Friday, November 30, 2007

Drum Roll Please....And the winner is !

And the winner is Tracy of Unless The Lord Congratulations to Tracy and thanks to everyone that participate. There were nearly 100 enteries

New Collection At MorningRamble Gifts

There is a new Note Card Collection called "Tea Time" at
MorningRamble Gifts Take a peek and tell me what you think.
Can you tell I am excited about them !

Some How To's for the new readers

Thought I would share some links to past blog entries about how to do this or that.
Have fun !
Candle making
Candle Making Day

Living on one income, frugal living

Raising Homestead Children
Raising Homestead Children

My all time favorite bread recipe

I Purchased a treat for myself today

Fridays I get my allowance. The word allowance doesn't bother me, it doesn't make me feel like I am a child, its actually kind of fun. I get $20 a week, which is twice what I got when the children were home and we had more expenses. Now, I had the check book with me today too, to buy the things we needed for the home and for a stop at the feed store, which I love by the way, old squeaky wooden floors, a well worn wooden counter, a receipt machine that you sort of crank, and not a computer in sight. There was a Dearborn gas heater with a couple chairs by it, and a few buckets of pecans, some cracked already and some waiting to be done. An old farmer sitting there chatting with the help. There are butter churns and crocks on a dusty shelf, people still use them, they are not just for decorating. When I walk in, they start filling my order before I ever say a word. Now back to the allowance thing. On Fridays when I get my allowance I head off to Goodwill Thrift Store. They know me by name there too. Hummmm, that must mean I go there on the book display there were several hardback knitting books. I nearly gasped out loud when I saw the two I grabbed up. I love fair isle and Scandinavian knitting so these books were better than good chocolate to me. That's saying a lot !
$1 for each book. I cradled them in my arms as I walked around the store, a treasure that will provide me with hours of knitting pleasure, and maybe, just maybe it will inspire me to finish this afghan in the picture that is more than a couple years old. The pattern I had for the main body of the afghan was wrong, I ended up taking out about 10 rows of over 200 stitches. Needless to say that discouraged me. In one of these books there is just the right pattern for this afghan body !
So my treat for the day, two knitting books for me, also found flannel sheets for our bed at Goodwill and then I had an Iced Hazelnut Iced Coffee from McDonald's. Coffee is a real weakness for me and from time to time I have gone to Starbucks, thanks to gift cards given with love by my son to his coffee loving mother, but now I have decided that McDonald's has better coffee for a fraction of the money. What I really need to do is get out that percolator of mine and make myself a good pot of coffee.

Christmas Note Card Give Away !

You have all been such wonderful readers that I wanted to do a Give Away of my Christmas Collection Note Cards from my store MorningRamble Gifts
Just leave me a comment or email me at to let me know you would like to be entered to win. You will receive a full set of 12 cards, 3 of each photo shown. The note cards are on high quality card stock. The drawing will be held on Friday,
November 30 and announced that evening.

This post will stay at the top until the 30th. Daily posts will be just below it

What Do You Have That Other People Want ?

As I was sitting at the computer, gazing out the window for inspiration about what to write, I whispered a hasty prayer. Then I thought, how is it that I dared think of writing one word before praying about what I should write !
Yesterday a magazine came to our house for Melanie, it was something for newly married people about the first home. I glanced through it...glossy magazine in every aspect. I put the magazine down thinking to myself, "they have nothing I want." A thought that was a tiny seed has grown into a concept I want to govern my every word and deed.
What do I have that other people would want ? What is it I offer by example ? In blogland and in my life ?
What I want to have in my life that others might want is more than just a fancy table setting or a well appointed home, more than just recipes or shopping tips. Yes, those things are part of life, part of running a home, but I want those things to be secondary and no longer the central theme of me. I am beginning to see that life is very short, even living just 100 years seems to short a time. Taking time to concentrate on those things seems a waste to me, when people are in need for a deep and meaningful spiritual walk, people are lacking peace in their lives. People are in need of getting off the hampster wheel of owning bigger and better. I want to be more about having a life that is chasing after what moths and rust can never take. I want to have a life that is simple, stress free, not hugging money or what money can buy. I want my life to show a close relationship to God, not a religion, but a relationship with Him. I don't want to be all preachy and have an attitude of my way or no way. I want to have a life that is set apart from the rat race we call modern life and that takes time for sunrises, sunsets, the way leaves look as they fall and that fears no evil for God is with me.

I am taking a serious look at myself and my blog today, its always good to look inside once in a while. What do I have that other people want ? Is it that glossy magazine appeal ? I sure hope not. Is it just my recipes ? I sure hope not. Is it how to clean a house ? I sure hope not.
Is it about the "things" I have ? Again, I sure hope not.
Folks are always looking at the Amish and the conservative Mennonites for what they have that others wish they had. That simple life, uncomplicated by things such as wild children, worry about health insurance, being alone with no community to help you when in need, the simple rhythm to daily life, no need to keep up with the Jones' mentality, no fashion worries, children being a blessing and not a curse, being respected and having a faith that sustains you in all times. That is what they have to offer that other people want. What do you have that others want ? Is it quality and something lasting that you are offering ? Is it the way of peace and contentment, or are you stirring up peoples desire for more things, more stuff that won't give them something lasting ? If you are not a Christian, the questions still apply.
I feel like my christian life is new, revived, resuscitated after a long and lengthy journey searching for where the truth be found. It was a journey that took me full circle in some ways. In that time of searching I looked at what other people had, to see what I wanted, what would matter, it was a bit like being that servant in Cinderella, having to try and find who it was that fit the glass slipper. I tried that glass slipper of my spiritual thirst on a lot of feet before I came to realize the foot was right in my face the whole time.
I have a long way to go in all of live in such a way as to draw people to desire a walk with God that will change their lives !

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blogging With A Purpose Award

I once again feel so humbled by receiving an award for my blog. Today Kris from At Home With Kris
nominated me for this award. The history of this award is meaningful too Eric Novak came out with the Christian award Blogging with a Purpose in late April of 2007. With so many secular awards around, Eric thought it would be a good idea to come out with a Christian award.

1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.
3. In their post about the award they need to link back to this entry.
4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to this site.

my 5 nominees are....
1. Dawn at On A Quest for Plain Living I like the honest approach Dawn has to seeking a simple life. Her purpose is always clear, serving God
2. Marci at Down on the Farm I have known Marci for many years and read her blog nearly every day and her words inspire, make you think and always points you in the way of the Savior.
3. Charity Grace at Charity Grace is a new blog read for me, but I always feel better after stopping by to read her blog. She gives you a peek into her families well purposed life.
4. Life In A Cordwood Cabin is another relatively new blog read for me, but one that delights me every time I stop by. Good old simple living
5. Patricia's Little Cabin In The Woods is full of the wonder of life, full of beauty, of giving, of living life for others and for sharing the joy of her daughters joy in life. A joy every time I go there.

Thanks again Kris for the award !

Sometimes Its Just The Way The Sun Shines In

Sometimes, its just the way the sun shines across the floor that gives me this warm tender feeling towards my life. The way the warm colors of the wood baptized with sunshine makes me feel so at peace, so uncluttered by the outside world.
As I walked through the house doing my work, I caught sight of such beauty and wondered if it could be captured with the camera and shared. The sight, somewhat, but not the silence broken only by the ticking of the mantle clock on the piano and the scent of baking cornbread cannot be sent through the air to you. I wish it could all be packaged up and shared for each aspect brings a joy, not the jump up and down kind of joy but the deep and filling joy.
On a side note here, but a very important note, Mei-Ling is done with her tests, the poor little one cried so hard and long that her tiny body is shaking with sobs. Thanks for all the prayers.
I don't understand the purpose in a child going through so much but I will trust God knows what He is doing. Yes, there is sin in the world, and with that brings imperfections and things go wrong, but I do know He has the power to change that, He did after all create us from dust, nothing is too hard for Him, not even putting things right that are wrong due to any reason. But, I will trust and continue to pray for a miracle.
first picture is of the dinning room and the second picture is of our living room, our shiny stained plywood floors that serve us well. Easy to clean, cheap to put down and don't look too shabby !

The View From The Inside and The Outside

This is not going to be about how you dress, its about what we are at home with our children, our husbands/wives and then how we are outside the home. I often have seen parents cringe when a child speaks about something that happened at home, showing a side of the parent or home that they never wanted anyone to know about them. Maybe the child spoke of mommy being so angry and screaming or yelling, when in public she is the epitome of a serene parent.
Or perhaps dad and mom hate each other at home but when in public they speak about their perfect marriage. It might also be that a family lives the high life, fancy car, big house decorated to the hilt, but they never want you to know that they don't answer the phone because of bill collectors calling, or they are one month shy of loosing it all.
It might even be that you speak of your close walk with God when in reality you hardly ever pray and walk before God in just about every aspect of your life. Does the inside of you match what you show to others ?
We drive a really old car by most folks standards. A 1991 Ford Taurus station wagon. The paint is blistering in spots and worn off in others. It really doesn't look so great, but mechanically it is sound as can be. I would feel safe hopping in that car tonight and driving across country. Emery has maintained that car beautifully, except it looks like it has a touch of leprosy on the outside. The outside doesn't reflect the running aspect of the car. If I was to purchase this car by its looks, I would get so much more than what it appears. It is gem hidden in poor wrapping. It doesn't portray a better outside than inside ! On the flip side, there is a car I know of that is beautiful, polished, spotless, expensive looking, but the insides are old, ready to give way, the car has needed major repairs one right after another. It is costing a fortune to try and make the inside match the outside and now its over, the inside is beyond repair. Which of the two cars would you rather be seen in ? Which of the two cars would you want to travel in and trust your child to be in ? You see...we can be that same way. Look like one thing on the outside, speak or write about what we want people to think, when in reality it may not be who we really are. I would rather match up, inside and outside. Be real, so that there are no surprises. Not always easy and more often than not, its our insides that need the repair work. At 53, I have no desire to "pretend" to be something I am not. I think my children would say I am just what I say I am, that our home is just as I say it is, that my marriage is as good as I say it is, but when I was 30 ish, I suspect the "outside" was a bit more gilded than reality. I was not always as patient with the children at home as I was when we were out. I yelled sometimes at home, but I never wanted people to know that I raised my voice or grew impatient. I have always tried to be honest about how I am spiritually and that has often cost me as its not popular to be open about such things. But the cost of honesty wins you the most loyal friends ! In my searching I have found many very "conditional" acquaintances for which I am better off not having as friends.
I think the biggest turn off about Christians is that we pretend too much. We want to appear perfect and shiny and often talk about our prayer life, our modesty, our home life as perfect etc but in the home or in business we are something different. We might drive with rage, yell at some person in the store. I certainly am far from perfect and am the first one to share that fact. Rather be open about my struggles. I remember seeing a priest with his collar on at a local Jack in the Box. His order was wrong. He got a small french fry in place of the large he had ordered. He screamed at the young girl waiting on him, screamed, not yelled. Everyone in the place stared at him. He slammed down his food, got in his truck and tore out of the parking lot at a very high speed. Sure he is human we know that, but it was shocking none the less to see how different his inside (anger)was from what his outside (clerical collar) spoke about his life. It would have been so much better if he was gentle and kind with no collar on or if the outside matched the inside.
I had been to mass at his church many times but now when I see him, I see that scene unfold again in my mind. He may have gone back and asked for forgiveness, I don't know, but the thing is, we are all on view much of the time, and our acts speak truths about us and in time people will know the truth of our hearts and even if we can act for many years, someone knows the truth about us, be it family, friends and certainly God knows.
In the past year I have heard story after story of what appeared on the outside to be fine Christian homes when in reality the father was a monster abusing his children and wife. Don't change the outside if it looks good, but change the inside so that what appears to be loving and kind is what it is. Live a life that you never fear being exposed. Know that your children, young or old do not know a life story different from the one you want people to know.
Let your buggy ride of life have the same view from the inside and the outside !

I am so blessed

Time for sharing some pictures of Elizabeth that I took the other day. I feel so blessed to have children that love us and now to have grand-babies that love us too !
What a sweetie wee Miss Elizabeth is. She has started sleeping through the night once in a while so her parents are most happy. She is so kissable and smiles so freely. My little grand-daughters are our delight.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prayer for Mei-Ling

Mei-Ling will be having a nephrostogram tomorrow morning at the hospital. Please say a prayer for her. Its a painful test, she has had so many of them and its hard to see her cry so hard for so long. We all are praying the results are good and there is no need to do another surgery. She has been doing so well, we want to keep it that way !

Mei-Ling is wearing a sweater made by my mother for Melissa and Melanie, she looks so snugly warm. This was one of my favorite sweaters for my girls, zips up the back keeping their chest toasty warm

Simply Be YOU !

To live simply, you don't have to be Amish, or a monk in a cave ( I am neither) just have to be yourself, content, not pressured by what society tells you you have to have in order to fit in.
You can live in the city, in an apartment, or in the country. You just have to be content to live without the need to impress or the need to reward yourself with things and stuff, that ends up ruling you somehow. We have chosen long ago to not buy into the hype about having to have what the Jones' have. I can stay out of the stores and walk in the morning in the fresh air and have so much more than what can be paid for.

De-Stressing Christmas

This morning I read a post on a blog I visit often about the stresses of the Christmas holidays and of gift giving. It made me kind of sad. It made me want to give another side of the story. For me, I don't feel all stressed out by the holidays or feel the pressure of the commercialism...yes, I know it exists and that its real for so many people but that is again choice. Long before the first fall leaves cascade down from the branches and the nippy winds begin to blow, I am thinking of what I want to give in appreciation to people I love and for dear friends. This is not a burden, but a pleasure. There are no gift cards on my list for anyone, but little tokens of appreciation. Christmas is a time of love, deep and profound love. The very same kind of love that God showed when He gave us His son, with the gift of salvation and love along with this babies birth. It is a joy to sit and wrap a gift tied up with heartstrings of love. To cook and bake seasonal delights to celebrate a season of joy and love. Plan for this holiday season throughout the year. In July or August when shopping or crafting, think of gift giving in December. Don't cave into the fancy ads for expensive gifts, think of simple things. Perhaps a hand made pillow case with a Bible verse on it, a promise. A basket of baked goods for someone that has no one to bake for them. A book that will delight and inspire for many years.
Perhaps some music or flowers. We have a limit for spending in our house. It may seem a bit cheap to some but it has always worked well for us. No more than $25 for a gift for the children, and not more than $20 for each extended family members gift. On friends we spend $10 each or less. A total of $400 spent. Several of Emery's gifts have come from the thrift store. He will love them, that I know. When the children were small, their gifts were often found at flea markets and yard sales. Clean and bright as new. Well loved all the same. Most of the gifts I gave when the children were small were handmade.
I don't think about what others spend on us, that is not the point of gift giving. If someone bought me a new car or a favorite candy bar I would love each gift the same. I don't feel the need to "keep up".
My holiday baking is done in bits, cookie dough made in advance. Gingerbread cookie dough keeps for a couple weeks in the refrigerator. Pie crusts made well in advance and frozen. Tasty quick breads made and put in the freezer. The house decorated simply, and with love. A party planned every year. This year the theme will be Christmas 1899 on the prairie. Simple foods, friends being the focus. Lots of laughter and good cheer. The house will be full but with no sign of commercialism. The choice is ours how we celebrate and how much we allow the impact of the modern world steal our joy. My shopping has long been done, my gifts made that need to be made and all that is in front of me is childlike enthusiasm and joy for a holiday season full of hope and fun. Tis a gift to give, for in giving we too receive.
The top picture is Christmas 1944, so simple yet so full of joy for what the holiday is really about. Actual stockings worn by my mother, grandmother and Aunt were hung from the mantle, gifts wrapped in simple white tissue paper. Gifts were as simple as their wrapping. The tree decorated humbly, not a fashion statement to match the homes decor.
It is always our choice on how much we let the influence of society influence the way we celebrate. The simple joy of the holiday is still there for the taking !

Being Kind

The other night we turned the television on to watch something in particular, but while waiting the few moments for the program to start, the many commercials that they have between the shows were on. I was shocked at what I heard and saw. One was for some people pushing a rock over a cliff onto their car because they wanted a new one, I suppose we were to surmise from that that insurance would pay for the damages, allowing them to get a new one. That is just simply morally wrong. From watching such things, we become numb and forget what scruples are. The next ad was for someone hiring a hit man to do away with a wife. The next ad for a show were blood and guts were shown, and finally one for a new game called "Assassin". What are we subjecting ourselves and our children too ? There is nothing good about being an assassin, in murder there is pain not entertainment. All this got me to thinking about kindness and being kind. The very concept of Kindness only sells on the media at Christmas and lately the new Christmas movies look dysfunctional. Are we as a people loosing respect and admiration for deeds of kindness ? We don't seem to want to entertain ourselves with stories of kindness. Books are often about violence and things we don't really want in our lives. We bombard ourselves with news of conflict and strife.
But we are as people called to be kind, to pursue acts of kindness. Each and every major religion has the same calling. So why are we avoiding in our hours of entertainment ? We tend to become like that which we love, right ?
I looked up the words KINDNESS and KIND here is what I found on line...
Kindness :
the quality of being warmhearted and considerate and humane and sympathetic
forgivingness: tendency to be kind and forgiving
a kind act
having or showing a tender and considerate and helpful nature; used especially of persons and their behavior; "kind to sick patients"; "a kind ...
agreeable, conducive to comfort; "a dry climate kind to asthmatics"; "the genial sunshine";"hot summer pavements are anything but kind to the feet"
As a Christian I am able to find several wonderful verses about kindness
Galatians 5:But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Colossians 3:12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
1 Corinthians 13:4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Ephesians 4:32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
Titus 2:5t o be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
So here is the thing, being kind should be our goal. It should be what we read about, what we fill our minds with so we can become strong in motivation.
Imagine, we are told that we are not to pay back wrong for wrong but to be kind. That would take care of road rage, revenge, nastiness to one another, pettiness, and more.
We are told to not be resentful, but to be kind. That means not to resent even the person we don't agree with. There is no room for a grudge there. It means sharing what we have been blessed with, and never being envious, for envy has no element of kindness to it.
It also means that we don't snap at our husbands or wives, or think harsh thoughts to ourselves about them. We are kind to our children, even when they are trying our patience. It means not getting impatient with the cashier at the store, but showing kindness for we never really know what a person is going through. She/he may be slow due to some hardship in their personal life that we could hardly imagine. Kindness gives a person the benefit of doubt. I find myself murmuring inwardly at times when things don't go my way. There is no kindness to that sort of thing. Sure no one hears it, and perhaps I am kind on the outside still, but it is a heart thing that needs work.
Think about kindness today. Remember that children learn from what they see and that our acts should match our talk, if we talk about God, we should act like we know Him and follow His wise instructions for us.
Think of this little quote throughout your day, its really about our kindness. I want this as my life motto...
"Live in such a way that those who know you but who don't know God come to know God because they know you."

Morning Ramble

Golden sunshine filled the land with color. Wispy clouds so much like newly carded wool swept across the pale blue sky and the air crisp and invigorating. How can anyone stay inside on such a day ? The grass and fallen leaves held tight to the dew, I was glad for my boots. The last of the pecans and walnuts are falling, I see neighbors bend over picking nuts for winter baking. The cat and kittens lead the way to their feed dishes and the chickens are clucking contentedly. A goat in the distance bawls, perhaps breakfast is a bit too long in coming her way. I am so thankful each and every day for this time alone with the beauty of the earth. The lessons God teaches with His creation are so profound. One can walk in silence, only a whispered prayer on the lips to be taught and we can learn of faithfulness, of His love for us. We can see the orderliness of His world even when mans chaos seems so in our face. The miracle of creation shows us we know so little. How perfect the drops of dew are in shape and miraculous it is that nuts fall as the cold wind blows, food that will keep for many months, through the winter with so many nutrients. The smallest detail not overlooked. When my children were small, we walked daily and I showed them such things. Pointing out to them the miracle of Gods handiwork for us to enjoy and to sustain us. The birds rejoice in song on this autumn morning, their song of praise perfect music for my morning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mei-Ling has gained some weight !

For all of you that have prayed for Mei-Ling to gain some weight, the good news is, she has and its starting to show. We will get an exact weight on her next Doctor visit but unofficially, she has gained a pound in just a short time. We can see a change in her little cheeks, they are starting to fill out some. We are so thankful for all the prayers.

Our Choices

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, not ready to hop out of bed and face the chilly house, so I opted to stay in bed and just think. Thinking is a pastime, not just some random act that happens without control. We choose what we think about and how we think about each and every subject. If you worry about every little thing, well that is your choice. If you don't worry about anything, that's your choice of thought too. If you are a doom and gloom thinker, again your decision. I tend to think philosophical concepts when I just sit and think. I want to figure out mankind, figure out why people think the way they do, figure out what makes us seek what we do and shun the things we do. I want to know why I believe what I do, and understand why I question what I do.
This morning I thought about how we say to the world what is important to us by our actions and many times we are not even conscious of this. We do so many things on autopilot, without thinking. For instance, I suspect that by my weight I might say...oh this is a hard one, this is totally myself ! I might say that food is more important than my health and sticking around a really long time for my family. And that some silly bite of chocolate that has a taste that lasts on my lips no more than 3 seconds is worth more than my own good health. Oh sure one bit is not going to kill me, but its not just one bite that got me here to this weight. Its weight watchers today so weigh in is in front of me. But more than weight watchers, its that food in excess is taking first place and I didn't even realize it. I am putting it above reason, good judgment, safety. I never drive or ride in a car without a seat belt. That would be foolish and a risk to my life. I can't imagine smoking for the same reason.
Now some folks are like this with money, spending more than they have so then checks bounce, credit cards mount up, late payments happen, fees and fines, all because some THING has made them loose themselves. Some THING was so captivating that they loose reason and buy it when they really didn't have the money. Maybe they have nothing in savings for that rainy day or that emergency that could happen. Its harmful to your peace of mind to spend more than you should, want things so bad you make bad choices.
When we harm ourselves by our choices or make it so we hurt others by our choices, its not loving . It's selfish. It's self centered. Food is not a comfort, it becomes a drug when used to comfort, and like all drugs of that nature, we need more and more. Money is not a comfort either, and again, you need more and more to keep up the feeling. We don't need to impress our friends with fancy dishes or fine furnishings to make them think we are wonderful and successful. Those things will only be remembered for a short time once you mess up in your attitude or make a stupid choice. Food is food, not a relationship. I need to remember that. And the strangest part for me is, I don't need to be comforted. Maybe I needed comfort as a lonely teenager and turned to food then, but now, I am not lonely. But I hang on to that addiction whose root was dissolved so long ago when I met Emery and had my family. The need to over eat so unreasonable now. So outdated.
I suspect its that way with many bad or wrong choices we make. The real need gone, but we hang on to the habit that developed from it. Might be worry, anger, fear, eating, spending, wanting, feeling inadequate or so many things can be at the wheel and take us places we don't want to be going.

Time to take control, let God be at the helm for a while instead of ourselves, in our own personal hamster wheel mentality.
I am a bit ticked off at my mother for not taking care of her health, being overweight, high blood pressure unchecked and then passing away at 65, never knowing my girls, or my grandchildren. Not being there to answer my questions about how long to cook the turkey every year or to see who I am now, well that was her choice and I sure don't want over eating to take me early and have my own children writing the same words I just did. Yes, I know some of you will say, "oh don't be so hard on yourself" sorry, truth is not always easy and we need to face it for just what it is. Sure I exercise, have normal blood pressure etc but being overweight takes years off you life, so doesn't worry and stress. What are we giving up over food and things ? Life experiences, love, and time to grow more loving, walk closer to God. All big things !
We are a bit like the sheep and the goats of Matthew 25. Making good choices and not so good choices !

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cinnamon Stick Village

I have this wonderful little book titled, " The Creative Christmas Kitchen" found it at Goodwill for 50 cents. I have found so many fun Christmas crafts in this book and today plan on making the Cinnamon Stick Village from the book. The directions are simple. Cut out the shape of a house from cardboard, glue it together and then stick the cinnamon sticks on it using Royal Icing. The chimneys are made with kidney beans and the roofs with frosted mini shredded wheat cereal. I found the cinnamon sticks for $2 at the food store, two packages worth in the picture. I can't wait to get started. Another good smelling Christmas craft that will last for years ! I will post pictures when they are done, (that is if they come out good !)
Have to drive into Ft Worth with Melanie...Mei-Ling needs to see her Doctor for an eye infection.
Then will get started on my project for the day.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Here is the new Perfect Pie Crust recipe I was given

This Thanksgiving I was not pleased with my pie crusts. I suppose I "messed" with them too much as Melissa says. So when I was talking with a Mennonite friend of mine, she gave me her recipe, telling me it comes out perfect every single time. Tomorrow I will be giving it a good test as I am making small fold over pies to stick in the freezer for the holiday season.

Here is the recipe, my friend calls it simply "a good pie crust recipe, that never fails" ....

4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups vegetable shortening or butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
1/2 cup water

mix the flour, sugar, salt and shortening with hand mixer in a large bowl, mix until it is like coarse crumbs, the size of peas. In separate bowl, whisk egg with vinegar and water.
Slowly pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Divide dough into 4 pieces, wrap in plastic and chill for several hours. Roll the dough out into the desired shapes for your pie crusts.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Apples, Oranges, Cinnamon & Cloves

Each year as soon as the wood stove is being used regularly, I dry a string of orange and apple slices that have been dusted with cinnamon and cloves. The more thoroughly you coat the fruit with the spices, the more fragrance you have. This year I covered them heavily, so much so that you couldn't see the color of the fruit at all.
All winter long this garland of nature fills the house with a spicy scent that is subtle but enough to make you sense the holiday season is here. I slice the oranges and dust them in ground cloves. I slice the apples and dust them in cinnamon, then let them dry a day or so. You can use a dehydrator to do this, matter of fact it works quite well. I then string them up, hang them in a nice dry spot and let them do their work of filling the house with the scent of the holiday season. This year I added little bundles of cinnamon sticks tied up with ribbon. Just a simple little holiday project that delights all winter long.
I used a 5 lb bag of each fruit to make what you see hanging in the picture, the apples were the small variety, $2 a bag, and the oranges were under $5. The cinnamon from the Dollar store as were the cloves. The cinnamon sticks came from the Mexican market for $2 and I had the ribbon in my stash. The garland cost under $10 !

Homemade Soaps from Homestead Heritage Craft Fair

These folk have perfected the art of making soap. Not only are their bars beautiful, they are delightful to use. The scents they use are wonderful. You can purchase books from them with recipes and detailed instructions for many types of soap. They also have soap making classes there on their farm. My soap mold comes from Homestead Heritage and it has held up well through many many batches of soap through the years.

Fresh Apple Cider

One of the simple joys of the Homestead Fair, is the fresh Apple cider, served hot. Best taken with a fresh warm apple cider donut ! The bins of apples sit ready to be put through the cider press and made into this wonderful drink.

Saturday Thoughts

My hands are cold as I type, the chill has not been chased away from the house yet. The wood stove just now being revived after a long night with no attention. Rain is falling, the sky one solid sheet of gray. It seems a bit dreary, but those are often the days I like the very best.
As I sat with my coffee cup held in my hands like a hand warmer I thought about how odd it must seem to people that we choose to live in such a way, cold winter mornings when outside jackets are worn inside until the stove gets the house toasty warm. When the children were all home, Emery would keep the fire going all night long, getting up every few hours to put more logs on the fire, but now, we sleep so soundly, we just pile on the covers and deal with a cold house in the morning. No big deal to us at all. The kitchen and bathrooms are cold until the heat reaches that end of the house or I start baking ! In thinking about the choice to live as we do, I wondered if its a bit of that pioneer attitude of blazing a trail not taken by the un-adventuresome or weak at heart, maybe its part that but its more. It's also wanting to be self sufficient, not be crushed if the electricity goes off in a storm or some natural disaster happens.
Its no big deal to us if the electricity goes out for a month. Life would just march on for us, we would miss the refrigerator but we still could get by. We also like that we work hard and sleep well. It feels as though we live to the rhythm of the natural world. Sleep when its dark, work when its light. Eat from the garden, see where our food comes from much of the time.
We need so little from the "outside" world. It's made our family strong. My children are not wimps. They are hard working, full of ingenuity and strong people. Seeing that has made all the choices we have made, well worth it. They help one another in times of need. Living to a higher calling then what "society" seems to call "the norm".
I watched Melanie yesterday at the Homestead Fair, accomplished in nearly every woman craft there, knowing Melissa is the same. I saw Melanie with the animals, confident in her knowledge of handling them and knowing how to milk a cow, how to make cheese. It felt good to know she would never be standing helpless if hard times hit this country again like in the depression or in the face of a natural disaster. We have raised up children like the pioneer families, strong and capable. That surely was our vision when we set off to live this way, and now another generation has arrived. Grandchildren who will come to Grampa and Grammies house and learn all the same things. I suspect they will all learn much of these things in their own homes too. I see a turning back to their childhood ways in my own children. As adults, they now see the value in the way they were raised. We didn't do it all perfect, and we admit that freely to our children and to ourselves, but we did give it our best try.
So here, this morning, a bit chilly around the edges, I know that I am living just the way God intended for me to live. He doesn't have the same plan for all of us, but this is his plan for me.
Custom made. The more I can live separately from all the wildness of the world, I am happy.
I don't need to watch murders on T.V. or go to a bar for fun. I don't need to hear people curse and see others loose their tempers in order to know about life. I do need to have quiet time to pray, to talk to family and friends, or sit by the fire and contemplate the massive use of fossil fuel in this nation. I can hum contentedly while baking and cooking for my family, confident that I am not poisoning their bodies by chemicals found in so many packaged foods or the meat found in the stores. My clothes might be few and not ever found on a Paris runway, but they are simple and modest, speaking of what matters most in my heart.
So these are my Saturday thoughts and now as I end this post, the house is toasty warm and so am I.
It seem fitting and proper to me to once in a while think about living deliberately, knowing why you live as you do.

Lamps burning brightly last night
Some of our purchases from the fair, Stone ground cornmeal, sweet potatoes, a cookie spatula, and a little gadget to make little pies. A new mug, and a tiny vase made by a child all next to cranberries to string and green tomatoes to fry
The dinning room table, lamp light flickering

Friday, November 23, 2007

Homestead Heritage Craft and Childrens Fair

We had a wonderful day at the Craft fair. The weather was cold though, never getting above 45F which felt extra cold with the north wind and no sunshine.
Mei-Ling seemed to enjoy all the sights and sounds, she never cried once and we were there for nearly 5 hours. Casi had to work, so Melanie and Mei-Ling came along with Emery and I.
I will post more pictures tomorrow morning. Its been a long day and I am ready for bed.
We even got to meet a fellow blogger there !

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...