Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Review - The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

  The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas is set in the 1950s, which I enjoyed, since that isn't a time frame often chosen by historical fiction writers.  I was interested in the Appalachian aspect, and I did appreciate that the author portrayed the mountain people with a sense of respect and dignity, but the mountains are only a small portion of the story.  Most of it is set in South Carolina.  The story moves rather slowly, and introduces many minor stories within the main story.  I actually enjoyed some of the minor stories better.  I did like the main character, Judd, and I thought that his character seemed realistic.  I felt that Larkin was less developed as a character, though, and her family's issues should have felt more interesting than they did.  Overall, I liked this book but didn't feel compelled to finish it in any hurry.  The author is good at painting the scenery and other descriptive writing, but the plot could have used a bit more attention.

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

St. Joseph

Gyunay was thrilled to play St. Joseph in his preschool nativity.  He did a great job.  It was really cute, with 66 preschoolers!  We took Lydia out of school so she could see it, too, and she said, "This is the best play ever!  They are so cute!"  And they were.
Here is our Joseph, walking by the donkey. 

Mary and Joseph hanging out by baby Jesus as Miss Linda reads their story.

Singing with hand motions from an adorable cast

Santa and Mrs. Claus were available afterwards, and Gyunay was the first one up to see them.  He didn't bother with telling them what he wants for Christmas (I don't think he knows that it is expected), but he did enjoy getting a quick picture.

And it all ends with cookies and punch.  We did go out for lunch before returning Lydia to school.  

Friday, December 8, 2017


He gets these really weird expressions on his face for pictures these days, but he is still such a cutie.  

I've been reading (dreaming) over the seed catalogs and keeping the fire going.  Nathaniel's been gone.  The older kids had their first Reconciliation on Wednesday night ("That was easier than I thought!"), and we have a holy day today, so we've been at church quite a bit this week.  Elijah, Lydia, and I are still sniffling a bit from colds that just don't go away, but I am thankful that we have all been relatively healthy since all I've been hearing lately is how many awful bugs are going around.  Last week, Malachi, Elijah, and I each had 1-day-down illnesses, but those did pass quickly.  It's just these annoying colds that linger for some of us now.  I'm hoping we can stay healthy!  (And I'm hedging my bets by feeding everyone homemade stock-based soup and oranges.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

2017 Garden Harvest Totals

So I finally totaled all of my harvest from the gardens, and this is the grand list.  I actually am still harvesting arugula and parsley from outside, and basil from inside, but this is a pretty good estimate.

Arugula - 12+cups
Beans, calypso dried - 1 2/3 cups
Beans, golden crescent, fresh - 12.5 cups
Blackberries - 8.75 cups
Cabbage -1
Carrots - 68
Corn -12
Cucumbers - 29
Garlic, bulbs - 28
Garlic, scapes - 18
Kale - 5+cups
Lima Beans - 1/4 cup
Onions, bulb - 23
Onions, green - 11
Pak Choy -2+ cups
Pea Pods - 6 1/4 cups
Peppers - 11
Potatoes - 2lbs 8.5 oz
Radish - 43
Raspberries - 1c
Squash, butternut - 4
Sweet Potatoes - 16.8 lbs
Swiss Chard - 3+cups
Tomatillos - 6.5 lbs
Tomatoes, cherry types
Tomatoes, Black Krim - 36
Tomatoes, Black Vernissage - 163
Tomatoes, Golden Jubilee - 116
Tomatoes, St. Pierre - 304
Tomatoes, Woodle Orange  - 97
Turnips - 21
Watermelon -3
Zucchini - 3

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Harvest Totals

Carrots, little finger 8
Eggs 71
Peppers, peppadew 4
Tomatillos 1/2 lb
Tomatoes, St Pierre 8
and several cups of arugula, basil, and parsley

5 of the hens are molting, so the egg production has gone way down.  The tomatoes are ones I put in the garage shortly before frost, so we could let them ripen and enjoy a few more. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book Review - Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

Vanishing PointThis book says "A Nikki Boyd" novel on the cover, but although it is about the case that drove her into law enforcement, Nikki herself is more of a "cameo" than a character in this tale.  I was disappointed that she didn't have a bigger role, especially in the end.  That said, I did enjoy main characters Jordan and Garrett.  I just didn't feel that they were as well-defined as the characters in the previous novels.  The case itself was very good, and there was suspense throughout, but I felt that the main characters needed a bit more.  All in all, it is a good book, and I would definitely try another of Lisa Harris's novels, but the first three Nikki Boyd novels kept me enthralled from start to finish.  This one fizzles at times, and the romance element is frustrating.  I still give it four stars, though, because it is well-written, and the serial killer case is well-done.

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

All Catholic, All the Time

So, since I was confirmed in the Catholic Church last spring, and 3 of my kids are preparing for sacraments this year, Nathaniel and I joke that we are "all Catholic, all the time."  (Obviously, it's not really a joke, but still, it's kinda fun to say it with a laugh.)  As part of my desire to share the faith, I have been adding sacred artwork and such to our home.  Here's a little tour.  First up is a crucifix that I've had for a decade:
This one is not new.  When my grandmommy died, we grandchildren (all 26 of us) sent in our requests for a keepsake.  I asked for a crucifix, and I received this one.  It is even more special to me because originally, Grandmommy gave this crucifix to my great Aunt Bess, and after Aunt Bess died, it came back to Grandmommy's house.  I love that this crucifix has a connection to two wonderful women that I still miss very much.

This sculpture was a gift from Nathaniel.  It is by a Canadian sculptor, whose work I greatly admire, named Timothy Schmalz.

I put up some saint cards as inspiration for the kids.  They are good conversation starters (Who is that?  Why is she famous? etc.)

These are in my "library", and are really for me.  I fell in love with the Pieta when I was in Rome and could get up close to the copy in the Vatican, so I got the top poster.  The bottom one is a poster of Caravaggio's famous doubting Thomas painting.  I like Caravaggio's work; the people are so realistic.

This was on etsy, and I just loved it.  It depicts the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth at the visitation, when Mary (while pregnant with Jesus) went to visit Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist).  The picture I took doesn't do it justice, but it is framed and hanging in my bedroom.

I also have saint quotes and bible verses throughout the house.  And I didn't take a picture of everything (like the Virgin of Guadalupe in the playroom, or the Sacred Heart of Jesus candle in the living room).  But this gives a pretty good idea .  And what does Nathaniel think of all this?  Well, he bought me and the kids this St. Francis and the birds statue because we didn't have enough "Catholic stuff" in the basement.  I love that man.

And his mom just gave me her grandparents' crucifix, so it will be down there as soon as I hang it.

Lastly, we did enjoy a busy Thanksgiving with Nathaniel's side of the family:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Meat Chicken Totals

The meat birds ended up producing 75.35 lbs of meat for our freezer!  That was from 15 birds.  We spent $155.75 on the chicks, feed, and bedding, so our meat ended up costing $2.07/lb.  That's really good for humanely-raised, non-gmo fed chicken.  And then there's the fact that we also get the chicken hearts, which my younger three children love cut up and stir-fried in lard.  I've never actually tried the chicken hearts myself, since they are so small, and the kids fight over them.  They are already lamenting the fact that it will be a long time before they get to eat chicken hearts again.  Come spring, we plan to get some new laying hen chicks, but we'll get some straight-run, and process the roosters.

Today's Visitor

We get deer in our yard, but generally we don't have one in broad daylight walk all along the ponds, down the path, and just hang out for a while in our driveway.  This guy was taking his time!

And here's a cute photo of Lydia on cowgirl/cowboy day at school:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Review - Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

Lady Jayne DisappearsAuthor Joanna Davidson Politano's debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, is a success.  This story, set in 1861 England, is a writer's dream, with lavish prose, an intriguing backstory, and a rather gothic (but believable) setting.  I loved reading this book.  It is suspenseful yet charming all at the same time.  Main character Aurelie is a delight, and seeing the other characters and society in general through her eyes makes the time frame and class distinctions so much more understandable.  The faith of the main character is woven naturally throughout the story, and it never seems preachy or contrived.  Although the romantic element of the story was predictable, it was not mundane.  I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more from this new author.

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Family Time

We had a great weekend with my sister and her kids.  It was also our church's fall festival, so the kids enjoyed playing simple children's games for little prizes.  Malachi and Elijah helped run a game booth, and I took ticket money.  The big boys got to enjoy themselves, too, though; Malachi won a cake, a Halloween decoration, and a snowman on the dime wheel games, so he was very happy.  Of course, I'm not sure exactly how many dimes he spent trying to win those prizes...

We've also been slowing killing the meat chickens.  We have 7 still alive.  We've eaten 2, and we have 5 in the freezer.  We also sent one frozen bird home with my sister's family.  They enjoyed some chicken and dumplings while they were here, and Missy and I made homemade noodles together.  

This cute picture was taken before the wedding we went to the previous weekend.  That was a whirlwind trip, but it was nice to see Nathaniel's cousin get married.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Book Review - A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden

A Dangerous Legacy

I really enjoy Elizabeth Camden's historical novels, and this was no exception.  Set in 1903 New York, this novel deals with newspapers, telegraphs, Morse Code, and dangerous family secrets.  The main character, Lucy, is well-rounded.  She is determined to win a 40-year-old lawsuit that would help the poor tenants of New York.  She is also a talented telegraph operator, and she works for the American news agency, the AP.  Colin is poor nobility from England, and he works in the same building as Lucy, but for the English Reuters.  When they join forces to investigate some mysterious telegraphs, the intrigue really takes off.  This book has suspense, Christian romance, and tons of historical detail.  At first I thought the villain of the story was too one-dimensional, but more details were added throughout the book, which gave a needed realism.  I also enjoyed how the author was able to contrast the working class peoples' daily lives with glimpses of the very different world of the wealthy.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it.

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

Thursday, November 2, 2017

October Garden Harvest Totals

October was not as productive as I'd hoped, but I'm always hopeful for more, so that's not a surprise.

Arugula - 3+ cups (really, I could harvest as much as I want, and the bed is still covered in arugula,           which I'm leaving as a cover crop and for continual harvest until it's just too cold)
Basil - 2c+
Carrots, dragon - 2
Carrots, J'du Dobs - 1
Carrots, little finger - 7
Eggs - 147
Onions, green - 1
Peppers, Bulgarian - 3
Peppers, peppadew -  2
Sweet Potatoes, orange - 1.3 lbs
Sunberries (lots!)
Tomatillos - 1.7 lbs
Tomatoes, St Pierre - 17

and also lots of parsley, cilantro, thyme, mint, and sage

We finally had our first killing frost Oct 30 (late!), so there will only be a few more tomatoes that I pulled up and have ripening in the garage.  I do still have swiss chard, turnips, etc growing well in the garden, and I have moved the pepper plants and many other pots into the playroom to extend the harvest there.  My winter garden seedlings look great.  Their outdoor bed is not ready yet, but they are growing in their little pots for now.  I did plant some garlic and onions outside, and the garlic is already growing well.  I plan to plant more this week or next (a bit late, but I think it will be fine).

Now I need to look up some pictures of ofrendas for Lydia.  She spotted the one at church last night when we went to the All Saints Day Mass, and she (correctly) said, "What is that?  It looks Mexican."  I didn't have much time to explain about the traditions surrounding the Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead), so I'll have to get into it more tonight or tomorrow night.  Maybe next year we'll set up our own ofrenda.  If I start thinking like that now, maybe I can get it done...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Chicken Harvest and Halloween

I'm sure you remember my meat birds.  Here they are last Monday, at 6 weeks:
Now they are 7 weeks, 2 days old, and are significantly bigger still!  I'll have to take a picture of some of them before we harvest more.  Anyway, today I harvested my first chicken entirely on my own.  Normally, Nathaniel does all butchering around here, but I wanted to butcher a whole bird myself, and I did it.  I did use this tutorial:


and I had read many descriptions of how to butcher a chicken, so I had a pretty good idea of what to do, but I had never actually harvested anything before.  So I nailed my homemade killing cone to a dead tree and killed a chicken.  (Don't worry, Missy, I don't have any pictures of the actual butchering process.)  It wasn't difficult, but I was slow, and so it took longer than I thought, and I only had time to butcher one before cleaning up before preschool pick up. 

The hen ended up weighing 4.25 pounds (after cleaning up, sans organs & etc).

It looks pretty much like a store-bought chicken!

Now, on a creepier, Halloweenish note, I also saved and peeled the chicken feet for the first time.  Don't they look like a Halloween prop?

Those feet and neck are currently simmering on the stove to make stock, and the smell is divine.  I've read that necks and feet make the best stock, but I've never actually done that, either.  I've been wanting to use as much of the bird as possible, so I am glad that I have finally gotten to the point where I can peel chicken feet.  Believe me, if you had asked me five years ago if I'd ever butcher my own chicken or make stock from chicken feet, I'd have adamantly said no, but this lifestyle has really grown on me.

In other news, Elijah carved a pumpkin for the first time yesterday.
 I think he did a really good job.  Lydia helped scoop out the seeds.
And yes, she's outside barefoot despite the fact that it was only 49 degrees.  She's so my daughter.

Malachi's friend joined us for trick-or-treating, while Elijah joined a group of his friends.  Everyone had a good time.  And our little spiderman loves his costume but won't wear the mask.  At all.  So he was in a spiderman suit with an Auburn tigers hat.  We just roll with it.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Camping, Cabin, and Bonfire - oh my!

It was a very busy but wonderful fall break.  First, we had the family reunion camping trip with Nathaniel's side of the family. 
Then the kids and I headed to the lake for a quick visit to my parents' cabin:

Then we headed back to my parents' house and had fun with family.  Nathaniel rejoined us for the weekend, which was busy but fun.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Holy Land of Kentucky

I went with Elijah on his confirmation field trip yesterday.  We visited the "Holy Land of Kentucky."  Did you know that Bardstown, Kentucky is one of the very oldest dioceses in the U.S.?  It was a great field trip, and we visited 3 places.  First up was the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
They have a beautiful church.  

The grounds have many small statues, as well as gardens and a rock labyrinth.  I wished we had more time to walk around.

This is one of the two side altars in the church.  They were elaborately carved from Carrera marble.

We also visited the Abbey of Gethsemene, where we joined the monks for 12:15 prayers.  Joined is a rather loose term.  They are cloistered, but we were in the general public area during their prayers.  Then we toured the gift shop and watched a video on their daily life.  Suffice to say, Elijah does not feel called to this vocation, but he was more than happy to buy some of their fudge.
Lastly, we went to St. Thomas church.  That was a fascinating place. 
This is the first Catholic church built in Kentucky.  I think it was finished in 1812.  

Here is Elijah posing with the baptismal fount.  It was handcarved out of walnut by a seminarian in the early 1800s.

The altar.  The baptismal font is to the left (out of photo).  This church has been in continual use since it was built over 200 years ago.

Next, we went to the log house next door.  It is set up as a little museum.  This little room shows how the seminarians had an adoration chapel:

Elijah on the stairs.

The lady explained that until 1803, the U.S. only had one diocese, Baltimore (CA, FL, etc weren't part of the U.S. yet).  The diocese of New Orleans was added with the Louisiana Purchase.  Then, in 1808, the Pope carved out some new dioceses for the U.S.: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown.  The Bardstown area had a large number of Catholics who had moved from Maryland in the 1790s.  

The log cabin (which is next to the church)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pumpkin Patch

Gyunay's school held their annual pumpkin patch field trip yesterday, and it was a hit.

We went to a farm that we had never visited before, and it had a great playground.

It also boasts a free corn maze and soybean maze, so we plan on returning with all of the kids to pick pumpkins soon.  Gyunay will love showing them around "his" farm.  It isn't often that he gets to be the expert on a place for his siblings, and he is looking forward to showing them everything.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pink Elephants

It's a rainy day here, so I decided to make Lydia a new skirt.  She happily chose this pink elephant fabric that I got on clearance a while back, and we paired it with the green stripe for a really cute look:
I made it from the tutorial here: https://www.scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com/free-flat-front-skirt-tutorial-pattern/2/

Lydia generally likes her shirts untucked, but this skirt looks good when it's tucked in, too.

Can you tell that she enjoyed our little photo shoot?

Gyunay wanted in the pictures, too.

Here she's trying to hold him out of the photo, so I took one just of him also: