Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sawdust Is In the Air

The last several nights I have had the opportunity to return to my wood shop, a sacred and redeeming place, I once visited often. Despite the enjoyment I get from it and the benefit it can bring to our home as well as friends and family, I simply have not had the time to indulge for the last several months. Between the business, activities with our children, and various farm chores, sawdust production has taken a backseat.

But, with the days getting shorter, kids sports slowing a bit, and the "nearly" completed kitchen remodel always staring at me, I found myself in the shop the last couple of evenings constructing spice drawers for those open holes in the cabinets. I suppose I am just tired of explaining to guests what those holes are, or maybe I am tired of Seth using them as a ladder to get to the cookie jar. Whatever, it's nice to be down here, using tools and feeling very masculine.

There is something about creating with our own hands that satisfies the soul. I personally cringe when I have to pay someone for chores or jobs that I know I could do equally well or better myself. Not only am I giving up my hard earned dollar, but I am not going to have that contented feeling of a job well done by me. I don't think it is a pride issue, I simply enjoy the work and prefer to take care of my self and the things God has placed under my stewardship.

Unfortunately, time does not allow for me to do all of these things myself. There's this whole priority thing in life that I'm learning about. But, I must say, I'm glad that sawdust is on the shop floor again. Now where did Seth put my tape measure.....


Operation Pig Pen Complete!

Michael finally finished the pig pen that he has been working on in our barn. We have hesitated for a while on putting the pigs in the barn due to the fact that it is so close to our house. However, there are several reasons that we made the decision to do this. First, the shelter was already provided which meant we did not have to spend any money to make a shelter for the pigs. All we had to do was rearrange the barn and add a gate that we already had on our farm. Second, with winter coming on it is much easier to take care of animals closer to the house. If the pigs had been located far far away, it would have been a challenge to get them water during the winter months. The last time we had pigs the biggest issue during the winter time was the fact that their water always froze. We spent a lot of time thawing out water buckets and giving them fresh water. I am hoping that this will be an easier project with the animals closer to the house and the water hose. Of course the main reason that we didn't want the pigs so close to the house is the odor. The last time we raised pigs we realized that they weren't the nasty smelling things that we had always imagined. However, anything will stink if you don't take care of the "droppings". We will have to be very diligent this time to clean up after them often. (We have 3 strapping young boys that should be able to handle shoveling pig droppings just fine)! We had also wanted to have pigs in a larger pasture, but we just didn't have the time or money to fence off an entire pig pasture. Pigs have a tendency to find a way out of fences that you think are secure. With our last set of pigs, we used electric fence to help contain them. We have never been able to get our electric fences to work here on this farm. Michael even bought a new charger, but to no avail. He has spent a lot of time working on this issue, but in the end we have never resolved it. Maybe next time we get pigs we will have the electric fence up and running and we can put them in a larger grassy area. Now all we have to do is go to pick up the little darlings. We will purchase 2 hogs because they don't like to be alone. Plus it takes 2 to feed our family for an entire year!
grace and peace,

Monday, October 29, 2007

But it's still dark outside!!!!

I love fall and winter. I don't mind being cold and snuggling up with a warm cup of coffee in front of the fireplace. In fact, I quite enjoy the downtime that comes with the fall and winter seasons. With all of that being said, I do have a struggle with these seasons. I always thought that by nature I was a morning person. After all, I am NOT a night person by nature. If I make it up past 10:00 p.m., I have really accomplished something. However, I have come to realize there are 3 things that I need to operate as a morning person: 1. proper sleep 2. Motive for getting out of bed 3. LIGHT
It is obvious to feel your best each person needs to get a proper amount of sleep. I can function on less than a needed amount of sleep, but it doesn't always make for a pleasant day. I am more emotional, and I generally do not enjoy the day at hand as much when I am exhausted. I also need a motive for getting out of bed. I need something external to help PUSH me into action early in the morning. It might be my husband's job that requires him to get up at a certain time or children that have to be somewhere at a certain time. When my children were very young, I use to get up early in order to have an hour or two all to myself. At one point, I would get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to meet a friend at the local Y to get in a work out before the day got started. I only stuck to the commitment if I knew she was waiting on me. She became my motive for getting up so early.
Then we moved to Tennessee...I remember the first morning I awoke in the hotel room while we were here looking for a home. It was dark outside...very dark... I wondered why in the world my children were up and about. Well, it was 7:30 a.m. of course my children were ready to start the day! However, I wasn't ready to get out of bed when it didn't even look like a sun rise was in or on the horizon. I have always struggled with this dilemma every since we moved here. It is now 7:22 am and it is still dark! I know when the time changes, this will change some of my problems, but as winter continues on it still is dark around here very late in the morning. So I have come to realize that I am NOT REALLY a true dyed in the wool morning person...I just pretend to be one when all 3 factors are in place. I am going now to get my cup of morning java and spend a moment gathering my thoughts with the Lord. After all I will have to spend the rest of my day playing catch up for sleeping in so late on this dark fall morning!!
grace and peace,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Scripture

"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him."
Daniel 2:20-22

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Heavenly Chocolate Cake Recipe

This has become our family's all time favorite choc. cake!! Wow, it is the best ever. It does take a bit of time, but it is worth every minute spent. Enjoy!!

1/3 All purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup chocolate syrup
1 egg lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter softened
1 1/4cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate syrup
1/2 cup water

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powder sugar

For filling, in a small saucepan, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in milk and syrup until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg. Return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature, stirring often.

For Batter:
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture alternately with syrup and water. Beat just until combined.
Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire racks to cool.

Cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one bottom layer on a serving platter. Spread with a third of the filling. repeat layers twice. Top with remaining cake. In a mixing bowl, beat frosting ingredients until stiff peaks form. Spread over or pipe on top and sides of cake. Garnish with bits of shaved chocolate. Store in refrigerator.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sitting with Dad

Recently part of our family visited a local Civil War re-enactment. Everybody in our family loves history so we try to make history as alive as possible for our younger kids. Seth,our youngest, wasn't near as interested in the accounts of the Civil War as our older children. However, he did sit with Daddy because Daddy said to sit. I am amazed at how quickly ALL of our children respond to their father. I know it shouldn't amaze me, but they respond differently to him than they do to me. This used to bother me. I often wondered if I needed to step up my discipline or what was I lacking as a parent that Michael obviously had. Well, after five kids I have finally figured it out....HE is the DAD and that's why! He has an amount of authority in his children's lives that I will never have. The really awesome thing is that he demands that our children relate to me with respect. Our children do respect me, but they sometimes will speak quickly and out of frustration. Michael does not tolerate that. When all of our children were little, I had promised myself I would never be one of those mothers who said things like, "Just wait until your Dad comes home". Now granted during that time period in our life, Michael was in the Navy serving on a submarine so that also was a good reason for not telling our children that. However, as our sons have gotten older I have found that I need that male support to keep the balance in our home. I do tell our older boys that their Dad will have to be called in on many things. We make the decisions together, and we have a unified front with our children. This is so important, and I believe it is a key to raising children. They do not even try to play one against the other because they know without a shadow of a doubt that it will not benefit anything.
Michael has a type A personality. He likes to be in control of things and he is much stricter than I am. The older kids have figured this out. This past summer our oldest child did something really stupid that could have really hurt him. Guess who he wanted to talk with first in our home to tell of his mistake. He wanted to talk with his dad. This so surprised me because I would have thought that he would have wanted to go to the more merciful parent which is me. He wanted to go to the one who had ultimate authority and say in his life. Michael handled the situation WONDERFULLY, and I was
completely impressed. I would have been much more emotional...that is the woman side of me.
The funny part was that when our oldest son wanted to talk about the emotional part of his mistake, he came to find me. Michael and I working together as a team gave our son exactly what he needed. Michael couldn't do it by himself and I most certainly couldn't do it alone. It takes the two of us to fulfill the call of parenthood in our children's lives. (I do believe that God gives an extra measure to those families that are single parent families. I do not want to make it seem that if you are a single parent then you are doomed for failure. I have seen God work in awesome ways in many single family households).
One of the awesome things about having a good father is that it gives a good representation of the God/Father relationship. I was raised with a very loving father. I automatically saw my heavenly Father in that same light. My earthly Dad loved me and would have given his life for me so how much more would my Heavenly Father do the same for me. I have seen friends who did not have that type of relationship with their earthly father. It was much harder for them to relate to a Father God because they had never seen what a real father was suppose to be. One of the strange things about fatherhood is that there is an element of fear/respect. My father was one of the most loving men I had ever known. However, there was a level of fear that I knew that I had best not push him. He had never really given me any reason to fear him what so ever, but there was an element of knowing that he was one to be respected. The Bible teaches us that we should have a fear of the Lord. This was easy for me to understand because I understood that my own father was a loving father, but I still had a respect/fear of his position.
One of the things that I admire most about Michael as a father is the way he teaches our children. He does teach them Bible scripture, but he does so much more than just read the Bible to them. He teaches them Biblical principles during everyday activities of life. For example I have heard him teaching the boys about Biblical principles during woodworking or farming. I have heard him teach them Biblical principles while teaching baseball or football techniques. Of course I cannot overlook the everyday example that he sets with the children as being part of the daily success as a Dad. When he is wrong, he is quick to apologize to them. That is an example that will make their relationships better if they will follow his way.
Parenting is an awesome responsibility, but with God's help we know that "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me". Some days we question our decisions. Some days we feel like we have hit the mark and done a good job. Other days we feel like we have missed the boat all together. However, the good news is that God is always with us, and as long as our hearts are in the right place we will be alright. He will be there guiding us and leading us through our journey as parents...and it is ALL for HIS glory!!!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm Not Doing Bible

Our daughter has been working diligently this past week on learning her Bible memory verse. Her verse is found in Colossians 4:6 and it says, "Let your speech be always with grace that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man". She has quoted this verse daily to us, and we just talked this morning AGAIN about the meaning of the verse.
LESS THAN AN HOUR from this lesson, our son insisted that his sister should help him look for elements so that he could complete his science project. This was her prime opportunity to apply what SHE JUST LEARNED AND MEMORIZED! I hear a shriek coming from the kitchen table with large volumes of letting her brother know that wasn't her job to do his science. Her daddy calmly called her into the office to have her quote her Bible memory verse AGAIN. In a moderately loud disgusted voice she replied, "I'M NOT DOING BIBLE NOW!" (Do you think???)!
This is the problem with many of us Christians. We compartmentalize our life instead of letting God flow through each area of our life. I have to remind myself daily that the mundane things are still an opportunity to serve the Lord. If I don't watch myself and my thought process, I find myself complaining and grumbling. I am queen of getting my point across without using words. I can stir up an entire house by stomping around (complete with sighing) and making sure that each and every person who lives here knows that I am the cleaning martyr. I have to be careful to remember to glorify the Lord even when I am frustrated with the daily things in life. I can change my entire outlook and actions when I remember that everything I do is for the glory of the Lord. I go from being Queen of Grumbling to being the Daughter of the Most High whose heart is ready to serve the Lord and my family. In this attitude, I can continue training my children to be servants and helpers. This brings so much peace in our all I have to do is to put it into action in the hard areas of my life!!!!!!
grace and peace,

Ebbs and Flows

Our life is a process of ebbs and flows. We don't often plan the path, but we seem to get caught in the current of projects that we are working on at the time. For example, we have spent much time last fall and winter remodeling our home. However, once spring came the current changed and our attention was diverted to outside farm work. We have spent the spring and summer working on improving our farm. There is still much that needs to be accomplished in this arena. Our focused has been changed once again to building a business that provides our family income. The one area of our life that is very stable is that of raising our children. Whatever project has our attention at the time, our children are still on the front burner so to speak. When possible, we pull them into the project of the season. They all had a portion in building our kitchen cabinets, and they have all been a part of our farm projects.
Sometimes I dream about a life where the projects are fully know where the kitchen cabinets ALL have drawers, and the tile floor is completely finished. I wonder what it would be like to have a farm that was already put complete with large fruit trees and a barn that didn't need so much work. I know our projects have our fingerprints all over them and that makes them unique to us. I also understand that there is always room for improvements no matter what stage the farm, house, or business is at. I am not foolish or naive in this area.
There is a scripture in Psalms that says, "Teach us to number our days so that we can gain a heart of wisdom". That is my prayer...I don't want to be like a lab mouse that just runs all day on his little wheel for no reason at all. I want my life and the things that I fill my hands with to count for something important. I see the ebbs and flows in our life somewhat like seasons. Naturally we will spend a lot of time in the garden during the summer months. There are many tasks here on the farm that are done during the summer time. The season has changed a bit again, and I am starting to look around in our home wanting to complete many of the projects that have been started. I would love to take about 6 months and do NOTHING but finish our home and farm projects. However, we would lose the house and farm if there was no income to pay the bills so that doesn't seem profitable. We will continue to weave the projects that need our attention into the daily living that makes up our lives. When time and money permits, we will continue the next step. I just don't want to miss the important things in life with being overwhelmed with other things.
Our pastor taught us in Florida that we need to enjoy the journey that God puts us on. I know there are certain aspects of life that aren't so enjoyable, but we need to keep our perspective on God, and enjoy the journey of our life. I have also heard it said that life is what happens when we are busy living. When our children were young and our life was not exactly what I had envisioned it to be, I kept a piece of construction paper on our frig. I wrote on it in large letters: ENJOY THE JOURNEY. It was a great reminder to be thankful for ALL that God had given to me in life..even all the messes and dirty diapers.
grace and peace,

Monday, October 22, 2007

Honey Status

Michael checked our bee hives yesterday for the status of honey. We didn't expect much in way of production this year due to the Spring freeze and Summer draught. However we fully expected some honey, but there was less than a gallon of honey in 2 hives. Michael also informed me that we would have to be very diligent this year to feed our bees because he does not think their stores will be enough to get them through winter. I will be making our first of many batches of "Bee Soup" which is nothing more than sugar water. This will be an expensive winter of buying sugar and hay and feed for all of our animals.
I was not only disappointed about not having any honey, but I was looking forward to extracting honey. It is a sticky mess in the kitchen, but I really enjoy extracting the honey. The pictures above are last year's honey extraction. Everybody wants to get their hands in the honey pot. We have to be careful because if you sample too much you will end up with a belly ache before all the work is finished! The process of honey production fascinates me, and I have enjoyed learning about bees from far far away.
We still have about a gallon of honey left from last year. I use honey in my whole wheat bread recipe, and we love to eat honey slathered on hot breads. I also make honey butter for our bread. In the winter, I use honey to sweeten a Hot Apple Cider that I enjoy serving. When our honey runs out, we will buy from local people.
grace and peace,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Scripture

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down dew.
Psalm 3:19-20

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday Fun

I have to say that I have had a wonderful Saturday. First, I got to spend the morning with TnFarmGirl. We had a great visit that was complete with a homemade Carrot Cake. Is it bad to have Carrot Cake for breakfast??? Nahh... After spending time with her this morning, I came back home inspired. The truth is every time I go to Cheri's house I come home inspired. I think that is what being in the company of Christian women is suppose to do for us. I came home and created a homemade Chocolate layered cake with the help of my daughter. I then put a chicken and dressing in the oven to bake. I finally got around to making green beans, sweet potato casserole, whole wheat bread, and sweet tea. Is it bad to have 2 pieces of cake in the same day???? NAHHHH...
I then got a chance to putter in our fall garden. I did some weeding and looking. I pray that our broccoli and cabbage plants make it. The broccoli looked poor. I am not for sure what happened, but I went ahead and planted them anyway. The above picture is of our collard greens. They came up spotty, but they are starting to fill in a bit this week. Our fall garden is as follows: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce of all types, spinach, peas, and collard greens. We are still getting red tomatoes and some green peppers. We also have okra still coming in and the Zinnias are beautiful. Michael picked the last of the eggplant. I don't even like eggplant, but I must come up with some dish for that this week. My goal for the fall garden is to see how much fresh veggies that we can produce for the winter time. I do not want to put any of these veggies up, but I just want them available for fresh eating. I will keep you posted on the results. Our lettuce is beautiful right now, and we should be having our first salad in the next week or so. Our english mastiff enjoyed some outside garden time. She was making sure our chickens didn't get out of their pen.
Last night our daughter and I were curled up watching some Discovery TV. A commercial came on for brownies that are premixed with nothing required except a hot oven. My daughter looked at me with her little nose all wrinkled up, and she said, "We like ours homemade". I smiled because she didn't buy into the advertisement. And yes she is right, we do likes ours homemade. TnFarmgirl has a recent post about homemade cooking. I enjoyed reading it, and again I enjoyed the fruits of her hands with that wonderful carrot cake! She also gave me a taste of her homemade Challah Bread. It was divine!
grace and peace,

Friday, October 19, 2007

We finally got a bit of rain today. I woke early this morning to sounds of rain drops hitting our window. Our county has been in desperate need of rain. I just read in the paper a few days ago that the county has decided to have Volunteer Fire Departments pump water for area farmers to water their livestock. The farmers would have to bring containers to hold the water, and then transport it back to their farms. This would explain why I have seen fire trucks by a local creek pumping water! Our pond is as low as I have ever seen it. We can see the bottom of the pond in several areas, but it isn't near drying up as of yet. The rain has allowed me to enjoy a mellow day. I have cleaned a bit, but nothing worth mentioning! I will have to get to it pretty soon and get dinner preperations going, but I am going to savor just a few more minutes on the computer before I start. I enjoy days like today...nothing pressing. I wouldn't want everyday to be like this, but it is nice to just catch my breath upon occasion. I have enjoyed some time reading with my children. My youngest came to me and said he was tired. We quickly curled up in my bed to share some quiet reading time. He has outgrown his naps, but it still pays off to find a quiet moment with him and let him rest. It makes the evening go much smoother.

grace and peace,


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Chickens

I had mentioned yesterday that we had moved our chickens into our garden area. I am happy to report,complete with pictures for evidence, that these chickens are loving their new home. (Well, all except for that Silly Rhode Island Red that is always escaping)! The last picture shows our previous green bean bed. I am hoping that these chickens are eating all the bean beatles and their offspring!! I know they are enjoying the green grass. It is the only green grass that we have on our entire 17 acres! We will have to buy hay soon for our cows and horses. Usually in our area, the pastures stay green enough that hay isn't really needed until December. However, this year due to the drought our pastures are bare as well as everybody elses. Our county officials are coming together to figure out a plan to help the farmers who have large herds and no water left in their ponds. Our pond is down considerably, but it hasn't dried up like so many others in the area. We are still trying to get together some funds to purchase a few Black Angus Cows because the local farmers are selling them as quickly as they can. Many farmers don't have the resources to feed large herds for this winter. If you think about us, please pray that the Lord will send rain.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Home for the Chickens

Our chickens have had a rough summer. They are either really "on" in the egg laying department or there are none. For the last month, there have been no eggs. I thought about making Chicken and Dumplings out of the birds, but every time I cracked open a grocery store egg I changed my mind. With the severe drought that we are enduring, I knew our chickens were not getting all they needed. We do buy layer rations for them, but they still weren't laying eggs. The only green spot on our entire farm is around our garden area. I assume that the grass is growing around our garden beds due to the fact that we have watered all summer long. (Our water bill is proof of our diligence in this area)! We decided to move the chickens in our garden. This will give them green grass and 2 garden beds that need to be cleaned out of old plants. We put their fence around the beds, and left the old plants so the chickens could enjoy some vegetation and bugs. Our beds will be fertilized with all the good chicken droppings, and hopefully we will get eggs from this move. We will not be able to leave them there for too long because we don't want to over fertilize our beds. I know this will also be good for the bug population in our garden. We are not planning on using these beds until Spring so they should be able to enjoy them for awhile.

Jacob came in carrying 9 eggs yesterday. I was all excited, but then he told me that he found them in the barn. (I was confused as to how they got in the barn). He reminded me that we have 2 Rode Island Red Hens that escape the pen all the time. Those 2 hens had spent the last week out of the pen. I guess they found bugs and grubs so they were busy about the work of egg production. I plan on making eggs for breakfast. Our kids just won't hardly eat grocery store eggs any more. This really limits me on what I can cook for breakfast. I think this morning I just might make Omelets. That will be a special treat for them all.

grace and peace,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pickled Jalapenos and Frozen Corn on the Cob

Here are two recipes that have been requested from me. Hope you enjoy!!!

Pickled Jalapenos
Cut peppers into rings. Scald peppers in boiling water for approx. 15 seconds. Remove from boiling water and drop in ice cubes to stop the cooking process. Drain well. Pack in hot pint jars.

Boil: 2cups apple cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved.
Pour liquid over peppers, and seal with a hot lid and ring. Make sure jars seal because you do not process these peppers in a boiling water bath. It may take several hours for the jars to seal. Just check the seal before storing. You will also want to use rubber gloves when you cut the peppers!!!! (Trust me on this)!

Frozen Corn on the Cob
Boil corn in water for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and immediately place corn in ice water to stop the cooking process. Leave in ice water for just a few minutes. Stand each ear of corn up in a dish rack. Leave standing until dry and cool to touch. Wrap each ear of corn separately in tinfoil. Freeze.

To prepare for a meal: Thaw corn at room temperature. Place in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes until heated.

I thought this woman was crazy when she gave me this recipe. (You know I am going to stand 3oo ears of corn up in a dish drainer to dry!! However, she told me that was what made it so good frozen because it allowed all the water to drain off so it would freeze better. I was still skeptical so I only did 5 dozen ears this way. It was very good, and I usually don't like frozen corn on the cob. I didn't have a dish drainer so I took some baskets from my freezer and use them in the same manner).

grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Peppers and Grass OH MY

We still have peppers coming out of ears. I love to grow different pepper plants. I think they are beautiful. I have to be honest, I am not for sure what to do with a lot of the peppers that we grow, but I still like to grow them nonetheless. For instance, we grow habenero peppers. I do add them to a few jars of dill pickles to add an extra kick, but what else do I do with such a hot pepper? (I have used them to decorate flower arrangements before!) I do freeze all of our green, red, and orange bell peppers. This is a huge money saver in the winter time. I will only buy a fresh pepper at the grocery store if I want it for a salad. We string up our Cayenne peppers. We hang them in our laundry room to dry, and these are great used in spaghetti sauces or chili.
In the latest issue of Taste of Home magazine, I found a great appetizer recipe using peppers. I rarely get excited about magazines, and I most certainly don't keep them around for extended periods of time. However, Taste of Home is different. I truly enjoy this magazine, and out of every issue I get at least one (if not several) new recipes that become our family favorites. When I planned my two week menu and grocery trip this time, I used mostly the recipes from this issue of Taste of Home. The magazine is sold at most grocery stores, and it isn't expensive. Hope you enjoy the recipe.
Smoky Jalapenos
14 jalapenos or milder peppers
4 oz cream cheese, softened
14 miniature smoked sausages
7 bacon strips
Cut a lengthwise slit in each pepper. remove seeds and membrane. Spread a teaspoonful of cream cheese into each pepper, stuff each with a sausage.
Cut bacon strips in half . Cook in skillet until partially cooked. Wrap a bacon piece around each pepper; secure with a toothpick. Place in an ungreased baking dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Peas, Zinnias, and Grass OH MY!!!

Since this is a real life blog with real life people, you will also see real life pictures complete with grass. Our pea bed isn't fairing so well this year. First of all as you can see, the peas came in spotty at best. I intended to sow some more in the bare areas, but again this is real life and my intentions aren't always acted upon. I weeded this bed more than once, but the grass decided that it wanted to make a home nonetheless. Now here is the odd thing about this bed of peas...I had many zinnia plants come up in the pea bed. Please note...I did NOT plant zinnias in the bed of peas. (My husband was wondering why I would sprinkle zinnias with peas, but I PROMISED him I did not do this). I was shocked to see the zinnias. I had already decided that I had missed the window of opportunity to plant anymore, and I was fine with this. After being sick a few days ago, I walked down to the garden just to look. I didn't feel like doing anything, but I wanted to stretch my legs and get a bit of sunshine. When I saw my pea bed, I couldn't believe my eyes. I should have named it the Zinnia Bed instead. It is covered in zinnias that are in bloom now. I guess the wind blew the seed from another bed. This is great. Honestly, I like zinnias better than peas anyway. I didn't have to do anything and these beautiful flowers just showed up as if God Himself planted them for my pleasure. I will post cut flower pictures a little later this week.
A quick health update on our family: Everyone is feeling much better. The last one left is our oldest son. He is still tired, but he woke up wanting breakfast! That is a good sign.
grace and peace,

Monday, October 08, 2007

Stomach Bug Has Bitten

Just to let you know I may be out of the blogging world for a day or two. The stomach bug has taken up residency in our home. Our family is a family that shares with one another....we even share nasty bugs! I will spare you the details of the past few days, but I will be back after I get everything under control in our home. By the way, God is good even during times of sickness. I was so sick in bed the other day. As I was laying there worrying about all the events that needed our attention, the Lord brought to my memory the scripture "Some trust in horses, some trust in chariots, but we will trust in the Name of the Lord". That one scripture brought so much peace to my situation and all the worries in my mind. I decided to just trust God no matter what.

grace and peace,

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cheap Fall Decorating Ideas

I love the season changes. After living in Florida for 7 years, I truly savor each and every seasonal change in our mountain area. I also enjoy seasonal decorations. I have often thought that if we ever became rich I would decorate our home and farm for every season. Well, since we aren't rich in money terms, I have to be a bit more creative. I still want to decorate, but I just have to do it keeping cost in mind. I have learned over the years to rearrange my "pretty" things throughout our house as the seasons change. For example, during the fall and winter season, I choose pieces that have a darker look about them for our living room. I change candles out to fall colors. This is one of the cheapest decorating tips with the greatest rewards. I use my candles as accent colors, and beautiful fall colored candles really add a special touch for the fall season. I also burn different smelling candles to help set a fall mood. This time of the year I am looking for cinnamon, pumpkin, apple pie, or hazelnut smelling candles. I put all of my spring/summer candles away for next season. Just make sure you put the lid tightly on these candles, and they should smell brand new next season.
My dad was a hobby photographer. I have several of his outdoor photos and change them out to the proper season. Someday I want to frame and mat them all, but for now I get to enjoy them each displayed on my fireplace mantle during the appropriate time. I also found some pretty potpourri. It had such a fall look about it with nuts and dried pine cones. I put that out for display during this time as well. For the spring, I will put that back in a Ziploc bag and store it until the next fall. Since I took the picture of our fireplace, I have added some real pumpkins on the hearth of the fireplace. It looks nice, and I pray the English Mastiff doesn't think they are balls for her playtime enjoyment.
The basket picture is something that you have seen before if you have read my blog for any length of time. This basket is a wire egg basket, and I use it for decorating every season. In the spring I display our colored eggs, and in the summer I always have a cut flower arrangement from our garden displayed in it. For fall, I bought a bag of cheap little pumpkins and gourds. I added a fall ribbon, and I have a quick fall display for around $6. I found the ribbon in our local Dollar Tree was a dollar! I also started collecting seasonal table cloths over the past few years. This is the first year I have ever bought a fall table cloth. It made everything come together perfectly. I didn't think my husband or kids would really pay attention, but I was wrong. My husband really likes the fall table cloth. He has commented on it several different times. I bought the table cloth at Walmart for $12. I actually bought another one yesterday because we do eat on our table cloths and wash them after almost every dinner meal.
During last year clearance sell at Big Lots, I found a cheap little grape vine wreath with a scarecrow. It says Happy Harvest, and I use that for our front door. We do not celebrate Halloween so I wanted something that was for harvest time instead of halloween. I bought 3 pots of mums for our front porch and I completed that with a beautiful pumpkin. It isn't elaborate or too expensive, but it is nice none the less. I enjoy sitting in my rocker on the front porch and seeing the mums.
Another great way to add fall color to your home is by changing our your flower arrangements. I took apart a summer arrangement, and replaced it with an arrangement with fall colors. This can get expensive depending on the grade of dried/silk flowers that you use.
I hope these ideas get your own creative juices flowing. Keep your eyes open, and ask the Lord to help you find your own creative look to your fall season. Enjoy!!!!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pig Pen Getting Closer!!

Here is a little update on our pig situation. Michael decided that for now he would attach an outside fenced off area to our barn. The barn will give the pigs the shelter that they need. This wasn't our first choice of location for our upcoming pigs. The barn is close to our home so we know we will get some smell sometimes. We also wanted them to have a nice area to root in covered with green grass and trees. However, we just aren't able to come up with all that idealistic picture requires for now. Our biggest dilemma would be watering them in the winter. When we raised pigs before, wintertime watering was a big deal. The water in their bucket often froze...the water in the water hose often froze... We needed to keep the pigs in a location that watering them wouldn't be a major effort all winter long. We will be using the barn as a shelter for them. Our barn is an old tobacco barn that Michael and sons have worked hard on to make it fit more of our needs. They took out many of the tobacco poles and used them for fences. The first picture is looking into the barn . The gate can be swung open to block off the last half of the barn as the picture shows. It can be swung closed to block off 1/4 of the barn. This gives us the option to let the pigs in half the barn or just a quarter of it.
Our barn is in much need of repair. The dirt floor has eroded from not having gutters on the barn. We just don't have the needed money at this time to pour concrete in the barn and to fix the water run off problems. Our dream is to build a new barn. However, I am not sure that idealistic dream will come to pass anytime soon. So we must work with what we have. There is still much clean up to be done in the front half of the barn. We must use it for storage as well as animal needs. As you can see in the last picture, we still have some work ahead of us. However, we are thrilled with the process that has been made.
Before we can pick up the pigs, Michael must close off a few more holes in the barn area so they will be contained. This shouldn't take too much effort, but it has to be finished before the little piglets come our way. I project we will be buying them in the next week. As soon as we have them, I will post pictures. Until then...
grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pantry Update

I wanted to give a final total of canned goods that have been produced this summer. Our garden is done producing enough to can. (There are enough green tomatoes to still can, but I am not for sure I will can any more). Here are the totals:
64 quarts of tomatoes
7 pints of salsa ( I didn't really like the recipe so I didn't make anymore).
9 pints of tomato relish
16 quarts dill pickles
12 pints Pickled Green Tomatoes
3 quarts Pickled Green Tomatoes
3 Jalapenos (left over from last year)
9 pints blackberry jam
7 pints apple butter (left over from last year)
31 pints of tomato sauce
5 quarts of tomato sauce
38 quarts of green beans
5 1/2 dozen frozen corn on the cob (I found a great recipe for this)!
48 quart bags of frozen corn, cut off the cob
14 pints of peach jam
Some of these totals aren't near enough to last our family through the winter. For example, I was not able to grow enough green beans to reach my target of 60 quarts. I estimated that I needed that much to last us until next summer. The late bed of green beans just didn't produce like I had hoped. We are getting enough beans to eat fresh, but not near enough to can the expected amount. Looking over this list makes me realize that I should can some more Green Tomato Pickles for the winter. This will be easy because I have the veggies in the garden. I am not for sure that the tomatoes will be enough for the winter, but I will have to see.
We are still eating out of our garden so I am not using the canned goods much at this point. Our green beans, peppers, okra, eggplant, and green with some red tomatoes are still producing for now. I use the green tomatoes to make Fried Green Tomatoes which everybody in our family loves. I started making a sauce of thousand islands dressing and tarter sauce mixed together to serve with the Fried Green Tomatoes. It is really good. I use this dish as meat often times in our meal. I will add a large pot of beans for protein to accompany the Green Tomatoes and I also will include homemade macaroni and cheese. This is a great meal that is cheap. (I know it isn't weight friendly)!@!!!
With the late freeze killing our apple production, I wasn't able to put up any apple sauce this year. I made a ton of that last year, but our kids ate it as fast as I could make it. I would come in the kitchen and find an empty quart jar where one of the older kids had eaten the entire quart by himself!!
The late freeze took out the blueberries here in our area so I couldn't make any blueberry syrup or jam. I also did not spend the money to buy extra peaches to freeze. I went several times to pick some up, but by the time I decided I really wanted them bad enough to buy them, they were all gone. I will miss having bags of frozen peaches in our freezer. I always used them to make homemade peach cobbler and homemade fruit salad. They will be much missed this year.
grace and peace,

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend Happenings

Our weekend was consumed with ball of one kind or another. Thursday and Friday our 2 oldest sons played football. The rest of the weekend our 3rd son played a travel baseball tournament. When I saw the schedule with all the games for all the kids, I really struggled with a feeling of being overwhelmed with time. However, I made a decision that I was going to enjoy the weekend no matter what type of farm production was completed. If that meant nothing was completed here in our home and on our farm, so be it. I am so thankful to the Lord because He was faithful to help me lay down my agenda. It turned out we had an awesome weekend. We packed a picnic and in between ball games, we went to Bays Mountain and spent the afternoon. When our children play ball, we do our best to make it a family affair. We try to include other things that are fun for all, and I was thrilled with the entire weekend. I was also excited because I was able to watch my oldest son play football without fear of an injury. This was a big step for me after last year, and I enjoyed watching his game so much more!

Even though we had several ball games this weekend, we squeezed in a bit of garden work none the less. I was able to plant one entire bed of lettuce and collards. I also planted some spinach. I love fresh baby spinach salad. All of my kids enjoy this as well!I planted a few cauliflower plants out in the garden. I am harding of some more now to plant later in the week. It seems if I just plant them straight from the shop into the garden that they never make it. They need a bit of time to get use to the elements of outside.

Speaking of elements...I woke early this morning to the wind blowing. It blows so hard here where we live. It usually doesn't start blowing until November, but I guess we will get it a bit earlier this year. Our chicken tractor was damaged last year in the wind. Michael will have to put fixing that at the top of his list of things to do! I don't want our poor chickens to blow away to Kansas!!!

grace and peace,