Monday, July 20, 2015

(Last) Week in our Homestead Kitchen

Good evening!

I had every intention of doing this post Saturday but then my wonderful husband took us out to supper and then it was Sunday :)  Life just gets in the way sometimes.  So this is last week's kitchen edition.

This week the star of my homestead kitchen was zucchini!

"Plain" Zucchini Bread
From the Amish-Country Cookbook Vol.3
2 c. sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. oil
2 c. flour
1/4 t baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. quick oats (regular work just as well)
2 c. zucchini grated (skins on or off, doesn't matter)
1 t. vanilla

Cream sugar, eggs and oil.  Add dry ingredients, quick oats, zucchini and vanilla.  Grease pans.  Bake at 350 degrees an hour or longer.  This recipe makes 2 big loaves or 8 mini loaves or a combination of the two. 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
taken from the Taste of Home website
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
3 eggs
3 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. baking cocoa
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. baking powder
2 c. shredded zucchini (again peeled or not)

Mix wet and dry ingredients, combine.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 mins.  Makes 2 big loaves or 8 mini loaves.

Now, this is the trifecta of cleverness....
Zucchini Jam
recipe taken from All Recipes dot com
6 c peeled, shredded zucchini
6 c sugar
1 (16 or 20 oz) crushed pineapple, undrained
2 T lemon juice
1 (6 oz) box gelatin (ANY flavor - I've got orange on the left, cherry on the right)

Peel zucchini, remove seeds and shred.  In a large pot add zucchini.  Cook on low till it comes to a boil stirring often.  It should take 20 mins.  Boil for 10 mins. while stirring.  Add lemon juice, sugar and pineapple.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 10 more minutes.  Remove from heat, add gelatin....stir for 1 min.  Ladle into jar - water bath to seal.  Water bath 1/2 pints for 5 mins., pints for 10 mins.  Makes 11 1/2 pint jars.

I can't express how good this jam is.  I really can't.  It is a great use of zucchini and is clamored over in Christmas gift baskets.  I use this the most making jam bars....and NOBODY ever knows that it has zucchini in it.  I promise.

Also, the zucchini bread freezes VERY WELL.  I make the mini loaves, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.  I give one to my husband on his way to work and it is the perfect snack.  They are just as good as they were fresh!

I'm going to try to keep track of "signature" meals I make so that I can share them also.  Many of them are quick, easy and feed a crowd.  Since I haven't been keeping track well yet, I only have one to share:

Creamy Chicken
Place chicken breasts in crockpot or oven safe dish.  Top with cream of chicken soup, dried onions, powdered garlic and dried parsley.  Cook all day or a few hours in the oven.  Serve over rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.  My picky eater even loves it.

Have a great evening!!!!!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Knitting Projects - July 2015 Edition

I hope to make this a regular feature....maybe twice a month, to "show off" the things that I've been making.  I do sew and knit for customers, so I won't share anything that I don't have permission to share, but today it's all about me :)

First up we have:

This is called the Lace Stripe Shawl.  I started this in December, put it away in January, then drug it back out in May.  It's a triangle shawl, starting at the bottom and working up.  I want it big enough to wrap up in so I'm to the point now that each row takes 15 minutes.  Let's just say that progress has bogged down a bit.  LOL  Anyway, the yarn is called Sugar Soft 3, a 3 ply  sport weight yarn.....I got a huge bag of it given to me at some point.....the label appears to be from the 70's or early 80's.  Nonetheless, the color is beautiful....a reddish burgandy.  I love it a lot and hope to finish it before fall.

Next up we have:
The almost done ribbing of the Impossible Girl Socks.  I try to always have socks OTN (on the needles)....I enjoy wearing them in the winter and they are very portable.  The yarn is gorgeous....the picture doesn't do it justice....but I can't find the lable....I know it was from Knit Picks.  I love buying yarn from them....it is affordable and just wonderful!

Last but not least:
The Tilting Tardis Cowl.  If you haven't figured it out....I'm a Dr. Who addict.  I just finished watching Season 8 and am very sad that I have to wait like everyone else for season 9.  (The socks above are a nod to Clara in season 7/8 of Doctor Who).  Anyway, the yarn is from Nerd Girl Yarns.  I was part of the spring Doctor Who Yarn and Fiber Club.  It was wonderful!  This colorway is For the glory of the Sontaran Empire.....the yarn is Conspiracy fingering weight.  Again, absolutely wonderful.  It's yarn like this that makes me a yarn snob.

There is another shawl on needles somewhere around here....If I get the lace stripes done I'll get it out and see about finishing it up....BECAUSE I have yarn and patterns for at least 2 more shawls.  I might be an addict.  Also, all the patterns that you see here can be found at Ravelry unless otherwise specified...and most of the time they are free or inexpensive, because I'm cheap.  Unless it's yarn....then I break the bank.

Norman is working overtime on his day off so I'll knit after chores and supper, which is getting ready to happen as soon as I post this.  Then I'm going to knock out a few rows of the shawl and then work on the cowl......I'm pondering custom made buttons for the cowl.....it's very exciting.  I'll share again in a few weeks....hopefully I'll have some finished projects!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Joy - Part 1

Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness (noun)
        rejoice (verb)

Deuteronomy 28: 47-48a
If you do not serve the Lord your God WITH JOY AND ENTHUSIASM  for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you.

That's some tough stuff right there.  If we aren't serving God, with joy, we are serving our enemies.  Well I, for one, don't want to be serving the prince of darkness or anyone else that he has sent to trip me up.  I want to serve God and I want to do it with JOY.

Can you think of things that give you joy?

  • sunshine after the rain
  • snuggling a new baby
  • coffee with a friend
  • flowers blooming
  • a job well done
Joy doesn't always come naturally to us though, does it?  I know that in the midst of my deepest depressions I would have laughed at that list.  If I was showing joy, I was faking it.  I've discovered that losing my joy, my natural cheery, joyful attitude doesn't just happen in one fell swoop.  It happens over time.  You don't know it is happening until the joy is gone.

Let's come up with some joy stealers:

  • exhaustion
  • clutter
  • illness (you or someone you care for)
  • extremely full schedule
  • jealousy - discontent
  • loneliness
  • family problems
  • financial problems
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that there are going to be easy answers for these problems.  Some of the problems that you and I encounter in life are HUGE.  They may show up suddenly but they will take a while to resolve and may never fully resolve here on earth.  That's a tough statement isn't it?  The fact is that sin is here and Satan is actively trying to cause problems.  That's his job and he is good at it.  He wants to do everything he can to make you loose your joy.....you wanna know why?  Because if you have no joy you won't:

  • keep trying
  • praise God
  • hold on to hope
  • love others and yourself
  • give grace
That's why Satan wants to take your joy.  He wants you to give up and push God away.  He wants you to be angry and bitter.......That's what happens when you lose your God-given joy.

Defeated
Angry
Bitter

None of us want to live lives like that.  The thing is that your problems don't have to be resolved themselves for you to choose joy.  In the midst of all your troubles, you can choose to remain joyful....but its a choice you have to make....every hour of every day.  I'm NOT going to say that it will be easy.  It's not.  Good things in life rarely are.

Your assignment for the next 2 weeks is to study up on what the Bible says on Joy.  I'm not going to list all the verses in Psalm that joy is mentioned - there were a lot when I searched on my Bible Gateway app.  In Proverbs check out 2:10, 3:13, 8:32 and 34, 10:1, 11:10, 12:20, 13:9, 14:10, 15:20-21 and 30, 16:20, 17:21, 21:15, 23:24-25, 29:3, 6 and 18

That should keep you busy.  APPLY THE VERSES TO YOUR LIFE!!!! Reading/studying the Bible does absolutely no good if you aren't willing to apply what you learn to your daily life.

I'll leave you with this though:
Galatians 5:22-23
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  There is no law against these things!

If you have the Holy Spirit in your life then you CAN have joy!!!!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about but want to, please leave me a comment.....I would love to talk to you!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Life on the Homestead - July 2015 edition

Good morning!

I love blogging after my morning chores are done!  It inspires me to DO them :)  Do any of the rest of you have trouble with that?  My husband has been working long hours and so most animal care has fallen to me.  Since that HAS to be done, I've been feeling lazy about the housework.  Last week was a wash because of some emergency medical problems that took the most of 2 days, but I am feeling back on track this week.

In the House:
It's hot.  Finally.  I refuse to complain because I HATE cold and it has been very cool and wet so far....let's face it, it's the middle of July....it's supposed to be hot.  We finally turned on the downstairs AC so we can get some relief.  I'm very grateful for it, but I dread the higher electric bills.  I'm choosing to look on the bright-side of things though.  Today, my household chores included washing the inside of the windows.  I schedule this every 3 months and don't really like to do it.  But it's done.  I have 3 small loads of laundry on the clothesline and most of yesterday's dishes are done.  I really need to get in the habit of washing dishes after supper but I find it difficult to motivate myself.  It would make the mornings go nicer, I know.
I need to make laundry soap but I took the lazy way out and bought some Tide.  I haven't bought store laundry soap in over a year and forgot how good Tide smells.  lol  I wish it didn't cost so much (and so little to make my own).

Lawn and Garden:
The water and cool weather has taken its toll on the garden.  We got things planted late (because that's how we roll) and we lost most of our peppers to the incessant rain.  I'm not sure how good the tomatoes and beans are going to do.  The weeds have taken over and it is hard to get caught up.  We do have zucchini and cucumbers though.
I harvested some basil this morning and put it on a drying rack.  I've been using it fresh but decided I needed to get my butt in gear and get some dried.  Abby and I also harvested some comfrey leaves that went on a rack. After they dry I am going to try making some comfrey salve for muscles aches and pains.  Please share any recipes you have!  I have found several that called for plantain, which I don't have, but I did find one that didn't so that will probably be the one I use.  I've got to get some beeswax on shopping day.
Today I'll mow.  Mowing our yard takes 5-6 hours total.  I think I'm going to cap myself out at 4 hours today because of the heat and finish tomorrow evening.  We will see how it goes.

Barn and Henhouse:
We had 3 momma hens hatch chicks this year, along with a guinea and a turkey hen.  The turkey chick is still getting along well but we lost all the guinea chicks during a storm.  The 3 momma hens have 1, 2 and 12 chicks respectively.  I'll try to get some pictures loaded here.  They are all adorable and live out in the cow barns.
The hens that are old enough to lay seem to have went on strike.  We were getting 3 dozen eggs a day but now we are down to about a dozen.  Not cool at all.  I'm assuming it is either the introduction of the "teenage" chickens that we hatched out this spring to the flock or the cold/wet/very hot weather swings we've been having.  Those 2 things happened about the same time so its hard to tell.
Speaking of cows.....our 4 steers are getting along nicely.  Actually, only 1 is ours, the other 4 belong to the landlord, but since I do daily care for all 4 I call them mine.  Now that we have had herefords and black angus I will agree that herefords are nicer to raise.  They are just friendlier.  The 2 black angus are onery.  We will see if there is a difference in the meat taste and then decide if we will raise black angus again.  I've heard rumors that we will bale hay again next week.  The first baling didn't turn out great, but gosh, I dread that job.  I am not strong enough to throw bales of hay.  lol
We just got 4 piglets this week.  I don't like pigs.  The last batch caused me nothing but trouble and I still haven't decided if the trouble was worth the meat.  We will see.

I think that's about it here, for now anyway.  I'm going to post this up and then round up some lunch.  I've got a hank of yarn I choose for a project yesterday that "threw up" into a big tangled mess while I was trying to wind it.....I need to finish untangling it so I can start on that project.....I only have 2 shawls and 1 pair of socks on needles so definately need more (note sarcasm).....I just can't help myself.

Have a great day!


Monday, July 13, 2015

6 Month Fitness Goal Checkin

Good Morning!
It is a glorious morning of sunshine and breeze an I'm grateful to have it even if we are under a heat advisory.

In January 2015, my wonderful husband and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.  Without going into great detail about our wedding, we didn't have a honeymoon.  There was no money for that.  In the last 19 years we have gotten away a few times, alone, but nothing big or fantastic.  So, for our 19th wedding anniversary my husband surprised me with a trip to our travel agent (up to this time we didn't have a travel agent, but we do now!) and we choose and booked a 7 day Caribbean cruise for February 2016 - our 20th wedding anniversary.

To say that I was/am excited is the understatement of the century.  I am over the moon excited.

But.....
In January 2015 I weighed 223 lbs.  I have been overweight my whole entire adult life.  I hadn't seen the underside of 200 since before Lee was born.  Almost 18 years ago.

I. Was. Not. Going. On. A. Cruise. Fat.

I said it.

I'm not judging you if you have been on a cruise and are overweight.  I have no doubt that I would/will have a fantastic time no matter what I weigh.  However, this was a big deal, and the thing that made me decide that I needed to live my life to the fullest and I wasn't going to be able to do that fat.

So, in January 2015 I weighted 223 lbs.  My husband was also overweight by 30 lbs so we put a MyFitnessPal app on our fancy smart phones and got to work tracking calories.  And the weight started sliding off.  Slowly, but steadily.

In March I installed a free C25K app on my phone and after staring at it for a few weeks, I started using it.

I now have several fitness apps on my phone (SworkIt, Map my Run) and they keep the working out interesting and motivating.  I listen to music or audio books.

I started running with regular headphones and whatever cheap tennis shoes I had laying around but for my birthday my oldest sons bought me a bluetooth headset for music and my husband bought me a very nice pair or running shoes.  I treated myself to some nice workout clothes and went to my first SpinCycle class last week.

So here are my stats thus far:
Pounds lost:  From January 2015 I have lost 31 lbs (current weight 191) but at my highest weight I was 240 lbs so from there I've lost 49 lbs.
Exercise achievements: I ran my first 5K on July 4th 2015 :)  I have moved up to 5 lb weights on my upper body workouts and I attended my first Spin Cycle class (loved it)
Clothing: I've went from a size 22 to a size 16.  A xxl to a xl or large depending on the item.  I own 2 pairs of capris that are a size 14 :)

My cruise-goal-weight is 180 lbs.  I'm short.  5'2"  So 180 is still very overweight.  But if I can drop those last 11 lbs before February 2016 I will be beyond thrilled.

Depending on where I look, my goal weight for my height should be between 120-140 lbs.  I weighed around 140 when I graduated high school so I will be so happy with that.  Honestly, I feel like I've turned the clock back.  I'm so proud of myself for getting under 200....something that I NEVER thought would happen.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

PS Norman hit his goal weight a few weeks ago so he is good to go....and he ran the 5K with me July 4th.  He gave up soda and is eating veggies.  I'm so proud of him!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'm Back

I've got some blog post ideas floating around, but right now just want to take a minute and thank my mom for gifting me this computer.  It was a little buggy but seems to be working at least for now.  I can blog again!!!!  I hope to update regularly :)

What's new with us you ask?
1.  Abby turned 5.  My baby isn't a baby anymore.  That's very sad but I'm trying to be brave.

2. Greg tried out for and was accepted onto a club soccer team out of Charleston, IL.  The season is almost over but I think he has learned a lot.

3.  Lee graduated high school.  If I didn't feel old on Abby's birthday, this finished me off.  We are so very, very proud of him and look forward to what adventures he decides to pursue in the future.

4.  Lest I leave him out, Bear is...........Bear :)  He has learned to ride his bike without training wheels and has become a fairly proficient reader. 

I'll post again later, tonight or tomorrow so stay tuned :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

What I Wear on the Farm (Fall Edition)

That might be an odd blog post title.  I didn't really think about it but I think it fits.

We live on a farm.....we had a huge garden this summer and currently have pigs, chickens, ducks, geese and guineas with more beef steers coming after Thanksgiving.  We put up hay in the summer and deal with mud and general yuck pretty much all the time.

Now, before I go any further, I will say that my warm weather wardrobe stinks, therefore it was frequently long shorts and capris.  I'm working on it.  As funds are tight and my clothing needs go to the bottom of the list I don't know what I'll be wearing next summer.  Nevertheless, modesty is always a priority for me regardless of skirt/dress/pants.  I firmly believe that women can be modest in jeans/capris and shorts if they are chosen carefully.  I love tunic-type tops!!!!!  Anyway, back to the task at hand.....

My current outfit is:
thick fleece socks
black leggings
red "sweatpant" skirt
blue camisole
blue snowman sweatshirt
yellow calico apron
rust colored shawl

Yesterday's outfit was similar but I wore my blue apron (I love it still Patty!!!!)

I did laundry like this, cleaned the house, waded mud in the chicken pen to gather eggs and feed birds (I did wear muck boots).

My church outfit this past Sunday:
tan socks
brown riding boots
 grey leggings
white petticoat
purple long sleeve top
denim button front jumper
brown cowl
rust colored shawl
yellow knit hat

I wear what I like.  I figure that everyone else on the planet does, so why shouldn't I???  I just want what I wear to be beautiful, feminine and modest.  That's all.  I don't bend to the dictates of fashion (unless it is late 1800's fashion).  I work in my clothes.  My dresses probably aren't stiff and starched and stain-free....but that's ok.  I love them and will continue to wear them as long as I have them.  And I'm liable to make more.  And I'll make them for my daughter if that's what she wants.  And we will wear them with joy.

So, if you see us out and about and think that we've lost our minds, we have.  I lost mine a long time ago.  You can consider me eccentric...I don't mind at all :)

The Curse of Facebook

I had every intention of entitling this post "How Facebook was Killing My Soul".  But that was last week and other stuff (somewhat related) has happened and I don't have time to break this down into 45 blog posts so, here ya go.

So, over the years I have had a sneaking suspicion that I spent too much time on facebook.  It wasn't really a suspicion as it was a conviction (which is much more important in the light of eternity!).  I ignored it, justified my facebook addiction (my personal favorite is my lack of adult interaction without it), and just continued on my merry little way.

And it was merry.

For a while.

Then jealousy creeped in.....anger.....bitterness....a judgmental attitude.....envy.....spite.....

It wasn't pretty....and it was killing my soul.

That anger towards someone who "slighted" me (or did something I deemed stupid - whether it was my business or not) ended up being foisted on my poor unsuspecting family.

I would see someone go on a date, a vacation, buy a new car, new house, move to a new "exciting" place.....and I would get jealous and bitter.....

Even though I live in a perfectly fine (albeit cold in the winter) house, on a lovely piece of property (that we don't own but our landlord is WONDERFUL!), and drive nice, used, paid for vehicles....I would be jealous.  I would covet.  And then I would be angry that I couldn't do that, or have that.

Pretty ugly, huh?

I think so too.  I spent one whole day weeping in despair over what I had become.  A horrible, ugly sinful person.

Facebook didn't make me that way but it enabled those sins to creep in, grab a hold of me, and significantly alter my personality and emotions.  It was bad.

So, after significant prayer and guidance from God I have made some fairly drastic changes to my facebook account.  You may notice, or not.  IT IS NOTHING PERSONAL.  This is all about me.  I am still posting on facebook some.  We have family that isn't nearby and it is a convenient way to keep in touch with them and share pictures, etc.  I finally decided that as long as what I post isn't angry or judgemental then it was up to the reader to do what they wanted with it.  I'm am still reading on facebook some.  Not much, but some.

I can't begin to tell you what a difference this has made in my life!  I am reading my bible with a goal of understanding, having long prayer chats with God, sewing, knitting, cleaning and blogging again.  I've started reading Anne of Green Gables and I'm watching Downton Abbey and Doctor Who and Sherlock.  I'm snuggled up in bed with the kids reading Mr. Popper's Penguins or having "life talks" with my teenagers.  I'm living a life, a real life....not one created on a hand-held device.

My attitude has changed as well.  I'm thankful for the gifts that we have been given.  I'm trying to see both sides of the coin - and regardless, not passing judgement.  I'm making purposeful connections with friends....real life connections....not over a screen.

Does this mean that I'm completely free from those sins?  No.  Unfortunately, Satan is always there, trying to distract and pull me away from what is best for me and my family.  I am grateful that God finally got through to me about this though.  I'm glad to have my life back.