Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Experiences

The past several days have held a few new and enjoyable experiences for me . . .

From making my first ever from scratch pumpkin pie:


To making the most delicious refrigerator pumpkin butter using a blogging friend's recommended recipe:


To enjoying the first produce from the fall garden . . . sugar snap peas:


Some other things accomplished were cutting goldenrod and hanging it to dry, cleaning out our refrigerator with my Mom, and beginning our fall deep cleaning; all the while enjoying this beautiful season of fall . . .

Saturday, September 27, 2008

By Request . . . Recipes

A blog reader recently asked if I would not mind sharing our cinnamon roll and muffin recipes . . . I am happy to do so! :)


Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

-1 ¼ cup warm water (115 to 120 degrees)
-1/4 cup oil
-1/4 cup honey

-1 ½ tsp. salt
-1 egg, beaten

-1 Tbsp. Active dry yeast
-Approximately 4 cups whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup rolled oats

Filling:
-1 Tbsp. melted butter

-2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 Tbsp. sugar
-1/2 cup pecans

Icing:
1 3/4 cups powder sugar + milk to right consistency


Combine warm water, oil, honey, salt, egg and yeast in large mixing bowl. Briefly mix to blend ingredients. Cover and let rise 20 minutes. Add oats and flour until dough is slightly stickier than regular bread dough. Knead 8-9 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise 15 minutes. Roll out to ½ in. thick rectangle. Spread on filling and roll tightly. Cut rolls 1 inch and place in greased round cake pans. Let rise 40 minutes (approximately). Bake 350 degrees for 19-20 minutes. Cool and ice. (Tip: For ease of use with a cinnamon and sugar mixture, use an empty cinnamon container - this helps to sprinkle it evenly :).


The Muffins with rising cinnamon rolls in the foreground.

Muffins


-2 cups flour
-3 tsp. baking powder
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 egg
-1 cup milk
-1/4 cup oil

Grease muffin pan. Mix dry ingredients together. In another bowl, beat egg slightly. Add milk and oil. Combine dry and liquid ingredients and stir slightly – just until they are mixed adequately. Do not attempt to remove all the lumps. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Dip batter into muffin pans filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Yield: 12 muffins

Enjoy!

Together Again

After missing two weeks of girls group due to our trip and other circumstances, it was wonderful to be able to spend time with the girls again!

Ever since we began our girls group two years ago, the girls have been working on cross-stitching. Once a cross-stitch was finished, they would begin on another. When all the girls had com
pleted a cross-stitch, we would have a 'framing day'. So while work continues on their verse cross-stitches, the girls were able to frame some of the ones that they had completed earlier in the year. The first step for framing was to wash the cross-stitches . . .



While the cross-stitches dried, we had our lesson which was on thanksgiving and gratefulness. We first discussed the definition of gratefulness which means to be “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful”

We then asked, who are we to be grateful to first and foremost? The girls correctly answered that we are to be grateful and thankful to God. We read Colossians 3:16, and then discussed the verse together:

"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16)

After reading and discussing the verse, we asked the girls what things the Lord has blessed us with that we should be grateful for. They shared: God, Jesus, salvation, the Bible, the air we breathe, family, friends, life, food, etc.

The next question brought the gratefulness further . . . are we only to be grateful for the things that we like and think are good? We read a couple of verses that spoke about this:

"In everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

"Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;" (Ephesians 5:20).

We are to be thankful for all things. What can we be thankful for in difficult circumstances? Some ideas presented were:

--The Lord is right there with us
--He is loving and kind
--We can learn and grow through the difficulties
--Difficult circumstances help us to trust in the Lord more

We then shared about an account in Scripture that illustrates the giving of thanks. As it is one that we have discussed before (the healing of the ten lepers by Christ found in Luke 17:11-19), we asked the girls if they could tell us about it and how thankfulness and gratitude was shown and not shown. They remembered very well the account and did an excellent job sharing about it!

At the end of the lesson, we asked the girls, given the project we did two weeks ago, if there was anyone that we should show gratefulness to. Their faces lit up as they exclaimed: "The lady who gave us the crafts!" So we gathered around the table, and the girls made beautiful cards for her. Reading what each of them wrote in the cards warmed my heart, as the thankfulness that they each expressed was seen to be coming genuinely from their hearts.



Once the cards were all made, it was time to put the cross-stitches in their frames . . .


The girls were so excited to see their cross-stitches that they had worked so hard on all framed, trimmed and ready to hang up!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Predator and Prey


I was hoping one of these guys would move into the garden! This particular spider built its web partially attached to the pea trellis, and last night captured one of our most prevalent pests at this time (grasshoppers). Spiders are such fascinating creatures, and it has been quite interesting to observe this one! From the detail of the web to the brilliant color patterns of the spider itself, the hand of the Lord is seen.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made . . ." Romans 1:21a

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Taste of Fall


Since being planted this past spring, the pumpkin plants have slowly but surely grown over the past several months. From the first little leaves poking through the surface of the soil, to the vines' great growth claiming a large portion of the garden as their own. The first pumpkin noticed brought excitement (this was our first year to grow them :), and then we were able to watch the pumpkins grow, and see their skins turn from green to beautiful orange. It has been a pleasure to be able to look out the window and see the pumpkins brightening up their spot of the garden.

But the vines had now died back and harvest time had arrived. Yesterday, I cut all thirty of the pumpkins, cleaned them up, and then Leah and Ryan helped me bring them inside to store. (Though, I am planning on putting them up in the freezer eventually as we do not have the most ideal location to store them.) Mmm . . . now there are fresh pumpkin pies and breads just around the corner . . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Men in the Kitchen

Our Reunion Trip Continued . . .

Morning came very early on Sunday as the alarm went off at 4:30 . . . we all hurried to get ready, packed the truck and trailer and then drove through the darkness to the Spencer Park (it was about a 30 minute drive from where we were staying.)

Once arriving, us ladies helped get things set up, and then it was up to the men.
Every year different men in the family cook the breakfast for the Pelc clan on Sunday morning, and it is always a fun experience! This year my Dad and several of his cousins and one of my Grandpa's cousins were the breakfast crew. This group of guys were very entertaining to listen to and to watch!

Dad was in charge of the eggs, and ended up making around 7 dozen fried eggs.

Trying to open the orange juice concentrate can (the little pull tab had broken off so the lid had to be pried off with a knife.)

Fryin' bacon . . . and the best bacon I have ever eaten.

Cookin' away

Not only did they make a super delicious breakfast of pancakes, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and some other thing (that I cannot pronounce the name of much less know how to spell :), they also did all the dishes, wiped the counters and swept the floor!

Washin' Dishes

Once breakfast was over and all was cleaned up, we enjoyed visiting with everyone for a time. Then we had the planning meeting for next year's reunion, and afterwards it was time for goodbyes. With the goodbyes said, we loaded up and headed home.

The drive home started out fairly uneventful and instead of taking our normal route (which is a
scenic route that is a bit longer), we decided to take the shortest way possible. All of us were tired, and eager to get home. We were almost upon Kansas City and darkness was falling when the speedometer decided to stop working again. It gives kind of strange feeling not knowing exactly how fast one is going! Mom, Ryan, Leah and I tried to see other people's speedometers as they either passed us or we passed them, but we were not very successful with that! Meanwhile Dad kept on driving and gauging his speed by the other traffic and what 'felt' right. After about 45 minutes with no speedometer, we had pretty much determined that it was gone for good, but then all of a sudden, it started working again. And it read: 69 miles per hour. We were impressed! :) (The speed limit was 70 mph.) The speedometer was kind enough to keep working the rest of the way home which was appreciated! (We still do not know what is wrong with it, but we will definitely be getting it fixed!)

All of us kids had determined to stay awake on the way home in order to make it easier for Dad (it can be difficult to drive when you are the only one awake!) We were singing, teasing, talking . . . and finally our exit was spotted. We turned off and drove the familiar roads home. How good home looked when we pulled into our driveway! We unloaded only the necessities, checked on our animals, and then headed to bed.

Another reunion over, and with it many more memories made . . . thank you to all of you who made this such a special reunion! We are already looking forward to next year's!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Fun Filled Saturday

Saturday dawned early, and we were all eager to head to Spencer, Nebraska where the reunion is held. (This is the little town near where my great-great grandfather homesteaded, and it now has around 500 people living there.) The only problem was that our tire had lost five pounds of pressure overnight. Dad knew there was a leak somewhere and wanted to get it fixed before driving more. So he borrowed a phone book from the hotel clerk and found a place that fixes tires. He drove down there only to find a sign that said "Closed September 20th". What to do next? With the help of a gas station cashier, Dad found a nice tire shop that got him in right away and found the problem to be a leaky valve stem. Once that was repaired, we were on our way! (At 35 mph so our speedometer said ;) Yes, the speedometer quit working again for a time, but after awhile jumped up to the speed we were actually driving. Needless to say we were all wondering what could be causing this problem!)

The drive between O'Neill and Spencer is probably my favorite drive ever. The prairie is so beautiful, the sky so clear and old two-story farmhouses so picturesque against the landscape. The view was a feast for the eyes with windmills, cattle, horses, clouds, the Elkhorn river and rolling hills.

The Drive:
(note: all photos taken from our moving vehicle, thus they are not the greatest!)


A lone windmill

A dam over the Elkhorn River

Farmers working their fields - note the beautifully rich soil!

Haystacks

Grazing Cattle

Before long we could see the little town of Spencer in the distance . . . excitement was growing! We arrived at the town's tiny park and piled out of the vehicle to be greeted by family members that we had not seen since last year's reunion. Then came the visiting! Catching up on each other's lives, reminiscing and listening to the older ones share childhood memories, and also discussing family history and the like.


As usual, we set up our computer and scanner to scan historical family photos that others had brought to share (to add to the family history website.) We were just getting started and having a wonderful time going through a big box of old photographs with some of my Dad's cousins when the computer stopped working properly so we were unable to scan any more. We still enjoyed looking through the photos, though, and hearing stories related to them . . . this is your Great-Uncle Howard out at the farm . . . this is your Grandpa in his Navy uniform . . . so fun! And looking at photos like this always brings out the "Remember when . . ."'s. :)
At the Reunion:


Visiting

Leah looking at old photographs

Mom and Dad visiting with, Leonard, the oldest attendee at the reunion . . . . 92 years young. :)
Great-uncle Otto and Grandpa visiting

Visiting the Homestead:

And the Family Reunion is not complete without a visit to the farm that my great-great Grandpa homesteaded back in the late 1800's. (It is no longer owned by anyone in our family, but the gentleman who does own it is so kind to let us go out and visit each year). My great-great Grandpa originally built a tiny house that his family lived in (the foundation is still there), before building an impressive house, barn and outbuildings. Some of the buildings are no longer there and are remembered only through old photographs, but the house, barn, chicken house and pig barn are all still standing.

The barn . . . sadly looking worse and worse each year.

Leah photographing inside the barn

Three of our cousins' adorable children sitting in the doorway of the barn

Leah

Mom with Aunt Marci (my Dad's oldest sister)

Ryan listening to our Grandpa share stories . . . one of the 'legs' of the old windmill is right behind Ryan.

The house now surrounded by trees . . . when it was first built, there was nary a tree in sight save for a few little scrub bushes.

The once beautiful screen door

Dad, Ryan, Leah and I along with my Dad's sister Judy and her husband Jim in the upstairs of the house. The wood work in this house is absolutely amazing! It is neat to think of my great-great Grandpa building all of it! This house is also where my great-grandparents lived and where their younger children grew up including my Grandpa. My Dad remembers going there as a little boy and visiting. Fun memories! The house is deteriorating more and more each year, so it may not be too many more years before we cannot go into it any more.

My Dad remembers taking baths under this old pump when he was a little boy visiting "Grandpa and Grandma".

The pump handle

Me

The Chicken House

Ryan and Uncle Jim visiting

A bunch of us also walked across the road to the South House where other family members had lived (including my great-grandparents for a time before they moved to the homestead shared about earlier).

Aunt Judy, Mom and I visiting with my great-grandpa's brothers' daughter, Rosie.


After several enjoyable hours of visiting, exploring, laughing and sharing, we headed back to the reunion site. The day was finished off with a large potluck meal (large as in enough food to feed around 150 people with enough left over for lunch the following day.) Once the meal was over, I had so much fun working with my Mom and a bunch of Dad's cousins doing dishes and the like. Our extended family as a whole is a light-hearted, cheerful group of people who always have a great deal of fun together. It is so special to be a part of this family!

Before long darkness began to fall, and it was time for our family to depart for the evening. We were going to be helping with the breakfast along with a few of my Dad's cousins the next morning so needed to get to bed at a fairly decent time so we could be up bright and early the next day.

To be continued . . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

We're Home!

This past weekend was the Pelc Family Reunion so our family made the trek up on Friday and returned home yesterday . . . though we were gone for only three days, much transpired during that time! From the beautiful drives, to the wonderful visits, to visiting the old homestead, it was a special and enjoyable trip. When wading through the hundreds of photos taken during the trip, I decided to do a few posts about the weekend instead of one big one so . . . enjoy! :)

As mentioned, we left this past Friday morning and drove to Norfolk, Nebraska, where my Dad's family lives. The drive was pleasant as the day was beautiful! As usual, for the first leg of the journey, we took a route that our family loves . . . avoiding some of the interstate driving and instead taking a highway through the country. This drive goes through the hills of Missouri and winds through farmland, cropland, Amish country, orchards and more. It was a bit interesting during part of the drive as our speedometer quit working for a time and read 35 miles per hour regardless of how fast we were going and 20 or 25 miles per hour when we were stopped! It did eventually begin working again (at least for a time . . . more on that later. :)

Upon arriving in Norfolk, we were greeted by Grandpa and Grandma Pelc, Aunt Chris and Aunt Marci (two of my Dad's sisters), and one of our cousins, Nicholas. We very much enjoyed our time visiting with them! During our stay there, I was able to give Grandpa and Grandma their quilts, and we also had the opportunity to take a photo of Ryan, Leah and I with our grandparents.


We were not able to stay there very long as we needed drive several more hours to O'Neill, Nebraska where we would be spending the night. We left looking forward to being able to see them again the next day as they, too, were going to drive up for the reunion (it is about 2 hours or so from Norfolk to where the reunion is held.) We were just leaving when Dad noticed that one of the tires was rather low on the truck so we headed to a gas station to fill it up with air. Once the tire was back to the needed pressure, we drove to O'Neill and how beautiful the drive was! We passed the below farmstead and as it was so picturesque, I snapped a photo as we drove by . . .


We were blessed to enjoy a beautiful sunset as we neared our destination for the night. With the lack of humidity in the air (of which Missouri has a great deal!), the sun was much brighter than what we are used to . . .

The sun reflecting off of the beautiful Elkhorn River

We made it to our hotel, brought in our luggage, and then headed to bed eagerly looking forward to the reunion the following day.

To be continued . . .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Four More Half-Pints . . .

It took some work, but I managed to gather enough plums to provide just the right amount of juice for a half batch of wild plum jelly . . . this brought the total yield to 13 half-pints. (Though the numbers are dwindling now . . . jelly on homemade bread is so good!) It has been a fun experience and quite satisfying to use something that grew on our land to make a product that we can enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Finished!

This past week the sewing machine has been whirring and the needles have been flying . . . and finally, the quilting was finished, the last stitches were sewn on the bindings, and the labels were made and sewn onto the back of the quilts.






Now the fingers and back can rest for a bit. :) At least from quilting! I very much enjoyed making these quilts, but it is good to have them completed . . . and before the 'deadline' I had made for myself too!