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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Problem Solved

In my last post I mentioned that I was puzzling over the problem of the chickens needing shelter. 

A thought came to me as I was watching a video on homesteading. I saw someone lift the lid of a tote and they said it was a chicken nest. Well! I have lots of unused totes sitting around. I kept rolling this around in my mind. How could a tote be successfully used as a shelter?

Then I searched YouTube for ideas. After watching a few videos with Melvin and Christopher, their wheels started turning. So I just turned them loose to build whatever they thought up. This is what they came up with. They set it inside the privacy fenced garden and moved the chickens on in. 

Now the chickens can take on the job of getting the garden tilled and fertilized by spring. Yay! Praise the Lord!


 


Thursday, November 29, 2018

November 29


Outside my window...
It is a beautiful, sunny day. Yesterday it was so cold and windy but now today the weather has moderated and we are not so intimidated about stepping outside the door.
I am thinking…
...about how to get shelter for the chickens. All good homesteaders say to get your infrastructure in place before you get your creatures. Wise advice!
I am thankful for…
...a warm house. When I hear the wind blowing strong and cold I think about the people who have cold houses or no houses. And I feel guilty in my nice warm dwelling with plenty of clothing and covers. 
From the learning rooms…
We are still studying Paul's letters to Timothy. We're instructed to be soldiers for the Lord, not side-tracked or weighted down by the affairs of this life.
...chosen him
We just finished These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder as our daily read-aloud. We are considering reading the Little Britches series after this.
Otherwise, the boys are challenged to have their own reading goals in the Bible and otherwise. Melvin is reading Sherlock Holmes stories. 
Christopher read a few "new" books I pulled off the shelf for him. He's also wanting to read Josephus for the reward I offered him but he thinks the reward should be higher. He read a bit from the beginning of the book.
From the kitchen…
Here's the menu plan I set out this week but I haven't held to it entirely. 
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Egg sandwiches
Yogurt
Leftovers
Deep dish Taco squares
Green beans
Lettuce salad
Spinach quiche
Yogurt
Granola  
Goulash
Rice with Alfredo
Spinach salad
Apple crisp
Muffins
Yogurt
Leftovers  
Taco soup
Cornbread
Lettuce salad
Potato quiche
Yogurt
Leftovers
Potato bar
Peas & carrots
Chinese cabbage salad
Baked oatmeal
Yogurt
Penn Valley
Penn Valley
Penn Valley
Penn Valley
Mifflinburg
Scrambled eggs & sausage
Yogurt
Leftovers
Veggie roast with sausage
Lettuce salad


I am wearing…

...a head covering, an old lavender dress, ankle socks. I shed my purple sweatshirt after a morning workout.
I am creating…
Nada. Nix. Zed. Zero. 
I am going…
...to Pennsylvania to be with Stephen Saturday and Sunday.
I am reading…
...the Mitford series by Jan Karon.
I am hoping… 
...that life will get more reasonably busy for my dear husband.
I am hearing…
...wood chunks falling into the garden cart as Melvin and Christopher fill it and haul loads up the hill to stack on the pile.
Around the house…
The house kitchen (we have two kitchens) has gotten a coat of paint on two sides. The new color begs the cabinets to be white. 
The windows were washed on the outside of the house and I'm now working my way, little by little, around the inside. 
And, little by little, I'm taking care of stacks of things around my desk. I'm determined to declutter (auto correct thinks this isn't a word) and organize this house to the nth degree.
One of my favorite things…
A meal around the table with the family. 
A few plans for the rest of the week…
Continue life as usual. Cook, clean, do laundry, pack lunches, go shopping, and whatever else needs to be done. I need to figure out how and when to get the steer to the butcher.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing….
Do you ever feel awed by patterns in nature?
Even the swirl in the cooking pan? I do!


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Week Past

A pen drawing by Christopher
Last week Tuesday Stephen came home from Penn Valley for the rest of the week. He didn't come to our house until evening, stayed long enough to get supper and then went out again and stayed with a friend overnight.Thomas was also gone for the evening (at a meeting) after a hard day of work.

Melvin and Christopher were with the school children at an event called Turkey-in-the-Hole that started between 5 & 6 pm and lasted until noon the next day. They roasted a turkey underground overnight and then had a turkey meal the next day. They made other foods to go with their turkey.

On Wednesday Thomas, Austin and Matthew went to work. Stephen and the younger ones came home about mid-day. Melvin went right to work on a bird feeder he is repairing for Grandpas. Christopher went straight to sleep on the couch and slept all afternoon.



I spent the day doing cleaning, laundry and cooking. Cleaning out refrigerators. Washing windows. Making bread (that flopped because I was trying to do too many things at once). I don't remember what else I did. I just know I was going full steam ahead all day.

Of course, Thursday was Thanksgiving day. Thomas and sons spent the forenoon cutting a dump trailer load of firewood. The boys had some time to help me with housework before they went to do the wood. Austin was actually not feeling strong in his back so he stayed here and helped a lot.

My parents, Thomas' mom, my sister and family, a Mexican friend of Stephen's and a local community boy* were here for the feast at 1:00. Everyone helped with the meal so all I made was cranberry salad, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Why in the world do we make so much food on Thanksgiving day? Has that question ever crossed your mind? I asked one party not to bring sweets to the gathering and was told it isn't Thanksgiving without sweets. We've lost a vision I do believe.

We spent the afternoon sitting and visiting, eating more, playing games and etc. Thomas with some other manly help built racks or shelves in his newest job trailer- one that is more suited to the door business.

Friday had Thomas and sons going back to work, putting in garage doors. Stephen had his own agenda while at home, detailing and replacing brakes on his "new" car, doing online projects and doing a paint job for someone. 


Melvin, Christopher and *our young friend Christopher (we call him Chris) helped me peel and cut up some apples to can as applesauce and chunky applesauce.
Saturday was another busy day with Thomas and sons going off to another job while the two youngest, Chris and I held down the fort. We didn't try to do too much. Finished laundry, cleaned up the house, did some cooking and cleaned the church basement.

On Sunday we met with our fellow believers for singing, Bible study and preaching. A lot of our congregation was gone for one reason or another. Our Bible study was in Psalm 109. Check it out. What do you make of it?

We had a restful day, ate lunch, napped, read and just enjoyed some down time. Thomas has been so busy with his work that I scarcely know him anymore. He took Chris home in the afternoon. 

We are scheduled to sing at a church in PA this coming Sunday so we also took some time over the past week to do some song practice.

Monday was another day with most everyone being around here. Thomas had some work away. Austin and Matthew were repairing the job trailer. It was a beautiful day.
Basketball game
In the evening the men had a meeting at church, leaving Melvin, Christopher and I here for the evening. Stephen left from there to return to his duties in PA.

A whole week gone just like that! How was your week?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Menu Plan


Another week of menus. You're welcome.

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Yogurt
Leftovers
Cheesy chicken (turkey) chowder
Lettuce salad
Scrambled eggs & sausage
Grits
Yogurt
Leftovers
Fried cabbage
Scalloped potatoes
Granola
Yogurt
Turkey
Potatoes/sweet potatoes
Salads
Dessert
Tomato soup
Hot dogs
Fruit salad
Leftovers
Chili soup
Veggies and dip
Pancakes
Sausage gravy
Leftovers
Chicken patty sandwiches
French fries
Rhubarb crunch
Apple nut muffins
Yogurt
Haystacks
Baked apples
Popcorn
Apples
Scrambled eggs & sausage
Biscuits
Tomato gravy
Leftovers
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

Filling-
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.

Clarification-
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.