Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This morning I awoke looking forward to my day at home. I had my own plans and agenda, and it was a good one! I would continue with the cleaning of the upstairs and then move to the dreaded downstairs. The downstairs is where all the men children live. It is a mess, and I hate cleaning down there. If the men children weren't bad enough, the big English Mastiff also spends much of her time down there as well. I was planning on making homemade chicken pot pie for dinner. I thought perhaps I could make two and share one with a family who is fighting sickness right now. As I was headed to take a shower, I stopped to pour me a cup of coffee. Then I saw it. I knew I had a choice to make. Matthew took off and left his book bag sitting on the kitchen floor. He is half way to college this morning. I knew he had three tests tomorrow and is a bit stressed. He planned on spending the whole day studying. He had even made arrangements with a friend to spend the night so he would have more study time. I had a choice. I could lay down my wants and desires for the day and do something to benefit him or I could make him come home and take responsibility for his actions. I knew instantly which one I would choose. I called him and I could hear his disbelief of not being prepared. He was quiet, not wanting to ask me to drive a two hour round trip to return his bag. He didn't ask, but instead I offered.

As a mother, I have to make wise decisions concerning my children. I knew this morning that Matthew just made a mistake. He was up in plenty of time. He was being responsible. He just forgot his bag. I haven't always been able to say those things about him. There was a time that I would not have driven 10 minutes to return his things because he wouldn't take responsibility for himself. He would just let me do things for him instead of doing them. When I realized where he was at in life, I told him that I would no longer bring stuff to him. If he was unprepared, then so be it. He learned some hard lessons during that time in his life, but guess what...he grew into being a responsible young man.

This morning I knew what helping out my son would mean for my day. I counted the cost and realized that people are more important than things or even a clean house. As soon as I offered to bring his bag to him, I heard his heart in his voice. He was relieved and thankful. I think he was also surprised. I don't share this story with you to make myself sound good. I am not. As a person, I sometimes get locked up with wanting my own plans. I know the Lord calls us to lay down our life for Him. I know that the Lord pricked my heart this morning to lay down my wants for my son. I think it easier to do that for others that are outside of our own family. If my neighbor had needed me today, I wouldn't have even taken the time to count the cost. I would have just said a wholehearted "yes". I often forget that my ministry is to my family as well. So with a blink of an eye, my plans for the day were changed... and it is o.k. I know that I am being obedient to the Lord and with that comes much peace.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Quick Fall Front Porch and Supper Idea

As we walked out the door this morning, my daughter squealed about it being cold. She was right. There was a chill in the air, and it is just one more signal that fall is here at our doorstep. This past weekend I grabbed a few mums and pumpkins to decorate our front porch. It took me about 10 minutes to put this together. I spent under $30 so that was also a plus. I always leave my big cedar bucket of dirt in all of my porch decorations. I pull out the used plants and start again with new plants for the season. I also keep the spikes in my planters for as long as they will live. This gives me extra height without extra money. I have had the spikes since early spring so I think that has been a good use of my money. I also reuse the same dirt so I don't have to spend extra money refilling the huge cedar planter. I am sure that sometime next year I will need to replace my dirt so that things will keep growing nicely. I am hoping to keep my mums blooming throughout the fall season. I would like to do more complex outside decorations, but time and money are limited so I make do with smaller. It still makes me happy!
Since the weather has turned cooler, I decided it was time to make some black eyed peas, rice and fried corn bread. I will add either some cooked spinach or fried cabbage to the menu. I also have some sweet potatoes that need to be used so I think I will include a sweet potato casserole. I am not for sure that really goes with the rest of the meal, but for those few kids that don't love the peas and rice they will really appreciate the addition of sweet potatoes. I love fall meals, and I love to cook them as well. They are generally cheap and easy to fix!!! That sounds like a winner to me!

grace and peace,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Removing the Wall

Our house has been full of hustle and bustle. Everything around us is torn apart, but in the end it should be worth all the effort. Michael and Joshua have made major steps in removing the wall that divides our living room from our kitchen/dining area. Here in the upper picture, you can see the wall on the right. This is the wall that will be coming down in order to make a great room. The wall on the left is the temporary wall that Joshua built. Since the wall that is being removed is a load bearing wall, temporary walls had to be installed in order to keep our ceiling from cracking or falling.
Joshua did a great job building the temporary walls. He learned the old adage "measure twice and cut once" very well. While he was building temporary walls, Michael was at work on moving the electric from the wall. He had to take out the electrical wires and rewire them to other areas. He also ordered the beam that we will use for holding our ceiling in place. It cost just a little over a $100. I think that is a good investment for something that will help make our house much more to our liking. There is still much work to be done. I have given them a deadline of Thanksgiving. I really want our home put back together in time to host our annual family Thanksgiving. If it isn't completed by then, we will still be thankful and have everybody here anyway. It is just nice to have a goal!
Missy has been a little bewildered with all the mess. You can tell she isn't happy about the whole process. I told her she might as well get used to it!!!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Summer

We have spent the last several months putting up the bounty of our garden. Summer is slipping away and slowly turning into autumn, and for that I am grateful. Although I didn't can like I usually do this past summer, our pantry is well stocked. We will have enough to carry us into next summer. We also picked up our meat from the butcher's a few days ago. As I was stocking our freezer with the beef that we raised, I realized that we have quite a bit to see us through the winter. I like seeing a stocked freezer and pantry. It brings comfort to me. I feel like I have spent the summer accomplishing something. I am ready once again to get pigs. I hope that some day we can have both pork and beef in the freezer at the same time!

grace and peace,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Is In the Air

We spent a lot of time outside this weekend, and I can just feel fall right at my fingertips. I love this time of year. I know I have told you that many times, but it is worth repeating. I like to bring fall into our home. I usually buy the little pumpkins and gourds to use for decoration. This year I found some fake ones at Walmart and since they were cheap, I purchased them. I have them in arrangements by the fireplace. I also splurged and bought some fall pillar candles to go in my large candle holder that sits in the fireplace. I poured some popcorn kernels in some large glass candle holders. I then added some pretty fall candles to that, and they are sitting in our living room. I pulled out our fall tablecloths for our large farm table in the kitchen. I grabbed my fall wreath for the front door. While at Walmart, I also purchased some pretty fall ribbon. I decorated a cake plate with the ribbon and added one of my large cake candles to make a nice fall centerpiece for our table. My kids were delighted. These few little things that took me about 20 minutes in all made several of my kids tell me how much they loved the decorations and the autumn season. What am I going to do today to help fall make its lovely debute? I am going to bake pies, but not just any pies. I am going to make Apple Pie and Cherry Pie. That should do the trick!

grace and peace,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wonderful Banana Nut Bread

The first time I made this banana bread I knew I had found a jewel of a treasure. I also knew that if I were to ever open up my own restaurant, this bread would be on the menu. Yes, it is that good. I like to eat mine with a cup of coffee outside while the autumn breeze is blowing! This bread screams "Autumn!" the whole time you are eating it. Enjoy!!!

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped pecans, divided

Orange Glaze
1 cup powder sugar
3 Tablespoons orange juice

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add bananas and vanilla. Mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, add to creamed mixture. Fold in 1 cup of pecans. Transfer to 2 greased loaf pans. Sprinkle with remaining pecans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours or until toothpick comes out clean. (I baked mine for an hour). Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pans. As soon as the bread is removed from the pans, drizzle glaze over warm bread. (This bread is best if allowed to sit for a day before cutting. I usually bake mine first thing in the morning, and then we enjoy it that evening or the next day. Since it makes two loaves, I always freeze one of the loaves for another occasion. Let the bread cool completely. Wrap in tinfoil and freeze. To serve, remove it from the freezer the day before you want to eat). (This recipe was found in Taste of Homes Magazine).

grace and peace,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Do I Enjoy?

A friend from long ago reconnected with me yesterday. We met when our husbands served in the Navy, and we both were still young wives. We watched each other go from being just wives into being mothers. We lost track of one another over the years. Time has a way of doing that. Yesterday I received an email from her and I shot her a quick email back. In passing, I asked her what does she enjoy now in her life. A simple question, but oh what a thoughtful answer she gave me. As I read it, I smiled and knew all was well. I asked her permission to share her thoughts with you, and she agreed.

Let's see, what type of things do I enjoy? I enjoy spending time with people whom are loving and kind and love the Lord and like to talk about spirituality. I enjoy music and the arts and theatre. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I achieve something I've been working toward. I enjoy biscuits and honey and a hot cup of tea with milk and honey...I enjoy the smell of the air after it's rained, the feel of wind against my skin, and picking vegetables in the garden. I enjoy a soft bed when it's been a hard day, a ice cold glass of fresh squeezed lemonade on a hot day, and spending time learning more about the God who created me, and what He wants for my life... If you want the more standard version, I do enjoy photography, literature, art, music, design, scuba diving, hiking, driving in the country just to gaze upon the beauty, and my family....(not to mention your coconut pie!) I love my family and friends! I have enjoyed being at home since not working. I'm here to see everyone off to school and to work, to prepare their breakfast and lunches, and to be here upon their return...That's pretty cool in my thoughts!!! (Words penned by Leigh Stannifer)

Oh, I loved her list and her thoughts. I too love almost all of those things except the part about scuba diving! I would like to add to her list...

I love the feel of my husband's touch and his look that assures me all is well with the world... I love the sound of laughter ringing from my children's lips...I enjoy cutting fresh flowers and the beauty of the farm... I enjoy when my older boys wrap their arms around me and tell me how much they love me... I enjoy when the youngest boy tells me that he will always be my little man...I enjoy hearing my daughter's ballet pointe shoes clicking on the floor and seeing her smile when she accomplishes her goal... I enjoy watching my kids interact with one another and enjoying the treasure of being in a large family... I enjoy the fog on the mountains and the sounds of the cows mooing... I enjoy a clean house and the smell of fresh baked bread and a well stocked pantry brimming with food that came from our own garden...I enjoy being with my husband and hearing him laugh and sharing my heart with him...

"What do enjoy?" is such a generic simple question, but oh the possibilities!!!! How about you...What do you enjoy?

grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just a Thought

As a little girl, I remember going outside with my baby doll and playing house. I looked so forward to the day that I would have a real house. I spent countless hours pretending to cook dinners made of mud and leaves and sprinkled with dog food. I had to add the dog food in order for my German Shepherd to want to eat it! I kept her food in my pocket and she followed me around the yard throughout all of my imagination wanderings. Looking back, it is funny to me to realize that my childhood backyard house never needed cleaning. It was a magical time where I could play the part without having to do the work.

I have since grown up and had a house of my own for many years. Michael and I are now on our 22 year of marriage. I have to laugh at myself because some days I would rather be outside dreaming of something else than taking care of the house that I now have. I have grand visions of how clean and beautiful I will keep our house when all the renovations are completed. When I am honest with myself, I know that no matter how pretty the finished product is I will still have to wash the same yucky dishes and clean up the same muddy paw prints! I am challenging myself to be content with what I have at this moment even if it means my walls are undone and my floors are unfinished. Being thankful changes my outlook. If I am thankful for the food that we consumed, than the dirty dishes aren't such a problem. It would be heartbreaking if we had no food to put on those dishes. If I am thankful for the farm that we own, the dirt from the yard isn't such a big deal. It is all in the attitude. Today is one of those days that I would love to go outside and sit on the fence and dream about something else. I am old enough to know that it would be more productive to just finish the task at hand rather than let my thoughts carry me away to another project or place. My heart is full of thanksgiving for what the Lord has given me...the good, the bad, and the dirty. It is time to once again tackle those dirty dishes and piles of laundry with a grateful heart. Then maybe there will still be time to go outside and dream of dreams that have yet to come to past knowing full well that when I go back inside, my house will be clean!

grace and peace,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Do You Want Some Puppy Chow?

My family loves Puppy Chow! There I said it, and now you too can know that we are a little wacky. Missy loves Puppy Chow too. Your family can also love this quick and fun snack/dessert. I made a big batch of Puppy Chow yesterday afternoon. It took me about 10 minutes to fix and it was a hit for the football game. I also packed up some for the sweet friend that was headed back to college. It is nice to have a little bit of home when you are stuck in a dorm room! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Puppy Chow
9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup Semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
powder sugar

Melt chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Heat about 30 seconds more. Stir again. (You can also do this on the stove top if you prefer not to use the microwave). Once melted, stir in vanilla. Add cereal and stir until chocolate mixture covers the cereal. Once covered, transfer into a ziploc bag that contains about a cup of powder sugar. Shake until well coated. (I usually do this twice using half the cereal the first time and then adding some powder sugar and doing the rest). Let dry and store in a jar or a ziploc bag. We never have any left to store so that hasn't been an issue for us! This mixture makes nice gifts too. Enjoy!

grace and peace,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. " Psalm 62:6

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Country Problems

Living in the country has many great things, but there are a few down sides. We have been bothered with a fox that sneaks in and out of our woods. We are having a terrible time catching him, and he has eaten all of our chickens except the two that sleep on top of the roof. Our baby chicks are located in the shop to make sure they are out of harms way. The other bad thing is that this fox obviously has mange and is sick. He comes out during the day which is not normal. We did just get a trap to see if we can catch him. There will be no way that we can ever free range our chickens if we can't get this fox under control. I am now a bit worried about Seth playing outside by the barn due to the fox. We are watching and waiting. I am looking forward to when this problem comes to an end!

grace and peace,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Momma Missy

The Post Office called early this morning to tell me that our baby chicks had arrived. I had forgotten that this was the week so I was caught off guard. I made a quick trip to town to pick up the chicks, and I quickly got their new home in the shop put together.
Of course, Missy had to help make sure they were all well. She likes baby chicks. She wants to have her nose in everything especially where baby animals are concerned.

Don't you think she would have made a good momma? Do you see the worried look on her brow? I think we should have bred here and had little Missy puppies everywhere. Okay, I have had one cough drop too many over the past few days!!!!! I think I am losing my mind.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Nice Appetizer or Side Dish

The other evening I thought all of my family would be around my dinner table. I made 9 large baked potatoes. I generally throw an extra one in the oven for leftovers for lunch. Our dinner was late due to a football game, and several of my kids had already eaten. I had 6 large baked potatoes left. A couple of days later I pulled the potatoes out of the frig and created a quick appetizer. First, cut the potatoes in half and then cut again. Each potato will result in four long pieces. Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet. Fry the potatoes until heated through and browned. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with Kosher salt. I then sprinkle cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, and chives. Serve with sour cream. This dish probably took me about 10 minutes to make because the potatoes were already baked. How is that for a quick appetizer for a household of hungry males?

grace and peace,


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Best Thank You Gift Ever

Recently a young family that we knew from Florida came to visit with us. We haven't seen them since their wedding 8 years ago. We got to meet their 3 children and we had a wonderful time getting to know each other all over again. About a week after they left our home, we got a package in the mail. Let me just say, "Oh, MY!" I have often times received thank you packages, but this one was different. They gave each member of our family a special gift and on the outside of the package they wrote a special letter to each person. The gifts were great, but the letters were priceless. It was obvious they spent a lot of time this weekend getting to know us.

Seth LOVES cars and can you guess what was in his package?

Josh was thrilled with his letter and gift. He smiled all over himself when he read the note written to him. He kept saying, "I can't believe they got me a gift!"

Jacob had never eaten a Gobstopper until they gave him a handful one afternoon. He was hooked. You can imagine how happy he was when he was given his own box of Gobstoppers! It too came with a special note which made him smile from ear to ear.
I didn't get a picture of Hope opening her gift. Her note read "You were pretty then, but you are beautiful now..." which, let me tell you, made a 10 year old girl smile from ear to ear. The gift also made Hope smile. We had all gone to Walmart together and Hope had spotted some big blue earrings that I wouldn't purchase for her. Well, Stacie made a mental note. She went back home to Florida and bought the earrings that Hope had wanted so badly. (Stacie, you scored big)!!!
Each gift was special and each note was a treasure and it made all of us feel so very special. I think that is the best thank you gift ever! Thanks bunches Greg and Stacie!!!!!!
grace and peace,

Friday, September 04, 2009

Calling All Beef Jerky Makers: HELP ME, Please

We didn't butcher our jersey cow, but we did take our Black Angus cow to be slaughtered. I could have used her picture, but I am funny about looking at pictures of animals that we are eating so I deleted them all. I don't feel so bad about looking at pictures of our jersey cows that are still very much alive and well here on our farm. Now that you know one of my little quirks, I am asking for your help. No, I don't need help with my mental state, but I do need help in learning how to make beef jerky. My kids love beef jerky. Over the years, I am sure I have used up our potential retirement account keeping these kids in beef jerky. Our local Mennonite store sells wonderful beef jerky with a very large price tag. I was appalled to see two of my boys down $10 worth of jerky before we even got back home! I am on a quest to create our own wonderful jerky. I have the dehydrator for the job and the cow, but that is as far as I have gotten. Please post comments or direct me to some great tried and true websites for making this manly snack. I don't even like jerky, but my men and daughter sure do!!!! Missy,the English Mastiff, also wants me to let you know that she loves jerky almost as much as shoes!!!!! Thanks in advance!!!!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Maybe This is the Problem!

My husband bought me a treadmill because it was almost impossible to find time in my day to exercise outside of our home. I tried the whole getting up at 4:30 a.m. thing and I went to the local YMCA. Let's just say by 4:30 p.m. I wasn't very pleasant. It only got worse as the night continued. I am thrilled with my treadmill and I am using it often. My kids are also using it which is a double blessing. My oldest son, the resident health nut and lifeguard and worker at the YMCA, came in one day while I was on the treadmill. He came downstairs to encourage me in my effort. As he came closer to me, he saw that I was watching the Food Network while running on the treadmill. "Could that be your problem, Mom?", he asked. What problem??? Is it my fault I like to dream of yummy desserts and special treats while being on the treadmill? I think not!!!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Fall Beckons To Me

I know that colors like these are just around the corner here in East Tennessee. It won't be long now, and I feel it in the air. I love the beginning of a new season. It seems as if one season isn't quite ready to give up and the new season is dancing a teasing dance beckoning me to come and play. I find that during this time of year I am anxious to switch to more fall menu ideas. Tonight we will be eating White Bean Chili and I am going to try a new apple bread recipe for dessert. If it is a hit, I will post the recipe soon. I am also getting back in the mood to bake breads again. There is something about the change from summer to fall that draws me back into the kitchen to play. Perhaps it is the fact that the canner is put away until summer once again forces it back to the top of my priority list and stove. I can already feel the slower pace that a new fall brings to our house. The days are getting a bit shorter which causes us all to settle in at night a bit easier. Yes, I am ready for a new season. How about you?

grace and peace,