Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Colts, Rodeo, Butchering, Games and Hot "Cocoa"

We had quite the full day yesterday!  It was one of those days, when it's over, you know you used your time wisely and worked as hard as you could til it was time to sleep.  On Sunday a few men came over to help Jonathon with the slaughtering of our dear steer, Oreo.  After many escapes out of his pen and getting too rough for the children to "play" with, it was time for him to continue serving our family in meat.  After hanging in the barn for a couple days, we needed to bring him in to warm a little before cutting him up.  Diella and I helped Jonathon get him down out of the barn and onto tables in the garage.  

My parents arrived first thing in the morning to lend their hands in the butchering, and we were so thankful for their help!  While I finished up fixing breakfast, the men got more tables set up, knives sharpened and then the special surprise for the boys.

A couple years ago my parents took just our girls to Branson, Missouri to enjoy a fun filled weekend watching horse shows and seeing other neat sights.  They still talk about their vacation with them.  Well, lately Josiah keeps asking when it's the boys' turn to go on a vacation with them.  So, my parents have been trying to figure out what they can do with the boys that they will really enjoy.  A weekend to remember was introduced in the morning when Josiah was presented with his very own Colts shirt.  

He looks pretty happy about it, huh?

All the men with their shirts on.....

Then Grandma presented Josiah with tickets for the men and him to go see the Colts play next Sunday. 

He's checking them out with a very happy sister looking too as the girls know how much he will love this.

Then the grand finale for the weekend that will include Benaiah too.  Grandpa got them tickets to go to the rodeo in Howe on Monday.  Jonathon even found his dad's real cowboy hat that's been in a box to see if it would fit him.  Sure enough, a perfect fit.  He just might wear it for the occasion.  The boys are super excited for their weekend, and I'm looking forward to some girl time with my girls and my mom. 

We finished up breakfast then got started out in our meat market.  :)  Shortly after the men went out to start, Benaiah came in the house, and we see him taking a sharp knife from the drawer out to the garage.  STOP!  He was just wanting to help them, so I went up and got a play knife.  He was quite happy to saw at his chunk of meat.  I missed all that action as he soon got tired of it.  The girls were great helper in cutting up chunks of meat for the canner.  We ended up canning 14 quarts of meat, which isn't a lot, but after splitting the animal with some friends, getting steaks, 3 roasts, and meat for burger, I am quite happy with what we'll have to put up for the year.  

The process took us to about 4:00, and we were all cleaned up, disinfected and finishing up the second batch in the pressure cooker.  After a later lunch, we just kind of snacked and weren't really hungry for supper.  It's always nice to just do snacks in the evening instead of make a big meal after you've had a full day already.  We sat around and visited for awhile, then got the games and hot chocolate out.  I bought whipped cream in the spray can thingy just for a special treat when all the work was done.  I should have taken a picture of the cup of hot chocolate I had that my dad topped with whipped cream.  Wowwee!  It was delicious! 

We played 3 games of Catch Phrase of which the girls were the final champions, then more drinks for everyone and a round of Apple to Apples.

 Do you like our centerpiece?

And my dad's cup of "hot cocoa".  For some reason he didn't take seriously the bag in the hot chocolate basket that read, "cocoa".  He ended up adding all sorts of stuff to it to make it drinkable.  It was good for some laughs anyways. 

Much work, much laughter, games and good conversation filled our day.  What a blessing!

Dad and Mom left and Jonathon sat down to get his paperwork ready for the next day's work and I set out to cleaning bathrooms.  I should have done it before we had company, but sometimes the day just doesn't permit.  So, I got all 3 bathrooms cleaned in the house and will finish up tubs and showers today.  Phew, what a day!  I fed the baby, then went to bed.  Saphira slept 9 1/2 hours straight (this momma needed that) and now wer're all starting our day with rested bodies.  

The weather sounds like snow is coming our way, so we're getting outside chores done and getting ready to hunker down.  Stay warm today.  And if you fix yourself a cup of hot cocoa, make sure it's with hot chocolate mix and not plain cocoa.  : )

Friday, December 7, 2012

Birthdays and Barnyards

We've had some busy days around here.  There have been celebrations of various kinds and the usual taking care of every day household things.  We celebrated Diella's birthday.  We enjoyed a fun and casual evening with some of my aunts.  It was nice to have Diella help me decorate a little and plan out her evening.  Diella is one of the sweetest girls ever.  She has truly taken on second mommy role to Saphira.  The picture below shows one of her mommy moments.   

 We've added some chickens to the farm.  Finally we were able to bring over the chickens that some friends have been keeping for us.  So, we now have 14 hens and a rooster.  It's really fun to watch them all out in their pen.  We've never had a rooster before, so it's been interesting watching him, and the hens follow him around.  He isn't real aggressive which is great for us, but we would like him to be a little more towards the cats on the farm that like to stalk them.  Bad kitties!  The hens are laying sufficiently.  We gather 6-8 eggs a day.  Diella is typically our chicken lady.  She enjoys taking care of them, and I enjoy watching her with them.
 It seems that time can get away from me, and I neglect posting pictures of my children just because I love them.  Today there's a little bit of sickness, so our plans changed for the day and other than doing school work, we are just hanging out and doing nothing special.  I think when the papa gets home from working it will be time to put our nurturing shields on (he really isn't feel well). 

My boys, Benaiah and Josiah.
The boys both of have battle wounds on thier faces. So different than my girls!
Diella and Saphira hanging out on the couch.
Alegra and Saphira.  The baby gets all the lovins around here. And she looks pretty happy about it too. : )

We have been so blessed with beautiful and healthy children.  I think about children who are born with major health issues and how taxing it is on the parents.  Those parents deserve great blessing for supplying so much love and care to those children.  I am thinking of one family today who I know has been dealing with health problems in their son and what a battle it is with running back and forth to the hospital and waiting for the treatment that he needs.  I pray for them and then I turn around and bless the Lord for where I'm at right now.  At any given moment he can change that for me, so I want to make sure that I am blessinng Him for this moment here and now, yet also praying for those who are struggling because I could very well be the one in their shoes some day, hoping that others are praying for me.  
So, I guess for today, while we're down a little bit, we are stopping to take time to pray for others who have to deal with much worse things than a little sickness.  And it's a great reminder to praise Him for these happy and easy moments in life.     

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Homemaking Class- Cooking 8

Chocolate Chip Cookie #1

Chocolate Chip Cookie #2- After chilling the dough.

Chocolate Chip Cookie #3- Adding an extra 1/2 cup of flour.

 Our cookie experiment has come to an end.  Good thing since I'm starting to feel rounder in the wasteline.  : )  We took the same Betty Crocker recipe that we started with, and this time we added some extra flour.  The girls definitely got a much softer and fluffier cookie.  Next time, we'll make them bigger.  Their last attempt at the perfect cookie came with 3 testers.  They gave rave reviews, and one of the testers even said he'd take a dozen of those cookies as part of our payment for chickens.  Great job girls at improving a recipe and learning what to do to make it just right.

We also had some other baking to do today, so rather than learning more new terms, we reviewed some of the things they've already done.  Alegra made more mini pies for me for a Celebration coming up, and this time we allowed the boys to help since they were soooooo bored.     

 Looks like they enjoyed helping, doesn't it?  Little brother got a little carried away with the flour.  I'm surprised it wasn't on his face.  : )  They both took their turn at rolling out dough and cutting out top crusts.  We finished up the cookies, the pies and finished off with two big batches of granola.  What a day!  And one of our taste testers brought us eggs, so that's what we had for supper.  Scrambled eggs complete with garlic, onions, and peppers.  Yuuuuummmmm!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Homemaking Class- Cooking 7

Today we started talking about some of the cooking terms that are used.  To help the girls gain a better understanding of what the terms mean, we put them to use in our meal this evening.  Here is what the chalkboard said for the binders:

Cooking Terms

~Al Dente-  Firm but not mushy.  Use with pasta and vegetables.
~ Au Gratin- Browned or crusted top, usually with cheese, bread crumbs and a rich sauce.
~Bake- To cook food by surrounding them with hot, dry air as in an oven.
~Boil- To cook in water (or another liquid) rapidly bubbling.

I decided that we would take one dish and use all of the terms for today, so we made a chicken noodle casserole.  Now I'm not much into using "cream of" soups, but we did for this one and then discussed healthier alternatives and how we could make our own sauces for the noodles.  The girls boiled the noodles til they were Al Dente.  Then they made a topping of bread crumbs and butter to have the Au Gratin term in there.  We of course baked it in the oven before tasting it.  It tasted as good as it looks!

I think tomorrow may be a big day in the kitchen with another chocolate chip cookie experiment needing to be done, and I'd like to get some granola made and prepare the food to cover their terms for tomorrow.  I think we're going to have a wonderful smelling kitchen tomorrow!  You'll have to stop by!  : )

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemaking Class- Cooking 6

Today's Cooking Skills we turned into two days.  It seems that my girls needed some experience in using the rolling pin.  By day 2, they did a great job at getting the correct thickness and rolling out dough.  Here is what we did for our next lesson.  

~Rolling out dough with a rolling pin.
~Cutting shapes with cookie cutters.
~Grease pan by using papers from butter (this teaches frugality also)
~Grating cheese
This is another reason we don't include the brother.  : )

The girls made some of the best, soft, sugar cookies I've had (other than Loft House- we'll have to work on duplicating that one).  We have an abundance of plain yogurt from getting it on sale at different stores, so I've been looking for recipes that I can use it in place of sour cream.  These sugar cookies were perfect for it, and we also substituted half of the all purpose flour for whole wheat.  They turned out great!  If you want to give these a try, here is the recipe.  Sour Cream Sugar Cookies.

Day 2 we did some more rolling out of pie crust.  With a Celebration coming up, my good friend Casie and I have been experimenting in the kitchen to have not a very good success with what we've been trying.  So, I thought I'd try these mini apple pies tonight and see who they turned out.  They were fabulous!

I was going over the pie crust recipe with Diella while Alegra took some pictures.  Isn't this picture neat!  She is so creative in her picture taking.

Diella loves to be in the kitchen and has mastered some pretty delicious things.  Alegra mentioned the other day that she would like to be famous for some recipes but just doesn't know what.  Diella makes killer no bake cookies and some super amazing garlic bread.  So, I told Alegra that she could master apple pie and her response was, "only if it tastes good".  : )  Well, these fit the bill.

We cut strips of parchment paper to put in each muffin cup to make the removal of the pies easier.  Then we pressed in the circles she cut out of pie crust, filled with apple mixture, dobbed with butter, and sealed another crust on top.  Ready for the oven!

And this is why we don't let this brother help us either.  He loves knives.  The sharper the better.

Aren't these the most adorable pies you ever did see?  We only did two of them with the lattice top crust-too much work!  : )  I also want to add that I did not use the recipes crust recipe.  I used my grandma German's recipe for the crust.  Also, we guessed at how many pounds of apples we had and just went with it.  I used 4 BIG apples, my grandma's crust recipe and we made 24 mini pies.  I might add though that a few of them didn't get full tops of crust, but just a small circle as we were getting low on dough.  But they still turned out great!  Oh, and the recipe doesn't specify how long to have them in the oven.  We had them in for about 25 minutes.  If you want to try these, here's the recipe.  Mini Apple Pies.

These girls are learning some great skills.  And I'm looking forward to when I can step out of the kitchen and let them run the meals.  That's the girl.  They can cook up a storm while I sip my iced tea and lounge in the sun.  Okay, that probably won't happen, but it will free up my time for other things and not be so busy with all the household duties. 

Also, if you just follow our family in general and not just the homemaking class, you'll be interested to know that Oreo our steer, is getting to be a little stinker since we've moved to the farm.  He's become quite the escape artist.  Jonathon's brother Jeff helped me out last night get him back in and worked at the fence since Joanthon was still at work.  Thank you Jeff for lending a hand.  Oreo's been scanning the area, trying to find his escape route and trying his best, but with no success.  It just might be fixed!  But despite all that, Oreo is still needing butchered and if he figures out another weak spot in the fence, well, he will be butchered sooner than later.  This is perfect timing with the girls learning cooking skills.  Meat is a part of meals and it's great that they'll be learning first hand about the quality of meat, how we get hamburger and then we'll have to of course use it in some delicious recipes.  I'm sure we'll post on butchering day as it will be bitter sweet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homemaking Class- Cooking 5

Today the girls learned a lot about eggs. 

On the chalkboard:
~ Cracking Eggs
     * Butter pan so eggs don't stick
     * Make sure no shell is in pan
     * Crack on the edge of pan, place thumbs inside and gently pull apart.
     * Salt and pepper
     * When egg begins to firm up, flip it, 

~Spread butter and jelly on toast

This was our lunch and was so delicious!  We even had a double yoke egg which they thought was harder to flip, because it was so much bigger.  Looking forward to our chickens coming to live with us, so we can have more eggs on hand for these two great egg cookers.  : )

Homemaking Class- Cooking 4

It's time to go over some basic kitchen cooking skills.  Each day we will go over a few important things that they really should know how to do.  We are including Josiah when he is available to participate because in his words, "I might need to know how to do that in case you are sick some time".  Good enough for me.  : )
You can see on the board what they wrote in their binders for today.

The girls made personal pizzas with hamburger buns, sauce, meat, onions and cheese.  Nothing fancy, but it gave them practice spreading the sauce, and sprinkling the cheese.  And they were delicious!

They also demonstrated their ability to peel carrot and cut them up into sticks.  And this is why I don't include Josiah.  He wasn't the safest with the knife. 

And then they made dessert too.  They whisked some pudding mix and milk and we made some peanut butter crumble by putting peanut butter and powdered sugar together until crumbly.  Is a delicious topping on top of pudding and cool whip.

Today was a good hands on day for them.  More skills to learn and check off their list.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Planes, Trains and Angels

The children took a train ride with my parents yesterday.  Here is their amazing journey, told by Alegra.  Don't stop reading before you get to the end.  That's the best part.  
~We met up with grandpa Dan and grandma Deborah, and they took us to the airport/train station. They gave us a tour of it.  My favorite part was looking down from the railing at the airplanes.We took the South Shore Line to Michigan City. 

Me, Diella, and Josiah stood under an airplane.

We went up and looked at all the airplanes. They all had statues in them.

There were two spray airplanes, a red airplane, and a missile.

 It was very windy, and we had to keep from falling over.

 There is a sliding door on one side, and on the other side is a pull open door. 

 I took this picture of this tall church.

When we looked up, it looked like the church was coming down on us because the clouds were moving.

 Grandma took a picture of us after we got on the train.

When we arrived, we walked 6 blocks to the outlet mall.  First we went to the Children's Place, but we didn't get anything.  Then we went to ToysRus.  Diella got a fish, paint-by-numbers and a purple, color, click pen.  I got a panda bear, paint-by-numbers and a pink, color, click pen.  Josiah got a Hero Factory Lego guy, and Grandpa bought Benaiah a toy, semi truck with a loader on the trailer.  Then we went to several different chocolate places to sample chocolate.  That's all we went there for.  We went to the Corelle store to look at all the different patterns.
 We went to Ben's Soft Pretzels and got pretzel sticks with nacho cheese and sweet mustard.  They were delicious!

When we were walking back to where we were going to wait for the train, we saw a gray squirrel.  Grandpa chased it up the tree, so we took a picture of it.

After we walked back to the train station, we realized we had missed the train.  It was going to be 2 1/2 hours before the train would be back to pick us up.  So, we walked to Albano's Villa Pizza and ate supper there. 

It was dark and sprinkling when we were walking back to the train station.  A couple minutes after we were there, two men came in.  The first man was a big, black man.  The second man was small, had a cane and had piercings everywhere.  Grandma offered them chocolate chip cookies that me and Diella made.  They said that they did not want any.  The white man told me and Diella that it was good for us to know how to sew and cook and clean.  Then the black guy said  that the next time we made chocolate chip cookies, we should cut them into stars and put rainbow sprinkles on them.  Two black guys came in and sat down.  One was smoking, and they both talked like gangsters.  The black man sitting with us was named Aldine.  But most people called him Al.    Al looked at the men in the eyes with seriousness, and they stayed away for a little bit but kept coming back.  Grandpa asked Al if they were angels.  Al said that they just came to watch over people.  Then the white man went to the door and said, "It's coming".  Then Al said the same thing.  And then we heard the train.  Before we got on the train, Grandpa shook hands with Al and said, "Thank you".  Al squeezed Grandpa's hand and Grandpa squeezed his.  Then Al said, "There's your train".  We believe that Al and his friend were angels watching over us in a bad part of town. ~

There is much more to this story with the dangers that lurked in that area in the dark.  And the waitress at the restaurant was so friendly and even showed them a pen that had angels on it and Scripture about angels.  My dad was nervous that they had missed the earlier train, knowing what that area was like at night.  There was another car that seemed fishy that was in the area as well.  I had prayed before I dropped the children off with my parents for God to protect us all while we're far apart.  I bless the Lord for doing that and for easing my dad's fears by showing him the angels that He sent to fight the battle (they don't usually look like the glowing, winged things but what they need to to accomplish the task Yahweh has sent them to do).  There are always spiritual battles going on around us, we just can't see them.  What a faithful Father to ease the uneasiness by sending those angels to talk to my children who were very nervous about missing the train and to show my dad that He has all things in His hands and to just trust.  They got home and there wasn't a dry eye during the telling of the story  I just wanted to sing out, "Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, Oh my soul.  Worship His holy name.  Sing like never before, Oh my soul.  I'll worship His holy name" (which we did when before Dad and Mom left).  Who knows what could have happened had they not been protected!  Earlier that day I would not have guessed that one of the reasons for me to Bless the Lord was that the Father would send angels to watch over my family and protect them from the enemy's ways.  That was just one of the 10,000 reasons that I'm blessing Him today.