Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Daybook Tuesday

Outside my window…
The world is wet. It’s been a gray day and it sounds like we’ll have more gray weather this week.

I am thinking…
...about how it would be to be a widow. Thomas is in Ohio for a job this week. I have to pick up the load here while he’s gone. BUT- I can still talk to him. I know he will probably come back. He’s not gone forever (Lord willing). What would I do without him?

I am thankful for…
...good health. I felt rotten several days. A head cold with sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, weariness, nose blowing. Sound miserable enough?

From the learning rooms…
The boys are practicing their cursive. AND! -Melvin has completed Level 6 of the Barton Reading and Spelling System. There are ten levels. Once he is through all of them he should be able to read and spell at high school level.

From the kitchen…
An elderly gentleman and his family has taken a liking to the zucchini bread I sell at the market. Since the market has stopped carrying the bread for a while he’s buying it directly from me. He says it’s the best zucchini bread he’s ever had. I told Thomas I didn’t know there was a difference in zucchini breads. He ordered ten loaves this week and also 10 loaves of banana bread!

I am wearing…
...a black dress that is like a sack on me.

I am creating…
...scrapbook pages with old pictures from friends and family.

I am going…
...nowhere fast.

I am reading…
...instructions and lesson plans in preparation for Kid’s Club next week. Heidi Eash and I are in charge of a group of lively 12-13 year old girls.

I am hearing…
...the clock ticking and the fridge running. It’s time to be in bed!

Around the house…
The boys are working with Grandma Schwartz to get seeds started. They are also helping Grandpa get the greenhouse ready for raising the plants in.

A flat of cabbage that has just been transplanted

Christopher working on transplanting broccoli

Matthew completing the task

One of my favorite things…
Warm weather. Saturday was a lovely day that gave a person spring fever.

A few plans for the rest of the week…
Saturday evening is our annual Sweetheart Supper for the church couples. The youth group serves that and we youth sponsors help plan and prepare the food. It is a little later than usual this year because we were missing young people who were away at Bible School.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing….
...thrift store finds. Oo-lah-lah.

Large stainless steel pans for $3@

Book rack -$2

12 large white napkins - $7

Two styles of napkin rings - 8 for $1.75
What did you do today?

Are you getting spring fever?

Any recent thrift store finds?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


What is religion?

I've been listening to a speaker recently who has nothing for religion. He grew up as a Mormon. I haven't been able to figure out what he believes about God.

I don't remember what he said that made me think, “Oh, you poor man! God is all about relationship, not religion.”

So many of us grow up in religion and miss relationship. Read the following definitions of religion.

  1. the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
  2. a particular system of faith and worship.
  3. a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. (From a Google search of “what is religion?”) says, Because it crosses so many different boundaries in human experience, religion is notoriously difficult to define.

Did you see anything in any of these definitions about relationship?

So while I don't know exactly what religion is, I tend to think it's a tactic of our enemy to keep us from a relationship with Jehovah. That has been his plan from the beginning. God had a relationship with Adam and Eve that I envy.

Along came Satan and tempted them to disobey. The relationship was destroyed.

But God wasn't caught broadside by this act. He knew it was going to happen and he had a plan in place. Jesus.

Jesus was in on the plan and was willing to be that means of getting the relationship back intact.

He came down to human level to try this thing over again. He suffered every temptation you will ever face and got the victory over it.

How did he manage that?

By a relationship with his heavenly Father. And that is the only way we can be victorious in this life.

Not by any religion. But by a relationship.

Jesus showed us that it was possible to have this relationship in spite of the enemy's efforts to destroy it and then he shed his pure blood to appease the wrath of God for my sin.

What ways do you think of that the enemy's tactics keep you from a relationship with your heavenly Father? Do you not find that Jesus faced it as well?

Temptation to disobey God's commands/will. It was the Father's will that Jesus died.

Temptation to say, I'm too busy. Jesus spent the night in prayer following and preceding busy days with people.

Temptation to feel all alone. Jesus’ closest friends left him in his hour of need.

Temptation to feel it's not worth it. Jesus’ physical strength could not have stood up to his schedule or tortures if he had to do it in his own strength.

What is your unique temptation? Is your relationship with your heavenly Father strong enough to carry you over, under or through if?

What incredible strength Jesus had! To face certain death with calmness, false accusations with silence and find that relationship with his Father severed in his death because of my sin - not his. He was indeed a perfect Lamb to take away the sin of the world.

His strength came from his relationship with God the Father. He was obedient and God helped him to do what He asked of him.

Disobedience severed the relationship for the first Adam. Obedience kept the relationship intact for the second Adam. And now your and my relationship can be restored.

Jesus promised that His spirit would live within us when we believe. The enviable relationship God had with Adam and Eve is surpassed by the relationship He will have with us.

Does this not thrill you?

Do you follow a religion?

Or do you live in a relationship?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Simple Yogurt Recipe

No, that is not an oxymoron. 

How do the words "homemade yogurt" make you feel? Terrified? Confident? There are so many rules to making yogurt that it leaves one feeling helpless.

We get the thermometer, the yogurt maker or dehydrator and anything else we think is a necessity. We are sure to sterilize all the utensils. We get the raw milk from the dairy. Or we buy milk from the grocery store.

We are all set up. On pins and needles. Watching every step. Getting the temperatures exact at every stage. And then all we get is some watery sour stuff.

Fear no more!

Yogurt making is far less daunting than all that. I had a good friend tell me how to make it very simply. No thermometer needed. No incubator. Just common household things.

Let me explain it to you.

I use a gallon of raw milk from the family milk cow but I feel quite sure you could use store bought milk. I can't guarantee the results though because I haven't tried that in ages. Try it and if it fails, see if you can find raw milk somewhere. 

I like to use milk that is a couple days old. It seems to work better. After all, in the old days yogurt was mostly just clabbered milk. More sour than what I make.

First of all, dip the cream off of the milk. It will only turn into a hard sticky mass on top of the finished product. Save the cream to put in your morning cup of healthy coffee

There is obviously not a full gallon of milk in the photos but I do use a whole gallon minus the cream. I used from a couple jars today.

Next heat the skimmed milk over medium high heat until it just about boils. It will get a bit of skin on top. I set my timer for 15 minutes and it is usually done by then. If it boils over, it doesn't matter -except for the dirty stove and the extra work of clean-up. In other words it won't hurt the yogurt if the milk boils. It happens to me quite often. Like when I end up in another part of the house and can't hear the timer. (I am a highly distractible person!)

Put a lid on the kettle while heating the milk. Once it is heated, leave the lid on and set it aside to cool. It should cool down to a temperature just the right warmth for a baby's bath.I just feel the outside of the kettle (but not when it's so hot that it burns). Now if you've never bathed a baby, that temperature should be just pleasantly warm to your elbow. I don't think you'll want to stick your elbow in the milk though. So if you've never bathed a baby... well, I don't know what to do for you! 

But back to this yogurt making. If you by chance allow the milk to cool too long- out of sight, out of mind, you know- no worries! Either reheat the milk just slightly or just wait for further instructions. And maybe you'll do like I do sometimes and reheat it too long. ( I told you I get distracted.) Just let it cool once again.

Now that it has cooled down it is time to skim it again. Take the skin off the top and discard it. Again no need for perfection. Just get the worst off.
With a skin

Skin has been removed
Now add a cup (or more) of store bought yogurt. I prefer Dannon but anything will work. I usually use plain yogurt but once again any flavor will do. I used vanilla flavored this time because I found a quart at a discount store for $0.99. The finished product will have a faint flavor of whatever flavor you added.

Whisk the yogurt into the milk really well. If you don't want to whisk the whole works with vigor then just put a bit of milk into a bowl with the yogurt, whisk that smooth and then add it to the kettle of milk. If you want sweetened yogurt now is the time to add 3/4 cup of sugar. Add vanilla now too if you wish.

Pour this mixture into a clean gallon jar. (The absence of the cream will make space for the yogurt starter.)

Now you want to keep your milk/yogurt mixture at the-temperature-you-would-bathe-your-baby-in for 4-6 hours. I use an Igloo. You may use any type of thermal container or an oven with a pilot light. (Are these to be found anywhere?) Put water of the correct temperature (the-temperature-you-would-bathe-your-baby-in) in with the jar of milk. If the milk is a bit too warm, make the water cooler. If it has cooled off too much, make the water warmer.

I like to cover it well with water. It depends what size thermos you use. A 5 gallon jug wouldn't need as much water. Just up to the top of the yogurt. And if using a kettle you may wish to use quart jars to keep the mixture at an even heat. Put the lid on and leave it for awhile.
I like to start the process about mid morning. The milk is cooled off by late afternoon, I add the starter and leave it in the thermos until early or mid morning the next day. I may even leave it until noon.

And here's the finished product-

You may notice a slightly yellowish look toward the top of the jar. That is whey. I usually pour or dip off any whey that is setting on top.

The finished texture is semi-solid. Nice to dip out. Not stretchy. The photo shows fresh, warm yogurt. It usually gets even more firm once it is refrigerator cold. I dipped some out to put in the freezer to cool for breakfast.

This recipe can be pared down to any size you want. For a quart of yogurt, use 1/4 cup of starter. And use your common sense on all the other details.

Ready to try your hand at it? 

Any questions? Please ask!

Any suggestions? Please tell.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Taffy Pull

Friday evening we gathered with the young people at Wanda Eash's house. We had a bit of difficulty getting there because of snowy roads. It hadn't snowed just a whole lot but because of the cold it all stuck. The van spun up the hill and onto the paved road but then it spun even more, so we turned around, came home and piled into the truck.

Traffic was slow. We stopped at the gas station on the way over and one fellow there said he had seen some wrecks on his way in from Winchester on Route 50. We arrived at our destination without incident. These guys of mine are all in awe when the vehicle "drifts" -while my heart lurches and I try to keep it all inside, knowing I am majorly in the minority.

Wanda and Martha Wengerd had taffy cooked and ready to pull once we got there. I think this was only the second time in my life that I pulled taffy. With 20/20 hindsight I wish I would have just watched. It was interesting to watch but kinda much hard work to pull. I guess I'm lazy. Thomas' and my taffy just didn't want to go like it should. I think we finally got the hang of it a little.

I got curious about taffy and wondered whoever figured out how to do that. The Bulk Candy Store blog has an interesting write-up about it. Machines do the pulling nowadays. Someone made the remark the other evening, "Imagine what the health department would say if they saw what we are doing." We sure get our hands all over the stuff. At least it isn't for public distribution.

A few photos from the evening...


7th grade student with 1st grade teacher
(while big cousin of student supervises)

Youth girls
The finished packaged product

The little boys found treasure, I got a sweet smile from a little girl, the men visit while the ladies set out a snack

Clockwise from top left- Vegetable Pizza, Taco chip dip, Fruit, Rice Crispy Chocolate Pinwheels
Have you ever pulled taffy?

Did it give you blistered hands?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weekly menu

Yogurt & Fruit
Scrambled eggs
Veggies & dip
Beef Roast
Sweet potatoes
Green beans
Yogurt & Fruit
Fried eggs & Grits
Chili soup
Waldorf salad
Yogurt & Fruit
Vegetable soup
Cheese & pickles
Short Ribs
Lettuce salad
Yogurt & Fruit
Re-fried beans
Fried eggs
Lentil stew
Apple nut muffins
Yogurt & Fruit
Fish soup
Potato chips
Yogurt & Fruit
Get your own
Chicken veggie roast
Yogurt & Fruit
Hard-boiled eggs
Baked beans
Chip dip
This or this

Click on any link to find that recipe. The BBQ Chicken recipe is for crock pot chicken. I blend the onion and spices with pineapple juice and pour it over leg quarters and bake it. 

Once again, it IS possible to enjoy good food on a low grain no sugar diet. Try it! If it's not against the law and can't hurt anyone, why not? You might be surprised at how good you feel! :)

What is your favorite meal? 

What do you consider a comfort food? 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Daybook Once Again

Outside my window…
It's dark and cold. Real cold. Ice cold. Austin is happier about ice than he is about snow. He can hardly wait for ice skating. 
I am thinking…
... of how nice it is to be a part of a church where the men care about and for each other. They are able to work through the difficulties that arise. A tremendous blessing!
I am thankful for…
A warm place to be. Plenty of food. Good health. Javita coffee.
From the learning rooms…
Studying cursive. The Gold Rush. Blizzards. Fruits. Bears. Math. Always math.
From the kitchen…
I'm struggling along without a planned menu this week. I set my menu planner out on Saturday and asked the boys to fill in any ideas they had so I'm bouncing off a few of those ideas.
I am wearing…
A dark maroon colored dress. Pink Crocs clogs. A prayer veiling. 
I am creating…
Blog posts! 
I am going…
To a taffy pull with the youth group tomorrow evening.
I am hearing…
The boys doing dishes. Austin ordering Melvin to do his job. Christopher humming while cubing.
Around the house…
The quest for decluttering and making order continues. Slow but sure.
One of my favorite things…
A moonlit night.
A few plans for the rest of the week…
Bake zucchini bread for someone who missed it at the roadside stand. Bake some pies to take samples around the neighborhood. 

Here is a picture thought I am sharing….
Looks like we have another artist.
What was your day like?

Is it warm or cold where you are? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fried Beets

Have you ever tried this specialty? I don't know where the idea came from but I've been enjoying these since childhood days. Now my family eats them. I don't know how many of them really enjoy them. But most of five nice size beets got eaten in a meal.Here is how to prepare them.

Peel them.

Shred them.

Fry them in butter. Salt & pepper to taste.

Eat them. Always with mashed potatoes. Add spare ribs and cantaloupe.Yum!

Give it a try!