Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fabric and Bacon

These two crack me up often.  They have always been very close, despite the age difference.  It is fun to overhear their conversations.  This morning, Lydia had been prattling on to me about everything under the sun:
Malachi: "Why does she keep talking?  She just talks and talks."
Lydia: "Do you know what I really love?  Fabric.  It's so useful for so many things.  And sheep and cows.  Sheep for the wool, and cows for the milk.  Oh - and pigs!  Pigs for the bacon."
Malachi: "Pigs are pretty high up on my list."
Lydia: "For the bacon."
Malachi: "Yeah, cause who doesn't love bacon?"
Lydia: "Actually, last year there were kids in my class that didn't like bacon!  They were weird."
Malachi: "Yeah, that's weird.  How can you not like bacon?"
So, around here, we really love pigs (for the bacon).  And, apparently, fabric.

Friday, September 25, 2015

When it all comes crashing down...

I was in my library* this morning when I heard the sound of crashing glass.  I rushed into the living room, where Gyunay was happily rocking in a recliner.  I could see no glass, or anything out of place.  He was so cute; he got down and started looking under his chair for broken glass!  I checked out the kitchen as well, although I was pretty sure the noise had not come from that direction.  Finally, I went down the hall and quickly discovered the source of the noise:
That is my ceiling fan's glass bowl on the floor of my bedroom. Neither the light nor the fan was on at the time of the crash. 

In an interesting note, the fan still works, but the light does not.  I cleaned up the mess, but now I guess we'll need a new light/fan. 
* For those of you who don't know, we use the house's actual dining room for my library, and for the computer desk.  I have 3 bookshelves full of glorious books in this small room, along with a Hoosier cabinet full of excess kitchen supplies like dried beans, homemade soap and lotion supplies, my chocolate stash, and bottles of Frank's Red Hot so we never run out for Nathaniel.  Of course, the room is also currently cluttered with all of the stuff that will go into the consignment sale next week.  I'd like to say that it will be clean and tidy after all of that is gone, but you all know I'd be lying.  I also have nearly 2 bushels full of apples on the floor, and 18 pints of salsa that I just canned.  The salsa will go downstairs soon (for storage in my laundry room), but the apples will take a bit longer to process.  Plus, there is about 50lbs of flour, and 5 lbs of crystalized ginger, and heaven help me - I need more shelves!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Although we haven't had enough regular tomatoes to can salsa, we've been blessed with lots of tomatillos this year.  In fact, we've had more than I've ever been able to grow before, so today I decided to make a double batch of tomatillo salsa to can.  Lydia was excited to help me, especially since I let her use the big knife.  She was so proud!
After she cut up the tomatillos, I asked her if she wanted to keep helping.  She replied, "Yes!  I love chef-ing!"  We spent most of Gyunay's nap time preparing the salsa, and she was very happy to help the whole time.  It's been a while since she wanted to stick with cooking the whole time with me.  It helped that I needed lots of chopping; currently, chopping is her favorite part!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bikes and a Chicken Spa

Last night, Nathaniel took the training wheels off of Lydia's bike.  She's still not confident, but she did try:
Tonight, Nathaniel had to work late, and Lydia did not want to try again, so we'll have to work on it this weekend, maybe.  Gyunay loved watching!
Oh, and what do I do on my birthday?

Chicken Spa.  This hen, Brave, has been acting weird.  I think she may be egg-bound, which is not good.  I looked online for treatments.  The creepy ones involve Vaseline and rubber gloves, but they are also not really advised, so I was happy to ignore those.  The only thing that seemed a possibility was to soak her in a very warm "bath". 

She did not enjoy it, so I had to hold her in the water.  I don't know that it did anything other than make her wet and unhappy.  Luckily, she's a really sweet, docile hen, so it wasn't a big deal for me.  I hope she unclogs soon, though, because if she does have an egg stuck and doesn't pass it, she will die.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review - Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

My latest book review is a nonfiction, Christian motivational book called Girl Meets Change, by Kristen Strong.  As the title suggests, this book is to help you deal with change.  Strong uses Biblical and personal stories throughout the text to illustrate how change can turn our world upside-down, but also how we can rely on God to shape us through the changes.  This book is an easy read.  It is a lot like talking with a good friend.  The writing flows very well, as Strong incorporates her own stories with those of friends and Biblical figures to get her points across.  This book deals with big, big changes, like cancer and divorce, but it also doesn't minimize how much small change can affect our lives.  Strong pulls verses from scripture to bolster her encouragement that we can get through all things with God's help.  There is a nice appendix that lists Bible verses to focus on when change threatens to overwhelm you.  Overall, this book is a very uplifting look at dealing with the many changes life brings us, whether we want them or not.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Book Review - The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick

Eliza Spaulding Warren was raised by her missionary parents in the Nimipuu (Nez Perce) village in the far west in the 1840s.  A massacre by Cayuse Indians leaves young Eliza reeling, and her mother's death about two years later leaves her with many confused feelings about her past.  This novel tells of one young woman's journey dealing with a traumatic childhood event and the repercussions it has on her entire life.  Kirkpatrick is a skilled author who brings history to life with complex characters.  I loved how complex all of the characters were, from Eliza herself, to both of her parents, and her husband.  Although this story is based on real-life characters, I was not familiar with them, or the horrible incident that changed Eliza's life forever.  The author did a wonderful job bringing the history to life in a way that was both realistic and heartfelt.  This book really deals with not just trauma, but family relationships, as Eliza stumbles through her interactions with her father, stepmother, husband, and sisters.  The friendship between Eliza and Nancy is especially welcome, as two survivors who cope in different ways, and the close bond a shared history gives them. 

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  As someone who loves the details, I was especially gratified that the author had a note at the end explaining what was fact and how she fictionalized a real account.  Her attention to detail and compassion for the characters were evident throughout the story.

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bulgarian Peppers

It's been a rough year for tomatoes, but it's been a great year for peppers.  The Bulgarian peppers in particular have done fantastic this year, and I'm especially excited about that because I grew all of those plants from seed I saved from last year.  I also have a few chocolate bell peppers and sheepnose pimentos. 
All of the produce in this picture is from our garden.  I actually ate 2 Bulgarian peppers before taking this picture.  You can also see the white cucumbers here, which Elijah planted and proudly grew.  The pepper in the middle is a sweet chocolate; the rest are Bulgarian peppers.  In Bulgaria, there are tons of recipes for using these peppers in cooking, but they are so sweet that I often just eat them raw.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Surprise Visitor

We had a wonderful surprise this weekend.  My newest niece and her family came to see us!

It's been a long time since I held a newborn, and this one was especially "new" at only 4 days old.  Bliss!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

When a Knife Just Can't Cut It....

I got this cushaw from the farmer's market for $3.  It was too hard to cut with my trusty kitchen knife, so I resorted to the ax.  Don't worry; I washed it first.  This beautiful melon gave me about 16 cups of puree.  I used some in my pumpkin muffins recipe, and some more in pumpkin cinnamon crescent rolls (divine!).  I've heard that cushaw tastes like pumpkin but better, and I can see why.  It's a really smooth and lovely puree.  I'm happy to have lots more in the freezer for future projects, plus Gyunay likes to eat it warm with a bit of cinnamon on top.
Speaking of Gyunay, did you notice him in his chair in the background?  Yeah, he's completely unfazed by his mama's ax-wielding craziness.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review - The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz



I just finished the novel The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz.  It is set just after the American Revolution in Virginia, and the main characters are Sophie, the 28-year-old daughter of a hated Torry, and Seamus, the wounded American war hero.  Seamus is a widower with a young daughter who doesn't know him due to his years away at war.  This little girl, Lily Cate, quickly latches onto their neighbor Sophie, and this connection draws Seamus and Sophie ever closer.  There is a lot of suspense in the novel as well, as there is a threatening presence watching Tall Acre, meddlesome relatives trying to get custody of Lily Cate, and townspeople who do not accept Sophie because of her father. 

I really enjoyed this historical fiction romance by Laura Frantz.  There aren't very many novels dealing with the aftermath of the Revolution, and that setting was very welcome.  Frantz did a great job of enveloping the reader in the uncertainties of the era, as well as the daily life.  There were plenty of historical details without weighing down the story.  The main characters of Seamus, Sophie, and charming Lily Cate were all well-developed and believable.   One critique I have is not of the novel itself, but of how much is revealed on the back cover.  I kept waiting for the character alluded to on the cover to appear, and that doesn't happen until late in the novel.  Because of the cover, I knew who was coming, and I expected her.  I would rather have not had that knowledge ahead of time, as I think the surprise would have been better.  That said, it was an excellent novel that I enjoyed from start to finish.  I highly recommend it.
I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.