Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Afternoon

As usual Sunday afternoons are a bit of a slow pace around here. Today church was held in our town, just down the road from us, so Pricilla and Steven stopped by after services for a bit of a visit.
Today is their "dating" day. Sunday afternoons they get to spend time together talking at her parents house, alone in a room without everyone else around. Usually the dinning room. They also get to drive together to and from church .
There is a new church starting up as the first one has grown so big. The new church will be in our part of the area. As of yet they do not have a permanent building so they are renting two different places, this was the week it was closest to us.
Since the two young people were dressed up for church, in true mother style I had to take a bunch of pictures.
They look so happy !

Does a mother good to see her children content and doing well ! Its as though all the hard work when they were young has paid off.

Its a pretty sunny mild day today with birds singing and the sun shining.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saturday's News

It was a stormy Friday night in North Texas, and we went to bed amid thunder, lightening, hail and tornado warnings. We woke to more rain and thunder.

While the morning the sky was dark and foreboding, we headed off to the Feed store to get grain for the chickens and on the way we talked about getting goats again. With this empty nest happening soon, we just think having some goats again might be a good idea.
I have been missing drinking goats milk and being able to make my own cheese and having goats would help fill up my day.
While at the feed store I took a couple pictures. One of the feed stores grain storage and then of some what we call TEXAS OREOS grazing in the pasture near the feed store.
As we were driving out of the loading area, my dear husband asked me where one might look at Pfaff sewing machines. Oddly enough, I knew just the place ! We drove there and he had me try out several models to see which one I might like at some point in time. I found one that would do what I needed.
He asked the lady to write up a receipt.
I now have my very first NICE sewing machine. It is a dream to sew on. How much fun it will be to sew little grand-baby things on this machine in the years to come and so much nicer for quilting than what I had been using. Right now I am convinced my dear husband is the sweetest man on this earth. After that, he took me out to eat at my favorite Chinese restaurant. What a splendid day.
I surely feel blessed. I set right to watching the CD on how to operate this wonderful machine and then threaded it and off I went. Next Thursday I will have a private class on how to operate it and use all the functions.
I was so excited about getting my new machine that we left the quilt shop without even looking at Fabric !

By the way, the sky had cleared and was sunny when we left Sandy's Quilt Shop, surely some sort of sign that owning a Pfaff is a good thing indeed.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Amish Chocolate Pudding with Fudge Sauce

Just before putting it in the oven

All done ! In the bowl ready to eat

Amish Chocolate Fudge Pudding

1 cup sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the cocoa.
Add the milk, butter and vanilla, mix only until smooth, do not over mix !
Stir in the nuts.
Put mixture in a well oiled baking dish, 10x6 size works great. The mixture will be thick. I double this recipe most times and put it in a 13x9 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and the rest of the cocoa powder. Sprinkle on top of the mixture in the baking dish.
Pour boiling water over the whole thing. DO NOT MIX or stir or anything.

Bake for 40 minutes. The top will look firm.

Let set for 10 minutes. Serve warm. When spooned out, the sauce on the bottom can be spooned over the brownie like part. We always serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

You can reheat this in a low oven.

Its quite rich !

Storms all around us. High winds, hail the size of baseballs north of us, and a tornado about 1 hour north of us.
More storms coming our way too.
We are hearing the wind blowing quite strong now. Think I will head to bed and try and sleep through it all.

Fine Old Hand Crochet Lace

This afternoon I was going through the box that contained the crochet bedspread I am working on. I have all the pieces done now and just need to sew them together. In looking for more thread, there was a tiny bag in the bottom of the box . I guess I never looked in there before and what an amazing work was in there. It was pure treasure. As if I had stumbled onto a buried chest of gold and gems. My heart skipped a beat as it became clear what I had in my hands.Tiny tiny stitches making up lace pieces. Some made with regular sewing thread weight. Not certain they even make such small rick rack now. I put a penny next to the pieces so you could see what small fine work they are. I sat there touching them, feeling each miniature stitch. Wondering how old Mrs. Williams was when she made these pieces. My 51 year old eyes would need magnifying glasses and some sort of special light to work so small.
It made me wonder about in olden days when hand work was so fine, yet glasses were not wonderful, and certainly lighting was not optimum. I think we are spoiled now !

Amish Noodles with Buttered Crumbs

I have never used a recipe when I make this dish. So pretend to be your grandmother and cook without measuring ! Use taste, look and smell for your guide. I will try to include guesses on some measurments

Cook your noodles as usual, drain and add some butter so they will not stick and to give it some flavor.

In a small fry pan, melt some butter. Probably some where around 1 stick of butter to one package, (sleeve of Ritz crackers which may translate into about 2 cups crumbled). I crumble the crackers right over the fry pan and lightly brown them till they are a nice golden color. Do not over brown !
Add about 2 Tablespoons of minced parsley.
After you turn the heat off add about 3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds.
Sprinkle the crumbs over the cooked buttered noodles and sprinkle a bit of paprika over the crumb mixture .
My family likes lots of crumbs. This recipe works for about 16 oz of noodles cooked. Adjust to your own preference.

Something like Ritz crackers work best, saltines are just too bland for this.

More Kitten Photos and Our Lunch Menu

These kittens are just so cute. Every morning I have to go out and check on them and feed Aya some special food. I am always armed with my camera.
Melanie holds each one gently and checks them out and that gives me the opportunity to get some good close ups while in her hands.

Rain and storms on the way. I can hear the thunder rolling as I write. Not a day to do laundry so will change my schedule. Good day to do some baking. Weekend is coming and its always a good idea to have goodies on hand for unexpected guests. We always expect unexpected quests !

For Lunch today, Home made noodles with Hot buttered Crumbs. A real traditional Amish recipe.

Also having, Grilled Asparagus just picked this morning from the garden.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ulrich Barn Builders Log Cabins

this is the playhouse !

My husband works for Ulrich Barn Builders. A Mennonite run business. Tonight Emery took me by to see the log cabins they have just built. Fully finished out and built on your place. I would love one. These are really popular and of course everyone who buys them appreciates the good craftsmanship of Mennonite made buildings. They certainly are big enough to live in but most people use them as weekend get away cabins, guest cottages and hunting cabins. There have been several sold to newlyweds too.

The company also make the cutest log play houses . We joke and say we wouldn't mind living in one of those they are so pretty. All my life I have wanted to live in a log cabin and now my husband sells them !
Tonight when my husband took me to see the latest cabin being built I had to take pictures and share them on my blog because they are just so fantastic.

My son Steven works for Leland Industries, which is the brother of the man Emery works for. Both brothers build the same mini barns and cabins but in different towns.
There is always some friendly competition talk between Emery and Steven on who has the best barns. Its always done in a good spirit.

The two companies have similar trucks. Different name on them but always with a reminder of what is truly important written on them.

Kitten Up-date

Three kittens all snuggled together
This is by far the friskiest one of the group
Momma Cat Aya is a watchful of us as we check out the babies

Amish Buttermilk Bread

This is one of my favorite breads to make when I have Buttermilk on hand. There is a very similar recipe in the Cooking From Quilt Country Cookbook. Which is shown in one of the pictures. The recipe I have was given to me quite some time ago by a friend.

The first picture shows the finished loaves cooling. The second picture shows the kneaded dough. The third picture shows the dough after it has risen.


Makes 2 small loaves ( I always double the recipe)

Made with molasses and a bit of bacon fat, this bread is a delight at any meal. It has a deep golden crust.

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons bacon fat ( I have used butter and a dash of liquid smoke in place of the bacon fat)
1 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter

Dissolve the yeast in warm water with 1 tablespoon of the molasses. Set aside in a warm place to get bubbly, about 5 minutes
In a small saucepan, combine the buttermilk, bacon fat, remaining molasses and salt; heat until lukewarm.

Place 3 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl; beat in the buttermilk mixture until smooth, then mix in the yeast mixture. Add most of the remaining flour, one cup at t time until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface, flour and knead for 10 - 12 minutes ( you will probably use up the remaining flour while kneading the dough adding it to prevent the dough from sticking)

The finished dough should be smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn once and cover with a damp cloth. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Oil two loaf pans.
punch down the dough.

Divide dough in half, form into 2 loaves and place in loaf pans. Smooth side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 10 minutes, lower heat to 350 degrees F and bake for another 25-30 minutes. The finished loaf should sound hollow when tapped . Remove loaves from the pans immediately.

Rub a stick of butter across the loaves, it uses about 2 tablespoons of butter for this.

Let cool before slicing and eating

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When the Sun Was Setting Tonight

It is 7:30 pm and the sun is hanging low in the west. The clouds dipped gold. Shadows long and tall.
Emery is out chopping wood for next winter. It will be nice to have it all stacked and seasoned for when the cold months arrive. The neighbors huge tree will provide us with lots of wood. Even the small branches will give us good dry kindling.
Roses sweetly scenting the air.
The chickens were running around getting the last tid bits before they go in to roost.
Morning doves cooing from the low branches of the sycamore tree.
Clothes on the line needing to be taken in and folded.

When I came in the house to put away the camera, I saw my crocheted work laying in the yellow rays of the sun as it shinned in through the front windows. I have them in stacks of 10 so you can see there are lots done and waiting to be put together. Maybe it will be done in time for fall. Although its cotton, its quite heavy.
I love working with this project. It feels like a piece of history in my lap.

Tiny New Life at The Lockwood's

We saw that our cat Aya, looked thin and was full of milk so we knew the kittens arrived. After a bit of investigating we found the kittens under the house. Aya had chosen a nice safe place that is always dry.
We checked each kitten and put them back quickly.
There are three total. They are so cute. We had planned on getting Miss Aya fixed, but she was ahead of us and had met the boy cat next door before we had a chance to take her to the vets. You can be sure she will be taken in as soon as possible now.

Cool Morning

As if to give me a gift, God blessed us with a cool, almost cold morning. He is indeed full of Mercy and Compassion.

It felt more homey, with the woodstove going for a bit to get the chill out of the room. Which was just the feeling I have been missing lately. I lit the lamps, had a spot of tea with my Essene bread and read a bit. It felt so good, so comfortable to have a shawl wrapped around my shoulders and to sip slowly my Cherry Vanilla tea. Yesterday I found a copy of The Purpose Driven Life at Goodwill for $1. I have wanted to read it, to see what is contained in this books pages that has transformed so many peoples lives. But, I am a tad on the cheap side at times and knew if I held out, it would be available at a thrift store.
I didn't get to read much yet, as this morning is a bit rushed.

Off to Afternoon Tea today and had to carefully pick my outfit and then decide which hat and which gloves !
Since I weeded out so much stuff last week, the decision making was easier as its now somewhat limited.
I settled on black hat, black dress, and a bright pink sweater as the chill will be with us all day. White gloves will have to do. A freshly pressed hankie in my purse, lightly scented with my perfume.
The camera is coming with me, so pictures will follow !

The Lord bless you today and grant you peace of heart. Rest in the assurance that He loves us and cares for us.
Pray for a friend of mine today if you will. Her brother just found out he has cancer. A young man of 40 with a family.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On-Going Project

This is a project I sort of inherited, only I had to pay for it. At an estate sale there was a box filled with crochet items. One was this bed spread. It was partially done. Even had instructions and crochet cotton thread in there to finish it up. I bid on it and got it. The grand-daughter of the woman who had started it came up to me and gave me the history. It seems it was started as a wedding present, nearly 60 years ago. Only the woman making it didn't approve of the marriage and kept putting off finishing it. She never liked the daughter in law enough to finish it. And since I knew the daughter in law, I might tend to agree. The estate sale was just down the road from us. The woman who was making it, had won all sorts of Blue Ribbons for her crochet work. There were also several doilies in the box with this project and what a treasure they are. I feel a bit honored to be finishing the work of such an skilled craftswoman born about the turn of the 20th century. I hope to have it done by the end of the summer.
So here I am taking up the task of finishing it. This is what I have done so far. There is another large piece that has been sewn together, but it is a different shade of ecru. Maybe aged after all this time. I have lots more to do as our bed is a queen size. How I would love to knot a canopy to match for our bed. Today seems like a good day to work on this project. I love working with a tiny hook and thread. A cup of tea awaits me and Rocky Mountain hymns are playing softly in the back ground. The air is cool and refreshing.
A cold front blew through last night and the high will be 70 today, with a low of 44 tonight. Perfect weather.

Where is the Homestead Feeling ? Too Many Empty Nests

This spring I feel a bit lost. For the first time in a long time I am not caring for some sort of baby animals. No new chicks this year, partly because we are a bit worried about bird flu and partly because we have good laying hens right now.
No baby goats, in fact no goats at all. No rabbits, no sheep, just pasture that has turned into land to roam.
In cold weather we still seem so homesteadish like. Hauling in wood, cooking on the woodstove, lighting the lamps each evening.
We have the garden now but a bit of time spent weeding each day is hardly exciting. Soon it will be time to harvest onions and a few other goodies and things will feel a bit more normal.
After all these years of simple living, we have a pretty good system in place so things don't seem overwhelming. I read some homesteaders blogs and laugh a bit , a familiar laugh, thinking, "oh yeah I remember those times".
The children grown and they have learned the value of hard work, physical labor and dedication to see something through to the end.

Maybe we will pick up again on the animal scale of things when Grandchildren come along. I think Children need animals to teach them about work and the importance of caring for living things. Hard work keeps children from being bored and having time to be self centered. Teaches work ethics too.
This morning it just feels a bit empty without any goats or sheep around.

And with the price of gas, I miss having a pony and cart. Gas is $2.85 here in town and on the highway $2.99. Wonder where the prices will stop ?

Think I will go make some cheese, that will make me feel homestead like again. I am wondering if I am feeling a bit of the empty nest syndrome ? No children around and no nests filled with critters. That sounds like double empty nest to me

Monday, April 24, 2006

Evening By The Fire

Late April and May are months when the skies of Texas can display the fury of Mother Nature. As I was looking through pictures tonight this shot of the sky taken looking off my front porch reminded me that we are now in that time frame. I remember thinking when I took this picture that the sky looked like it was on fire, with great mounds of cooling coals heaped together.
Storms are expected tomorrow and I hope they are gentle.
The sky reminded me of our fire pit.
Tonight as the big dipper slid slowly across the evening sky, we sat by our fire pit. The night dark as the moon was hiding. The fire glowed red and orange against the blackness of the night.
Our fire pit sits right in the center of a circle of oak trees. Young trees still, old enough that their branches reach one another. Most nights in spring, fall and winter we are out there. Summer is just too hot for a blazing fire. This past year was an exception as it was so dry here there was a burn ban and we could not have our fire. We missed it. Our benches, with Celtic knots burned deeply into them were put away, to collect dust.
Now, with spring rains, the ban was rescinded and again we find ourselves sitting out there long into the night, loosing all track of time. Conversation easy. It feels a bit like days of old when we are out there. The children love these evenings. Sometimes there are roasted marshmallows or fried potatoes hissing in the big cast iron skillet. Friends stop by and pull up a log to sit on and some lift a glass of cheer, others sit quietly and soak everything in.
Laughter and singing often fills the night air. Mostly Irish drinking songs and we laugh that the children know so many and wonder how they learned them all. More laughter around every corner of conversation.
Its hard to describe what sitting round an open fire does for you. It chases away stress and time. There are no schedules by the fire pit. I believe all families should have a fire pit. The children share so easily what is happening in their lives, in the darkness of the night, mingled with the warmth of the fire, there is no judgment. Only freedom to share. By the fireside, husbands and wives hold hands and gaze at each other in the golden hue of the fire.
Family stories spill out and young ones listen. In time, and you know without a clock, that you feel sleepy and you head towards the house, smelling of wood smoke and feeling deeply content.
It is the best times, these fireside chats, where time stands still.
How I wish you could all stop by for a chat with us on such a night as this

a spring sky
the fire pit tonight
Melanie enjoying roasted marshmallows

Tonight I am grateful for......
long evenings by the fire
stars that twinkle in the black sky
the smell of smoke in my hair as I lay in bed
the sound of crickets
spring rains
soft music and then....
the sound of silence

Monday Morning Ramble

The morning air hangs heavy like a soaked woolen shawl flung over my shoulders. Its going to end up a steam bath day, I can just feel it. We don't have many of these days here in North Texas but one is too many for me.
I did some weeding of the garden, but my heart wasn't it in. Just seemed so oppressive being outside in this heavy air.
My hands smell of earth and cilantro. Cilantro has a very strong smell, but I like it. It reminds me of Tibetan soup. I cut lots of this plant today, and although the soup is always so tasty, it just feels too hot to sit down to a bowl of soup.
The flowers all look good today, the contrast of their colors against the rather dull gray sky is appealing to me. Purples, reds, pinks, yellows, and more.
I noticed today is the 24th of the month. I don't always know what day it is, since it doesn't make much difference to me if its the 22nd or the 26th. Time doesn't dictate me much. Makes me feel independent and a bit of a rouge not to care what the date is.
I know its Monday and that seems to be all I need to know today. Other days, the date may be important but today it isn't. Knowing the month is slipping by makes me wonder what I accomplished this month. Will have to sit and think about that one for a while. Not accomplish in the way of what sort of things did I get done, but what did I accomplish for the betterment of my fellow humans.
The neighbors have some dog visiting them, poor thing is just tied out on a bit of rope. Barked all night long and naturally Fergus did too. A barking chorus that no one appreciated. I was glad for window fans and their steady hum, it sort of took the edge off the barking, muffled it a bit. Pretty soon a pack of coyotes joined in and it was as though the natural world was having a concert of really bad singers.
Things are quiet for the moment all except for the birds chirping and singing, which is a bit like listening to classical music after the dogs and coyote concert last night.

I loved the BBC series called "Surviving the Iron Age". Its about a bunch of folks sent to live in round houses and forced to live like people did in the Iron age. I taped it and have watched it maybe 50 times. The way the people coped was interesting. Some were kinda crazy and you wished they would leave the program. But others just fell into the rhythm of the life as though it was familiar. They had lots of damp days when it was just hard to get going. Soggy wool clothes, wet feet, damp everything. Today feels a bit like that only not so extreme. Think I will make some tea, and watch Iron Age one more time. Always makes me want to build my very own round house way out back on our land.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

6 Weird Things About Me

Six weird things about me.... thought I would have some fun and think about this one.
Its been making the rounds on the blogs and since it looked fun, thought I would participate.

Thanks Judy for the idea to just do it

1. I have hair on my big toes, like a Hobbit, well not that much hair but still I have a few hairs on my big toes.

2. As much as I love having company, I am not all that fond of going to other peoples homes. For the most part I am a stay at home person.

3. I have super sensitive sense of smell. When I was a kid I would tell people when we were in the car going some place, that I smelled army men and sure enough some convoy would appear up the road. When asked what army men smell like, I would say,
" army blankets". I can still smell something way before anyone else.

4. I hang up my clothes on the clothes line according to color and size and type of clothing or linens. A tad bit OCD I think.

5. My books are arranged by subject then author. A mini library and along this line, I hate to lend books out

6. I may not brush or comb my hair for 24 hours. Its short now so no big deal, but I just forget to deal with my hair.

gosh, I could come up with a few more than 6.... hummmm, well maybe that just means I am a bit

Supper Tonight

We are sticking to this eating healthy business and feeling better all the time. Now we are not strictly vegan but certainly vegetarian.
Tonight was a meal of lentils with eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes diced, and for spices I added some sea salt (a tiny bit) salt free Spike, and a liberal shake of turmeric and cilantro from the garden.
It was really yummy. We had that on top of Brown Basmati rice and had some quesadillas with herbed cheese. For dessert, we had a carob tofu pie which was yummy. Forgot to get a picture of it though.
Life without preservatives and corn syrup sure make you feel better. Give it a try !

Sleepy Sunday

We had big plans today, but when I woke up just as the sun was peeking over the horizon, Emery suggested maybe we just sleep a bit longer. I was more than happy to roll over and sleep a bit more. Funny thing is, I slept a lot longer. Till almost 11 am. Which for me is something like a miracle. Both Emery and I are on the go people and taking a lazy day is not very common.

We had a wonderful evening last night. Drove into Ft Worth and went to World Market then over to Central Market. We each got a kiddie size serving of Gelato, which is fresh made right there . Mine was Violet and it was really good. Not like any familiar taste but delightful to be sure. We sat on the patio to savor each bite slowly. There was a wonderful group of musicians playing French Cafe music. There was an older couple dancing, old lovers you could tell, he had on a white panama hat and she was dressed to the hilt and he could see no one other than her and she had eyes only for him. It was a perfect night. The air soft and that temperature somewhere between cool and warm, but could never be described by such a hum drum word as lukewarm. It was a magical night there. Easy conversations at all the tables and occasionally some robust laughter. The music pulled you into another time and place. A gentler slower pace.
We purchased some warm bread and cheese that begged to be purchased, flavored with herbs. Wine bottles sat on just about every table. Children played and toddlers danced to the music, all with the same little swaying first dance step that seems universal for little ones. Parents and those near by laughed and cheered them on.
In the market there is are so many tempting prepared foods. One such thing was a goat cheese and mushroom Quesadilla's. We had to try it and are we glad we did. It was so good, we split one serving which was plenty considering what else we had.
Soon the little band was packing up so we strolled across the parking lot to the book store and shopped for a bit. It was late when we got home but we vowed to go back next week. Next time I will take my camera so I can share the night with you folks.

There was no hike today, just a lazy day for me. Some cooking, some reading, some just sitting listening to Lorenna McKennit sing.
Emery worked in the yard. I heard sounds of a chain saw, lawn mower and knew there was a happy busy man at work on the land that he loves.

The picture has nothing to do with anything except that its one of my favorite pictures of our cat. I took it when she was a kitten, sitting in my knitting basket. The light was perfect for creating a mysterious looking cat. She is a sweet kitten, although she looks a bit sinister in the photo.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

James of WEBK

We have a wonderfully talented son in law. I wonder sometimes if he knows just how talented and smart he is. If he reads this he will know what we see in him !

James is probably the most knowledgeable person on the subject of music. He has an encyclopedic mind on musicians, records made, histories of musicians and on and on. I personally am amazed over and over at how much he knows. He mixed all the music for their wedding and had things planned down to the millisecond. And nice guy that he is, played one of my favorite songs at the reception.
Now apart from all this, and most important in our eyes, is that he is a wonderful husband to my daughter.
They are so cute together. You can just see the love they share for one another in the way they look at each other. The certainly are well matched. They have the exact same color hair even. James adores Melissa and she adores him.
They met while attending U.T. in Austin....both of them are such die hard Longhorn fans !
James is a really good guy. When he was a disc jockey in NY we could listen to him by way of the computer but this station he is at now, doesn't have streaming audio or whatever they call it. He is fantastic on the radio and you would never guess he is kinda shy in person from listening to him.

If you are in Vermont, tune in and listen to James on the radio.

So heres to you James... Thanks for being you and being a really great son in law and taking such good care of our girl.

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...