of dirty dishes in the kitchen. Rosie Mae wanted to try a new recipe for breakfast this morning and the kitchen bears the tale.

Though yesterday I discovered I have not three, not four, but five containers of cottage cheese in the refrigerator! How does that even happen?

4. Name...the smallest thing you're thankful for? the biggest?

The smallest ... light switches. I love the ease of having light, and how it's bright enough to fill an entire room. I was recently reminded of just how much I like to have light when I was by some Amish people and even though twilight was approaching and it was hard to see anything properly they wouldn't light their lamps until it was too dark to see. (I do NOT miss that part of being Amish!)

The biggest ... salvation. Need I say more? I'm thankful everyday for my loving Saviour and what He has done for me.

5. Key...What do you think is the key to living a more grateful life?

Choosing to be grateful no matter what is the key to living a grateful happy life. Works for me at least.

6. State your own random thought here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

May your turkey behave as a Thanksgiving turkey should. If you wonder what I mean by that click here to read a funny poem of a turkey that did not. It's a poem the girls memorized several years ago and it still brings a smile to my face when ever I hear it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Chainsaws and Worries

      We used to have a big couch covered with a slippery brown cover, setting inside our living room windows. John, David, and I used to spend a lot of time on it playing church or looking at story books. It also provided an excellent view of the barnyard if we knelt on it to look out the windows.
     One snowy morning a pick-up pulling a cattle trailer pulled into the driveway and a man got out and came to the door. Mom went to see what he wanted and then came into the living room and told us to play nicely while she goes out to the barn to help him get our fattened steer loaded.
     We quickly scrambled onto the couch and watched out the window as Mom walked out to the barn and the man backed his trailer down behind the barn and out of sight of the house. Before long Mom and the man appeared as they walked to the shop, we were trying to discern what they could want in there when they appeared again. This time the man was carrying one of Daddy's chain saws.
     They walked back to the barn and disappeared behind it. And then we heard the chain saw.
John and David were contentedly watching out the window for the next time Mom appears when I announced with all my six year old authority that "I think that man is cutting Mom's legs off." and then promptly started crying.
      John and David looked at me with wide eyed consternation. The thought of Mom having her legs cut off was too overwhelming and they joined me in crying. Howling would describe it better.
We forgot all about watching out the window, as we sat on the floor holding each other and crying at the top of our lungs at the dreadful thing that was happening to Mom when all of a sudden she was standing in front of us demanding to know what is wrong.
       Her legs appeared to be fine and I started to feel sheepish. John had no such problem though and announced that I said the man was cutting her legs off.
      She seemed flabbergasted with me and explained that there had been a tree branch in the way that had to be cut so the trailer could be backed up to the barn door.

      I think of this episode at times when I am tempted to worry about things. It is a perfect reminder how silly it is to waste time thinking of all the dreadful things that might happen.

Monday, November 20, 2017


      My Mom's sister Lydia and her family lived on a farm not too far from us. They also had a small bulkfood store, and whenever we needed flour or sugar Mom would hitch up Jim to the top buggy and we would drive over to them. John and I liked when the weather was warm enough that Mom put the storm front up and we could stand in the front of the buggy holding onto the dashboard. It was fun watching Jim's feet on the road and try to catch his tail when ever he swished it.
      We usually stayed for a few hours as Mom helped Lydia with whatever she had going, and John and I played with our cousins. Since there was only a few months difference in our ages, we had some of the best times whenever we got together.
      One day on our way home John and I were chattering away in our normal fashion, but Mom was not joining in as usual. When we turned around we noticed tears on her cheeks and we of-course wanted to know what was wrong. She said "Lydia has cancer."
      We had no idea what cancer was, but if it made Mom cry it must be bad.
      From then on we went over several times a week, Mom would do whatever work she could and make meals and do the laundry for them as Lydia got very weak and couldn't work at all.
      Cousin Emma was no longer as much fun. She always looked sad, and often when we arrived she had her dress on backwards so that she could button it herself. Mom would first make sure that all their children were clean and properly dressed before doing the days work.
     Then late one night uncle Alvin stopped in. He was carrying a tiny baby boy. He handed him to Mom. He talked a little and then went off into the night again. We fixed up the bassinet for the baby and Mom let me help fix his bottles. He was the cutest little baby.
      Alvin stopped in once a day with their children to see the baby, on their way to Grandpas where they would stay while he went to the hospital to be with Lydia. Since she had her baby the doctor's could finally do something for the cancer.
     By the time baby Reuben was three months old Lydia had won the battle with cancer and we had to give the baby back to his rightful home. That was hard as we were all quite attached to him by then. But we were all very happy that Lydia was going to be fine.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Picture my Week

I was thrilled to find this gorgeous splash of color on an otherwise drab November day. I never even knew a briar bush can become such a thing of beauty.

I have been trying to create the healthy habit of going on a walk every day. The girls and Steven made great walking companions, and I somehow even managed to get them to pose for me willingly.

We went to a different area every day for our walk. This one was one of my favorites of the week.

The girls gave me a tour of their childhood "country". We stopped to admire their general store/trading post/giant tree.

Steven's cat loves going on walks with us.

The most brilliant of sunrises was enjoyed this morning. I stayed in the house to take a picture of it through my dirty windows.

While the eastern sky was brilliant, Kenneth came in and announced that there's an equally brilliant rainbow in the western sky. LV ran out to get a picture of it. The picture doesn't do it justice. Who knew rainbows appear before 7 A.M. in the middle of November.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy ~ Winner

     Reading all your comments of things that bring you joy, was such fun. I've come to the conclusion that the little things are actually, really not that little.

     Now for the next step, let's head over to the random generator and see who the winner is for the book, Fragrant Whiffs of Joy.

     And drumroll please ....

     The winner is ...

     Comment #39

     butterflywoman57 said ... Sweet memories of my husband

Congratulations! Please email your mailing address to me and I will get the book sent to you. I hope you'll enjoy the book as much as I did.

I wish I could have given everyone a book, but since that's not possible I'm happy to be able to tell you that it is available for $12 per book plus $2 postage.  You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  Or PayPal

Thursday, November 16, 2017

John Coffer

     One afternoon in early fall John and I were playing in the sandbox when the phone rang. Mom came hurrying outside to the "phone shanty" to answer it. It was Grandpa saying they had just witnessed a strange sight. A small covered wagon drawn by a team of oxen, an old fashioned "different" buggy hitched to a big slow horse, a cow, and two people that looked as if they had stepped right out of the pages of a "Little House on the Prairie" book had just passed their farm along 14 A and turned up Crawford Road and if we watch we should be able to see them soon.
      We all sat on the swing under our cedar trees and looked down the road to where Crawford Rd crossed our road. It wasn't long before a team of oxen appeared with a tall man and his wife and a black dog walking beside them. We could hardly believe our eyes. A covered wagon with a yellow chicken perched on the back, a cow and a horse and buggy that looked different from any buggy we had ever seen. Walking slowly along the road.
      They soon disappeared out of sight and we went back to the house, wondering who they were and where they were going.
      That evening when Daddy came home we told him all about it. Daddy said he saw smoke that appears as if someone would have a campfire and that they're probably camping along the road. So right after supper he asked Mom to wrap up some fresh homemade bread and we would all walk over to meet them.
      They were camped in a field beside the road cooking supper in a cast iron pot they had dangling above the fire. When they saw us coming they came to welcome us and introduced themselves as John and Sue Coffer. They had spent years travelling across America in this fashion and finally decided to settle down somewhere and had just purchased a piece of land that had a lot of timber and also a few meadows but no buildings or a well. They were hoping to build a cabin and dig a well yet before winter.
      Daddy offered to help, but Mr. Coffer turned it down wanting to do it all by themselves with a crosscut saw and an axe.
      It wasn't long before the sound of an axe filled the days and their little cabin progressed nicely. After they had moved in the next thing to do was get a well dug. Mr. Coffer did accept help for this as someone needed to be on the ground to pull up full buckets of dirt and then let the empty bucket back down to be filled up again. It took quite a long time but once he struck water it was worth it!
      John was intrigued with the whole pioneer thing and Mr. Coffer on one of their many visits to our house whittled a tiny yoke for him to play with his toy cows.
       The Amish settlement in Dundee eventually failed, but Mr. Coffer still lives there, still living the pioneer lifestyle.

John Coffer sitting in front of his cabin.

The side of his cabin also works as a place to hang the harnesses for his horses.

The cabin.
John Coffer with one of his beloved oxen.