Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18

Outside my window... There was a brilliant sky this morning and as the color faded the sky remained a dull grey. Soon raindrops were seen and a short rain ensued. Mostly the sky just remained in it's overcast state. The wind is calm; the temperature mildly cold.
I am thinking… The last eight years have gone by so quickly. The youngest were not yet in school. In eight more years the youngest will be twenty. We could be "empty nesters" that soon!
I am thankful for… 
...a newly remodeled and updated Aldi in Winchester.
...work for the men (for income).
...coffee from my brother in Honduras. Yum!
From the learning rooms… We continue to read the Old Testament stories. Learning how human humans have been down through the ages.
From the kitchen… The refrigerators and freezer have more cooking options since I did the grocery shopping yesterday. 👍
I am wearing… my jacket in the house. I should take it off.
I am creating… meals. Always. Three times a day.
I am going… Tomorrow I hope to attend the worship service at the church house.  
I am reading… I just finished A Tangled Web by L. M. Montgomery.
I am hoping… to be able to get done with things today enough that I can relax tomorrow.
I am hearing… a cat meowing at the door. He thinks it is his right to enter my house.
Around the house… My desk is finally cleaned and ready for use! It has long been heaped with unbelievable clutter.
One of my favorite things… Well, mashed potatoes are pretty good.
A few plans for the rest of the week… Get ready for company. Entertain friends and family. Feed family and friends. Do laundry. Cook meals. Bake for market. Spend time with Thomas' mother. Take boys to concert practice at school. 
Here is a picture thought I am sharing….
Know this guy?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Design

The boys and I enjoy cutting designs in the top crust of the pies for market. Christopher and I did these four.

Lattice top by MML

Apple by CNL

Steaming cup by CNL

Leaf by MML
Any other suggestions? There are some simple designs we do- just straight cuts that don't take much time or effort. But these sell for $15 each so I prefer to make them pretty.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Enough

A middle-aged man is making his way homeward on foot after being gone for over twenty years. He wants to see his father before the old man passes on. With him are four women, twelve children and scores of animals.

When he left many years ago, he was running away as a thief. He had swindled his twin brother out of the entire inheritance. His twin schemed to kill him when their father died.

As the man journeyed toward home his thoughts turned toward his twin. Had his anger cooled? Did he still wish to kill him?

He sent scouts out ahead to find his brother. What he expected them to find, I don't know; but the scouts returned with word that his twin was coming to meet him and four hundred men were with him.

This brought great fear on the man so he sent a present ahead of himself that he hoped would appease his brother. Two hundred twenty goats went bleating down the road, followed by two hundred twenty baaing sheep. Sixty camels, fifty cows & bulls and thirty donkeys completed the present. 

He told his servants, who drove the animals, to give this message to his twin, "These are a present from your brother to my lord."

When they finally met, there seemed to be no animosity left and they hugged and kissed one another, all their emotions coming out in tears.


And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? 
And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he (Jacob) said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.
And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.
Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it. (Taken from Genesis 33)
These words stood out to me as we read them. I have enough. Both men were satisfied with what they had.

Another story -from Little House on the Prairie. Pa and Ma, Mary, Laura and Baby Carrie are leaving a year's worth of labor behind them on the prairie because they realize they have built their little farmstead on land that belongs to the Indians (Native Americans).
As they load their belongings, they take only what will fit in their covered wagon. They had worked long and hard to build a log cabin and stable. They hand dug a well. Pa had skinned many animals, trading their furs for glass windows, a plow and seeds for a garden.
They must leave all that and the plow behind because they have no way to carry it. They leave the latch-string hanging out so some weary wanderer in need might find shelter.
Pa cheerfully says they shouldn't mourn the past year because they have all the time there is. They could work again in another place to live the life they needed to live.
As they are traveling over the prairie they see a covered wagon in the distance but it is not moving. When they arrive, there sitting on the tongue are a man and woman who look at their feet. 
When questioned why they sit in this manner, they reply that their horses were stolen in the night. Pa offers them a ride to town but no, they will foolishly stay with their wagon because everything they own is in it. 
The possibility of someone passing their way again is very slim. What good will all their possessions do if they don't live? Pa just can't fathom such stupidity.
As I contrasted the two stories within this story, I realized how much we women want to hang on to our possessions. Ma went with Pa and listened to his wisdom, though it was hard for her to give things up. 
Especially the nice cabin, stable, bed and table he had built. And the garden they had planted, that the rabbits (or someone other than themselves) would now enjoy.
The other woman was the one who answered the questions Pa asked about whether they would leave their wagon. She was adamant. "No." She didn't wait to hear the wisdom of her husband.

After reading these accounts I read Luke chapter 9. Jesus told his disciples to go out to minister, taking nothing with them but the clothes they wore. "Trust those to whom you are journeying to supply your needs," is in essence what he told them.
Later they found themselves in the desert country with thousands of hungry people, five loaves and two fishes. Again He says, "Trust me. We have enough." (My paraphrase.)
Are you finding enough today as you fulfill Jesus' call on your life? Or do your possessions hinder you? The more you own, the more you have to care for and worry about. There is freedom in releasing the things you own (because you really don't own them).
I tend to want to hang on to food, rather than being sharing with it (i.e. having visitors over). When you have a family that inhales food at a rapid rate, you begin to subconsciously question God's ability to keep that supply there. 
But I have found freedom in just offering what I have and trusting that we will have enough to eat. We have never gone hungry yet.
There is also freedom in letting go of possessions that have sentimental value. Possessions should not hold the place in our hearts that is meant for people. We have all the time in the world. And that isn't much. Fill it with service to people rather than possessions.
What possessions do you hang on to, at the expense of being of service to God and man?
Do your possessions crowd out people in your life?
Do you listen to the wisdom of the men who are in authority over you? (Assuming you are a woman as I am.)
I am awed by the sky scenes over the mountains

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Oh Boy! Oh Boy!

The boys so quickly turn into young men. The two oldest (18 20) give themselves haircuts and the two middles (13 & 16) do each other. I'm happy to nearly be out of that job. These two still call me in to trim their edges.




They were sitting side by side, absorbed in Calvin and Hobbes books this morning. Just as I snapped the picture Matthew threw his aside.

Oh man! Oh man! Oh man! Oh boy! Oh boy! (The five sons.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Math at Khan Academy (Website review)

How about a free education? Can something free be good? 

We have been given a living room set, a bedroom suite, hundreds of Legos, bushels of tomatoes, a bed mattress and more. Yes, free things can be good!


Khan Academy offers free education on a number of subjects. Our family has benefited from the free arithmetic instruction. I enjoy math but don't know how to teach it. If someone doesn't understand fractions I don't know how to explain it better than the textbook. (How can you not understand fractions?) 

Sal Khan explains things to students. Not saying that they always understand him either, but they can listen to him repeatedly without him getting frustrated with them. That's a super good thing. He always says the same thing in the same tone of voice... because it's on video.

One does not need to repeat 80 percent of the material here, as often happens in a classroom setting, because things are taught on a mastery basis at Khan Academy. Once you've mastered a concept, you can move on to something else. It is a myth that you need to practice and practice and practice to be able to understand math concepts.

Yes, some practice is needed but once you understand it, you understand it. More practice is not needed. And practice will not help you if your brain is not ready for a concept. It will only be frustrating. Cognitive readiness is a huge factor when learning math. 

"Conveyor belt" schooling puts all children the same age, in the same grade, doing the same things. Then it labels them slow, average or quick. Our children are humans, not machines and just because one child is cognitively ready to learn addition at 3 (or 6) years of age does not mean that all children are.

Math is meant to be explored and enjoyed; but with the way it is taught in schools, it becomes one of the most hated subjects out there. This is so sad because math can help us understand more about our orderly Creator. Khan Academy gives you the chance to take math at your own pace, in your own time, and be okay with who you are. 

After you've signed up at Khan Academy, look for the drop-down menu on the left, labeled Subjects. Under the Math by subject tab, find Arithmetic. That is the best place to start, in my opinion, because it will help you fill in any "holes" in your math education. I enjoy continuing my education here.

Here are screenshots from my phone to show you how much is under the Math by subject heading. 


Have you ever wished to continue your education but didn't have the finances you needed? Here you go! It's free.

Listen to Sal Khan explain things more at a TED talk.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Alfredo Pasta Recipe

This quick, simple meal can have variations of meat (or no meat at all) and pasta. Follow the pictures.
Put 1 lb of turkey burger (or your choice of meat) in a skillet

Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the pan
Add 1-2 tsp of garlic salt 
1/2-1 tsp black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder
 Fry meat over medium heat until well done.
Add 1 cup of milk

1 stick of butter

8 oz cream cheese

 Chop and stir together over low heat
until the butter and cream cheese are melted.
Cook 1 lb of pasta per directions on package, rinsing slightly with cold water when it's done.
Put half of the pasta in a casserole dish

Spread half the Alfredo mixture on top and
then repeat the layers once more.
Does that seem like a lot of food? Our family scarfs it up in one meal and wishes for more.

As I made this dish, I just pulled the recipe from my head and kept thinking I'm missing something. Now I remember- I usually add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to this. Well, it was good without it.

If you go meatless, start with melting the butter. Then add the milk and other ingredients. You can also use raw garlic and onion if you wish, rather than garlic salt and onion powder. Just saute them in the butter to begin with.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Today

Outside my window...
It's a fall day with brisk air, some clouds, some sunshine. The leaves of the maples are finally yellow.
I am thinking…
Thanksgiving week, when the family comes home, is on my mind. There's a lot to see after but my brain is having fun with that. It will be so nice to have a relaxing time together for once. No moving or cleaning. No wedding. 
I am thankful for…
So many things. A warm shelter for these cold days. A mug of coffee. Active, strong young men. A wagon load of sweet potatoes. 

From the learning rooms…
To get some writing in our days, I write a question in a composition book and the boys are supposed to answer it. (They each have their own book.) Then they ask me a question, I answer it and ask them another. It is fun.
From the kitchen…
Alfredo with pasta for supper. That will make my men happy.
I am wearing…
Nothing I wish to speak of. Everyday clothes. I follow advice I've heard different times lately. Dress to fit the occasion. If you're going to work, put clothes on that make you think so. "Dress to your shoes" so you are ready to do anything. Makes sense. And it does work.
I am creating…
Cleaner corners.
I am going…
Nowhere today. Maybe to the meat store tomorrow to get things to make Stephen's birthday supper.
I am reading…
The Gospel according to Luke
Love the Home you Have by Melissa Michaels
I am hoping…
...to get my house more clean and orderly before Thanksgiving. There will be three little girls here, including a baby. 
I am hearing…
The boys playing basketball and my nephew sighting in Grandpa's gun (the favorite gun of the whole family, including some of my sisters and excluding me).
It is very difficult to catch a good photo of moving boys
Around the house…
The library is mostly completed. I bought one more shelf for it bringing the total number of large shelves to six. There are four smaller shelves in the office plus one on top of Thomas' desk. 

Yesterday I bought a small shelf, from a neighbor I didn't know I had, who had posted it on Offer Up. This small one is for my office space which desperately needs organization. Thankfully some of my boys have more of an eye for order and design than I do and can help with such things.
One of my favorite things…
A happy person.
A few plans for the rest of the week…
Stephen's birthday party tomorrow evening. The oldest is twenty years old! 

The middle one is now sixteen and gets to go to a youth activity with the older two this Friday evening. That leaves us with the two youngest. Oh wow. Where have the years gone? 

I need to go shopping sometime. I keep putting that dreaded thing off.

Here is picture thought I am sharing….
This etching was done by one of our sons... for his friend. (He says it must be clear here that he himself does not like Chevy!) 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Death, Defeat, Destruction and Victory

Alex of The Frugal Couple was recently posting videos of himself doing push-ups. Twenty-two a day for twenty-two days. Why?

To raise awareness of the twenty-two veterans who kill themselves daily.

President Trump either did or is wanting to declare a national health crisis because of the forty-eight people who daily kill themselves through the use of opioids.

That's seventy people a day, dying because of defeat.

Add to that the destruction of lives in Las Vegas. New York City.

Yesterday 26 people were killed in their country church house in Texas. What makes a man murderous?

Let me ask you some questions.

Did you grow up in a two parent home with no divorce?

Did you have the privilege of being home educated or have you had a good private/public school experience?

Do you have enough food in your house for a week?

Do you have a clean record with the state?

Do you have a home that you do not fear having to move from any day soon?

Do you have a clear conscience?

Is there one person in your life who cares whether you live or die?

Are you debt free?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have much more than most people.

If you think about these things and realize how much people are hurting throughout this land, what does it do for you?

It makes me cry.

It makes me realize why someone wants to destroy themselves or others.

Pain is pain and too much pain is overwhelming.

We have the answer for these people if we know Jesus. If we know God the Father. 

Theirs is a wondrous plan. Jesus came to earth to take all the pain there ever could be and nailed it to His cross. 

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: (Isaiah 53:4)

When we believe in Him, He takes all the pain away and gives peace in its stead. Peace that passes all understanding.

As humans we feel like we need to be angry. Or sad. Hurt. With everything that has happened to me, poor me, how can I have peace? It just isn't fair the things I've suffered.

And that is the truth. Life isn't fair. It also isn't fair that Jesus offers to take all that for us after He lived a sinless life and suffered unbelievably and unjustly. But it's the truth.

And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

And once you know that truth and it has set you free, you will have incredible compassion for those who do not know it. You will want to share the truth with them. 

They don't need to live in fear. In shame. In hurt. In anger. In hatred. In "control". In depression. In defeat. In destruction.

There is hope. There is peace. There is joy. There is freedom. There is love.

Let us find and apply this truth to all areas of our lives. We are a broken people who face pain daily. What we do with it- carry it or give it to Jesus- makes all the difference. 

Is something in the past still painful? Do you still feel awful when you think about it? Jesus will heal that as well, if you allow Him to.
Allow the Son to shine through and bring you light and hope and then spread it to others.

Why would I wish to be all things negative when Jesus gave so much to make my life positive?

Prayer: Jesus, my heart hurts so much when I think about what ___________did. It makes me feel so ___________. I choose to forgive ___________ and I take upon myself all the pain he/she caused me and allow him/her to go free. What is Your truth about this situation?

The amazing thing about this prayer, prayed from the heart, is that Jesus transfers that pain to Himself and we go free, praising Him!

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Arrow Over the Door

(Book review)
The lives of Samuel, a Quaker and Stands Straight, a Native American are juxtaposed and brought together in this true story. The time is the Revolutionary War and the Quakers, a neutral, peaceful people are called cowards because they will not join the war effort.

Samuel's energetic, protective teenage soul does not think that he should just do nothing to defend his family in the case of an attack. How can his father and brother be so peaceful? he wonders.

Stands Straight reviews how his people have been treated by Americans, French and English. No one has treated them well. What should they do about this war?

The two boys meet as the Native Americans scout the countryside to see what the white people are doing.

Finding the Quakers in their meeting house, sitting silently, giving no cry of alarm at their entrance, the Native Americans realize that these are a peaceable people, friends, not to be feared. They place a headless arrow over the door as a sign to all their brothers to leave these people alone.
How does Samuel come to realize that being a lover of peace is not cowardice? How does Stands Straight see the truth about things around him? Read the book and discover for yourself.

It's a short book, 90 pages, easily read in an evening.

What do you believe about war and peace?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mug

Stephen has really bad luck with coffee mugs. Every nice, high-dollar one he gets, lands on the cement floor or falls in the ceramic dish sink and breaks. What is a man supposed to do?

For just a couple dollars I found a very appropriate mug for him. He spends so much time on his computer when he's at home. 

He says it holds almost half a 12 cup coffee pot.

How ya like it?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Cheesy Chicken Chowder Recipe (Gluten Free)


Ingredients:
4 cups cooked chicken
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups milk
2 cups peeled potatoes, cubed
2 cups peeled carrots, cubed
2 cups diced celery
2 cups cheese (I use American)
1/3 cup cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook vegetables in chicken broth until tender. Add 3 cups of milk. Heat to nearly boiling while you dissolve cornstarch in the remaining cup of milk. Add cornstarch mixture to vegetables and stir until it returns to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts. Add salt, pepper and chicken. Serve.

Did you notice how many ingredients begin with the letter C?

Chicken soups are so nourishing, especially if you make your own broth from bone-in chicken.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kitchen Hacks II

Keep the counters clean. Remember that? And how in the world do you practically do that??? Just do it! Do you rinse and stack your dishes? Well, why not just get the hot water running into the sink (if you have hot tap water), squirt in some dish detergent and make that rinsing a washing instead? Presto! The dishes are washed and can air dry in the dish rack instead of collecting on the counter top or in the sink.

I have such a good mentor in these things. Donna Goff at Mentoring Our Own is constantly reminding me how important a clean kitchen is. It is our choice to keep it clean. If we are too busy to keep up with our dishes (or laundry) we are too busy! Her kitchen rule is "Leave no trace". I'll let you interpret that.

Use a food chopper when you fry burger. It is handy to use that instead of a spatula or pancake turner, whatever you call it. Just chop and mix as the burger fries.

This tool is actually very versatile- chop onions and nuts, cut out biscuits and donuts, chop strawberries. Just use your imagination.
The crock pot is a wonderfully useful kitchen gadget. Fill it in the morning with some meat, veggies and spices and by evening your main dish is ready. Add a green salad to make a complete meal. For even more fun, put a bunch of meals in the freezer and you'll have peace of mind for a week or two.

Soak your beans before cooking them. Best done in a glass jar with some vinegar or lemon juice added. Let them set a couple days- 2 or 3- and then drain, rinse and cook them. If you've suffered from internal gas when eating beans, this should eliminate the problem. 
An hour after you put them in the jar, pick up the jar, turn it upside down and then return it to it's place. If you don't, the swelling beans will pack themselves tightly in the bottom of the jar. 

Shake garlic and eggs to peel them. Oh, but that sounds really strange. 

My daddy taught me about peeling hard-boiled eggs. After they're cooled and the water is drained off, put the lid on the kettle and shake away. Up and down. Back and forth. Not so vigorously that the eggs break but hard enough to get the shells cracked all over. The eggs will slip right out of their shells if they aren't lying in the kettle peeled already once you remove the lid. (Another tip for HB eggs is to leave them unpeeled if you want to store them for any amount of time.)

Garlic works similarly. Take a bulb in your hand, stem end against palm, root end out, and slam it on the counter top, giving good pressure with the heel of your hand. This makes the cloves fall off. Put the cloves in a big bowl and cover it with the same size bowl or one that fits tightly over it. Hold the bowls together and shake for all you're worth for twenty to sixty seconds. Check after twenty seconds and shake longer if necessary. The cloves should be lying inside, peeled when you're done. 

Till next time, happy cooking! Make it short and sweet.


Watch for Kitchen Hacks III in the future.

Monday, October 30, 2017

More

More was the word for Saturday, October 28. 

More ideas. Melvin cleaned off the bar which was populated with burnt matches, wax and etc from where they played with the candles and fire. He found a taper candle and then decided to bring in some holly branches. Pretty.

You may think, "Decorating for Christmas already?" No, we don't do Christmas so the boys think only of using what is available for decor.
Then the string lights that I had been gifted some time ago suddenly found a purpose. They reflect beautifully in the counter top. In the photo you see more in the counter top than otherwise.
More food from the garden. Melvin dug two sweet potato plants and came up with all this good nutrition! Why are they so cracked?
The island counter top got one more replacement of fabric and plastic. It needs a good Formica top but all in good time.
Old, cut up, worn out (nasty) top.
New fabric
New plastic
Good helper
Completed
More tomatoes from our friends made more juice for the shelves.

There were more jars than we needed so we found homes for them. 
Matthew went to the woods with his bow one more time. I snuck in behind him and grabbed a photo from the mirror while he camouflaged himself with scorched cork. He's seen deer but never gets a shot. 
How much more is in your life?