Friday, November 27, 2015

Sweet Caroline In Double Digits

Caroline turned T-E-N!

She requested a pumpkin cake
It was a bit more challenging to make than the online directions explained, but with orange frosting and a green stem, we still got the general idea on the finished product.

Tacos with cheese, lettuce, & tomato
Bean dip & tortilla chips
Relish tray with li'l sweet pickles

The gift opening could hardly wait until after supper. One gift bag had been setting for weeks on a high shelf. Another package arrived in the mail a few days before this momentous occasion. So we waited to enjoy dessert until after the revealing!
This is the girl that says Christmas and Birthdays are her favorite times of year because of presents for her.
She loved all the gifts she opened, then got to go on a "date" with daddy to pick out a...
bb gun (and gum).

Happy Birthday Sweet, bom, bom...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

October Garden

The October garden was low maintenance, but high yield, according to weight. Since our jars of canned pumpkin are dwindling and we harvested scrawny slips of sweet potatoes last year, those two "crops" we planted, and they've flourished, hopefully providing our family with sustenance this winter.

Everybody joined in on the potato digging, discovering, sorting, and storing.

The Fairytale pumpkins didn't quite turn orange, but we've eaten them green in year's past, and the flesh was deep orange and super-sweet!

This mystery pumpkin grew well and turned out quite pretty. I seem to have saved the seeds from somewhere and described them as a sweet yellow-ridged pumpkin.

Calendula blooming yellow and white mums budding out...

A bit of lettuce is growing from the late planting and we shall enjoy fresh greens next month!

Jalapenos sliced and canned, thanks to my parents' kind efforts while they were here a few days.

Produce Harvested in October: 497 pounds

Including 120 pounds sweet potatoes,  97 pounds watermelon, 91 pounds of red & green tomatoes, and 78 pounds of pumpkins.

Hurrah for fall!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Treasure Hid

A beautiful bouquet arrived at our house.

Because a beautiful boy departed.

A little soul we never met, yet loved, and named...Treasure Hid.
A treasure hid within the mysteries of God.

In the days of waiting imminent loss, I listened to a song I had never heard which said,
"The Voice of Truth tells me a different story
says do not be afraid, says this is for My Glory."

Raw emotions wondered...How? 

How could this show God's glory to my 3 year old who's never experienced a real live baby sibling, just 3 tiny thumb-sized fetuses buried in our yard? 

How could God's glory shine for my teenager's faith-developing reasoning when her hopes are dashed yet again? 

And where is there glory to God in a wounded, hurting mother and father's nurturing, parent-hearts?

Then the chorus continued,
"Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe... the Voice of Truth."

As I gazed day after day on this beautiful bouquet, from my bed-rest perch for 3 weeks, I couldn't help but notice the scripture framed beside it. 
Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah, Lord God...nothing is too difficult for You."

In the valleys there is always light, if we can just lift our faces to it.

Thank you Lord, for a supportive husband.
Thank you Lord, that I am alive, though I felt my life's blood ebbing away.
Thank you Lord, that our first ER experience went smoothly.
Thank you Lord, for children that can carry on the household necessities.
Thank you Lord, that I did not succumb to self-pity's crush.
Thank you Lord, for the presence of caring, pampering parents.
Thank you Lord, for the delivered food that blessed our family.
Thank you Lord, for the other thoughtful gifts of love.
Thank you Lord, for the concerned texts and emails.
Thank you Lord, for a healing, strengthening heart.
Thank you Lord, for the hope of the resurrection.
Thank you Lord, for the beautiful bouquet.

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, ...That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ: in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 2:1-3

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sandwich, Crock, Pizza, Bread, Salad (New Recipes of the Week ~10)

"New recipes" is a very loose term right now. These are actually dishes we ate back in the summer. I'm just taking up where I left off in June.

Meat & Potato Crock

2 pounds frozen tater tots
1 pound meat (ham, bacon, etc.)
2 onions, chopped
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
6 eggs
1 c milk
4 Tbsp flour
salt & pepper to taste

In a slow cooker, layer half of the potatoes, meat, onions, and cheeses. Repeat. Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, and salt & pepper. Pour over the layers in the crock. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. 

I substituted raw shredded potatoes for the tater tots, which tasted great...but they turned an unappetizing grayish hue. I also used venison burger as the meat. Our family enjoyed this dish and it was fairly quick to prepare.

Broiled Sausage Sandwiches

Pepper Sausage Pizza

3-4 c flour, divided
1 pkge quick rise yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 c warm water (120-130*)
1/4 c oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
3 c torn fresh spinach
15 oz pizza sauce
4 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 pound sausage, cooked & drained
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tsp pizza seasoning
3 tbsp minced fresh basil, optional

In bowl, combine 1 c flour, yeast, and sugar. Add water; beat until smooth. Add the oil, salt, dried basil, pepper, 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, and 2 c flour; beat until blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Cover and let rest while preparing the spinach. Microwave spinach on high for 30 seconds or until wilted. Press dough into a greased 15x10 inch jellyroll pan. Spread with pizza sauce; sprinkle with 2 1/2 c mozzarella , sausage, onion, spinach, mushrooms, and yellow pepper. Top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Sprinkle with pizza seasoning. Bake at 450* for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil if desired. Cut into squares, Yield 12-15 slices.

I use bulk SAF brand instant yeast; 2 1/2 tsp equals 1 package. I wilted my spinach in a pan on the stove since we no longer have a microwave. I also used ground venison seasoned with sage, cayenne, salt, and pepper in place of the pork sausage. For the pizza seasoning, I sprinkled garlic powder, oregano, and basil over the cheese. I don't think our garden basil was ready to be used yet!

Triticale Breads

We procured some triticale grain from a neighboring farmer this harvest. After winnowing it outside in the breeze, I found a few recipes online to try. The triticale berries were put through our electric grinder and I used a regular loaf recipe plus a sourdough recipe. I actually preferred the end result of the round sourdough loaves; the loaf breads were a bit drier and dense. Perhaps not bake them so long next time? Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye. These breads didn't taste much, if any, different than a honey whole wheat. 

Eldest daughter, A, whipped up the rest of the baked goods you see in the picture. 

Mmmm...fresh baked bread.

Fajita Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

The recipes that are given are for the foods we really liked and will keep in my recipe binder. The others may be tasty, but didn't quite make the grade. 

Isn't food fun?!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

8 Summer Homestead Chores

This post is a bit autumn is fully upon us. However I already had the pictures uploaded and ready to journal about, so here goes!

1. Poultry Chores

We bought a nice little flock of meat chicks this spring to feed and water for about 8 weeks until ready to butcher in early summer.Our son was in charge of this daily chore, plus moving the birds to fresh green pastures every couple of weeks when their pecking area became too trampled.

2. Taming Kitties

Our mama cat had 2 litters of  kitties this summer. The younger girls had so much fun playing with them inside and out, they barely knew they were preventing them from becoming wild cats. We like to keep a few around the sheds to keep our mice and garden-eating rabbit population down, but we also like for them to be kind enough not to scratch when children like to cuddle them.

3. Breeding & Hatching Chicks

Another of our son's projects is pairing off a male and female bantam bird to hatch out more babies. He got about a dozen little chicks to nurture to adulthood. Unfortunately 3 months later some wild animals wiped out his small flock, so we are currently bird-less.

4. Garden Chores

Water, pull weeds, pick vegetables. Repeat.
The garden is mostly my project, but occasionally I'll get some help from the rest of the family. The littles are the most cheerful helpers who like to discover the red cherry tomatoes and sweet orange peppers, munching half of their pickings.Along with babying the plants from strong winds and various bugs, comes the washing and preserving of a garden's harvest. You can see what has grown this year here, here, and here.

5. Wash the Vehicles

Who takes pictures of their kids washing the truck??? It was actually pretty fun. I'm usually too busy with my own stuff to take time to watch a son at work. I can just imagine his daddy doing the same, a few years back...

6. Pick Wild Fruit

We have a few mulberry trees sprinkled about our 20 acres that produce a nice amount of juicy dark purple berries for smoothies and jam. While they're in season, we make time every day to go a-pickin'. Sand plum thickets abound on our acreage as well, so we like to suck on those tart fruits fresh and frozen in winter as a summer remembrance treat. If we get enough, they are especially good seeded and dehydrated...similar to dried cranberries.

7. Laundry

Mostly this is eldest daughter's chore, but occasionally some others help. Our current routine is to get 1 load of laundry completed every day. We usually save the folding and putting away until early evening when Adventures In Odyssey is broadcast on the radio. 

8. Rest

Last, but not least...Sleep.
This isn't really a chore, though sometimes you would think it is the way the littles protest and commence to crying when a N-A-P is mentioned . Really, it is sweet reward for accomplishing all those chores!