Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder'  What's something you've seen recently that you thought was beautiful?

I find there is beauty all around us, if we simply take the time to see it.

Yesterday Steven brought me a tiny bouquet of Coltsfoot flowers. There's something about those springtime bouquets presented by your little son that makes them one of the most beautiful things.

2. Our culture and beauty...your thoughts?

Personally, I think today's culture has a skewed view of beauty.

3. Age before beauty, beauty queen, beauty mark, beauty sleep...which beauty-ful phrase resonates with you today? Why?

None of them really resonate with me, though I could go for a good beauty sleep. I did a number of late, late nights last week, and I don't feel caught up with my sleep yet. One good night of sleep no longer catches me up like it used to when I was a teenager.

4. I read here a list of the top ten beasts animals that scare us the most-

alligators, coyotes, black bears, birds (but pigeons in particular), sharks, bats, bed bugs, rats, rattlesnakes, and the black widow spider. 

Which 'beast' on the list scares you the most? What is the liklihood of you having an actual encounter with that particular beast? Did a movie contribute to your fear of this creature? Have you ever had a real life encounter with any of the animals listed?

Birds don't scare me at all.

We have coyotes and black bears in our area, and see them occasionally. I wouldn't want to meet either one face to face, but I'm not terrified of them.

I am afraid of rattlesnakes. Unfortunately they are in our area as well, with a few of them seen much too close for comfort last summer.

Bats will have me shrieking and seeking cover. I utterly and completely despise them. I had more than one get into my bedroom when I was growing up. They've traumatized me for life.

5. Where were you when you last heard a bell ring? Was it alarming or musical?

A few days ago. It was neither alarming or musical. We have an old Amish school bell, and Steven likes ringing it occasionally.

6. What's your favorite carb? How's that for random?

Pasta, pasta, pasta with a side of plenty of bread. I haven't had either for a month and I miss them both dearly.

7. Let's wrap up another month of Hodgepodging and life with an acrostic. Recap your month using the word MARCH.

Memories made
Art classes taught
Real life issues addressed
Crafts enjoyed
Homeschooling days

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Our kitchen sees a lot of dessert made.

Yesterday this was created and served after supper. It looked delicious. It was declared delicious, but I can't vouch for it because somehow I restrained myself from having even the tiniest of tastes.

I'm trying to decide if it's worth living life dessert free?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday

I'm busy planning my posts for the April A-Z Challenge which is swiftly approaching. The first one is scheduled for Saturday.

Instead of coming up with something new to post today, that could potentially work as an A-Z post, Rosie Mae suggested I do a link up she discovered. It looked like fun, so here I am doing my very first Happy Homemaker Monday.

The weather..... A rain has washed the fog away and the sun is peeping through the clouds making the raindrops that are clinging to the tree branches and twigs glisten in its bright light.

Right now I am.... writing this blog post while listening to the sounds of children talking and laughing.

On my reading pile.... The only book I read everyday is my Bible. I am reading a Jen Turano book as I wait on Sharon when she's at her piano practice. Then there's the stack of homeschool catalogs I have been poring over as I plan our next school year.

 On my TV..... A music channel. I enjoy listening to music throughout the day and have found having the Beautiful Instrumentals playing softly is excellent when writing.

Favorite blog post last week (mine or other).... Sadly I didn't get to visit blogs last week, or write a lot on mine. Hopefully that will be different this week.

On the menu for this week....

Monday ... Jalapeno Shrimp Enchiladas, Salad, and Banana Cream Pie
Tuesday ... Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, and Pie
Wednesday ... Pioneer Woman's Comfort Meatballs, Scalloped Potatoes, Layer Salad, Dinner Rolls
Thursday ... Pizza ... cooked at home. :)
Friday ... Crockpot Cube Steak, Applesauce, Bread and Cupcakes
Saturday ... Fried ham and onion sandwiches and pudding.

On my to do list.... spring clean the storage room, get some states ready to be appliqued on the States Quilt project the girls are working on, plan next year's school schedule - all 180 days.

In the craft basket.... this isn't exactly a craft, but my basket is filled with small gifts and items waiting to be wrapped. LV's mother will be celebrating her 70th birthday and each of her children are supposed to contribute to the 70 gifts she'll be receiving. I still need to buy several, and so far I haven't wrapped any so that will be a chore, even for someone who usually enjoys wrapping gifts.

Looking forward to this week.... nothing that exciting. Hoping to enjoy another week of ordinary days.

Looking around the house.... There's a puzzle on the floor that Steven did this morning. A few items are on the sewing machine waiting to be mended, and the couch cover needs to be fixed ... again.

From the camera....

Our first attempts at making a deep dish pizza,

What I'm wearing today .... a dark gray skirt and a pink top. Don't know why I have so much pink in my wardrobe, I don't even like it that well.
One of my simple pleasures .... is organizing. I know that may sound strange, but somehow I really enjoy organizing things. Not events .... things around the house. I'm looking forward to getting to do more of it later today.

Bible verse, Devotional....

I was reading the account of Samson this morning. There's a lot of food for thought packed into it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Setting aside the real March Madness (NCAA Basketball) describe something happening at your house this month that might earn the title 'March Madness'?

I was hit with a deadline and madness ensued as I tried my best to get it done. The end is in sight now, and I feel as if I might finally be able to breathe again.

2. What's a favorite made up word from your childhood or a favorite from your children's childhood? Does your family still use the word today? If there's a story behind the origin please share.

From my childhood it would be 'hi bibbons'. One of my little brothers had a hard time pronouncing words clearly when he was a toddler. He used to call rice krispies, 'hi bibbons' and we all latched onto it, because it was fun to say. I will occasionally still call them that, because it's still fun to say.

For our children, twangled, it is the word Sharon invented to describe her feelings when she could finally walk again.

We've continued using it, because not only is it fun to say, but it does a really good job of describing certain feelings.

3. Will you be doing any spring cleaning now that the season is upon us? I read here a list of 15 quick (under one hour) spring cleaning tasks. They were-

clean out a drawer, vacuum furniture, whiten tile grout, dust the nooks and crannies you don't get to year round, degrease kitchen cabinets, wipe down walls, go behind furniture, wipe down ceiling fans, vacuum the mattress, clean the range hood, wash baseboards, shine the stainless steel, clean out vents, tackle the windows, and wipe down gadgets

Of the fifteen 'quick' tasks listed which two most need doing at your house? Will you do them?

We've been working on doing our spring cleaning the windows and ceiling fans are next on the list.

4. A favorite movie set in Paris or New York?

I can't think of a movie that I have seen that is set in either of those cities, unless I Love Lucy counts, in which case it would work for both cities.

5. What's put a spring in your step this month?

I don't know that there has been any one particular thing that has put a spring into my step. Mostly I think it is choosing joy, that puts a spring in my step.

Life is good, but life is also life. Choosing joy no matter what is happening helps tremendously in the spring factor of one's steps.

6. Did you ever want to be a teacher? Why or why not?

As a child growing up I used to dream of being a teacher, because I loved books and learning and helping others learn.

Being able to homeschool our children has been so much fun. I love being able to be the one teaching them, and even learning things alongside them as we go on our many digging quest to find out more about the things that our textbooks only share briefly.
7.  What's your favorite floral scent? Do you have this somewhere in your home or maybe in a perfume? How do you feel about florals in food? How about wines with floral notes-yay or nay?

I've always assumed that if I could smell ... apple and cherry blossoms would be among my favorite scents. I don't have any perfumes with that scent as a matter of fact, I don't wear perfumes.

I don't think florals should be in food. We tried a recipe once upon a time for making violet syrup. It had to be dumped. More recently Rosie Mae tried making rose water cupcakes. They were awful as well. We've decided to stick with food for eating and leave the flowers for the bees and beauty.

I don't drink wine, but I can't imagine adding a floral note to it would make it any better.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm very happy for Kenneth. When he was fifteen he bought himself an old tractor to restore. He is finally done with it. I would say he did a pretty good job.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

All in a Day

    Being a Mom to teenagers is great. The opportunities to embarrass and amuse them are endless, and often unplanned.
    Yesterday I had another opportunity to do just that.
    It all started when LV asked me if I minded dropping a deposit off at the bank on my way to our homeschool co-op since his truck is too big to squeeze through comfortably.
    I was happy to do it for him, we'd just have to leave the house a little earlier.
    As I drove up to the window someone else drove up behind me. I didn't think anything about it as I handed my envelope to the teller and waited for the receipt. It took her much longer than usual and the girls were beginning to think she had forgotten about us. We could see her talking to the other women that were in this little building with her. As we waited an Amish man drove up to the hitching post and went walking towards the bank.
    The lady finally got my receipt ready and handed it out the window and I pulled forward with hopes of being on my way. I stopped to make sure nothing was coming before I turned out on the road. It was clear and I tried to go. My van had other ideas. There was an icy bump thing we had to cross first before actually getting on the road. All my van wanted to do is sit and spin, which was not at all on my agenda for the day. The car behind me had already pulled up to the window, so I didn't want to back into it.
    After several more fruitless attempts I noticed the Amish man come over and stand there watching me with a bemused expression on his face. It was at this point the girls wanted to disappear.
    I rolled the window down and asked, "How much room do I have to back up?' Out of the corner of my eye I noted how they were scooting down lower in their seats.
    He looked, "Almost three feet."
    "Would you tell me when to stop?" I asked.
    He was happy to oblige and I was able to back up that minuscule distance. He then walked to the front to see if it's safe to drive out onto the road. After he motioned to me that it's safe, I floored it and went bouncing out onto the road, yelling thank you to the man.
    Rosie Mae dissolved in a fit of embarrassed laughter. "This will at least make a fun diary entry," she proclaimed.
    "Happy to have been of help," I told her.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two Views of Shunning

I was sixteen that summer, when I got my first real taste of what shunning looks like.

A young boy in our church had passed away and the funeral was being held three days later. It was my first time being part of the cleaning crew that always descended upon the house where the deceased's family lived and got it scrubbed and polished from top to bottom in a single day.

The following day was spent with food preparations for the meal that would be served the next day after funeral services were over. I don't remember exactly what all it included because I was kept busy making pie the entire day after the head cook and planner discovered I was pretty good at it.

By evening everything was ready for the next day, including huge tables set up in their woodworking shop. All the youth girls were assigned a table to serve and care for. Since I was the youngest I was assigned to the least important table. The one where shunned people would eat. It was away from the tables in the shop. Not even in the same building. They decided this particular table belonged in the house. Not just anywhere in the house either, but in the dank dimly lit basement.

I felt horrible that anyone would be treated so badly, and vowed to give them the best service possible. I ran from the shop, down the hill across the yard, in through the house, and down into the basement carrying bowls of food for them, making sure they had the best food and the prettiest pie.

It all bothered me a lot and I vowed I would never do anything to experience being shunned like that.

Fast forward a number of years. LV and I had left the Amish and were now shunned. For the most part we stayed away from the Amish especially when it came to mealtimes or business dealings because it's just easier that way.

Then one day we got an invitation to an event. We felt we should probably attend. How bad could it be we wondered, because two of LV's siblings who had also left the Amish and their families would be there too. We could all kind of stick together, right? Wrong.

We arrived and all the women, including the sister-in-laws who were no longer Amish were helping make lunch. I asked if there was something I could do and one of them told me to go ahead and slice the tomatoes. I got started, but hadn't even finished the first one when I was interrupted by the lady of the house.

"You can't touch our food," she said and threw the contaminated tomato away. She told me to sit on a chair in the corner of the room away from everyone else who was working. So there I sat ... I decided rather than feel hurt I'm going to enjoy not having to work.

Then lunch was ready to serve. They didn't have room for everyone to sit around a table so lunch would be cafeteria style. Once again, even though LV's siblings who had left the Amish were permitted to go through the line themselves and fill their own plates, LV and I had to sit to the side on some chairs and have the lady of the house bring us our food. We were both more than a little disgruntled about that.

Shunning is annoying. The Amish say it will bring people back to them, but I've never seen it work that way. It certainly doesn't make me feel like spending time around them, or ever being Amish again.

There's a wedding invitation on the desk waiting to be answered.
 Do I feel like going and being stuffed into corners and little out of the way tables?
No, I don't.
Should I?
I don't think it's necessary to willingly put myself through that again.
It would be uncomfortable for everyone. Me as the shunned person ... and those who have to do the shunning.
Instead of going I think I'll stay at home and write a blog post.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Random Thoughts

We're finally getting a nice amount of snow and I'm absolutely thrilled.
On Friday we had some, not a whole lot, but enough that the robins were sitting around trying to stay warm.
What do robins eat at times like this? I almost felt sympathy hunger pangs for them.

I've recently realized, okay I've always known this, but recently I've become very much aware of how annoying it is when someone is constantly interrupting a conversation only to proceed and tell the same story they have told twenty times before.

It is something I do not want my children to grow up and do.


One of my little brothers is getting married soon. I'm so excited and happy for him as he embarks on this new phase of life.

I hope their marriage will be as sweet as I know married life to be.


Today is looking to be another full day. I have some pretty lofty goals set. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What is one area of your life where you're a perfectionist? Is that a good thing?

I'm not sure if I could be called a perfectionist, but I do like everything to be done right. My Dad could probably have been called a perfectionist and he taught us to always, always do our best, and never be satisfied with simply good enough.

 2. What's something you find perfectly ridiculous?

How long do we have? Not all day? Well, okay then, I'll stick to simply one. I find it perfectly ridiculous how much arguing and shoving one's opinions down others' throats is happening on Facebook recently. It's wearisome and perfectly ridiculous.

3. What's a skill you've developed by way of that old fashioned saying, 'practice makes perfect?

Cooking. I really enjoy working in the kitchen creating delicious meals. I can see how far I've come since the day my Mom first got me to help her prepare a meal. There are still some more complicated foodie things I would like to learn, but I feel confident I can master them as well.

4. What's your idea of a perfect breakfast?

My idea of a perfect breakfast happens only once a year. Our Christmas breakfast.

5. What's a trip, holiday, vacation, or day outing you've taken that you'd rate a perfect 10? Tell us why.

Our trip to New Mexico a number of years ago came as close to perfection as any vacation I've ever had. The weather was lovely, the sights were amazing, and the food was delicious. I think there is a reason New Mexico's nickname or slogan is "The Land of Enchantment" You could practically feel it.

6. What quote or saying perfectly sums up your life right now? If you can't do perfect, how about one that comes close?

I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string. ~ Anne Shirley.

7. How would you spend $300 today?

Probably on things we'll be needing for our next school year. We're not done with this year's school and I have already begun making plans for next year.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

On a lovely afternoon recently the girls, Steven, and I decided to go on a hike. I grabbed my camera in hopes that I might stumble across some great photo opportunities. Which I did. The bad thing was my batteries died before I was able to take a single picture, so I have nothing to show for our outing. We still enjoyed all the sights. Ancient barns that have been abandoned for a long time already, wildlife, gurgling creeks, impressive rock formations, and an old pair of shoes placed neatly next to a perfect resting spot. The owner never came back to get them and they were left to decay on their own. Those raised some interesting questions, and seeing how there are a certain number of writers in our family, they sparked an interesting story.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Time Traveling Chili Soup

    We usually have common breakfast foods every morning, but I guess after years of eggs, toast, and cereal Kenneth was in the mood for something else for a change this morning.
     After tossing around a few ideas he landed on a brilliant one. "Hey, why don't you make your Mom's chili soup?"
     "I really don't think you'd like it," I told him. They had only ever heard of it from the few times I have mentioned it over the years, and the story I had it featured in, in the Lily books.
     "I'd like to give it a try though," he said.
     "I don't want to waste food," I said, "but if you'll eat it, whether or not you like it, I'll make some for you."
      He assured me he doesn't have a problem with that, which is how I found myself preparing a batch of my Mom's chili soup early this morning.
     I shuddered as I surveyed the ingredients, but went ahead and started by browning a quarter cup of ground hamburger. That's right. Not a quarter pound, but a quarter cup. Next I added three cups of tomato juice and three tablespoons of brown sugar. Usually Mom would add an equal amount of water as juice, but on special occasions she used beef broth. I wanted it to taste as good as possible, so two cups of broth and only one cup of water was added next. As it was heating I rinsed a can of kidney beans and added them. Once everything was hot I took a spoon to taste it.
     Instantly my taste buds triggered my memory and I was a skinny nine year old girl sitting at the table alone, crying, with a bowl of this awful watery soup in front of me. Knowing if I don't choke it down before bedtime it will be even worse having to eat it cold for breakfast.
      "Ew ... tastes like childhood," I said as I set the spoon down.
       The children thought that was hilarious, and came to see how it tasted. Sharon didn't need more than one bite to feel sorry for me ever having had to eat this soup. Kenneth loaded it up with crackers and declared it's not too bad. I don't know that he will ever ask for it again, but at least he enjoyed a change from the usual breakfast options.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. 'Slow and steady wins the race'...tell us about a time this was true in your own life.

Gardening and canning, watching all those shelves in the basement filling up slowly, yet steadily with a year's supply of food. This quote was true for me every summer for years.

Right now I suppose it's the spring housecleaning. I'm approaching it with more of a slow and steady mindset instead of a whirlwind exhausting two weeks.
2. 'As slow as molasses'...Do you like molasses? How about maple syrup? Caramel? Butterscotch? What's your favorite of the slow moving treats mentioned here, and what's your favorite food made with that sweet treat? 

I really like sorghum molasses on fresh from the oven dinner rolls. Growing up we used to love stirring blackstrap molasses in milk to drink, but I kind of got away from that.

I don't like maple syrup, at all, not even a tiny bit. For two years, when I was in 4th and 5th grade, maple syrup was the only form of sweetener my family used. To this day I can not stand anything maple.

I don't care for caramel or butterscotch either.
3. Your favorite slow song? 

The mention of a slow song immediately takes me back to Amish church singing. My favorite of those songs were the ones they sing at weddings.
4. Your favorite thing to make in a slow cooker or crock pot? 

I love using the slow cooker to cook chicken for our favorite Chicken n Dumplings.
5. 'You may delay, but time will not.' ~Benjamin Franklin Are you more a hurrier or a delayer when it comes to unpleasant tasks that need doing? What are you currently either delaying or hurrying to get through this week or month?

I'm a mix of both. Most of the time I would rather get an unpleasant task out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of my day without having to dread taking care of it.

On the other hand, I signed on to teach a class every Friday and somehow I usually find myself preparing for it Friday morning.

6. Tell us three things you encounter regularly or even just occasionally that you find to be annoyingly slow.

Driving behind a horse and buggy waiting for a safe spot to pass is always annoyingly slow.

Checkout lines at Wal Mart also have the reputation to be slow. I try not to get annoyed, but two weeks ago we got stuck at a register that broke and they could not accept payment. After they fought with their machine for a LONG time they finally gave up and we had to load everything back up and take it to a different checkout. That was annoying.

Hand sewing. I used to absolutely detest hand sewing as a young girl. It has not become too much more enjoyable since then. It's annoying and slow.

7. March is National Craft Month. Are you crafty? Tell us about something crafty you'll try in the next thirty one days. Or something crafty you'd like to try or wish you had the skill to make happen. 

There's a National Craft Month?! How fun!

Right now Kenneth has supplies stacked in the living room that he wants me to help him make an upholstered seat for his rebuilding project. We'll have to see how it goes, I guess. I've never tried upholstering anything before.

The girls and I will continue working on their appliqued quilts. Hopefully by the end of the month we will have them ready to quilt.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

There is something frightening and yet so funny about coming downstairs in the dark and stepping on what you think is a mouse and then discovering it was only a balloon that has lost most of its air.