Monday, January 27, 2014

Snow Penguin

After being bitterly cold all last week, the weekend was a welcome change.  It got up to 36 degrees here Saturday, and yesterday it was about 40.  We had plenty of snow still, so although it was melting like crazy, the kids had more than enough for some fun.

Nathaniel helped them make a snow penguin, complete with orange eyes.

He also made a tobaggan run for Lydia.  The boys enjoyed sledding down the front hill, and mostly they enjoyed throwing snow balls for nearly 3 hours.

It's cold again today, so the kids are thrilled that their penguin isn't going to be melting any time real soon.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Seeds, Glorious Seeds!

Baby, it's cold outside, but look what came in the mail today!!!  Yes, I've been very happily thinking about seeds and gardening and other spring things.  I even started a Garden Diary today to keep track of my plants and things.  Lydia helped me plant some lettuce seeds in the house in 2 pots today.  The ones we had growing in the sunroom succombed to the bitter cold temperatures we've been having.  (It got up to 10 today.)  The aloe plant died, too, and we'll have to eventually replace that one.  But it's cozy inside, and despite the fact that the kids and I have been cooped up in the house together all week, it's going really well.  It may be that the school year will go on forever, though, as these days and the others will have to be made up at the end of the year.

The kids were pretty excited about the seeds, too.  They've each decided which plant they want to be the first to taste: Elijah picked cucumber, Lydia the "fat carrots" (Paris Market carrots) and Malachi the blue corn.  It will naturally be a long time before any of these can be tasted, but I'm glad they're excited.

Monday, January 20, 2014

My little pasta maker

Lydia loves helping me make noodles.  She likes to separate them and lay them out on the table.  It's fun working with her in the kitchen, just as I used to work with her brothers.  They don't often want to help out in the kitchen anymore, but she's still eager.    

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Perfect Kind of Snow

There was just a dusting when we got up this morning, but the large, wet flakes kept coming down, and now we are in a winter wonderland again.  The boys probably made it to school just before the roads got bad.  Originally, Lydia and I had plans to go to the Y with friends, but the road was shut down due to wrecks, so I'm glad we didn't attempt it!  They are really good about keeping the roads clear here, so I'm sure it will be fine later, but for now I'm just thankful that Lydia and I don't have to get out for any reason.  This really is my favorite kind of snow, the kind that coats the trees and lies wet and soft everywhere.

In all this snow, I've been garden planning.  I ordered tons of seeds from the Seed Saver Exchange catalog yesterday.  I always get too many; I'm overambitious and want to grow more than I have space for.  But I do enjoy it.  I need to figure out some new places to put vegetables this year, so I can grow more.  I've also toyed with the idea of growing potatoes in a bucket, but I don't know if I'll actually do that this year or not.  I'm thinking of pulling out most of the lemon balm (since I don't actually do much of anything with it anyway) and putting some other, more useful herbs there.  The plum tree is planted in the middle of the lemon balm, and it actually looks pretty healthy.  It has grown since we planted it last spring, too, so I'm hopeful that it will keep getting bigger and stronger.

I just saw 2 foxes run across our front yard.  I've never actually seen foxes here before, and probably wouldn't have noticed them if they hadn't stood out against the white, white snow.

Sorry, back to gardening.  So, what did I order?  Cantaloupe (like 4 kinds), one honeydew (which I've never tried growing), beans (both fresh eating and shelling kinds), tomatillos, several kinds of tomatoes, peppers (including a Bulgarian sweet pepper that I'm anxious to try), cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, some herbs (including the Mexican herb epazote), radishes, and strawberry spinach.  I already saved seeds from my pumpkins and peas, and I have seed for lettuce, butternut squash, arrugula and sunflowers.  Oh, and I'm going to get zucchini seed from the library (we have a seed exchange) and maybe some more tomatoes.  Yeah, I'm ambitious.  (Did I mention that we only have 1 acre, and most of it is heavily shaded by trees?!)  I have no idea where I can put all these things, but I'm going to try my best!

I shared this post at the Praire Homestead Barn Hop here:
Check out the post for lots of great links!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review - Prepared for a Purpose

Prepared for a Purpose  -     By: Antoinette Tuff

I received Prepared for a Purpose by Antoinette Tuff in the mail yesterday, and I stayed up too late to finish it last night.  I didn't want to put it down.  I vaguely remembered the media attention to a woman who talked a gunman out of shooting anyone at a school in August 2013, but I didn't really remember the details.  This book tells the story of that day, interspersed with the story of Antoinette "Marie" Tuff's life.

At first, I was disappointed that the narrative started on the crisis date and then left many questions unanswered as it went back into Tuff's past, but after the first chapter, I enjoyed the interplay between her personal history and the crisis in the school office.  Tuff asserts that she was prepared by the Lord for a purpose, and that day, she was a vessel used for good.  Her testimony is interspersed with Bible verses, and it is obvious that Tuff is a woman who focuses on God.  Each chapter begins with a Bible verse that corresponds with the issues in that chapter.  Her back story is engrossing, as is the surreal interaction between her and the gunman in the school office.  The only real complaint I have with the book is a stylistic issue: every few pages, a quote from the text is set in bold as a sidebar.  It reminded me of a magazine, where you are tempted to read an article because of a well-placed quote that draws you in.  In a book format, though, I found this distracting and unnecessary. The story is fascinating without any gimicks.

I highly recommend this book.  It would be an excellent selection for a book club, and there are discussion questions included at the end.  This story is inspiring and uplifting, and Tuff gives all the glory to God.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for the purpose of a review, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Today was nice and sunny, so after church, we decided that Nathaniel could go ahead and set up the target for archery.  The boys both got bows for Christmas, but they hadn't tried them out yet due to the weather.  Nathaniel set up a target area, and Elijah was ready to shoot.

He was also excited to use the quiver I had made for his toy arrows.  He put the real arrows inside, and we found that a nearby tree has a little branch that is perfect for hanging the quiver while he shoots.

Malachi said he wants to shoot "tomorrow."  He often takes a bit longer to try new things, even things he is very excited about trying. 

And here are the boys tonight.  They are wearing some of Papaw's t-shirts as night shirts.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cold Days

Today was the second day of no school due to severe cold.  I can honestly not remember a time in my life when school was closed due to cold (not snow or ice).  So we've been hanging out inside.  I've been very busy cooking, since I like to and it warms up the house.  Today, I made pumpkin cinnamon crescent rolls, and they were divine!  I also made some Bulgarian navy bean soup, which we will be trying shortly.  We've been experimenting with lots of new recipes lately.

Our chickens are handling the cold pretty well.  I haven't let them out of the coop for the past two days, and they have the heat lamp on, so they are staying warm enough.  They still laid 10 eggs yesterday and 9 today, despite the high being about 14 today, and around 2 yesterday.  We have some sturdy chickens!

One last note, on the adoption.  I just had a chat with one of the adoption translators, and she suggested that I send an updated family picture.  The ones with the dossier are from the spring, so I sent the photo of the 5 of us in front of Mamaw's Christmas tree.  The lady also said she expects we will get a referral in less than a year, so that was exciting news for me!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Homemade Pasta

I got a pasta machine for Christmas, and yesterday I tried it out.  Nathaniel was asking for lasanga.   We had some at my mom's over Christmas break, and it was so good we wanted more, so I agreed to make a batch.  I decided to make my own lasanga noodles, and some other noodles while I was at it.  I ended up making a big batch of fettucine:

I made the lasagna and also tossed some of the cooked fettucine with olive oil, since the kids prefer plain stuff.  They gave the noodles two thumbs up.  I froze the rest, with the idea of making some beef stroganoff or beef and beer with them.  Yum!  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jack Frost

Here is the sunroom window yesterday morning.  The frost didn't actually subside until noon.  Baby, it's cold outside!

Yet, despite the cold in the sunroom, the lettuce still looks good.  It is in front of the frosty windows!

It's growing slowly, but that's to be expected when the temperature is 14 degrees outside and the sunroom is unheated!  I do plan on planting some more cool weather things in the sunroom, but I think I'll wait a few weeks before I plant seeds for the spinach, more lettuce, and carrots.  And maybe some radishes.  I've got gardening on my mind, and it will be a long time before I can plant outside.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Caring for my flock

I never really liked winter.  Sure, I enjoy those perfect snows, when we get big, puffy flakes that are perfect for snowballs while the temperature hovers around 30 degrees.  I love when the snow sticks to the trees just perfectly.  But I'm not fond of long, cold days, and in the past, I wouldn't spend much- if any- time outdoors when it's 18.

Now, I have chickens.

I have to care for my flock.  I actually don't mind getting up and outside in the cold every morning to feed, water, and just check on my chickens.  I worry about them.  I enjoy taking care of them.  I have to care for my flock, even in the snow and cold.

There's probably a theological lesson in that.

My chickens don't care for the cold, either.  They are not fond of snow, and only venture out quickly to eat the treats I bring them.  Then they cluster back inside their cozy coop.

I think I need to add more bedding, now that I look at this photo.  See, I'm always thinking about what they need.  True, the boys often put the chickens away at night, but I'm the one who greets them each morning.  And I usually check on them again every afternoon, even on days like today when it's very cold and I have no other reason to get outside.  Maybe having chickens has made me less selfish.  Not as much as having kids, of course, but still...

I'm awfully fond of my chicken ladies.

I linked this post with the Prairie Homestead Barn Hop here: