Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Menu Plan

Another week of menus. You're welcome.

Cheesy chicken (turkey) chowder
Lettuce salad
Scrambled eggs & sausage
Fried cabbage
Scalloped potatoes
Potatoes/sweet potatoes
Tomato soup
Hot dogs
Fruit salad
Chili soup
Veggies and dip
Sausage gravy
Chicken patty sandwiches
French fries
Rhubarb crunch
Apple nut muffins
Baked apples
Scrambled eggs & sausage
Tomato gravy
Apple crisp

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Grain Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie

Just in time for Thanksgiving!

I made a pie for our carry-in dinner at church today that people said was really good and they wondered where I got the recipe. It came "out of my head" and was the result of different recipes. 

No more suspense. I hate to scroll way, way down the page to see if I have the ingredients I need for the recipe so I'll do unto others as I would have them do to me. Here's what you'll need.

For the crust-
1- 1 1/2 cups nuts (I used pecans and walnuts)
1/4 cup unsweetened flake coconut
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (I used almond milk and coconut milk with the cream removed)
1 cup pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon stevia
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all the crust ingredients in the food processor and blend until it is a nice wet mixture. Press it evenly into a pie pan.

Mix the filling ingredients in a blender and pour into the crust. 

Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Turn oven heat down to 350° and bake for 30 minutes more. 

Remove from the oven and cool. Top with whipped coconut cream, sweetened with stevia and flavored with vanilla.

I'm a "dump cook" so I'm guessing at the amounts of some of these ingredients. 

To whip coconut cream, chill it overnight and then whip it like normal cream. Keep it cold to maintain the whipped properties.

Sorry, I have no picture of the pie. I brought an empty pan home.

I linked to the stevia that I use (not an affiliate link). Stevia in the grocery store is often mostly erythritol. Look at the labels.

Here's a sight that intrigued me today-

Friday, November 16, 2018

Then it Snowed...and Iced

The view from my bedroom window this morning.
Sunlight was kissing the distant hill making it stand out.
Yesterday was a beautiful winter day in the fall. Is it a foretaste of what's to come? We have had so much rain this summer. Will we get a lot of snow this winter? Only God knows! 

Following is a pictorial progression-

This tree still has green leaves- in the snow.
This photo was taken on the 12th of Nov.
Leaves from the tree above

The first white coating in the morning

Awhile later

Even later

This morning.... Matthew returning from a hunt.

Everything got coated with ice overnight

Melvin coming in from the hunt also.
While I don't enjoy snow per se, I do really enjoy the beauty. There's something really exciting about watching snow come down too. What is it about snow?

Why don't I enjoy snow? Hmm. 1. Snowy roads are just plain scary. 2. Being a barefoot girl, it just doesn't mesh with snow. 3. Cold? No thank you! 4. Wet, messy floors? Not in my book. I'll focus on the beauty outside my window. Thank you Jesus.

Yesterday I posted a picture of Christopher holding a woodpecker. It flew into the glass door and was badly stunned so the boys were excited to hold it for a bit. It recovered enough to fly away then.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Day in the Life

Why does life seem to get busier when September comes? For me that's when "school" begins and we settle down to books. The reason I put school in quotation marks is because we try to create an environment in our home where learning is happening all the time. But we do focus in on the academics when September rolls around.

We do not use the conventional method of textbooks and workbooks so life isn't laid out in this neat package for me. We tutor our sons according to their personal needs. This takes a lot of searching and prayer on the part of the tutor..... who happens to be me. (See the previous post for one unconventional method of learning.)

So mornings consist of making breakfast and packing lunches first of all. This is no small task. We have a family of big eaters. This morning I made a ham and cheese omelet roll and a fruit salad with apples, pineapple, bits of banana, pear, and peaches robed in yogurt for breakfast.

We packed no lunches because there was a wintry mix falling and the day seemed unpredictable. The men went out to meet a truckload of doors that needed to be unloaded and I am wondering what adventures they are having. Soon after they left the mix turned to mostly snow and there are a couple inches on the ground now around noon. At least they have 4 wheel drive trucks.

But any other day we would either put some leftovers in a crock pot for them to take or if it's soup they prefer to have the slopping mess contained in Thermoses. Then we add to the lunch cheese, fruit, veggies/salad, a pastry, milk or something down that line. Not all of these every day. 

We sit down for a bit of a devotional, kneel for family prayer, send the men off to earn the living and then tackle what needs to be done here. I often sit down with a cup of coffee after clearing the food away and listen to scripture for awhile while doing something with my hands. I listen to ten chapters a day. Getting up early is a pill for me so this time to sit, rest, listen and unwind is helpful.
Then I call the two youngest who have been reading, whittling, playing with cats, building with Legos, playing in the woods, killing a groundhog or doing some other thing of interest and we sit together to study the Bible. We are currently doing a study of 1 & 2 Timothy & Titus. We get into some interesting discussions. 

After the Bible study we read a story book, taking turns reading aloud. One of the single most important ways of learning is to read aloud. Try it. You may discover many words you don't know how to pronounce or you might not even know what they mean. Reading aloud forces you to know.
After reading, we are ready to tackle some house & animal chores. The dishwasher needs to be unloaded and reloaded. Laundry needs to be started. It takes a daily doing to keep up with the piles of laundry. After reading of Laura Ingall's life, I think it would cut out a lot of work if we each had only two sets of clothing! And bathed once a week. And did the washing once a week. But ...hmm ...shhh ... whispering, "I wonder how they smelled?"

The animals need to be tended. Water for the cattle. (The cow gets milked before breakfast.) Water and food for the chickens. Water and food for the dog and cats. The fire needs to be tended and the wood box filled. Meal prep for the evening may need to be done. This morning I put a turkey in the oven for tonight and I want to make a cranberry jello salad.  (Find my recipe in this lengthy post.) I'll make sweet potato souffle later on.

We have some more free time around lunch and thereafter until I get my bearings and know how to proceed. The boys might get a list of things to do together or they might each get their own list. Or we will all work together on a project. One day last week we washed all the windows on the outside. Another day we deep cleaned a room. Yet another day found us working on the wood pile, splitting, hauling and stacking wood. Okay, you know I wasn't splitting wood, don't you? I should be maybe, but I wasn't.
Does that sound like a day full? Till next time! Blessings to you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Last year I started composition books with our two youngest. They each have their own. I would write a question and they would answer it. Then they returned it to me with a question. I answered, wrote another question, etc. (A sneaky way to get them to write.)
It was very interesting. They would ask some hard questions. And give some revealing answers.

This year I decided to use the books for math. I will give them problems to work and they will return the favor. I enjoy math but I figured sooner or later they will stump me. Sure enough Christopher went online with the search line, "hard word problems".

He got one for me that went clean over my head. I studied it awhile and decided to see where he got it. No help there except for the info, "Most tricky and tough algebra problems are covered here." Yikes!

Determined to master this, I searched for how to solve algebraic problems. (I'm the person who, if you tell me it isn't likely to be done, I'll master it. I was told in my younger days that, "Girls can't whistle with a blade of grass." Wrong thing to tell ME!)

So I settled down to GET THIS! I followed a couple tutorials online until it finally got through my head. A few simple steps and presto! There was the answer! Christopher said he hasn't seen me so excited in a long time. Well, I was! I can't describe the feeling of empowerment that came from mastering that problem.

And a piece of info I left out above from the "hard problems site"- "If you can solve these, you can probably solve any algebra problems." Obviously there are lots more on that site but to tackle and conquer something that seemed so impossible, was fantastic. Maybe I can do it again.

It was interesting to me how that feeling stayed with me even in other matters. Where something would before look impossible, I'm thinking, "Maybe I could get this!"

Here is the problem in Christopher's handwriting (he writes very faintly in pencil) and also copied and pasted from the site-
The cost of petrol rises by 2 cents a liter. last week a man bought 20 liters at the old price. This week he bought 10 liters at the new price. Altogether, the petrol costs $9.20. What was the old price for 1 liter?

Can you solve it?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Discussion

Ever an emotional person, I laugh or cry when I try to speak of things close to my heart. And I feel things deeply. I don't want to be seen when I read a book because I might cry and maybe even really sob, like head-in-my-hands kind of sobbing. Especially when children are hurt. Reading these books has been painful.

On Tuesday I read 
And it's been haunting me ever since. How could such atrocities take place? Why were the adults in his life who witnessed his mistreatment silent and absent? Why were the other children in his life not horrified enough to tell someone? Why was everyone so accepting of the evil? What enticed his mother to be so cruel?

A month ago I read this one
And I was horrified again at the injustice shown to blacks. I always hate to read books where the whites are allowed to do evil and blame it on the blacks. The story line was rich enough that I didn't feel suffocated by the evil. I started to read Uncle Tom's Cabin once but I wasn't very far along until I got that feeling of panic. That book will have to wait until my spirit is strong.

This morning I finished this one
And it kept me on edge a lot (panicky). As in, To Kill A Mockingbird, blacks are mistreated and in this case young adults. White adults stand by and watch; as well as encourage the mistreatment. There were a very few white people in Melba's life who stood by her. Otherwise her Grandmother was a source of strength to her, encouraging her to write out her thoughts to God. 

How can people get so warped that they encourage their children to mistreat another human being? Why did hundreds of people buy the lie that Negroes were animals? I admire the attitude of many black people as they awaited their deliverance. They put their faith and trust in God even if they never saw the longed-for equality. Many of them were examples of Christ to the white people around them.

Grandma told Melba to change up the game. Instead of allowing her tormentors to see how sad and terrified they made her, she turned to thanking them for their cruelties. It took the oomph out of their pranks and gave her a strength she didn't know was possible. 

Grandma believed Melba was born to the kingdom for just such a time and could be the "warrior" that God needed to effect change in the world. 

One more book this week
(And yes, or no, I didn't get much cleaning done! Sometimes one needs to Read! Read! Read!)

This book had me suffocating in another way. It was a story of wars and defeat. Spain controlled the Netherlands and was determined to eradicate Protestants. Because of their personal pride the Dutch couldn't get their act together to rid themselves of Spain.

Okay, I don't think we should go to war but if someone is going to fight, I mean they should get off their high horses and band together for the common good. Not one city was strong enough to throw off the incredible strength of Spain but they kept trying to do it on their own. 

When someone could get an army together they seldom knew how to work together to accomplish anything. So you see why I felt panicked? Thousands upon thousands of people dying by war or famine (in sieges) and Spain continuing to commit monstrous atrocities in the name of Catholicism.

G. A. Henty's books are in the public domain and are available for free on Kindle. He wrote a lot of historical fiction, bringing life to the stories of ancient (or not so ancient) times.

Both Henty and Melba speak of tolerance. They both speak of fighting intolerance. One group was using guns and swords while the other was moving forward non-violently (mostly), doing what was right to do. What will I do? 

These books invoked more thoughts that I may be able to write about at a later date. The subject this time was cruelty, injustice and intolerance. There are good things to speak of as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tuesday Meal Planning + Family Gathering

We were traveling yesterday and I was tired today, plus I'm going to town tomorrow so I decided to sit down and plan my menus once again. It is so helpful to know what to cook! 
Beans, rice, eggs
Bean dip and chips
Beef Roast
Baked potatoes
Lettuce salad
Potato, meat, egg quiche
Fruit & yogurt
Banana bread
Chicken enchiladas
Veggies & dip
No bake bars
Lettuce salad
Breakfast burritos
Hot dog sandwiches
Apples or grapes
Rice & chicken
Green beans
Apples and PB
Sausage gravy
Tomato soup
Potato salad
Mashed potatoes

Friday through Monday morning we had a surprise party for my mother who is turning 70 in December. We tried to pick a time of the year when it would work for most of us to get together. A cabin in Raphine, VA was where we gathered. A beautiful setting in the woods by the river. With a second small building to the side we had room for everyone to sleep indoors. Without having to sleep in the kitchen or dining room! Twenty-five people from TX, WV and OH.
Photo credit Sylvia Byler
And we actually managed to surprise Mama! This is not easy to do. She is a suspicious, questioning individual. Sister Rosetta took her on a trip through the New England states for the greater part of the week and she thought she would be coming home Friday. By the time she got to where we were, she was completely flummoxed. She told Rosetta, "It's a good thing I trust you! You could be abducting me!" And then her mouth dropped open as she beheld the family.
Tim grilling chicken while visiting with Mama
The sisters in Texas did an excellent job of planning the event. They assigned each sibling a meal and we all helped with the meal that was left. I brought enough leftovers home to help out with a few meals here.
Rosetta & Sylvia solving the world's problems

Chel's husband Jason kept a good campfire going
Maxie, Christopher and Gwen as we traveled to WV
My parents Noah & Mary Jane Schwartz
Photo credit Sylvia Byler