Sunday, February 18, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!

We did finally get some snow this year. Here is a picture from our back deck of the snow. We truly love East Tenn., but it doesn't snow enough here for us. Michael and I lived in Upstate New York for 4 years, and we had so much fun during the winter there. However, by the time March was rolling around we were TIRED of the snow. It was looking pretty tired at that point due to the fact that it was always dirty. I use to go to the grocery store and buy one tulip flower at a time so I could enjoy a glimpse of spring while I was working in the kitchen. (Enough of walking down memory lane for now).
We truly enjoy being outdoors during a beautiful snow. We are planning a sledding trip this afternoon as soon our son gets back from snow boarding with some of his close by friends. We have already enjoyed the snow a bit this morning, but I was ready to get back into a warm house.
Due to the weather, our church was cancelled this morning. We were able to enjoy some leisure time enjoying homemade sticky buns, hot coffee, and hot coco. We have also been enjoying some shop time as well. Michael has installed one of my panels in the kitchen. He is working on two more as well as completing the shelves that hang on the pantry doors. I would be putting the finish on these pieces already, but our polyurethane has gone bad. This will require a trip to town so it won't happen today. I have also spent some time working on my seeds. Note to seed growers: make sure YOU water them yourself several times a day to keep them moist. If you use small laborers (such as eager or uneager children), you should at least check on their work. Our seeds haven't been watered as I had thought. We are still working with them, but not quite for sure how things will grow. Our shop is colder than usual now due to the extreme cold weather. We have a kerosene heater that we run in there when we are working if we need extra heat. I was tempted to leave it on all the time so the seeds would stay warmer, but after hearing in the news of so many house fires that claimed the lives of entire families we decided against it. It just isn't worth taking a chance. This reminds me we should all be diligent to check our fire alarms during this season. We all have them thinking we are protected, but if the batteries aren't working we are living with a false sense of security.
I got to run.....Michael just carried a pantry shelf up to the kitchen to install!!!!!! YEE-HAW!!!!
grace and peace,

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rambling Thoughts

I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted. I have written many entries in my thoughts, but I haven't had time to put them on paper. Last Sunday one of my dear friends came to visit with 3 of her 7 children. It was suppose to be a short visit, but her van broke down on the trip to our house. I got to enjoy three more days with her. ( I promise I didn't pray for the van to break down). However, it was nice to have an extended time of fellowship with her and her children. So instead of computing, I spent time fellowshiping with good conversation, eating much food, and loving on her children.

Before Valentine's Day, I had meant to post a tradition that we celebrate in our home. As I have mentioned before, we have 4 boys and 1 girl. Several years ago, Michael was at the grocery store on Valentine's Day and happened to pick up a small box of chocolates for our daughter. (We have never celebrated Valentine's Day as a couple so this was truly a spontaneous purchase for Hope). He brought it home just for her, and she lit up with such joy. She was amazed that her Daddy would buy her something WITHOUT buying something for the boys. She immediately realized that this was a special moment between her and her Daddy. Michael has continued this tradition ever since. She looks forward to his gifts of love, and she works hard to return a handmade card for him. This is their special day...a time to share their special father/daughter love for each other. I truly love watching her as she spends those special moments with her Daddy.

We went to a local cell phone store today to purchase new cell phones due to a job change that is on the horizon for Michael. I was amazed at all the information that was available, and the choices were mind boggling. (And yes, we had already done our homework...just think how we would have felt had we gone in there unprepared). We quickly chose our plan as well as our phones. We then went to the checkout to pay for our purchase and to start our new plan. As the man was checking us out, I noticed the receipt kept growing very long. (I am thinking they could lower the phone service if they made the receipts a bit shorter to save on costs). Then came the kicker....yes, the price that was posted for ALL of the phones in the store already included the rebate. If the price was $79, that was the price AFTER the mail in rebate. Michael and I are intelligent people who read the fine print. We somehow missed this part of the deal. So instead of the phone costing $79 minus the mail in rebate the phone cost $79 including the mail in rebate. This brought the price of the phone to $129 minus the mail in rebate. (I am thinking the phone will cost a total of $29 instead of $79). I am feeling a bit "taken" at this point, but at the same time I am making a mental note to READ all fine print BEFORE purchase even if it requires a magnifying glass. I notice the receipt kept growing longer. This is NEVER a good sign to me. I kept thinking that my cow money was getting smaller and smaller with every passing moment! The clerk took the receipt and read it to us so we would know exactly what we had purchased. (What ever happened to knowing what you purchased ahead of time)? I thought we knew, but this is where we were told about the REAL cost of the phone. Also we were charged $50 to activate our first phone and $25 to activate all other phones. Those chargers were NOT in any fine print that I saw. I guess I was expected to know that after purchasing a phone and signing a 2 year contract that I would then have to pay to turn the phone on. Something isn't adding up with me here. Due to the fact that the phone was needed for business, we went ahead and agreed to all of their extra charges. I couldn't help but coming away feeling a bit disgruntled. I would have never allowed my children to manipulate me in this manner. If my kids presented me with information like this, I would have told them they were twisting truths and in my book that is the same as lieing. I truly wish companies would deal with the public honestly. I still bought their package, but I felt like I had been manipulated and cheated somewhat. I would have felt a lot better about the deal had everything been handled more honestly.

This story of our encounters today wasn't added just so I could whine about my new cell phone plan. However, I thought about how frustrated I felt today standing in the store. I also thought about buying and selling from good honest Christian people. That is such a much better transaction. I KNOW what I am buying. Michael and I have a dream to one day make this farm one that earns an income for our family. I pray that I always remember the way I felt today standing in that store. I felt cheated and manipulated. My heart is to provide people with a service that they want and feel good about when the transaction is completed. I was also reminded that this is the reason that Michael and I buy from Christian sources whenever possible. If that had been a Christian store, I would have called them on their manipulative tactics. I would have confronted it for what it was, and I would have had the Bible to make my case. I hold Christian businesses at a higher standard than I hold secular businesses. I
haven't' been disappointed very often with this method.

As I said earlier, Michael is making a job change. I will let him tell more about what he is leaving and where he is going. One thing we haven't addressed on our blog is the fact that Michael has been working shift work. (We didn't want complete strangers to know that he was gone all night). Michael had worked shift work when he was in the Navy, but for the last 10 years he had been on a regular shift. When Michael was on night shifts, his entire weekend was shot because he slept all day and stayed awake all night. As you can imagine, our kids were not seeing much of him. About the time his body had adjusted to that schedule, it was time to shift back to day shifts. He would have to leave the house by 5:15 a.m. His physical body didn't know whether it was coming or going. He would fall asleep any time he sat down for any length of time. He was grumpy because he hates to sleep in the first place, and he felt like all he ever did was sleep. Our entire family is celebrating because Michael will not be working shift work any longer. (His prayer is that he will NEVER have to work 3rd shift again). This is a huge deal for our family. I am so thankful that God gave us the desire of our heart in this area.

My children just informed me that the snow is actually accumulating so I am going to check it out for myself. We haven't had any snow this year other than a few dustings so I am anxious to see the beauty of it for myself. Until next time...

grace and peace,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

More Cabinet Pictures

Here are a few more kitchen pictures. This was before we tiled our floor. The first picture is our hutch area. He will be building glass doors with chicken wire to complete the hutch. In the second picture, is our pantry. This is truly my pride and joy of the kitchen because it is complete with swinging shelves. This allows so much storage for our food. In the last picture he put in our garbage cabinet. It holds two garbage cans that pull out. As you can see the drawers are not all completed. These cabinets are mission style cabinets, and if you look at the pictures closely, you can see that each corner of the cabinet has dark wooden pegs. Michael made these for looks only, but in the old days they would have been used to secure the cabinets together. The cabinets are oak wood with the pegs being made out of walnut. The walnut came from a dear lady that was like a grandmother to me. I played under her walnut tree while growing up. After she died, the tree was cut down, and my dad asked if he could have the tree. He brought it to us in Tenn., and Michael had it dried and cut into boards. We still have a lot of it left, and after the kitchen is done I can see a coffee table and end tables in our future!

grace and peace,


Happy Birthday

Today is Michael's 39th birthday. He really doesn't put much stock in his birthday celebrations, but I always give him his heart's desire for his birthday meal. Get this...he chose Fried gizzards, mash potatoes, green beans, corn, biscuits and gravy. I made him his favorite Butter Cake with caramel icing. But who in their right mind would choose FRIED GIZZARDS for their birthday meal? This is one of his favorite meals and other than myself everybody else in the family loves the gizzards and chicken hearts. I always fry a few chicken strips for me because I am not eating gizzards.

He did take a vacation day today so he could enjoy his day a bit more without having to go to work. I bet I will find him later in his shop working on those cabinets. He truly enjoys wood working. Michael's grandfather and father were accomplished cabinet makers. His grandad made his living building cabinets in our small town. He built the cabinets for my parent's home. By the way, that was the home I grew up in, and we also had our wedding there. The cabinets are still there today, 39 years later. When Michael and I got married, I assumed that his knowledge of woodworking had been passed down to him by his father and grandfather. It wasn't until a bit later in our marriage that I found out that neither of these men taught Michael the craft. Instead it was a shop teacher in our high school that taught Michael just about everything he knew about woodworking as well as many advanced math concepts. That broke my heart, but I was so thankful that God brought this man into Michael's life. By the way, this teacher also came to our wedding!

Thus far, 2 of our sons seem interested in woodworking. Our oldest son is so respectful of the saws that he really doesn't want anything to do with them. He is truly concerned that he will chop off a body part so he doesn't express much interest in the craft. Our next two sons do express interest, and Michael does work with them in this area. When he was building our cabinets, all of our boys were much involved in the process. We were talking about selling the house at one point, and our kids were horrified. Our oldest son announced that he put way too much work into the kitchen to be selling the house! He feels the same way about the kitchen as I feel about the trees that we have planted!

grace and peace,


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Hum of the Sander...Music to My Ears

Hear the sound that truly is music to my ears...the sound of my husband working in his shop on our kitchen cabinets. Here is a picture of Michael's shop before all the cleaning had taken place. He has built a beautiful set of cabinets in this shop for our kitchen. He is about 75% done with the kitchen remodeling. Tonight he has started working on the panels for the breakfast bar. He is sanding them so that he can glue them. I will continue to post pictures as I find them of the kitchen.
grace and peace,

Monday, February 05, 2007

Simple Mexican Menu

I mentioned last night that I was cooking a Mexican dinner for us to enjoy during the Super Bowl. I thought I would enclose a few simple recipes for those of you who might enjoy these dishes. Let me say, these are not authentic Mexican recipes. I have adapted some of my recipes to a quicker version for those nights that I want a homemade quick meal. I use Enchilada Sauce from the supermarket, but I would LOVE to have a recipe to can my own. The supermarket sauce is expensive, and there are "things" in it that I am sure could be left out. However, I have never seen a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce. If you have one, please send it my way!

Beef Enchiladas

Brown ground beef and onions. Drain fat. Add 1 can Enchilada sauce along with a regular size can of Tomato sauce to the ground beef. Add several cups of shredded cheddar cheese depending on your liking. I use about 2 cups. Also sprinkle in ground cumin, ground cayenne pepper, and a little salt. The amounts depend on how hot you like your food. Stir well. Fill a flour tortilla and roll up into an enchilada and lay in a buttered 9x13 pan. I make 2 9x13 pans. After the pans are filled with the enchiladas, pour another can of enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle as much or as little as your family likes. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20-25 minutes until warm and cheese has melted. These are great to freeze. I freeze them BEFORE I bake them. To serve, let the pan of enchiladas thaw, and then bake them covered for about 35-40 minutes.

Easy Bean Dip

In a pie plate, add one can of re fried beans. Smash down to cover pie plate. Add salsa to cover re fried beans. Cover with tinfoil and bake in 350 degree oven. After it has warmed well, take off tinfoil and cover with Shredded Cheddar Cheese. Heat again in oven until cheese has melted. Serve warm with chips.

Tortilla Wraps

8 oz. creme cheese
1/3 cup salsa
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup chopped green onions
package flour tortilla shells

Beat all ingredients in mixer except for the tortilla shells. After mixture is well mixed, spread evenly on tortilla shells. Roll up and refrigerate until firm. Cut into slices. Serve as an appetizer.

Elephant Ears

In a small amount of oil, fry flour tortilla shells one at a time. These will brown quickly so be prepared to turn them over quick. After browning both sides, drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Serve hot for dessert. My kids love these elephant ears, and they make a very quick dessert for a Mexican meal. I wait until the end of the meal to fry these because they are not near as good once they have cooled. It takes only a few minutes to make 7 of these for my whole family.

Mexican Salad

In large salad bowl mix,

Romaine lettuce torn into bite size pieces
About 1/4 cup niblet type can corn well drained
About 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and well drained
Croutons to your liking
Shredded Cheddar cheese amount to your liking
Fresh tomatoes if available
Chopped Green Onions

For dressing:
Mix equal portions of salsa and Caesar Salad dressing. Pour over salad and serve immediately.

Hope you enjoy this quick version of a Mexican meal!

grace and peace,

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Weekly Update On the Farm

Here are a few pictures of farm happenings and fence repairs this past week. Michael and Matthew are still working to finish the fences, but for now the weather is too cold. As you can see our little man Seth was also involved in the fence work. The two horses had to poke their noses into the fence repairs as well. They can't let anything go unnoticed or unexplored!

We have all enjoyed a restful Sunday afternoon complete with naps for everyone except the 2 yr old. He didn't want to nap today, but we managed to take turns napping so that he could still be tended to. We are experiencing a cold spell here in East Tennessee. We were suppose to get a lot of snow last week, but we ended up getting less than a dusting. With the cold temps, much of our outside work has come to a screeching halt for now. Our third son was begging to work on the fence today, but everyone agreed that we would all stay indoors for now.

We did put in a large order for seeds this week with Heirloom Acres Seed Company. I was pleased with the service, and I am looking forward to planting and harvesting these wonderful vegetables. We tried several new varieties, and I can't wait to see if we like them. Michael ordered his favorite tomato which is the Cherokee Purple Tomato. If you haven't seen this tomato I believe it is the ugliest tomato in the world. It is a deep dark purple/black tomato. However, it has a wonderful flavor. When I first started eating it, I would put it on sandwiches so I wouldn't have to look at it, but I have gone beyond that now. I like the flavor very much and I am willing to eat it even if it is ugly. We will keep you updated on any new/old varieties that we come to love throughout the growing season.

On Friday evening, Hope and I planted some of the seeds that we had on hand. We are starting some herbs and some flats of lettuce. We want to get some lettuce and spinach plants started so we can put them in our raised beds with a hoop over them for protection. We will keep you updated on how this works for us. This is something new that we are experimenting with for now. Hope has always loved to work in the dirt and plant things. In the past few years, she has always helped me. This year however she is old enough to REALLY help. I was amazed at how much quicker it was to have both of us working. She is very excited about all the new seeds we will be getting. She is also a great reminder for me to water the seeds. I enjoy so much sharing these things with her. I think how much farther ahead all of our children will be just because they have learned these things early on in their life. Instead of having to read and teach themselves, they will have learned with us. That is exciting to me even if they act like they aren't interested sometimes.
I must close for now. I am preparing a Mexican meal for us to enjoy while watching the Super Bowl. We usually have a large Super Bowl party, but this year due to schedule issues we decided to enjoy it with just our family. I hope you enjoy your Sunday evening!
grace and peace,