Sunday, September 29, 2013

Elijah behind the camera

Yesterday, some good friends came by and had some fun with us and the chickens.  Elijah asked to take pictures, and before I knew it, he had taken 32, including some of himself.  Here are just a few of his pictures:

Friday, September 27, 2013


It appears that my boys are really runners.  We realized two years ago that Elijah ran a fast mile in school, and he wanted to join the school's cross country team last year, but due to construction, it wasn't offered last year.  So this fall, I signed him up, and Malachi surprised me by wanting to join, too.  We've only recently been able to guess that Malachi might be pretty quick himself, but we weren't too sure.  They started practice a couple of weeks ago,and here were the complaints after the first day: "We only ran one mile!" (Elijah) and "It was kinda boring." (Malachi)

So I wasn't really sure how this would all pan out.  Now, however, I'm not getting any complaints from them.  Elijah has been in first place by nearly a minute for the last two days, including the official race day.  He got a medal for being first - with a 7minute 30 second mile on a grassy, uneven course!  We already knew he could run, though, so although we were surprised that he was so fast, we weren't surprised that he was at the front of the pack.  Malachi shocked us, though, by running an 8minute 24 second mile!  He was only about 10 seconds slower than second place, and only 4 seconds behind third. (And he tied for second place the day before race day.)    He wants to improve next week so he can get a medal (top 3 get medals).  I'm so amazed at how fast they can run.  And you should see the little bitty kids - the kindergarteners and first graders - running in cross country.  They are so cute and so tiny, running the same course as the big kids!  The coach is really postitive and encouraging to all the kids, and they seem to all be enjoying it.  I would have never guessed that I'd have elementary-school-aged cross country runners, but here we are.

  (And now Elijah thinks he'd like the travel team better than the intramural one.  Maybe if they offer it again in spring...)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leaf Apple Pie

I love pie, so for my birthday, I wanted to make one.  Since we have lots of apples right now, it made sense to make it an apple pie.  Usually, I prefer a crumb topping, but I had made a little too much pie dough, so I rolled it out and cut little leaf shapes out of it for a decorative top.  I coated the leaves with a cinnamon/sugar mixture, too.  Lydia and Malachi were very impressed by the leaves.

Elijah said, "Why are you taking a picture?  It's just a pie!"

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Yesterday we went to a nearby orchard and picked apples.  We hauled home 1 1/2 bushels of fresh apples, mainly Johnathon and some Russet.  While we were at the farm store, Nathaniel spotted their deal on canning tomatoes, so we got a half bushel of tomatoes, too.  And some peppers.  So I've been busy canning today.  So far, I've put up 13 half-pints of apple butter, 13 pints of Ball salsa, and 6 pints of crushed tomatoes.  I've still got a bushel of apples to deal with, and I'm going to make some tomato-basil sauce, but for today, I'm done.

I snapped a picture of the kids at the farm.  Can you tell we had soccer games in the morning?

Tomorrow, I'll start making applesauce and purple applesauce.  Luckily for me, Nathaniel has already cored and peeled a lot of apples using our handy apple corer/slicer/peeler.  That thing has really come in handy over the years.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Strawberry Maple Ice Cream

Nathaniel got me an ice cream maker for my birthday, and he gave it to me early so we could enjoy homemade ice cream while it's still hot out.  I've made some fabulous ice creams!  Homemade is so much better than anything you can find at the store.

Nathaniel has always loved strawberry ice cream, so it was at the top of the must-make list (along with chocolate chip cookie dough for the kids and dark chocolate and peanut butter for me).  I've never really cared much for strawberry ice cream, until now.  This is fantastic!  I adapted the recipe that comes with the Cuisinart ice cream maker, and it is so good.  It makes 2 quarts.

First, take 3c sliced strawberries and mix them with 1/2 c sugar.  Let them sit and get juicy, about an hour.  Then puree.  Add 2 c heavy cream, 2 c whole milk, 1 c maple syrup, and 1 tsp vanilla.   Make according to your ice cream maker's instructions and enjoy!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In the Garden...

Right now we have several small cucumbers growing.  The kids will be thrilled when we eat those!

And look how pretty the peas are:

We have several flowers, so the pods should appear shortly.
The pumpkins are ripening nicely.  We are finally getting some good tomatoes.  I put crushed egg shells around the garden, and the slug problem has decreased significantly.  I made and canned a batch of salsa yesterday from a recipe from the Ball home canning book.  I don't actually have this book, but I found the recipe, and it's really good.  Malachi announced that it is the best red salsa I make.  (He is very fond of the green tomatillo salsa!)

The chickens are doing well.  All of the hens appear to be laying.  We have 7 barred rocks, 8 red sex link, 1 Crest and 1 rooster.  Crest is probably part leghorn, part something else.  Anyway, they are doing well and giving us 11 or 12 eggs a day now.  Nathaniel did cull the extra rooster last weekend, so things have settled down without the roosters competing.  I'll have to get some pictures of the chickens soon; I know it's been a while.

Book Review - Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

Cover Art

I've managed to read quite a bit lately, and the latest book I've enjoyed is Made to Last by Melissa Tagg.  Unlike many of my choices, this one is a present-day romance.  Miranda is the star of a home improvement show, but to keep her show, she must continue to lie about being married.  She even gets a fake husband for press photos!  Meanwhile, the reporter sent to blog about her life is asking many questions, and stealing Miranda's heart in the process.  She's very conflicted with the lies she's telling.  And she can't try to date the man she'd like to because she's supposed to be married.

The characters in this book are detailed and realistic.  Miranda wants to have a relationship with God but knows her lies are keeping her distant.  She only wanders into church when she expects no one to be there.  Matthew, the reporter, has a past he's not proud of, and he really wants to get back into serious journalism to revamp his career.  While Miranda defines herself by the success of her tv show, Matthew identifies only with his past failures.

This book allows for growth of the main characters in a realistic way.  I also enjoyed many of the secondary characters, especially Miranda's fake husband Blaze and Matthew's niece Cee.  I think the author could easily write a story on Blaze in the future (hint, hint!).  And although this book is a romance, it deals extensively with issues of rejection, acceptance, forgiveness, and grace.  I really enjoyed this book and recommend it.

I received a copy of Made to Last from publisher Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review, but the opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Soccer Season

Soccer season has started, and Lydia had her first game yesterday.  The boys have played for several years, and this year they are on the same team, with Nathaniel coaching.  Lydia has wanted to play for some time, so we put her on the 4 and 5-year-old team.  All three have practices once a week and games on Saturday.  It went pretty well, and all of them seem to be enjoying soccer season!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Book Review - Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund

Cover Art

My latest book to review from Bethany House Publishing is Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund.  It is an engaging historical romantic drama set in 1763.  I loved it.  The main character is Susanna Smith, a devout and wealthy young lady who is dedicated to both her family and the king of England.  She befriends a young, ambitious lawyer named Ben Ross, who forces her to see life from a different point of view.  And everything changes for her when she meets a runaway indentured servant.  Helping the girl would mean breaking the law, but her heart can't handle not helping when the girl is obviously in need.  She enlists the help of the family slaves and asks Ben for advice, and soon she finds trouble, both for herself and for all she loves.  She is reminded that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

There is plenty of drama in this book, as it starts with a murder trial and then involves Susanna's dealings with both the indentured servant and her increasingly complicated relationship with Ben, who makes no effort to hide his displeasure with the king.  The many secondary characters are fleshed out nicely.  The historical details are wonderful, and the characters are believable and likable.  I highly recommend this book.

Be sure to read the author's note at the end.  It was both interesting and surprising!

I received this book from Bethany House Publishing for my review, but the opinions stated are my own.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sweet Baby

We spent the weekend cuddling with my newest nephew.  Isn't he a doll?

Then we came home to lots of work.  There was a storm here, and limbs are down all over.  Nathaniel is going to keep busy with the chainsaw.  Also, Lydia started preschool today, and since I'm working at her school on Mondays and Tuesdays this year, I started, too.  It went well.  She loves school and is excited to be in the "big kids" class.  

I came home today and made a batch of salsa and some really good bread.  Cub scouts started tonight, too, and Elijah's archery is not over yet, so we were hopping.  All in all, it's been a very busy but good day.