Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Scripture

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."  Isaiah 26:3

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow or Not

Yesterday evening the snow started.  The weatherman predicted that we were going to get anywhere between 6 inches to 14 inches.  We have never seen that much snow since we have lived here.  The kids were all kinds of excited.  They had a day of sledding and bonfires planned.  I am sure we will also be playing some card games and watching some movies.   Those were our plans, but when we woke up this morning there was not much snow at all.  I heard the disappointment in the kids' voices.  Just enough snow to cover the ground was all that we saw.  The roads look icy, but nothing more.  I want my money back... I want a refund on the bad reports of weathermen!!!!

grace and peace,

Friday, January 29, 2010

Freezer and Pantry Stock

It seems that so much of my life is involved with feeding somebody!  If it isn't husband and kids, then it is some animal.  Everybody on this farm likes to eat.  We grow or raise a lot of our own food.  I wish we could do more because our grocery budget is still high.  I was doing freezer inventory last night.  The cow that we slaughtered in September is almost gone.  How does one family eat that much beef in just a few short months?!!  I thought an entire cow was suppose to last at least a year.  I do have to keep in mind that we feed 7 to 9 people on a regular basis.  Although we haven't raised any more pigs here on our farm, we did purchase a whole hog from a friend.  He gave us a good deal which turned out to be almost as cheap as raising it ourselves.  He had extra so he was willing to share.  I am so thankful to have pork back in the freezer.  Our canned goods are not holding out very well either.  I have already finished the last of my home grown tomato sauce, grape jelly, and most of our green beans.  Next year will find me planning and growing and canning way more than I did this past year!  I learned my lesson.  We are feeding up another cow to hit the freezer in the month of March.  We are also looking to purchase pigs again soon.  I suggested we wait until it gets just a little bit warmer outside.  It isn't that pressing now that we have a freezer full of pork! 

grace and peace,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gardening for the New Year

If you want a garden like this...

and flowers like this...

and salads like this...

and produce like this...

then you have to start NOW!!!!  Yes, I know that it is still January.  I am already feeling a bit behind.  I had hoped to have my grow station already put together by now!!!  If you are wanting to keep up with my garden chores, and follow along for your own garden, I have put a list on the right side of my blog.  It will keep you up to date on what I am doing to get our garden growing this year.  If you live close to our zone, you too can follow my list and make YOUR  own garden grow!!  Just remember that sometimes I am behind so don't always depend on me to keep you ahead of the game!!!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Do They Know?

Michael works from home almost all the time now.  He doesn't leave very often unless he has a meeting so how do they know?  It can't be the fact that he drives away in his red truck.  I also drive the red truck, and they don't get into any trouble then.  Sometimes one of the teenagers drives the red truck to the dump, but again no trouble happens.  It appears that the trouble ONLY happens when Michael is on his way to an important business meeting of some sort.  I suggested that he quit talking to the animals about his work plans.  You know, leave them in the dark a bit.  Just give them food and water no other bits of information.  Apparently, he didn't follow my advice.  How do I know you ask?  Well, this morning just after he left for one of those important meetings, I had a problem.  I am not even kidding when I say he wasn't even gone for 20 minutes.  How did the cow know that he was gone and decide to let herself out of the fence and into the backyard?  I tell you...they prey on the weak in the herd, and they have figured out I am the weak farmer.  I ended up running around outside without shoes slamming any and all gates shut in order to keep her contained in the backyard.  I think I heard her laughing!

grace and peace,
(The above picture was taken a few summers ago).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Exodus, The Story of Moses Ballet

The ballet went wonderful this past weekend.  Yes, I survived being a makeup artist, but I had my moments!  Just to let you know, these pictures were all taken during a rehersal.  We didn't use make up for this night! This ballet was so beautiful.  The backdrops and lighting made the story come to life, not to mention the dancers. 

Our daughter had several roles in the performance.  Here she is dancing the part of a Hebrew girl that is being robbed.  She is getting ready to plant a large kick into the shin of her assailant.  With all her brothers, she has had plenty of practice for this scene!

She escaped the robbery, and now she is back doing her daily chores as a young Hebrew girl.  She played the part of Jethro's daughter.  In the next picture, she is dancing with her biblical father, Jethro, and her sister.

In the picture below, she is dressed as a water dancer.  The water dancers were the one who drowned the Egyptian army.  It was one of my favorite scenes.  Beautiful!

Hope enjoyed all of her parts.  She is bowing for her part in curtain call in the picture below.

During curtain call, she looked like she was having a great time.  It is truly an unusual experience for me to be involved with a ballet.  I enjoyed it, and I know she did.  She said she wasn't nervous, and I don't think she really was.  One night, she danced in front of 700 people.  I would have been throwing up, but I guess that is why I didn't take dance.  When I was a teenager, I quit organ lessons because I got sick every time I played for a church service!  Now that the ballet is finished, I am ready to get back to my normal ordinary life that I love so much.  Next on my agenda, the spring garden! 

grace and peace,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cookbooks and Ideas

I love cookbooks.  I have several that are like my best friends.  The above cookbook is one. It is worn and tattered with many splatters.  I use this cookbook for my biscuit recipe and also my pancake recipe.  The recipes that are in this book are like the ones that grandmothers pass down to the next generation. 

A few days ago, I posted how to turn one homemade biscuit recipe into three different things.  You can read about that here.  My mom didn't want to make homemade biscuits, but she liked the idea of having blueberry biscuits.  She decided to try making blueberry biscuits using Grands canned biscuits.  She placed the biscuits on a baking sheet.  She made a well in the center of the biscuit.  She sprinkled a bit of sugar on the biscuit and then she added blueberry pie filling.  She baked according to the directions.  After they cooled, she made the glaze.  She said they were wonderful.  She is now thinking of other biscuit possibilities: apple cinnamon and cherry biscuits were a few she named. 

grace and peace,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Comfort Zone

   I like being a baseball mom.  You can eat popcorn and yell loudly without having to worry about much of anything.  I love seeing Jacob leaping in the air to make a catch.  I don't worry about how he lands back onto the ground.  If there is a play to be made, he will give it his entire effort to accomplish the task at hand.  Did I mention that I like being at the ball field? I feel comfortable there, and for the most part I have learned the rules.  That is good if I decide to yell at an umpire, which I have never done as of yet!  But if I wanted to, I could.

I feel comfortable watching our oldest son do all the stuff for a strong man contest.  He is trying to beat his personal best record.  It is fun to see how many times he can flip that big tractor tire.  No pressure on me...and I most certainly like that!  I can even bring pop corn and enjoy sitting in my lawn chair watching all the activities.
  I am not nearly as well schooled in football as I am in baseball, but I still like the game.  I am  busy learning the rules of the game, but there is popcorn so it isn't a bad way to spend the evening!  I can hoot and holler with the best of them, but I would never think to yell at the officials. I don't know enough about the rules, but I will learn.  Some day I too can be a momma that makes the toughtest officials shake in their boots.  Not really, I am too busy eating popcorn and taking pictures and yelling encouraging words to my son on the field.                             

But this....this is way out of my comfort zone.  Look, I can't even take good pictures of this!!  When she jumps and spins, I pray that she lands every step correctly.  I pray that she doesn't fall on her back side.  I pray that she doesn't make any mistakes and she does every step correctly.  I even hold my breath hoping that she smiles in all the parts that require a smile.  I can't even enjoy the ballet because I am so worried that she might miss a step and be broken hearted.  If I wasn't nervous enough about all of that, now I am also helping backstage with make up.  Oh my,  I am so out of my leaque backstage. It is nothing like a dugout at the ball field.  I don't mind helping in there. I am never in panic mode when I am in a dugout., but backstage is one big panic attack for me!  Oh, did I mention that there isn't any popcorn or picture taking during the ballet!  I don't even know what to do with my hands!!!!

grace and peace,

If you live in the Greeneville, Tn. area, the ballet, Exodus the Story of Moses, is being presented this weekend.  We have a show Friday and Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.  There is also an afternoon show on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30.  It is going to be a beautiful ballet with several professional dancers coming to dance a few of the lead roles.  This isn't just a little kids show.  This is a true ballet with beautiful music, costumes, and dances.  We are blessed to have such a quality ballet here in our area.  Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome to my Home

I am so glad you stopped back by to see my new living room.  You are entering from the front door so this is the view that you will see.  We still aren't finished with the remodel, but we are well on our way.  As you will note, we still have to paint trim, and add crown molding to the new wall. 

As you glance over the couch, you will see the dining room.  Let me just say I am thrilled that our kitchen is well out of sight of drop by visitors.  Sometimes things just aren't presentable in there for the whole world to see!  Michael still has to trim out the door, but I decided not to mention that to him for a few days!

Here is a better shot of our fireplace.  Yes, I put used newspapers in there to be used as fire starters.  We haven't had a fire in a few days so you can see them in the picture.  Sorry about that, but it was too warm today to start a fire.  Besides, Michael worked down in Knoxville today, and you KNOW that I can't start a fire by myself!  I want to put a rug in the living room.  I have just the rug in my bedroom, but first I have to take it out from under my bed. 

Here is the view of my living room area from my dining room table.  Yes, I know that the front door has to still be painted.  The English Mastiff has done a number on ALL of our doors.  I'll let Michael know that he also needs to paint the front door.  I am sure he will be happy for a reminder!

For now, I have chosen to leave this arrangement in front of the window.  I like the simplicity of it.  It reminds me of something from the past.  The table in the middle came from Michael's grandparents' house.  I think it is beautiful.  It always sat between his grandmother's and grandfather's chairs.  It is one of the items that I like just the way it is.  However, I have a few touches that I want to make to this room.  I have a lovely quilt stand that I want to paint black.  I also have some frames that I want to paint black as well.  The wall going all the way down the hall is still empty, and I would like to do something creative there.  I am thinking of some large black and white pictures of the kids and the farm.  I am still thinking about all of that.  I haven't figured out exactly what I want there just yet.  Our home isn't large or new, but by removing the wall between the living and dining room, I feel like we finally have a big enough space for everybody to enjoy.  It is becoming something that I have always wanted it to be, and for that I am very thankful.  My sister in law helped me pick out the paint for both rooms and the curtains.  She gave me some other fantastic ideas that I am looking forward to implementing soon.  If you would like better views of each picture, just click on them to enlarge.  I did notice that the pictures caused some small blemishes in the wall to show up as large ones.  They aren't that noticeable in real life. 

grace and peace,

Come and Sit a Spell

The last few days have been very crazy in our world.  I can sum it up in one word...ballet.  My daughter is performing in the local ballet, and we are on the countdown to show time.  I am very thankful that I have had all the snow days over the past few weeks to allow me to just sit and do nothing.  That part of my life is gone for now, along with the snow.   However, I came into this ballet season well rested.  Today I will be home all day.  I plan on carving some time out this afternoon to just sit and read for a bit.  I am so looking forward to relaxing in my new living room!  The wall paint has been completed, and the curtains were put in place yesterday.  I walked in last night to a new living room, and I was thrilled.  I'll show you pictures of my new room later today.  Let's just say, everybody loved it!

grace and peace,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Whenever my kids see my stock pot on the stove, they know something good is coming their way.  Chicken and dumplings came their way several days ago, and it is always a treat that they enjoy.  I start by taking a whole chicken and placing it in my stock pot. (Please clean out the cavity of the chicken first)! (Jacob was a little nervous when he saw this particular chicken.  He said it was the smallest chicken he had ever seen, and he was very uncertain that it would manage to feed everybody.  He reminded me of his recent birthday meal when  I didn't make enough meat.  He also reminded me that he didn't want to relive that moment any time soon.  I promised him that small chicken would work just fine, and I was right)!  Back to my chicken and dumplings...I add celery and an onion, and then cover the chicken with water.  I also add Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  I cook it in my big pot until my chicken is done.  I then take out the celery and onion and discard it.  I pull the chicken off the bones and save it until after the dumplings are almost cooked. 

After my chicken has cooked and my stock is made, I then start to work on my dumplings.  I mix them in the Kitchen Aide mixer, and then I roll them out on my bread board.  I use a pizza cutter to cut the dumplings to the size I want them.

I pop the dumplings back into the hot broth. Before I do this, I add  a half stick of butter to my stock to make it richer.  I then place my dumplings in the hot broth and cook until done. Just before the dumplings are finished cooking, I add my chicken.   These are always good served in just a bowl or you can add mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, and green beans along with homemade bread, and serve them on a plate with all the yummy sides.  Hope you enjoy the recipe.  I like the dumplings that this recipe produces, I just wish that the broth was thicker.  This broth is more like a soup broth instead of my mom's chicken and dumpling broth, but the dumplings are wonderful!

Chicken and Dumplings

1 whole chicken
Just enough water to cover the chicken
4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Crisco shortening
Salt and black pepper to taste

To prepare the chicken:  Cover the chicken with water.  Bring to a boil.  Add salt to taste, celery and a whole onion.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is falling off the bone.  This usually takes between an hour and half to two hours, depending on the size of the chicken.  Carefully remove chicken and  allow to cool.  Debone chicken.  For your broth, remove all bones, celery, and onion. 

To prepare dumplings:
Into large bowl, add 4 cups all purpose flour and salt to taste.  Stir well.  Cut in Crisco until it resembles  coarse cornmeal.  (I do this in the mixing bowl of my kitchen aide mixer, but you can do it by hand using a pastry blender).  Add enough hot broth, usually about 1 1/2 cups to make a stiff dough.  Be careful not to mix too long because it will make the dough tough.

Heat remaining chicken broth to a rolling boil.  Add a half stick of butter.  While broth is heating, roll out the dumplings to about an 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into thumb length pieces.  I use a pizza cutter for this.   Drop dumplings into hot broth a few at a time.  After all dumplings have been added, simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Add chicken and taste again to see if more salt is needed.  I also add fresh ground pepper.  Be careful to stir this while cooking, but do it with care.  If you stir too hard or too much, you will break the dumplings in pieces. 
grace and peace,

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Winter's Nap

Whenever the winter weather has a nap and the temperatures rise above freezing, it is time for my men to head outside and do some much needed chores.  Today is one of those naps for winter so my hubby sharpened the chain saw and gathered the men children.  It was discovered that during one of the latest wind storms we lost a couple of oak trees at the top of the hill.  The wind left the oak tree in a precarious situation.  It wasn't completely on the ground, but just hanging in the balance with its weight plastered against another large oak tree.  The men of my house will go out and remove the slain tree.  We are hoping the other oak tree will heal nicely and will stand tall to see more winters.  If there is too much damage, that tree will also have to be removed.  We will use the wood to make fire in the fireplace.  Although it doesn't do a lot to cut down on the heating bill, it sure is nice to have a warm fire.  I like the ambiance of a fire and I like the heat that it produces right up close.  As much as this chore needs to be accomplished, I think that hubby and team are just itching to get outdoors.  They don't like to be locked away in the house waiting out the fierce moods of winter.  They like to be outdoors doing something...anything really.  It doesn't matter.  He loaded up the boys including the 5 year old.  He too will learn to help his Daddy.  He is big enough to haul tree limbs and learn the work of a man at his father's side.  He would never stand for being left behind. He is always eager to join his daddy in anything.   I also know there will be plenty of time for the littlest of my men to get to play and run.   That is part of the purpose of this trip.  They all have excess energy to expend.  I went outside when they loaded up in the truck.  The English Mastiff made sure she was among the workers.  She too would not stand  to be left behind.  She must go and see what new adventures lay ahead for her day.  She too will come back tired and happy.  I wish I were going with them.  I have other obligations for the day so I will not be able to enjoy winter's nap this day.  I hope to be included the next time. 

grace and peace,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Name Calling

She has grown up being called Hopie Shalomie.  Now that she is older she prefers her given name...Hope Shalom, but she still giggles when she hears me call her Shalomie.   I am making a conscience effort not to call her Hopie any more. I don't want to embarrass her out in public.  I have always loved the name Hope.  If our last little one had been a girl, the name would have been Faith.  The men of my family were against naming the newest male child Faith so we all settled on his name being Seth.  We named each one of our children with the meaning of the name in mind.  It was important to us.  Each child has a story and I have spent their whole lives telling them the meaning of their name and their story.  Names are important and life stories are important too.  Sharing the story is a way to give a hertitage to each and every one of our children.  That too is important!

grace and peace,
julie, (which means lighthearted...young at heart...which is getting more important each and every day)!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Biscuit Possibilities

I was driving in town the other day and a Hardees billboard caught my attention. It was a picture of a Blueberry Biscuit, and it looked good. We never eat out for breakfast unless we are traveling so I didn't even think about stopping and trying one of these biscuits. However, when I got home I did a web search on Hardees menu and I created my own blueberry biscuits. I also recreated their cinnamon raisin biscuits as well. My husband doesn't really like sweet things for breakfast. He is much more a biscuit and gravy kind of guy. So I took my main biscuit recipe (included at the end of the post) and made three different things out of it all at the same time. That way everybody in my house had a choice, and I only had to make one breakfast! In the above picture on the left, I have the Blueberry Biscuits, the middle biscuits are the cinnamon raisin, and the large sandwiches are Chicken Fried Steak Biscuits. We had left over chicken fried steak from a previous dinner so I made larger biscuits to accommodate the hunk of meat. My hubby was happy. Here is my biscuit recipe for your enjoyment!

3/4 cup Crisco Shortening
4 Cups Self Rising Flour
1 2/3 cups Buttermilk
Preheat oven to 475. Grease a large baking sheet with low sides. (I use a jelly roll pan). Blend shortening into flour. (I use my kitchen aid mixer, but you could do this by hand). Leave large pea-sized pieces of shortening. Add buttermilk and stir until dough leaves side of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Knead gently until smooth. Roll out dough to about a half inch think. Cut into rounds with a large biscuit cutter. (I use a large drinking glass. This makes the large sandwich biscuits that you see in the picture. If you want regular size biscuits, just use a regular biscuit cutter. I will generally cut back the oven temp. to 450 and cut back the baking time when I make smaller biscuits). Place in prepared baking pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Brush hot biscuits with melted butter.
Blueberry Biscuits: I follow the above recipe except I also add about a Tablespoon of sugar with the flour to make my dough. I use a regular size biscuit cutter to make the smaller biscuits. I place them in the greased baking pan. I use the back of a spoon and press in the middle of each biscuit making a small well area. I then place a teaspoon or so of blueberry pie filling. Bake at 450 for about 12- 15 minutes. When cooled a bit, make a glaze of powder sugar and milk. Pour over the biscuits.
Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits: I add about a teaspoon of cinnamon to my flour when making the dough. I also add about a Tablespoon of sugar along with the flour for my dough. I sprinkle in a small pack of raisins into the dough. Mix. I again use a small biscuit cutter. I bake at 450 for about 12 minutes. Just keep an eye on them because you don't want them to get too brown. When cooled a bit, I pour my glaze over the biscuits.
Sandwich Biscuits: I make the large biscuits. After they have baked, I let them cool down a bit. I then cut them in half. You can make any sandwich that you like. My family loves sausage egg biscuits with cheese. Sometimes I will make a small egg omelet and fold it over and place it on the biscuit to make a sandwich. This makes it easy to carry out the door when in a hurry. Any leftover sandwich biscuits gets wrapped up and put in the refrigerator. These make great snacks heated up later in the day!
The above recipe makes a lot of dough. Last Sunday I decided to make all 3 of these types of biscuits out of the same batch of dough. First, I took out enough dough to cut out 3 large biscuits for my Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich Biscuits. I then divided the remaining dough in half. I added a little extra sugar to the dough and kneaded it a bit. I then rolled it out for my blueberry biscuits. To the remaining dough, I added a little sugar and cinnamon and raisins. I rolled them out and placed them next to the blueberry biscuits on the baking sheet. I baked them all at the same time. I wouldn't have done this if I were serving guests. I would have baked the larger biscuits separately, but it worked out okay and it gave me 3 different breakfast choices for a busy Sunday morning!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I miss hearing the sound of a horse...

Or the grunts of a happy pig. I really hate to admit just how much I like the pigs. They almost always make me smile unless I am chasing them around trying to get them back into their pen. I miss the sounds of their happy little noises.

I so miss the sound of the sheep. Nothing says contentment like hearing sheep in the fields. There is something so special about it that I don't even have the words to describe it. I miss those beautiful bleats one to another...the mother calling for her lamb or vise versa.
But the one thing I don't want to miss is the sound of a child. The sound when my child says, "I'm awake, Momma." That is what I heard this morning when I walked down the stairs. I forgot the littlest of all my children went to bed with the oldest last night. I rushed downstairs to get on the computer for just a bit, and then right before I turned on the light I saw him laying in the bed. I turned to go quietly back upstairs, and I heard him. "I'm awake, Momma." At that moment my heart melted. I have heard him call me "Momma" for years, but it was so sweet this morning. There wasn't any wants or needs that he wanted me to attend to. He just wanted to let me know that he knew I was there. I get the same feeling when I hear my 16 year old son call my name. He too still calls me "Momma". I don't think I recall him calling me "Mom", although I am sure he does from time to time. When I hear him say, "I love you, Momma", I know he has my heart in the palm of his hand. I would give my life for any one of these children. I know one day that the littlest voice won't be so child like. It too will change into the voice of a man. I know because our two oldest son's have already grown into their man voices and our third son is well on his way. I love the sweet sounds of a child, and I love the word, "Momma". It melts my heart.
grace and peace,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Scripture

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Weekends are For Housekeeping

Since the snow and cold, I have had my feet curled up under me reading books or watching movies. It has been relaxing except for the masses still wanting to eat and all which requires me to cook. We have kept the house tidy, but today is a day to clean. I know it isn't romantic or anything, but it must be accomplished. I also will take some time for planning. Since ball games and ballet rehearsals have been canceled due to the weather, next week will be full of makeups. It is already shaping up into a crazy week! If there is time left and I am still in the mood, then I may do some baking. I haven't been baking bread much lately. I don't even know the reason...I guess I just got out of the habit. I would like to restock our freezer with some homemade bread. A loaf of homemade bread tucked away in the freezer can be a life safer during busy weeks. For the life of me, I can't think of something to cook for dinner this evening. I am hoping to figure that one out first thing this morning! I like keeping house. I don't mind the process of doing it, and I love the results in the end. There is something soothing about walking across a clean floor or seeing a kitchen sink spotless. It just feels right!

grace and peace,

Friday, January 08, 2010

Winter Days

This year's winter is turning out to be full of cold and snow. The kids have only been back to school for one day since Christmas break. We are kind of getting a little cranky at times. Michael is trying to work from home and the kids want to play all day. The problem is that his office is downstairs where the play takes place. It isn't all that conducive for getting a lot accomplished. I am getting caught up on my reading. I spent last night snuggled in a warm blanket in front of the fire reading a fiction book. It was lovely. Hope sat with me warming her toes while she was busy knitting a scarf. I like the slower pace of winter...I just wish it wasn't so cold outside!!!

grace and peace,

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Why Do We Procrastinate?

I have wanted one of these entry way tables forever. I mean this is something that I have really wanted. We do not have end tables or a coffee table in our home so I liked the idea of having a nice table to set a real lamp on in the living room. It wasn't until we moved Michael's office downstairs did my wanting something changed to needing something. (I know technically it wasn't a basic need, but my wall was completely bare and I had NOTHING to go there). I finally did something about it and bought this little narrow table. Let me tell you, other than the kitchen floor and the kitchen remodel, I have loved this little narrow table more than anything I have purchased in a long time. It makes me smile when I pass by it especially at night. I have NEVER had lamps in my living room. Now, I can turn on my little lamps and leave off the overhead light. It helps keep my house feeling calm and peaceful. Why did I wait so long?
Just yesterday, Michael FINALLY put weather stripping on the back deck door. This was the same door that allowed enough wind into the house to blow your hair if you were standing close to it. (Maybe that is why he has waited so long...because his hair never blew and he didn't realize that it needed to be done)! He also put weather stripping on the laundry room door. That has made a huge difference in that room.
We decided last night that we procrastinate way too much. Although we are better about this than we were several years ago, we still let little things go. Last night we sat down together with a large white board and dry erase markers. We made 4 categories: 1.HOUSE 2. FARM 3.GARDEN 4.WORK In each of these categories, we wrote down the things that needed to be accomplished over the next few months. (We didn't write down the things that we knew we couldn't do this year. We kept money in mind and only put down the things that really needed to be done. We have a separate journal for our dreams and hopes. This board isn't about is about accomplishing things on a daily basis). I am also hoping this board will turn me from a nag to a beautiful mare! I get called a nag by the men of my house because I ask the same things to be done on a frequent basis. For instance, I am in dire need of a seed starting area to be constructed. Michael took ours down last summer to make more room in his shop. Here it is almost seed starting time, and I am left with no place for that. I have asked and asked. It is too the point that he sighs loudly now when I ask again. I started asking in the beginning of December. Now that it is on the board with a star beside it, he knows, without me saying a word, that it is a top priority. (By the way, if I don't get one soon, I will be writing him a little note on his board)!!
I am hoping that having a large board with a list will help keep us focused on the tasks at hand. I'll let you know!!!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What Every Good Southern Cook Has in Her Frig.

Since money has been tighter, I have gone back to the ways of my mother and grandmother. I have learned that every good southern cook needs to have this item in the refrigerator. No, it isn't cottage cheese. I hate cottage cheese and the only reason we have that is because we have the resident health nut that thinks cottage cheese is dessert. He buys it himself. I won't waste a bit of the grocery budget on his cottage cheese obsession. My item is actually sitting on top of the cottage cheese in a little round dish. Our grandmothers and mothers had this item sitting on the stove in a special tin. They used it on a daily basis. I don't use it that much so I store mine in the refrigerator. I don't want it to go bad. Of course by now you probably realize I am talking about bacon grease. I don't use bacon grease as much as my grandmother. She used bacon grease to cook everything in including broccoli. I usually keep packages of bacon around to use as seasoning. If I cook green beans, I would roll up a piece of bacon and throw it in the pot with the onion. Now we aren't keeping bacon as much so I needed a way to get the seasoning without having to purchase a whole pack of bacon. I remembered my mom used bacon grease that she kept on her stove in a little tin that read "grease". Those days have gone by the way side, but the flavor of bacon still seasons things wonderful. I know most of you think I must be nuts to use grease to season anything, but I am southern so you will just have to bear with me and trust me on this one. Remember if you use bacon grease, a little goes a long way so be stingy with it! If I don't have bacon or ham to cook in my dried beans, I will add some bacon grease and they have a much better flavor. It is just another way to stretch my bucks and still have great flavor. If you aren't from the south, you might just want to skip this post all together. And if you live with a resident health nut, please don't EVER let him see you add bacon grease to any of your dishes. He will never trust you again...ask me how I know!!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Farm Chores in the Winter

Missy went to the pond today and announced that it was frozen. She didn't do anything about it so we sent our oldest son out with a tool to break the ice. While he was out, he also fed the animals and carried some water to the cow who lives in the barn. Why does the cow live in the barn you ask? Well, the fences didn't hold her. After chasing her up and down the hill multiple times, Michael decided it was time to turn her into hamburger. If your naughty around here, you might just be eaten!!! We tell our teenagers that all the time. Don't worry they don't believe us so it goes in one ear and out the other! After feeding and watering the animals this morning, the boy came back into the house all excited. "I actually did a farm chore with a coat, and gloves, and boots!", he exclaimed. In return, I fed him homemade whole wheat pancakes filled with blueberries that we froze this summer. It was a good morning...especially for me. I just stood by a warm stove and made food while he had to go out in the cold. Yep, I like my job much better than his! The barn cow's water will need to be refilled again because it will be frozen soon. Lucky for me, I have 3 other boys to send out later in the day. See, all those hours in labor and delivery have paid off for me in the long run. I am left to stand by a warm stove while they are out doing all the farm chores.

grace and peace,

grace and peace,

Monday, January 04, 2010

Black Bean Soup Recipe

I find that my creativity in cooking generally kicks in when finances get tight. I am more limited in the ingredients that I can choose due to the budget. Our family likes beans and we eat them a lot even when money isn't tight. However, I try to find other recipes for beans when I need to use beans to help stretch the budget. Recently I saw a recipe for Black Bean Soup and I thought I would give it a try. It has no meat in it, and I was a little concerned that it would lack flavor. I had never eaten this variety of soup before, but I thought it was worth a try. I discovered a new family favorite with this soup. It is cheap to make and healthy too boot, which makes the resident health nut in our home very pleased. Hope you enjoy!!!
grace and peace,

Black Bean Soup

1 pound dry black beans
3 (14 oz) cans ready to serve chicken broth
2 cups chopped onions
2 minced garlic cloves
2 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
1 (10 oz) can tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Sort and rinse beans; place in a dutch oven. Cover with 2 inches water above beans. Bring beans to a boil; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans, and return to dutch oven. Add chicken broth to beans in dutch oven. Partially cover and cook over medium low heat 3 hours or until beans are tender. (Make sure to keep liquid on beans. I added a little bit of water during the cooking process). Stir occasionally.
Once beans are cooked, then you start this part. Saute chopped onion and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat until tender. Reduce heat to medium; stir in undrained tomatoes and next 3 ingredients. Cook 5 more minutes. Process tomato mixture and 2 cups of beans in a food processor, pulsing 3 times or until mixture is blended. (I use a stick blender for this job. A blender would also work). Stir into remaining beans in dutch oven. Give a quick stir and ladle into bowls, top with sour cream and cheddar cheese if desired. My kids like this served with Fritos, but I like it just plain. (Just a side note: I added some home canned jalapenos with the tomatoes to make it a bit more spicy).

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Kitchen Renovations Continue

This was the look of our kitchen renovation right before Thanksgiving. We took a short break before working on the kitchen again. We had all the materials already tucked away in Michael's shop except for the floor and we also wanted to purchase new counter tops. We knew that we could do neither with the change in Michael's job situation. I was so discouraged over my kitchen floor. The counter tops didn't bother me too bad, but the floor was almost unbearable for me. It was vintage 70's flooring with gold and yellow flowers that gave me a headache to look at for very long. If that wasn't bad enough, it was full of black glue and junk. It was impossible to even mop it. I knew that the money wasn't there to fix it so I chose not to complain about it to my husband, but my heart was sad about it nonetheless.

We were given some money by the insurance company to fix some major wind damage to our home and barn roof. Michael will be doing the work himself so we had a bit of extra money left due to the fact that we wouldn't have to pay a roofing contractor. He took the extra money and bought the materials for my kitchen floor. (Nothing says "l love you" like covering up an ugly gold and yellow kitchen floor)!

Just a few days before Christmas, Michael and our son Joshua starting installing the floor. I was so excited! Here is Joshua putting down the last piece of flooring. Did you note that there are no more yellow and gold flowers showing?

Here is the final product. I am so thrilled and so grateful to the Lord that He knew my heart and provided something as trivial as a floor. Michael now has to make the cabinet baseboards, finish the cabinet doors, and put up crown molding. We are getting there slowly and I love my kitchen and my floor so much. If we had known that he was going to lose his contract, we would have never started the renovation in the first place. Since hindsight is 20/20, there isn't much we can do about it now. Truth be told I am glad we didn't know because I have this wonderful new kitchen that I LOVE to be in throughout the day. I love to work in here and I love to play in here too. For the first time since we have bought this farm, I really really love my house. I have always been thankful for my home, but there were always things about it that I wanted to be different. The rooms were to small to entertain and I wanted a great room. After much hard work from my husband, I now have my great room. Did I mention that I love it? Did I mention how nice it is to have a roaring fire going that I can see from my kitchen? Did I mention just how much I love my husband?
grace and peace,

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Missy wanted me to tell you "Happy New Year" for her. She has been tired lately from all the fun we have had around here. She has been especially busy trying to figure out how to get all the yums that have been baked and cooked these past few months. She has also been willing to serve as foot stools, pillows, and coffee tables, not to mention playmate for all the kids that live here. It is a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

grace and peace,