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Friday, December 28, 2007

Hats for Christmas

This year I wanted to give something to Ethan and the kids that would reflect our desire to do farming together as a family. Since I tend to lean to the practical side of life, I decided to get everyone hats to farm in and to keep the sun off. Ethan and Caleb got a straw hat, and Hannah got a little bonnet.

I grew up by an Amish settlement(a different one from where our cows are located), and had my mom pick up these hats from there. One thing that is interesting about the Amish, is that they use their hats to help distinguish which settlement they are from. Some of my father-in-law's Amish friends know some of the Buchanan county Amish. I wonder what they will think about our new hats. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Baking

When I was a senior in high school, I made 20 different kinds of Christmas cookies to give out.

This year I have scaled it back a bit. All I have made so far is gingerbread cookies, although I think my husband will want to make some snickerdoodles together.

I was going to give out my gingerbread cookies to our neighbors and some friends. One problem . . . I ate them all. Yup. All of them. Ethan doesn't care for them. Caleb and Hannah maybe had 3. So I guess I consumed the rest.

Let's see . . . the gingerbread recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of shortening, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 cup of molasses. Thankfully, I only make these things at Christmas!

I do have a good excuse though. I have had multiple viruses the last month, including 3 separate cases of the flu. All of this has caused me to lose some weight that I was trying to keep on. Good thing for gingerbread.

So after I saw that all of my gifts were gone, I made another batch last night. I think I need to deliver them tomorrow, because they are quickly disappearing as well!(Just in case you were wondering - these aren't the ones I made!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Lesson From Norm

If you come over to my house during meal prep time, you might notice something about my children. They will walk over to the kitchen and stop on the carpet, right at the line where the linoleum begins. The reason they do this . . . they are not allowed in the kitchen.

This is something that I am very strict about. I think some of my family think that I might be a little over the top on this rule. They have not watched me cook enough though. I am a disaster! My meals USUALLY turn out fine but quite often, I do not. It seems that I am always burning myself, cutting myself, or dropping sharp objects (like Cutco knives) dangerously close to my feet. As much as I would enjoy having the kids in the kitchen helping me cook, it is for their safety that they are not allowed to.

Here is a good example. Thursday night is our "Homestyle meal" night. It is Ethan's favorite supper of the week. This week's menu was ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn casserole - which is my husband's absolute favorite meal in the world.

All was going well, and everything was done and ready to be eaten. Ethan pulled out the corn casserole, while drooling over it, and set it on top of the stove. I proceeded to turn on the pot of beans while the corn casserole cooled down a bit. While I was getting the plates out, I noticed something smelling like it was burning. I looked over at the corn casserole and noticed that it was smoking. And then I noticed that I had turned the wrong burner on for the beans. The burner under the corn casserole was on 9 - and it was smoking quite a bit. I panicked over the thought of our meal being burnt, so I pulled the pan off of the burner and set it on one that wasn't on.

As soon as I set it down - BOOM! The glass pan exploded. Without knowing what happened, I jumped back and found I had covered my face with the two potholders I was using. After a few seconds of paralysis, I moved them away and saw glass all over the place. I also saw my two kids standing on the line where the carpet meets the kitchen crying hysterically while Ethan tried to calm them down. I guess I had screamed pretty loud and scared them - although I don't remember screaming.

So there went our pan and half of our supper. We had cold beans that didn't have glass in them, and some ham in the oven yet. We added tortillas with cheese to the mix to round it out.

I am fortunate to have thrown the potholders over my face, but it made me think about when I was growing up. My dad and I used to watch The New Yankee Workshop on Saturdays. At the beginning of every show, Norm Abram would run through his shop safety tips. They were pretty scripted, and I was always prepared to quote his closing line along with him, "And remember, the most important safety rule is to wear these - safety glasses." I think that rule might need to be applied in my kitchen too.


mix: (or use a box of Jiffy Mix corn muffins)
3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c corn meal
1/6 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 can cream corn
1 1/2 c frozen corn
1 egg
1/4 c butter

bake at 400 for 1 hour
remove from oven and place on a hot burner for 2 minutes then remove from hot burner and immediately place on cold surface to make pan explode

Bonus post: I am a disaster - case in point
Just now, as I was getting out my corn meal to check on part of the recipe, I knocked down my sugar from the top shelf in my kitchen. I'm glad my children weren't standing underneath or they would have a bit of a headache.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tis the Season

Ahhh . . . Tis the Season. The season for making wish lists. The season for getting wish lists. The season for shopping.

When Ethan and I got married, we started the tradition of Black Friday - getting up super early the day after Thanksgiving to get the deals. We have continued this as much as possible if we are staying in the right area during Thanksgiving. Sometimes we go in shifts to let our two young children sleep, but we still try to get those deals.

This year, as I was trying to juggle my armload of great deals in Younkers and as I was watching the chaos of everyone around me trying to get to the "door busters" before they ran out, I was thinking about the reason we celebrate this time of year - God sending His Son into the chaos of this earth to bring peace for those who trust in Him. This is something that should be celebrated each and every day of the year!

I also was thinking about the whole point of fighting the crowds to get the good gits and that giving gifts to family and friends helps us to remember the gift of God's Son. I think that we need to be careful not to be swept away by consumerism while doing this though - something that we should really be careful about all year long as well.

Awhile ago my husband showed me a music video of a church who needed a new building due to lack of space. They decided that instead of building a new multi million dollar building, because of their location they could build an amphitheater instead. They could then use the money saved to help meet the needs of many more people in their community and around the world. The video doesn't really talk about their amphitheater or church, but talks more about what all our money is worth. I really encourage you to watch the video. It's a great song and a thought provoking message.

So back to Black Friday . . . As I was doing my shopping and reflecting on the Christmas season, this video kept running through my head. As I walked around, I considered how much we spend at Christmas, God's gift to a world in need, and the needs of this world that continue to remain today.

A few weeks earlier, a friend of ours told us about Gospel for Asia. They give 100% of donations received to the people they are serving - nothing being taken out for administrative cost. Among other things, they have a program where you can give animals to families who are are considered outcasts in their society and live in slums without much hope. Since our family has been thinking about farming and the usefulness of owning animals so much this year, I thought this was pretty cool.

I know this is a pretty random post, but I just wanted to throw a challenge out to everyone who reads this. While you are purchasing and giving all of your gifts this Christmas, remember those who have needs greater than we can imagine. See if you can find an organization that excites you, and give a gift to someone who will never know who it was that helped them out.

If you do this, I would love to hear what you did, but please leave your comment as anonymous. It would be so encouraging to see all of the different ways that needs are met by others not only this Christmas season but throughout the year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mighty Peas

This summer I decided to try a fall garden so late summer I planted another crop of vegetables. One of the things that I planted were fall peas. I knew I probably wouldn't get anything out of them since I got them in later than I had hoped, but I decided to plant them anyway for an experiment as long as I had extra seeds.

I have been amazed by these peas. They just won't quit! Late October we got our first frost so the first week of November I thought I would tell my garden goodnight. I pulled up everything but the flowers, lettuce and peas. I still didn't expect them to do much more, but I wanted to watch them anyway.

Well, after a few more frosts, we got our first big snow two weeks ago. We took the kids out to see the chicken in the snow, who we had moved to the garden for our clean up crew. While I was out there, I noticed that the peas were still going strong and had blossoms on them!
So I continued to watch the peas. Last week, however, Ethan and I decided it was time to put all of the garden fences and posts away before they were frozen into the ground. There stood my peas, still green. With December just a few days away, I decided it was time to pull their support so out came their fence.

Well, today I went out with Ethan as he moved the chickens to a new spot in the garden. Their lay my green peas on the ground. Boy were the chickens happy when they got moved on top of them!! So now my mighty peas are coming to an end . . . not because of the cold, but because of the chickens.

I think that what I learned from my experiment is that when it comes to fall peas, it maybe isn't as important to worry about the cold as much as it is worrying about timing the blossoms so that there are insects still around for pollination!
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