Thursday, May 25, 2017

Life in May

 My parents, sister Verina, uncle Lloyd & I went to Alabama for my uncle Elvin Yoder's funeral. It was good to see family again. Because of the lack of ladies in our house, I almost never leave. It is rather disastrous when I do go. Lots of things piled up for when I come back.
 There was lots of road to travel.
We were impressed with the handmade furniture where we stayed overnight with the Lowell Brennemen family. They have talented sons.


 Must have been a space museum here. ???
  Melvin and I cleaned the pantry. He had an elevated position.
Much time was spent preparing for the spring school concert. I shot a few pictures during the final awesome song, God is an Awesome God. The lights were dim and they had a slideshow going behind them of colorful and artistic nebulae.



L-R Matthew, Austin, Stephen, Christopher, Melvin (circled)
 So many flowers blooming now. I was intrigued with this one RED peony.


 This sight thrills my heart. Our dyslexic son buried in a book! 
A normal sight for the one below.


How has your May been?

What is planned for the rest of the month?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Kitchen Hacks I

Do you know how easy life can be in the kitchen? Here are a few things I do to improve time and body wear.

Use a vegetable peeler to peel potatoes, carrots, butternuts, apples, turnips, pears etc. Did you know most peelers have a place on the end that is meant for digging unwanted spots out of potatoes (or whatever you're peeling)? In the photo below the Cutco peeler has the "digger" on the cutting side, the red one has the loop on the end to serve the purpose (doesn't work so great) and the T-Fal has it on the backside. We like the T-Fal the best.
L-R Cutco, unknown brand, T-Fal
The blender is a very useful tool to me. Throw onions in with tomato juice when making chili. You'll have the flavor of onions without the chunks or the tears. Do this with any recipe that has liquid and onions. Blend them together before adding to the other ingredients.

Blend all ingredients for pudding (or white sauce) except for the greater part of the milk which you have heating on the stove. Once the milk is hot, add the blended ingredients and in short order your pudding will be done. No long minutes spent bending over the hot stove, stirring pudding.

Blend the thickener you need for gravy. No flour clumps.

Blend the wet ingredients for something like muffins or pancakes. Add to the dry ingredients.

And, of course, milkshakes and smoothies. The male species in this household wear out my blender over these drinks. I freeze lots of unsweetened fruit that they turn into cold drinks or "blender ice cream".

Bake the bacon. What a lifesaver. It bakes nice and flat. The stovetop doesn't get splattered with grease. No need to turn it. Lay it out on a baking sheet, put it in the oven, turn the oven on 350 and wait for the delicious aroma of bacon. When you smell it, check it for the quality of done-ness you desire. (Will someone please give me the word I want there? Done-ness isn't a word.) Pour the grease off and there you are. Bacon by bakin'.


A mandolin is most handy for slicing, shredding and julienne-ing. Hate to be without it! Mine is bent from being on a back burner where oven heat warped it. It's also broken in different places. Time for a new one, I reckon.

The most important kitchen tip is to keep the counters clean. Easier said than done. But one dirty dish will bear young and multiply. Just try it. It's unbelievable how many dishes one dish can produce. I have no illustration for this tip! Wonder why?

How do you save time in the kitchen?

What did you have for dinner today?

Hey, you really may answer these questions!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

DIY Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

So easy. So good.

Here's what you'll need-


1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon each -
  • Celery salt
  • Onion salt
  • Garlic salt
Dash of black pepper

Whisk together and serve over your favorite green salad. Or use it to dip your raw veggies in.  

I always make a double batch for our family. We eat like rabbits. Only we prefer our raw foods slathered in good old Ranch. And even some cooked foods... like potato wedges and pizza. And I usually use two and one half cups of buttermilk to one and one half cups mayo as we prefer it thinner.

Knowing what's in your dressing is a lovely bonus.

So good. So easy.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Tribute to....A Chicken




Yes. You read that right. This particular chicken deserves recognition. 

The year was 2014. The place was Gap Mills, WV. My sister and her husband were living with my parents and wanted to have some good farm-fresh eggs. So they acquired chickens. Then they moved back to Texas, leaving the chickens behind.

The year was 2015. The place was Augusta, WV. Another sister and her husband wanted farm-fresh eggs. They moved said chickens to their property. When they later purchased 100 chickens they sent the small flock to us. 

On our little farm, chickens disappear. By night, with feather trails down to the woods. By day, with no trace left. And, by night, with carcasses left on the ground in the cage; heart eaten out. What gets the domestic birds? Oh, for a trail camera!

This small flock disappeared one by one, two by two, three by three....you get the picture. They disappeared. Except for this one. She survived an attack with only a patch of feathers off her back. After this she kept herself alive.

Since that day we have gotten a dozen chickens who again disappeared, one by one, two by two, etc. They all left; but this one remained. She knew how to stay alive. 

Last summer we got guinea keats- three of them. The day we let them out of their cage two went missing overnight. The third one was found in the woods in a terrible state of fear. He was shepherded back to his cage where he cowered in fear for awhile. He finally ventured out and he now knows how to keep himself alive.

Now we had two wise birds. We thought we should name them. The chicken especially had such a personality. She literally ruled the roost! Once she and the dog got in a fight over a ham bone and she nearly lost her life. She recovered and was a bit more dog wise.

But the dog and the cats knew their boundaries-- and those were---- not too close to the chicken. Recently Grandma Lapp brought the dog a pet bed. The chicken soon claimed it for her own. Ever see a chicken in a pet bed? Pampered bird!

I asked the boys what woman's name comes to their mind when I say words like "bossy, controlling, cantankerous, do-as-I-say, etc". Austin immediately replied, "Miranda". (Think Anne of Green Gables) We never did give the birds names. We thought of Henry & Henrietta.

Christopher enjoyed having the chicken sit on his arm while he stroked her and talked to her. He liked to introduce her to people.

The end of the story? This past week, the chicken became ill. She lasted about two days and succumbed. We didn't know how to help her or what was wrong. The younger boys claimed it was old age but old age doesn't kill one that quickly. I think she ate the wrong thing. Poor bird.


We miss her. RIP 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Reflecting... on a Sunday

Outside my window...
It is grey. It's been grey a lot this winter. Sunshine is very occasional and very welcome. A few snow flurries were on the air at times today.
I am thinking…

I need to write a mission statement. Something that can be a lens to look at all of life through.
I am thankful for…
My husband. Dear, kind, thoughtful, wise, godly.
From the learning rooms…
We just came through a grueling session of preparing for a culture fair. (More on that later, hopefully.)
From the kitchen…
Food as fast and frugal as possible these days. Lots of meals with potatoes because that's what is abundant in storage. If you like a menu plan ready-made for you, try out Eat at Home. For a break and some inspiration I purchased a month and was really pleased. Meals are frugal, your grocery list is all made out and even color coded by meals, and you get three months worth of meals for the price of one. We have enjoyed nearly every meal we tried. (Have I told you about this before?)
I am wearing…
A dark dress- olive? Brown? Some strange color. Ankle socks. Clogs.
I am creating…
A dress. When I have time.
I am going…
To a singing with a few other families this evening. For a song that should challenge you, listen to this one.
I am reading…
I am hoping… .
To get rid of 500 things by the end of January. My sister challenged me to this and it's been great. I'm at 355 by now. It's embarrassing how much I have that I don't need.
I am hearing…
Austin making popcorn. A hunting video the younger boys are watching.
Around the house…
A problem door was fixed recently by Austin. Yay! Now it latches.
One of my favorite things…
Writing. 
A few plans for the rest of the week…
Get back into our normal studies. Host Bible study Wed evening. Prepare for Thomas' sister's family who plan to visit over the weekend.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing….

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Puzzle

What happens when you clean out 70 some years worth of storage? One happens across unique items.

This puzzle was one of those unique items in the things that collected in my parents' home over the years.

The box. Look at the original price.

The address on the back tells us that it was from many years ago.

Oddly shaped pieces make a bigger challenge.

The finished treasure is worth all the work (a.k.a.fun).

And after 40+ years... the pieces are actually all there!

(Edith Troyer- my birth mother- would have been 79 years old this month had she lived.)

Do a Google search for the Nyangombe Falls. Or just click that link.

I'm addicted to puzzles. 

What is your take on them?

Joy...and Faith

A huge topic.

Here are some thoughts I'm gleaning.

Joy is a choice.

Forgive, forgive and forgive.

We choose to be hurt.

Talk and think about good things.

Brothers and sisters, think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8 paraphrased)

Does God instruct us to think about ANYTHING negative?

Smile! 😀 It makes you happy.

Celebrate victories. Your own and others. Don't think big. Tell yourself what you did right. Tell your partner what you like about him/her. Tell your child what they did right.

Think of the person you do not like. Is there one good thing about this person? Think about this thing only.

We likely grew up in a family or church or school where you were only told what you did wrong. You have the mentality that you are not enough.

Do you say things like-

"I didn't get enough sleep last night."

"Money doesn't grow on trees!"

"There's way too much to do."

"I can never do it right!"

"Maybe I'm good for something after all."

"I don't have time for that."

There's not enough space."

What do all these statements say?

"Not enough." 

"There's a scarcity."

Truly? Is the ocean only a few drops of water? Is the air you breathe nearly gone? Is the sky about to fall on you?

No! A thousand times NO!

Live with an abundance mentality.

We have an abundant God.

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. Psalm 50:10

He wants to give us the kingdom.

Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

He says ask and I'll give it to you.

For everyone that asketh receiveth... Luke 11:10

He promises rest. (Yes, on earth!)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:2

Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:11

He says he'll give us feet like deer, wings like eagles, strength like youth.

Habakkuk 3:19; Isaiah 40:31

He wants us to be a joyful people.

In thy presence is fulness of joy...Psalm 16:11

And it all boils down to a choice.

Really?!

I get to choose these things?

Absolutely!

We see... hear.... get -

What we look for. What we want. What we believe in.

Do you believe God when He says He is for you? 

If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Do you believe everything is against you?

You get what you believe.


Where is your faith today?

What are you expecting?

Are you choosing joy?

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Psalm 67:3 & 5