Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bringing In the New Year

We have enjoyed our holiday season so much this year. We have had somebody in our home almost everyday since the season began. Now is the time to bring our family close together and pause to see in the New Year. This New Year's Eve will be just for the seven of us. We will be enjoying a snack night of chicken wings, cheese and dips, veggie trays, cheese sticks, and chocolate chip cookies. We will play some games and generally just spend the evening being together. Then around 11:00 p.m. we will turn down the lights and light some candles. The worship music will be turned on softly. We will spend some time as a family praying and worshiping the Lord. Around midnight, Michael will serve our family communion. For some, this may be an odd thing, but it has been one of our most cherished traditions. We also serve communion in a different way than most. We use risen bread instead of flat bread. We know that Jesus would have served unleavened bread to his disciples. However, we chose to use risen bread as a symbol and reminder to us that our Lord rose from the dead. We also serve wine and for those of us who cannot drink wine, we choose to serve the non-alcholic version of wine. For us, communion is a time to eat and drink a meal... not a morsel. It takes time and it is a time of holy worship in our home. It is a time for each of us individually to look into our own hearts and it is also a time for our family unit to come together and worship the Lord. We use our best china and crystal to serve the bread and wine. It is a special time for us.

I always hesitate sharing something so personal on a blog. I am sure that there are many that believe that communion should only be served in a church by a pastor. I am sure there are more that believe that risen bread and real wine should never be served. Those ideas are fine too, but I am just sharing how our family has been lead to celebrate the New Year. I hope I have not offended any with our traditions.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Good Christmas

It is just a conversation starter, and people here in our home town usually find a few minutes to stop and chat with each other. The man at the feed store was the first to ask me. It was his way of being polite while he loaded my sacks of feed into the back of the Suburban. "Did you have a good Christmas?" I shook my head eagerly and smiled and said, "Yes, we had a nice Christmas." "How about you?" was my next comment. I encountered the same conversation with several different people throughout the day. It got me to thinking...what makes a good Christmas? My definition would be different from many others. Gifts are fun, but not essential for me. Michael and I have never exchanged Christmas gifts in our entire marriage. In the beginning, there just wasn't extra money for that, and now we don't succumb to the pressure of finding the perfect gift for one another. I enjoy my Christmas season to be full of the things I, fellowship, and food. I don't want the holidays to be full of stress and frustration. There are many traditions that we hold near and dear to our hearts, but they don't involve stress. We make sugar cookies and decorate them as a family. Although it is a huge mess, it isn't stressful. Our cookies wouldn't pass the test of Martha Stewart, but we sure have fun doing them! Our view of Christmas has changed over the years. We pour more of ourselves into our children and less of ourselves into the other things. Good memories are made for all of us.

We enjoyed many special meals throughout the holiday season. This was a picture of our Christmas dinner. Many of the things on the table came from our own garden!

We spent time laughing and playing and just enjoying being together. Many evenings were spent playing Dominoes or card games.

My mom came for the week to enjoy the fun. This was the first year that I didn't cry when I thought of my dad. Christmas day was his birthday, and this was our 4th Christmas without him. I even made the special coconut cake this year for the first time since he died. It has been the traditional Christmas/Birthday cake since before I was born. The last few years I just didn't have it in me to make it or eat it. This year I did. I brought my daughter in when I was making the icing and asked her if she wanted a taste of my childhood. She looked at my with a very confused look and licked the spoon. She smiled because she loved the icing. I explained that this was the cake that we had at our birthdays when I was a child. I shared the memories of the cake, and I know in just a few short years I will also teach her to make the special cake.

My children enjoyed some special time with my mom. She is always very eager to play card games or dominoes with them.

Of course there are the gifts that bring huge smiles to my children's faces.
Yes, I would have to say that we had a good Christmas. A time to stop and enjoy being together as a family. A time to reflect on the things that the Lord has done this past year. We are so blessed and so full of thanksgiving for all that He is in our lives. A good Christmas indeed.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Break

I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be taking a blogging break during the holidays. Hope y'all have a wonderful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas. I will be back here at the first of the new year.

grace and peace,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cherry Go Round

My daughter has decided that she wants to learn to cook. She really hasn't ever been that interested in the process of learning to cook. Several weeks ago she brought me a cookbook and asked if she could make Chocolate Chip Muffins. I was delighted. Our boys were delighted when she asked if she could make this Cherry Go Round Bread Wreath. She did a fantastic job and I only watched and gave her verbal instructions. Now I have visions of her cooking all the meals dancing in my head!!! O.k. I know it won't be exactly like that, but you can't blame a weary Momma for dreaming!!!

grace and peace,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Busy Saturday

The weather has turned cold here once again. Our mountains are sprinkled with a bit of snow and look ever so lovely. Every time I walk past our bedroom window I am mesmerized by the beauty of the mountains. We lived in Florida for many years and there were no hills or mountains where we lived. I always wondered if I would ever take the beauty of Tennessee for granted once I got used to seeing it on a daily basis. The answer is a wholehearted "NO"!!! I stand in awe of the Lord and the beauty that He created for our pleasure.

Today is our Christmas shopping day. This morning I will be taking our second son and doing the grocery shopping for the next two weeks. This evening my husband and I will be heading out to shop for our children. We have never spent a tremendous amount of money on our children for the Christmas season so our children don't expect it. As a parent, that is a nice place to be. I spent yesterday afternoon planning out ALL the special things that we do for the holiday food list. We even give the gift of homemade goodies to several different people so I included those as well. Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals are easy to plan because they are the same every year. I like good traditions and food can be a great tradition. My family would agree.

I have spent the last few weeks writing down ideas about the Christmas shopping day. By today, I know what I will be purchasing for most everybody on the list. This helps me not to be overwhelmed with the whole shopping experience. I don't even like to shop so this is a day that could be very laborious for me if I wasn't prepared ahead of time. I will enjoy spending the time with my husband. I look forward to any time that we can squeeze out to be alone. We don't do it very often so it is a sweet treasure to each of us. I am sure we will grab a cup of hot coffee and something special to eat while we are out today.

grace and peace,

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Healthy Snack

Several years ago, we started ordering fruit from local baseball teams. They take the orders ahead of time and then the fruit is sent in from Florida. This is almost as good as being in Florida and purchasing the fruit from the groves. We did that a lot when we lived there. I noticed that my kids weren't eating the oranges as quickly as I thought they should. I wondered what the problem was and I did some investigating. I asked each child about why the didn't eat the oranges. Each child said it was a lot of trouble peeling them. I had a fix for that. Now every morning I cut oranges and place them in a bow. I leave the peel on because I don't want to take the time to peel them all either. I leave the bowl in the refrigerator, but I take it out often throughout the day and place it on the counter. As the kids start looking for snacks, they ALWAYS grab the oranges. They usually grab the oranges over the sweet things. I will even set a bowl of oranges on our breakfast table. My kids love this sweet treat, and I feel great because I know they are eating something good for them.
grace and peace,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe

2 sticks Butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups all purpose flour

Cream together the first 3 ingredients. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add to the creamed mixture. Mix well.Let set in refrigerator for at least an hour to chill. Form into balls and roll into sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

This is our favorite sugar cookie recipe. It makes a lot. If one batch is too much for your needs, freeze half of it and bake the rest. It freezes well if you can keep the teenage boys from eating the frozen dough! Here are a couple of tips for this is a very soft dough and will make a soft cookie. This would not be a cookie to mail to someone. I have even had trouble taking it to potlucks unless I package them very carefully. They are soft and will break easily. If I want to use this dough to make cut out sugar cookies, I take out only the portion I will need to make that batch of cookies. I leave the rest in the refrigerator. After rolling them out, I usually bake them just a smidgen longer so they won't be as soft. We then make up a Royal Icing and decorate the cookies.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Morning Farm Chores

I enjoy feeding the animals in the morning especially when its not too cold outside or too hot outside. Yesterday morning was just right. Once I had the kids started on school, I slipped outside to do the morning chores. This was my first time feeding the animals since they have been moved into the backyard. There are a few "problems" with our arrangement. (Somehow I encountered each and every one of them). First of all, there are no fence barriers between the person feeding and the animals eating. I was told to quietly slip into the barn and quickly shut the barn door so the animals don't come in with me. Then I was to pour corn into the barn stall for the sheep. They have an outside entrance so every sheep was suppose to run into the barn and eat the corn. I poured extra corn to make sure I had extra time to do the other chores without having to worry about Peter the Great. Once all the sheep were in the barn eating, I was to slip back outside shut the gate behind them so the 20 sheep would be contained while I fed the 4 cows. Sounds simple enough, right?

You know the song "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer"? Well, Grandma has nothing on me!

I did manage to slip in the barn and get the door partially closed before every animal we own had surrounded the barn. The first problem was that our barn door is extremely heavy. I can shut it, but it takes me some time and I have to really pull. I didn't have enough time to shut it good, but I did the best I could. While I was pouring corn in the stall, I realized that the barn door was opened. Apparently the cows were able to push it open enough for about 10 sheep to rush in the barn and start eating out of feed bags. I panicked for a moment while looking around for Peter the Great. The other sheep are fine, but a ram can be a different story. He was busy trying to open the gate to get into the barn stall to eat his corn. (Apparently I was also suppose to open the gate to the pen, but nobody told me that. I assumed it was already open, but it wasn't). He did manage to get the gate open and he and the rest of the flock were able to eat in the designated area. My only concern where the 10 sheep in the barn with me and the four cows trying to get in the barn with me. I started yelling for my children who were in the house working on school. Apparently my daughter heard "something", but her brother told her there wasn't anything to it so they were of no use to me. I made a daring move and got a bucket of corn and pushed my way past the cows who were blocking my entrance. They complied and I poured the corn on the ground so I could run and get Jacob's help. (Remember I still had sheep in the barn eating whatever they wanted). When I finally got myself out of the barn, I realized that our border collie had escaped his pen. I knew this was very bad because he stirs up all the animals by chasing them. I didn't need the 4 cows going crazy with me in the backyard. I went back in the house and got Jacob. Together we fed the cows and caught the border collie, but that only happened after the dog chased the baby calf and made the other cows mad. We finally were able to get the sheep out of the barn and into the pen with the other ones. I thought the drama was finally over, but then I got ran over by a wayward sheep. I know she didn't mean to, but she clipped me at my knees. I managed to finish the rest of the chores and Jacob and I left the backyard. I promptly called Michael at work and told him this backyard feeding thing wasn't working for me. I think he got a chuckle although he was careful to make sure I didn't hear it over the phone! My peaceful morning chores turned into chaos right before my very eyes. I was just thankful nobody stopped on the road to watch all of the drama!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Enjoying the Season

I have so enjoyed having the living room decorated for Christmas this year. I find myself gravitating to the couch to enjoy the holiday look. The kids too are enjoying the decorations. I found our second son sleeping on the couch instead of in his bed.

Over the last few years I have felt a transition in our holidays. I used to spend much time making the holidays nice for my parents and Michael's family. The focus was on their time with us. The meals that I prepared where whatever they really enjoyed. Now, I find my focus shifting on more of my own children. I am not talking about gifts...I am talking about time and making memories. We discussed having Christmas in Kentucky with our parents. The kids were heartbroken that they wouldn't be home on Christmas morning. So we decided to spend a weekend in Kentucky and celebrate the holidays there and then come back to our home and have our own family Christmas here. My mom will be traveling back with us so that she won't be alone on Christmas day.

I have so enjoyed the entire month of December this year. Keep in mind, I still haven't bought any gifts or really baked any goodies. Those things will come in time. There is something special about just taking time to be still and enjoy the gifts that the Lord has given.

grace and peace,

Evening Time Fun

Since the colder weather has come our way, our family has taken to playing cards together in the evening. One of my favorite card games to play with the kids is Shang Hi Rummy. I grew up playing this game. There is a popular card game out now called Phase 10 and it reminds me a lot of Shang Hi Rummy. It isn't as complicated and it accommodates up to six players. Missy was giving Jacob pointers the other evening on his hand. Actually, I think she was wondering why we were all gathered around the table without any grub!!! Highly disappointing from her point of view!

grace and peace,

Monday, December 08, 2008

Winter Farm Update

We have had so many fence issues over the past few months. About a month ago, after chasing sheep for over 4 hours from our neighbor's farm, Michael made a decision. He penned all the animals, except for the horses, in a very small pen off the side of our barn. We have never confined our animals in small quarters before now. He expected to have the first section of fence completed within a few weeks. What we didn't know was that two different sicknesses would hit our home and Michael would end up hurting his back! The animals stayed in the pen several weeks longer than expected, and the fence still isn't completed. On Friday, I spent the afternoon doing fence repairs to our backyard fence. Michael still wasn't able to be the muscles for the job due to his back. He was the brains and I was the brawn! I learned how to use a fence post remover and a fence post driver. He stayed with me and talked me through each one. It really wasn't that hard except for almost dropping the fence post driver on top of my head! In just a few short hours, our backyard fence was ready to house animals.
We understand it isn't the best thing to let 4 cows and 20 sheep have free range to a buffet of hay, but we really didn't have any other choices. We could have put the hay in the front yard where no other animals reside at the moment, but that is even a little too rednecky for me!

The animals are sure enjoying the opportunity to stretch their legs. They have enjoyed what little grass that they could find. The horses are still in the pasture. They don't mind as long as they get their bucket of feed and their own hay bale to munch on at their leisure.

Our children aren't allowed in the backyard while the animals are living out there. My daughter did complain about having cow patties in the backyard. She didn't think that was the proper backyard decoration! I can't imagine her thought process there!!! We aren't for sure how long the animals will be enjoying the yard area. It all depends on the fence building. I actually enjoy the animals in the backyard. I always have. I like being able to look out my kitchen window and seeing all the beautiful animals. I also like the fact that I know that it is much healthier for the animals to have a large area to roam instead of being penned up in a tiny space. I think Peter the Great would agree!!
grace and peace,

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23

Saturday, December 06, 2008

White Bean Chili Recipe

Yesterday I was in a bind to find something for dinner. I also knew my time was limited and I needed a quick fix. The problem was I haven't gone grocery shopping since way before Thanksgiving. I was out of many staples in my pantry. I pulled out a whole chicken and decided to make homemade chicken noodle soup. As my chicken cooked in my big stock pot, I started looking around for recipes and I found the recipe for White Bean Chili. I changed my mind and made the chili instead. Oh my, was it ever good. This will become a family favorite!! Hope you enjoy the recipe.
grace and peace,

White Bean Chili

1 pound dried Great Northern Beans

2 medium onions chopped and sauteed in olive oil

3 cans chopped green chilies, undrained (I used my home can jalapenos in place of the chilies)

4 cloves of garlic

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

6 cups chicken broth

5 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

4 cups Monterrey Jack Cheese (I used Cheddar Cheese because that is what I had on hand)

1/2 teaspoon salt (I increased the salt a bit)

Boil whole chicken to make chicken broth in a large stock pot. Once the chicken is done, remove and let cool to debone. Measure out the chicken broth.Add beans, onions, chilies, and seasonings to the six cups of chicken broth in the stock pot. Let cook until beans are done. Add chicken and cheese and let simmer until the cheese is melted.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Quick Kitchen Decoration Idea

My daughter loves the Nutcracker Ballet. She has always wanted a nutcracker. She was at Lowe's with her dad and asked him to buy this nutcracker. As you can see, he didn't say "no." I like nutcrackers, but he just didn't seem to go anywhere in my kitchen which is where she wanted him to be. Then I had a light bulb moment. I took the old clear glass bottles that I had gotten long ago from my grandmother's junk pile. I used food coloring and water to give them a festive look. I stuck the Nutcracker in between the bottles. I was pleased with our kitchen window decoration. It cost us about $8 for the Nutcracker and the food coloring. The bottles of colored water act like sun catchers and are truly bright and beautiful. I did have to warn my children NOT to drink the colored water. My teenagers were just sure I had come up with some great concoction!!

grace and peace,

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Proud Momma Moment

Matthew (#2) was awarded All-Conference this year in football. He was pretty pleased with himself. He had a great season, and we were proud of things that he accomplished in the game of football. He thought about playing football in college, but at this point he doesn't think he wants to make that commitment. He wants to finish high school and continue on with college. In the state of Tennessee, high school students are allowed to participate in dual enrollment. That means that they are allowed to take college courses at the local community college and that course counts for college credit as well as the high school credit. This has been a great incentive for him. He has enjoyed every college class that he has had, and he has worked hard to make good grades. We have watched him grow into a man before our eyes and we are pleased with the decisions that he is making.

When my children were all small, people would say just wait until they are teenagers. Well, there are days that the teenage thing is hard. I won't deny that. These older kids have their own opinions and are learning to carve their way into the world. Sometimes we have liked the path that they are on, and sometimes we have not. We have always tried to guide them back to where they are suppose to be with love and discipline. The walk with teenagers is a true walk of faith with the Lord. The first time Matthew pulled out of the driveway by himself driving a car was a very humble experience for me. I stood there looking at my child driving away realizing that I was helpless at that moment. If he made a mistake, I wasn't going to be there to grab the wheel or correct him. I almost panicked for a second, and then I realized that I had to trust the Lord with this child. Gone where the days that I would be with him every second of his life and instead I would have to trust the Lord to guide and direct his path. Some days it is easy and some days it isn't. However, it has been such a rewarding season in our life to watch this child grow into being a man and to have a close friendship with him. We still are the parents and our word is the final say, but we can enjoy the friendship that we have developed with him over the years. I am enjoying the next part of this journey with him, and I am thankful for the wonderful memories made.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Homemaking Thoughts

Sometimes I feel down right lazy. I JUST cleaned this house yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. I don't WANT to do it again. Obviously is doesn't stay clean very long so what is the point??!! Yes, I have this very conversation in my head on various days... Some days I overcome my feelings and other days I just give into my desires. The funny thing is that when I am motivated by an outside force, I can clean by leaps and bounds. For example, if we are having company I am miss clean bee. I don't even take time to have this conversation in my head. I just get up and get started!

I have often thought about the women of long long ago. The ones who would have lived in the 1700 and 1800's. If they didn't work, their families would have starved or frozen to death. Talk about a motivator!!! I am not wanting to head back to the 1800's. After all, I do enjoy a good cup of java right out of my Bunn coffee maker in a nice warm house. I wonder if the women of those times ever just didn't feel like doing all the work. Did they ever get tired or was being lazy just never an option? I would love to read a real diary with some of their heart felt thoughts in it...perhaps there might be some keys to answer my questions.

I do know that my own house won't clean itself so I must get to it this morning. It is such a nicer place to be when things are in order. Just by cleaning out and organizing the laundry room, I have eliminated stress in my life. While my home doesn't have to meet the criteria of magazine cover, I do enjoy it to be clean and tidy. My family enjoys it much more as well. The moral of the story for me...stop whining and start cleaning!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

School Notes

It seems just like yesterday that Seth was "doing school" with a passie in his mouth. Now just a few short years later he is actually learning to read. Today I spent time with him teaching him to read short vowel words...mat, sat, cat... It has been quite awhile since I have taught a child to read. Hope is now 10 and she has been reading for along time. I knew all of my life that I wanted to be a teacher. I just didn't realize that I would be teaching my own children at home. I never could have imagined the excitement that I feel each and every time one of my own children learn something profound to them. Seth was tickled pink that he learned some words today. I am so glad that I was the teacher to get to experience this joy of learning with him.

grace and peace,

Monday, December 01, 2008

The weather has turned cold and we are settling in to shorter days and cozier nights. This morning I woke to the mountains dusted in snow. Our living room was crying out for a cozy fire, but we still haven't cut any wood as of yet. Last night our family came together and put up our Christmas decorations. We do not have a lot of decorations so it is a fairly easy job. We ran into a bit of a problem. We can't find one box of our Christmas ornaments. This box contained some of my most precious ones of all, and I had a hard time last night overcoming the sadness I felt upon losing them. I have a feeling that they were thrown away the day that we were cleaning out the shed. Michael is more confident that they are somewhere here. He knew it was bothering me last night so he bundled up and went to search the barn. He found the dog crate, but not the box of ornaments. We did finish the decorating and we even enjoyed some eggnog for the first time. I don't know why it has taken me 40 years to give eggnog a try!
As I am writing, snow has started blowing in from the mountains. Although I don't think it will stick, it sure is beautiful for now. I think hot cocoa and a good read aloud book with the kids in front of the Christmas tree are in order.
grace and peace,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places..." Isaiah 32:18

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Relaxing Day

Everybody but a few kids and my brother have all left the house. Well, I'm still here of course. Today has been one of those great days with no demands, pressures, or expectations. It is glorious. Time spent relaxing and chatting and laughing. Life is good. I think we are still full from yesterday, but just in case there are some hungry ones later in the day we will be firing up the grill to make hamburgers.
grace and peace,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord!" 1 Chronicles 16:8

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kitchen Help for Thanksgiving

Here are a few things that I always do the day before Thanksgiving to help make things go smoother for the actual cooking day. First, I clean out my turkeys today. I do not stuff them ahead of time because that is unsafe, but I have them cleaned and put in the roasting pan. Tomorrow morning when I get up I will only have to preheat the oven and quickly throw the stuffing together and stuff the bird. I cook two turkeys so I start my first turkey around 3:00a.m. (Don't worry, I go straight back to bed for a few more hours of sleep)!

Today I will also cut up my celery and onions for the dressing. I will also bake the cornbread and toast the bread for the breadcrumbs. This is a huge time saver. I crumble all the bread and I am ready for tomorrow to assemble the dressing.

Our family loves fresh cranberries. I cook them several days ahead of time so I am not worrying with these on Thanksgiving day. I will only have to transfer them to a beautiful serving dish.

I will also make my sweet potato casserole this afternoon. I will assemble it, but I will wait to bake it tomorrow. I don't think that early assembly hurts the dish at all, but I do want to bake it the day I serve it.

I will also make my pie crusts today. I always serve Pumpkin, Pecan, and Chess Pies. Each of these pies are easy to mix together, but the homemade pie crusts take a bit extra time. I usually already have my pie crusts made, rolled out, and frozen. This year I didn't feel like that so I will go ahead and make them today. I could bake my pies today. I don't think that would be a huge issue, but I really like my pies best the day they are baked so I will wait. Plus if I bake them today, I have to spend extra energy to guard them from the teenagers that prey on food in the middle of the night!

I hope these ideas help make your Thanksgiving more enjoyable. I love to cook Thanksgiving Dinner, but if I wait until the last minute on everything it can become a challenge. I have found that doing these simple steps the day before makes my day a lot more fun.

grace and peace,

Happy Birthday Joshua Caleb

Today our second son turns 15. Josh is always a fresh breath of sunshine in our family. He always has something funny to add to any situation. He is a very good natured person and he is usually more than willing to help on the farm. He loves to be outdoors hunting and fishing. He truly is a great kid!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Slow and Steady

My motto for my Thanksgiving Preparations has been "Slow and Steady gets you ready." I know it is silly, but it makes me feel better about not buzzing around the house cleaning and cooking everything in sight. While I feel a lot better, I still am dealing with the yucks and little energy. I am so happy that I am not hosting a bunch of people that I would want to impress. I would have to call off the whole deal. I am just hosting my brother and his family which are easy keepers. Love covers a multitude of dirt and things left undone. No pressures...Well there is one pressure...I can't taste anything. How in the world does one go about seasoning all the dishes without being able to taste? This one is a bit concerned about that!!!!
grace and peace,

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

I had my Thanksgiving week planned out to a tee. I was suppose to be preparing scrumptious pies and homemade breads. I was going to finish the cleaning and have everything nice and together for my family. The one thing I didn't plan on was getting sick! We sure were glad there were homemade goodies in the freezer when I was unable to make anything else. Our second son loves Pumpkin Bread and he made sure to thaw it all out and serve it with hot tea when I was unable to fuss about it. Pumpkin Bread did make a nice breakfast, but it was suppose to be served on Thanksgiving morning along with the Banana Bread!!!!~ I am thankful that we are all starting to feel better. I am still looking forward to Thanksgiving, but knowing full well that I won't be as together as I had originally planned. But you know what, not one person around my dinner table is going to be too concerned about all of the other stuff. It just isn't that important after all.
grace and peace,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thought For the Day

No Momma should EVER be sick....especially not right before the holidays!

grace and peace,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Sounds of the Farm

As I was waking up this morning, I kept thinking something is missing. I was fully awake, but something just wasn't right. I couldn't put my finger on it. I crawled out of bed and made a pot of coffee. As I sat drinking a hot cup of java and planning my day in my mind, I realized that my wind chimes were playing a beautiful song. I stopped and listen intently. My wind chimes were a gift to me when my dad died. Instead of sending flowers to the funereal home, this precious family sent me a beautiful set of wind chimes. On the card was written, "Every time you hear these, think of your daddy and smile." As I was sitting there this morning thinking of all the times that my dad and I had coffee together in the morning time, I realized what was missing this morning when I first awoke. The sounds of the farm were silent, and they have been silent for awhile now. How many times have the wind chimes made noise and I haven't even heard it? When did our neighbor move the donkeys from the side field and how long had I missed the peculiar sound that they make? And how could you not hear the sound of a bunch of donkeys? And how could you not realize the moment it left? I also realized that our chickens don't make noise any more. I miss hearing the rooster in the morning. Then I remembered the day the rooster made me mad. Then it dawned on me this morning I wonder what else is happening all around me on a daily basis that I somehow miss.... I get so busy with all the doings of life that somehow I miss the listening and living of life. "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10 seems to fit for me today.

grace and peace,


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fall Garden

Our fall garden has been a bust this year. We started off strong, but we didn't take into account the chickens. Our chickens didn't bother our summer garden so I had no reason to believe that our fall garden would be in danger. However, by the time I realized what the chickens were doing it was too late to salvage much. Apparently chickens enjoy broccoli and cabbage leaves along with collard greens. I don't know why, but our chickens haven't bothered our lettuce too much. We are enjoying bowls of fresh garden lettuce and green onions. I will also be picking some of our spinach and serving spinach salad when my mom is here. The temperatures have dipped into the low 30's and upper 20's here, but I haven't taken the time to cover the lettuce. As of yet, it doesn't seem to be hurting it at all. My goal was to see how long we could eat fresh produce this year. As much as I miss the broccoli and collard greens, we are still able to get by without purchasing too much produce from the grocery store.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Clearing Continues

Robert is about half way finished clearing our woods. He is leaving the hardwoods in tack. I haven't actually been back there in the last few days. I am anxious to see what it looks like.

He spent yesterday burning a large brush pile while he continued to clear more trees. I am looking so forward to getting this project completed. Michael will be breaking up the soil in the new area this February and planting seed soon after that. We have spent $2000 on hay to feed our animals this winter, and he is concerned that we will still need to purchase $900 more. The reason we have sheep is to make money, and if we keep spending large sums to feed them then we will have to rethink the whole sheep for profit thing. Our goal is to be able to produce enough good grass that we can cut hay here on our own farm. We don't have a square baler or any hay equipment, but that would be a better purchase than to continue to buy hay from other farmers.
I think we went about this whole farming thing kind of backwards. We got the animals before we really had the facilities to take care of them. The fences were suitable for large cows and horses, but not for calves or sheep. Now our animals are all stuck in a small pen off the side of the barn until Michael can finish the fence. This first section should be completed by the end of this weekend. Each new day brings about some other farm lesson for us to learn around here. Not a bad way to spend your days if you ask me.
grace and peace,

Monday, November 17, 2008

In the Kitchen

Groceries have been bought for the next two weeks, and now it is time to head into the kitchen and start my pre-baking. For the entire week of Thanksgiving, I am responsible for the company's breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I generally do a large lunch/dinner whenever we have company and then everybody snacks around in the evening time. The one meal that causes me frustration is the breakfast. It usually requires me to get up EXTRA early to prepare enough whatever to feed everybody. This year I have decided to make some things that can be prepared ahead of time. I tried a new recipe this morning for a french toast type casserole that is made the day before and baked the next morning. Unfortunately, it wasn't good. Truth be told, it was down right nasty! So we won't be putting that on our menu. The other issue that I have with my family that is coming is that they don't eat eggs! That eliminates all of my great breakfast casseroles with eggs. So...
I am heading into the kitchen this morning to make pumpkin bread and banana nut bread to freeze for Thanksgiving morning breakfast. I am also starting to make homemade wheat bread to freeze for a quick breakfast. If you have any great non-eggy type recipes, please feel free to share them!!!
grace and peace,

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Take Care of the Pennies and the Dollars Will Take Care of Themselves

When my mom first graduated high school, she worked in a lawyer's office. The lawyer was an older Jewish man that always said, "Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." My mom used to tell me that when I was a child. To this day whenever I walk past a penny on the ground I pick it up and hear that saying. His point was that when we watch and are frugal with our pennies, that the dollars will start to add up all on their own.

Yesterday I was at the grocery store. It was late and I was purchasing meat for our family for the next two weeks. Catfish was on sale and I decided I would treat our family to a Sunday afternoon dinner of Catfish and the works. Any good southern woman worth anything knows that you don't serve catfish without also serving coleslaw. I hate to make coleslaw. I don't know when this aversion to making coleslaw started, but I just don't like to make it. I was picking up the last thing on my list and I was headed to the produce section to pick up cabbage for the slaw making. I had to walk past the deli section of the store, and I knew full well that their coleslaw was good. I NEVER by deli salads, but I was tempted to purchase it this time. I gave in to my temptation and got a container of coleslaw without even looking at the price. This afternoon when I pulled out that container I glanced down and my eyes about popped out of my head when I saw what that small container of coleslaw cost. I am not joking when I say that a little container of slaw cost $5.02. That was more than I spent on one package of fish! While the slaw was good, it wasn't THAT good. I figured I could have made a much larger container of slaw for about $1.50.

I was shocked. I was tired and I gave into convenience. I wonder how many pennies and dollars I have wasted giving into convenience. While I do not do this often, I am sure over the years I would be amazed at how much money has been wasted. I do know that there are times that convenience is worth the high dollar amount paid, but last night I was just being lazy. I just wanted to share my new found discovery and encourage all of you to skip the deli coleslaw and go home and make it fresh!!!

grace and peace,

Sunday Scripture

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Preparations

I have spent the last several hours thinking and planning out the next two weeks of menus. I will be heading out later this evening to do the grocery shopping. Once that chore is complete, then I am ready to enjoy the holidays. I was looking for notebook paper to write down all of my thoughts, and I happened to stumble upon the notebook that I did all of my planning in last year. This was truly a blessing from the Lord. I was able to quickly look at all of my meals that I cooked last year and then I just adapted a little bit for this year. What a time saver!!! I believe I will keep this little notebook tucked away for future uses.

grace and peace,

Friday, November 14, 2008


Just a reminder to cast your vote for your choice of political party. Don't forget to post any comments you may have for one party or the other. Here's an interesting article by Andrew Davis comparing the two parties.
God bless,

Friday Evening Thoughts

This is our first Friday without football in quite awhile. It almost seems odd, but in a nice sort of way. The funny part is that some of the kids went with Michael to watch a local football playoff game. Go figure... Not how.... I have sit outside in the freezing cold and rain enough over the last few weeks. I am not about to do it unless one of my own children are playing. I am planning a hot bubble bath, an evening with a good book, and time to chill with my daughter. She likes to read too so I guess we will both be curled up together enjoying some quite time. I might just brew me up a nice pot of coffee and beg one of my boys to concoct something chocolate for our evening at home. This is the life for me!!!

grace and peace,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Important Decision

My wife and I have been members of the Republican party since we were first old enough to vote. I came from a family that was mutually Republican where she came from a Democratic household. With these being the two dominant parties, we've never honestly considered a third party. But the time has come for change (not the kind of change being touted by the President elect).
While it is a no brainer that we do not identify with 90% of the Democratic party's platform, we have become more and more dissatisfied with the Republican party's non-adherence to what used to be their platform. Many of our elected Republican leaders have drifted further and further from upholding our constitution and show no signs of correcting this behaviour.
Therefore, we are in the midst of deciding on a new political party and would like your opinions as we make this decision. There is a poll posted to the right, please vote and then post your opinions and/or experiences with either party. We have narrowed it down to these two parties and aren't considering any others. If you are not familiar with either or them, follow these links for more information Libertarian Party or Constitution Party. I will be following up with more posts on politics as we look to become more active in our community, state, and national policy decisions.
God bless,

A Few of My Favorite Things

With all the organizing and cleaning that has been taking place in our home the last few weeks, Missy is having a hard time finding her favorite spot. She still isn't allowed in our bedroom and now the boys' upstairs bedroom is off limits. She tries her best to sneak in our daughter's room every chance she can get, but Hope is vigilant and keeps her out as much as possible. No one can blame Hope for not wanting Missy anywhere near her things. When Missy was a puppy, her favorite things to chew were anything belonging to Hope! Let's just say Hope has never really found that soft spot in her heart for our beloved Missy.

Missy finally found her favorite thing. She loves to find Seth laying in the floor and then she lays right on top of him. It is one of the few things that keeps Seth still for any length of time. He loves it when she snuggles him up!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Organizing Continues

I pulled our almost 15 year old son to help in Jacob and Seth's bedroom yesterday. I turned my back for just a minute and I found him playing with his four year old brother's toys!! Even with all the toy play, we did manage to get quite a bit accomplished in there. We still have a lot of office equipment to move out of the room. About 2 years ago, we moved the boys out of their adorable baseball room down to the basement to sleep with their older brothers. At the time, Michael was working full time at home and needed an office. We were out of rooms so the younger boys wanted to sleep with the older boys and we combined them all. Job situation has changed and we no longer need a home office. The younger boys are excited about heading back upstairs to their own room once again. The cleaning will continue for today. I REALLY need to repaint the room, but I think I will first try washing the walls. Did I mention that I don't like to paint???
grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day

I wanted to take a moment and say "Happy Veteran's Day" to all the people who have served in our military. I am so appreciative of the time that you gave to keep our country safe and fight for our freedoms that we so dearly love. My husband is also a veteran. I know the cost that we paid during his time in the Navy. I know what it was like to have a 3 year old child stand by my bed in the middle of the night sobbing uncontrollably because he wanted his Daddy. I know what it is like for another son not to really know his Daddy and cry when he was left with him because his Daddy had been gone so much. I know the heartache of standing at the pier to drop my sailor off and know that he would be underway soon with no communication. I also know the joy of standing at that same pier waiting for my sailor to come across the plank to greet me once again after being gone. The tears that came when I started seeing the men come off the sub and my heart beating faster just waiting to see MY man.

Michael will be celebrating Veteran's Day with several other ex-Navy guys. They are going out to dinner and then going bowling. I am sure there will be many Navy stories to tell and many wonderful memories relived tonight. We wouldn't trade Michael's time in the Navy in for anything. It was good for us even though at times it was very hard. It gave him a good career that he has pursued after his military time. It grew us up and made us strong in ways that other things never could. The Navy gave us friendships that have stood the test of time.

grace and peace,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love cooking the meal and having company. This year my brother and his family will be coming to stay with us and my mom will also join in on the fun. The key to having a fun holiday is in the PLANNING. Making my Thanksgiving menu is easy because I am a traditionalist and nothing changes there from year to year. We use the same menu that my mom cooked all of my childhood. I do add a few extra desserts some times, but I am satisfied if I just have pumpkin and pecan pies. I do use the month of November to catch up on things around the house. We do not usually have company over the Christmas holiday so this is the time to get those last minute chores completed. That is why the laundry room got a major overhaul. Jacob and Seth's room is now the priority because we need the space for extra people to sleep over Thanksgiving. Hope's room also goes to the top of the list because that is the room that we use as a guest room. These type of things take TIME so I have been steadily working on them for the last few weeks. I also need to plan the menu for the entire week and get as much of that cooking done ahead as I can. Did I mention that our second son has a birthday the day before Thanksgiving this year? That takes some extra thought. I usually allow our kids to choose their birthday dinner and cake. This year I chose for him, but I did clear the menu with him first. He was satisfied so that made things a bit easier for me. I encourage you to take some time this week and do some planning for the holiday. I PROMISE you if you are cooking a large meal just planning a few weeks ahead makes all the difference in the world. Instead of feeling stressed and frustrated, you will enjoy the holiday so much more!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ashley from Many Blessings has tagged me to play a game listing 8 things about myself that you don't know.

Here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with eight random fact/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose 3 people to get tagged and list their name.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and to read your blog.

1. I graduated college while Michael was stationed in upstate New York. I majored in English and I minored in Education. I love teaching, and I never dreamed in a million years that I would home school my own children. During my college years, I thought home schooling was a very poor option for any child. Now, I think it is the BEST option out there for children. Although our two oldest boys did go to public school for high school, I still think home schooling is the best.

2. I grew up in a neighborhood, but my dream was to live on a farm. I loved going to my grandmother's farm in Indiana and spending time there during the summer. I loved going through all of her old junk in the outbuildings. One summer her husband made me a play house out of the old chicken coop. It was adorable and I still treasure those memories today. After we got married, Michael served many years in the Navy so it took even longer for my dream of a farm to come to reality. By the way, I still love antiques and old junk.

3. Not only had I dreamed of living on a farm when I grew up, I also dreamed of having many children. I always wanted at least 6 kids. I wanted my home to be full of children and fun. We ended up with 5 children, and I ended up having 5 miscarriages throughout the years. I have a very soft place in my heart for people who have trouble conceiving or have experienced miscarriages. It is a sadness that words cannot explain.

4. I love to read. I love to read so much that I don't do it very often because I become so engrossed in the story line that my home falls apart. Once I start a fiction book, I can't put it down until I am at the end of it. My answer to my lack of self discipline is just not to read fiction. Usually I do tend to curl up with good books during the winter months. I especially like to have a roaring fire and a nice hot cup of coffee. Dessert is also much enjoyed during these quiet reading times!

5. I hate to exercise, but I do it any way.

6. I have developed a love of photography over the last few years. I would love to purchase a great camera and take photography classes.

7. I love to be outdoors. I enjoy hiking and camping. I never get tired of spending time outdoors. I love waterfalls and mountains. I think fall is my favorite time of year, but truth be told each season is my favorite! I love to go for walks with Michael around the farm and just drink in all the beauty that the Lord has blessed us with here in Tennessee.

8. I am truly happy with the life that the Lord has given to me. If I had my life to live all over again, I would choose the same path that I have walked. I truly enjoy the journey that God has given me and my heart is full of thanksgiving. I love being a wife, mother, and homemaker. I do believe that I am fulfilling the call that God has on my life... and I am happy.

grace and peace,


Sunday Scripture

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Revelation 3:20

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Creating Beautiful Tablescapes

I saw the most beautiful tablescape on a new blog this morning. As I was sitting dreaming about all the lovely things that go into a stunning tablescape, I remembered I had my own perfect tablescape that fit into our family quiet nicely. Although it does seem to impede the actual meal somewhat, I thought I would share my creative idea on tablescapes and see if you would like to create your own!!

My tablescape stands....

And sits....
And in the end, she takes a bow!!! How is that for talented, and beautiful, and creative???!!
grace and peace,
P.S. If some how you aren't quite for sure that this tablescape will be right for your home, perhaps you might want to see what this lady has to offer.