Saturday, February 19, 2011

How Did This Happen?

Like most homeschooling families, we’ve been interested in farming, rural lifestyles, and back to the land ideals of growing our own food and raising some animals for quite some time.  We’ve enjoyed watching movies of families who’ve left it all behind to live in the country; dreaming of Little House On The Prairie days with Ma & Pa and chores and old-fashioned fun; and reading of people who lived in simpler times with skills that most people no longer even know of, let alone possess for themselves.  Usually our daydreams would go back to being dreams within a few days and life would go on with its’ relentless regularity.
Last year however we were blessed by a friend who shared some godly DVD’s with us.  One of them touched my heart deeply and changed me:  A Journey Home featuring the Waller family in Tennessee.  I don’t want to over-romanticize about it, but the beautiful simplicity of their lives and the deep love they have for each other as they work and live and enjoy each day spoke very clearly to my own deep longing for those same things.  Yes, it is terribly hard work and yes, it takes discipline, but the rewards are so tangibly evident and enticing.

So Why Now?
Several things are changing within our family that have nothing to do with the present times and everything to do with the present times: My husband is getting closer and closer to retirement; our sons are getting closer and closer to adulthood; our desire to grow and prepare our own food is becoming more important as we are learning more and more about the adulteration of industrialized food; we want to give our children the most basic skills of seeing food go from seed to harvest and from birth to table in order to be able to provide for their own families no matter what the future may hold for them;  and we desire to see our children walk faithfully with the Lord, knowing that a simple life filled with hard work in seedtime and harvest is beneficial for that walk.
It’s late now but I look forward to finishing these thoughts tomorrow -
In Christ,
(this post originally published  at

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Girl & I

In the kitchen, rolling meatball after meatball then rolling them in bread crumbs, getting to spend some wonderful time just chit-chatting with my sweet girl, I know without a doubt that I am blessed.

We talked of her morning, my shopping trip, the book she's read and the adventures of the people in it. We talked of dogs and brothers, of recipes and cabinet colors. We joked of silly mistakes made and I happily swam in the sound of her giggles.

All too soon our task was done and we each moved on to separate chores.

But I'm going to look at this picture and remember that precious part of an hour, and store it away with all the others.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Southern Living Chicken Salad

Today's dinner was this yummy chicken salad from the Southern Living Cookbook that I borrowed from my mom more than 15 years ago. There were so many good recipes in it that she very graciously said that I could keep it. Thanks Mom!

Chicken Salad

4 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 cups thinly sliced celery
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup whipping cream (I don't keep this on hand and have never added it)
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2 Tablespoons minced or grated onion
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Combine chicken and celery. Combine remaining ingredients, stirring well; add to chicken mixture and toss well. Cover and chill.

As you can see, we love to have this on croissants. Easy and delicious, I really need put this on our menu plans more often!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Time to Plan

I haven't been doing this for months and months, I think since our schedule got off track somewhere around April '10, but tonight the Lord prompted me to start planning our menus again.

I grabbed my trusty binder, headed over to Crystal's to print a planning sheet, then sat down and had our week planned in under 10 minutes! My trusty red binder contains all my recipes printed from the internet along with tips for planning, cooking items completely from scratch, and all of my previous monthly and weekly menus. I was able to plan so quickly by simply going through the pages that had been hastily tucked into the front of the binder over the past year; family favorites that we haven't had for awhile and a standard that we never tire of.

Menu planning is also a bit easier right now because I am only planning dinners (the larger meal at midday) since Dear Sons and I are on a diet and will be having our meal replacement shake for two meals (in this case breakfast and supper), while daughter likes to make breakfast for herself and Dad.

So what are we having this week?

Sunday: Chicken Salad on croissants with fruit salad
(recipe from Southern Living Cookbook)
Monday: Mulligatawny Soup with Na'an bread
(recipe from Sunset, copied while we were at my aunt's house)
Tuesday: Quinoa with Chicken and Black Beans
(recipe from
Wednesday: Veranika with Rye bread and veggies
(recipe from my Mennonite cousins!)
Thursday: Meatballs & mushroom gravy over rice with vegetable salad
(meatball recipe from Alton Brown)
Friday: Curry Chicken Pot Pie with salad
(based on recipe from Alton Brown)
Saturday: Homestyle Brown Rice Pilaf with individual meat loaves
(pilaf recipe from
Sunday: Crock Pot Oriental Beef and Broccoli over rice
(recipe from Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes)

I will try to post recipes and photos this week to add to Our Favorite Recipes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Birds Are Back!

We very much enjoy bird watching from the convenience of our back door and have had bird feeders in the backyard for years. These little Lesser Goldfinches and American Goldfinches are a favorite. I just set this feeder out yesterday (after a time of rest and a break from the financial costs of buying feed - sorry finches!) and this morning they are back!

They are so fun to watch. There are so many of them that they are waiting on nearby fences and branches for their turn at the feeder, sometimes getting impatient and just swooping in to claim a spot and knocking someone else out in the process.

In years past we have literally had hundreds of birds in the trees and on the feeders, all in constant motion flying from tree to feeder to fence to nearby bush to get into position to fly back to feeder. I can tell that we're going to have to put another feeder out - let the games begin!

(i apologize for the blue photos, they were taken taken through the window so as not to disturb the birds :-)

New - to Me!

I found these dishes at Goodwill this week, four bowls and four plates for $8, and they immediately caught my eye - a sweet pattern, scalloped edges, and that great neutral color that goes with almost anything!

What a Blessing!

I have been abundantly blessed!

Dear Son #2 stayed up past bedtime last night and scrubbed clean all of my counter tops,

. . . . and the stove top

. . . . . . and the sink, too!

A very happy sight for this momma's heart!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Frustrated and Stagnant

If I had to describe my life recently it would be with the words frustrated and stagnant. All of my desires and moment by moment plans are frustrated through outside forces. I feel like a puddle in the middle of a field; there are lovely grasses and wildflowers all around me and the sunshine reaches me to warm me, but the sun's rays are just enough for algae to grow in me and not enough to evaporate my water. How long have I been this way? How much longer can I go on this way?

I can blame my frustration on others, their plans taking precedence over my own. The stagnation goes along with it. I feel stagnant because I haven't had the freedom lately to go and do and see and just BE. There is a dark grey cloud hovering always within view, blocking the sun and making my way murky.

What a picture.

I have to be honest, though, and realize that my frustration is truly caused by my own selfish heart which desires MY way above others, MY plans above others, and my frustration when my way is thwarted is simply my own lack of submission to the authorities and priorities that the LORD has set for me.

Am I really stagnant? Is there nothing I can do while I sit in this place and time? Again my eyes are clouded and blind because I am not able to fulfill MY own wishes, be creative and enjoying the warmth of the day in the way that I would prefer. There are nearly infinite ways that I can DO and CREATE and BE while in this place if I would simply adjust my attitude and my limited vision to be in line with my Father's; my wonderful, infinitely creative LORD.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
Psalm 40:17

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Where's Mom?

I have a slight addiction to magazines and in the past few weeks I feel like I've struck gold! They are all safely tucked away in the bathroom cabinet just waiting for that lull in the day when I might actually get to spend 5, 10, or maybe even 15 minutes alone.

It will take me a while to get through all of these, but I am looking forward to being inspired and most likely expanding my crafting wish list for the next few years.

A Real Egg

This photo is not color enhanced.

Sometimes I am taken aback (really! ;-) by how ORANGE many of our egg yolks are. Our girls eat a fairly natural diet; in addition to their organic feed they get scratch grains, veggies and garden trimmings, bugs, snails, and even grass and my flowers when they escape from their yard.

It's hard to find an egg from the store with that kind of color.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sewing & Sweet Faces

I finally was able to get some sewing done last week and (after a few re-designs) completed this skirt for daughter. This is her very favorite fabric - discovered almost five years ago - which she has had three dresses made in, and then outgrown. :-( This time instead of a dress, I decided to make a skirt, secretly hoping that it would take her longer to outgrow it.

Below are three of my favorite people

Aren't they so handsome all dressed for church?
I actually think H is standing on his toes a bit in order to be just as tall as J - how cute ;-)

I so love this skirt and how it turned out! I can't wait to make more with the fabric we got,
and try some hem variations, too!

Look at those faces.

WHO could resist them?

My Favorite Place

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lunch with my Wonderful Boy

J has been working with Mr. Smith for two weeks on the bathroom remodel at church.

He's so intense!

It was such a gorgeous day today!

MMMmmmm . . . . toasted tuna sandwich from Subway

What a funny face :-}

I've really missed him not being home and I have been thinking that if this is a taste of what it will be like when he goes to college, then I am going to be one proud but sad momma.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bathroom Beauty

This is a before picture of my very unorganized bathroom counter. A few years ago I had the wonderful idea to set the basket in the corner in order to corral all of the items I use on a daily basis. It worked wonderfully . . . . for a while. Then at some unknown moment in time, the basket simply became a catch-all for anything and everything that we were too busy to put away or throw away. What an unattractive mess!

It has really been bothering me lately and I've been trying to think of more organized and attractive options for my stuff and this space. I had thought of a small shelving unit with cute baskets I could pull out when needed, but couldn't find what I had envisioned.

Today during a random stop by Tuesday Morning I found something I hadn't thought of, but was perfect - something practical and beautiful! After dinner, husband became engrossed with an editing project at the computer and I seized my chance. Daughter and I snuck my finds into the bathroom and quietly closed the door. After about an hour of cleaning, sorting, and organizing I now have a new, pretty bathroom to greet me each morning - - - -

Most used items (toothbrush, facial scrub, face cloths, and brush) are in the top box.

Next are cosmetics and nail polishes.

Third is all of our hair accessories: scarves, bands, barrettes, ribbons, etc.

And the bottom box contains blow dryer, curling irons, curlers, and extra brushes.

I'm smiling!

***Updated 2/12/11 to add: It has been over a week and my bathroom is still nice and clean! Everything in its' place - although a few items might have migrated from one box to another for convenience! I'm STILL smiling!