Wednesday, October 28, 2009

House Update #4 - Progress (finally!)

Progress on the house was going quite slow for a time . . . between lots of rainy days, strong winds, and several other factors, it was difficult to work on it. But, little by little things were getting done, and now I am excited to be able to share that the whole roof is on! (save for the metal roofing which will be put on after the porch is built.) This is a big relief to us as now when it rains again, no water will be coming in through the roof, and before long, the entire house will be dried in! (And just a note with the photos . . . they were taken on different days with each day having different weather [some days cold, some days warm] thus the reason why in some photos we're wearing coats, etc. and in others we're in short sleeves. :)

Working on the roof on the back side of the house

Sliding another piece of sheathing into place

And before they can go higher . . . more roofing jacks needed to be put on (which is what Ryan is doing here)

One whole side of the roof has the sheathing and felt on now!

Once this side was finished, there was no time to work on the other side before days of rain arrived so Daddy and Ryan covered the other side with a tarp to keep any more water from getting inside the house. They also put plastic in all of the window openings and the door opening which helped to keep water out as well. After the rainy days finally came to an end (again :), Dad, Ryan and our friend Mr. M. started early one morning to work on the roof on the other side of the house. As more rain was in the forecast, they kept the tarps on "just in case", and then rolled the tarps up as they went.

Their tentative goal for the day was to get all of the sheathing on the roof (which is quite a bit of work! Especially considering the fact that all of the scaffolding had to be moved and leveled before they could begin.) They worked so hard and fast that day and not only got all of the sheathing on, but also got all of the roofing felt on as well!

Putting on the roofing felt

Nailing on the last bit of roofing felt!

So that is the most exciting house news. :) Besides that, though, on the days when it wasn't raining and it was too windy to be on the roof, we worked on putting the floor in the upstairs . . .

This is prior to putting in the floor (the 2x6's are to hold everything in place until the flooring was put on.)
Ryan getting things set up 'upstairs' while Leah looks on (and it was chilly this day, thus the warm clothes!)

Dad putting down caulk where the next piece of sheathing will go
Leah pulling in an extension cord so that the drill could be plugged in

The second day that we worked on the floor, Mom was unfortunately not able to go out (she was missed!), but Daddy, Ryan, Leah and I were able to get the rest of the floor in. We started to get into a rhythm together which made things go faster. Daddy and Ryan were inside putting down the caulk, laying down the flooring sheets, and then screwing them into place. Leah's and my job was to push the sheets of sheathing up to Ryan (when he was ready for the next one) so that he could pull them up into the house . . .

This was a fun, but tiring job! (Those sheets are heavy!)
Leah measuring and marking a piece of sheathing so that Dad could cut it down to fit the spot that it needed to go

More caulking :)

And now that the roof is finished (for now) and the upstairs floor is in, the next things on the 'list' to do is to frame in the last of the upstairs walls, put the sheathing on both of the upstairs walls, put on the typar, and then put the windows and door in. It will really look like a house once it has windows and a door! :)

This is the most recent photo that I have of the house from a distance and while it looks like the roof is all sheathed and felted, this was when just the tarp was on the roof. I'll have to get an updated photo to share soon. :) And maybe when that one is taken, the windows and door will be in as well!

Monday, October 26, 2009

By Request . . . A Recipe

It had been asked recently if I could share the recipe for the rolls that were posted about awhile back (which I am more than happy to do!), so here is the recipe for them . . . enjoy! :)

Pillow-Soft Dinner Rolls

-4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
-1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
-2 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
-6 tablespoons shortening
-2 eggs
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-7 cups all-purpose flour (I used half wheat flower and half white)

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, shortening, eggs, sugar, salt and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes (dough will be sticky). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 24 pieces. Shape each into a roll. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

(These rolls are really good with honey butter . . . simply combine equal parts of honey and softened butter, stir until smooth, and then use like regular butter! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recent Finds . . .

One of my favorite places to 'shop' is at garage sales as one can often find treasures for very little cost. The best garage sales, and the ones that we try to go to, are the large ones . . . neighborhood garage sales, community garage sales, church sales, and then the senior center in our town has two garage sales a year as well. This past weekend Mom, Leah and I were able to go to the senior center sale and had some great finds. At each of their sales, they always have a lot of craft items so we came away with bags of ribbon, bias tape and trims, some sewing patterns, quite a few cross-stitch patterns, and several other things as well for only a few dollars. But the greatest find for me there was this . . .

At the garage sale, most things were inside, but they had some things outside too. So right after we arrived and started looking, my attention was almost immediately drawn to this basket. There was no price tag on it so I did not know how much it would be, and the basket was filled with lots of junk type of things. When I asked the price, the lady looked at the basket, and then asked me doubtfully "Is it worth 50 cents to you?" Yes! So I came away with a beautiful, old bushel basket. I have lots of ideas of different ways to use it, but I am not sure which direction I'll go with it yet!

So that was one 'treasure' find. :) Another was at our library's children's book sale (which they have a couple of times a year.) This is another thing that we try to make it to each time they have one as they always have so many great books with much variety. And with prices of 25 and 50 cents each, it is an economic way to build a book collection (and they often have books that one can hardly find anywhere else!) Leah and I are fairly selective in what books we add to our growing 'libraries' so we always carefully peruse the stacks and bins of books - flipping through the pages, asking the other for their opinion on the book, etc. At this particular sale, we were able to find a lot of great books such as several older Golden books, a few historical biographies, wonderful little science books (on moths, butterflies, etc.), a beautiful history book (Leah's find!), and more! My favorite find of the day, though, and one that I was quite surprised to find at a children's book sale, was a complete replica (besides the hardcover and red border) of the 1897 Sears Roebuck catalog!

Wow! Is it ever fascinating to look through there! It is like stepping back in time, and we have greatly enjoyed our perusal of its pages. One thing that has surprised me is the very wide variety of items they offered . . . pretty much everything that one would need (back then of course :) is in the catalog. Plows, buggies, medicine, food, clothing, blacksmithing supplies, well pumps, tools, fabric, veterinary supplies, wagon parts, musical instruments (they even had a hammered dulcimer!), washing machines, clothes wringers, butter churns, furniture, and so very much more. It's too bad that it's not a current catalog :), as there are so many things in there that I would love to have! Especially with the prices they had . . . one can hardly beat $13.80 for a wood burning cookstove. :)

Here is a sampling of a few of the catalog's 786 pages (and I left the photos large so if you would lik
e, you can click on them and you'll be able to see and read them much better) . . .

So those are some of our recent finds that we have been enjoying lately! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Harvest of Gourds

This past spring, the girls in our girls group planted gourds in our vegetable garden. The weeks passed, the plants grew, the gourds began to grow, and as time went on, it came time to harvest them . . .

Cutting a gourd from the vine

"Let's see . . . how should I cut this . . ."


Once the gourds were all harvested, we brought them over by the wheelbarrow (which had water in it for washing them), spread the gourds on the ground, and then the girls took turns choosing gourds until they each had seven of them . . .

"I think I'd like this one . . ."

Thinking :)

The pile is growing!

After the girls had each chosen their seven gourds, then it came time for washing them. The day was a chilly one, but as the gourds were so muddy, the washing was something that needed to be done outdoors. So to keep the girl's hands warm, we added hot water to the water in the wheelbarrow so it was nice and warm while they washed their gourds . . .

The girls had such a fun time doing all of this and were so excited to be able to bring gourds home with them! They were telling us all the different ideas they had for what they were going to do with them. :)

Once the gourds were inside and drying on the counter, we had our lesson fo
r the day which was on "patience." When Leah and I were planning for the month of October and were trying to come up with something that would tie in with the gourds, patience came to mind as it is something that must be exercised with gardening! We began by reading James 5:7-8 which fit very well with this . . .

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

We explained what this verse is in reference to (which is waiting
patiently for Christ’s return), and then looked up and discussed several different definitions in the dictionary (Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.)

--Patience: "The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent."

--Discontent: "Want of content; uneasiness or inquietude of mind; dissatisfaction at any present state of things."

--Impatience (the opposite of patience): "Hasty; eager; not enduring delay."

After reading these and getting a grasp on what 'patience' and 'impatience' are (in the context that we were using them), we then related the farmer waiting for the rain and his harvest, to us waiting for the gourds to be ready. Questions that we asked the girls were ones such as: What results would being impatient bring? Would the gourds be ready to harvest sooner? The answer to this is "No." The only thing that happens, the only result, when we are impatient is that we are negatively affected as are the others that are around us. There is no benefit to being impatient, and the thing that we are waiting for (whatever it is) will not get here any sooner by us being impatient for it.

We then asked the girls if they knew who shows perfect patience, and after they answered, we turned to 1 Timothy 1:16 . . .

“. . . Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience . . .”

The question that followed this was: Does God want us to be impatient? No, He does not. We are to follow Christ who is our example . . .

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

And as Christ had perfect patience, we, too, should strive to be patient . . . to
truly seek to follow in our Lord and Savior's steps. After discussing all of this a bit more, we brought the lesson to a close with this verse from Ephesians . . .

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,” (Ephesians 4:1-2)

Once we had concluded, the girls finished writing in their "Bible Study Notes", and th
en we explained the next craft project that we were going to be working on. Ever since we began girls group, towards the end of our time together the girls would work on mainly cross-stitching (with some crochet from time to time as well.) As their skills in cross-stitching have developed very well, we thought it would be fun to focus on a different type of hand-skill for a time. The project that we came up with is making potpourri sachets which they will hand-sew together . . .

When the girls found out what we were going to be doing, how excited they were! I think this is going to be a really fun project to do together, though I would imagine that the hand-sewing part could get a little long for them. :)

Prior to this particular girls group, Leah and I had asked the girls which colors/types of fabrics they would like for this project, and then we went fabric shopping and came home with these fabrics . . .

So the first thing the girls needed to do was choose which fabric they would like to use. It was a difficult decision! :)

Then we headed upstairs to the sewing room (which is really just a part of Leah's and my bedroom :) to iron their fabric, pin on the pattern piece, and then cut out their fabric piece. For most of the girls, pinning and cutting fabric were new experiences for them, and they did such a good job!



Now that the fabric is all cut out, the next time we get together, we'll start on the hand-sewing. And that brings our afternoon with the girls to a close . . . what a very special and fun day it was!

While waiting for the mothers to arrive to pick up their girls, Leah let Mandy out of her crate (she had been inside for awhile as she had a UTI.) I do not know who enjoyed the time more . . . Mandy or the girls! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Birthday . . .

Happy 27th Birthday, Ryan!

You are such a special part of our family and how very thankful I am to the Lord for blessing me with a brother like you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Soup Season

Family Vegetable Beef Soup

When the weather starts getting chillier, frost blankets the ground in the mornings, and jackets must be donned before heading outdoors, another change takes place as well . . . soups begin to appear on the menu! This is another one of my favorite things about the Autumn and Winter months as there is just something about the coziness indoors with a soup simmering on the stove filling the air with its delicious scent while bread bakes in the oven. And lately we've been able to enjoy this several times as there were a number of soups on our last menu! One of these was the Ham Chowder that had been mentioned in an earlier post, and as the recipe for that was requested, I was going to share that and thought I would share a few of our other favorite soup recipes as well . . .

(While these are the basic recipes, I do not often follow them exactly and depending on the soup, will sometimes make them in larger batches too. :)

Ham Chowder
-2 cups diced potatoes
-1 cup sliced celery
-1 cup chopped carrots
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-salt and pepper
-1/4 cup margarine or butter
-1/3 cup flour
-2 cups milk
-1 cup Cheddar cheese
-Diced Ham
-1 can (14 1/2 oz.) corn

Place potatoes, celery, carrots, onion and seasonings in Dutch oven. Cover with water and cook until nearly done. Do not drain. In another kettle, melt margarine and add flour. Heat until bubbly. Gradually add milk while stirring, and then cook and stir until thickened. Add cheese and allow it to melt. Slowly stir this cheese mixture into the vegetables. Add ham and corn and allow to heat (do not boil.


Cheeseburger Soup

-1/2 lb. ground beef
-3/4 cup chopped onion
-3/4 cup shredded carrots
-3/4 cup sliced celery
-1 tsp. basil
-1 tsp. parsley flakes
-4 Tbsp. butter - divided
-4 cups diced potatoes
-3 cups chicken broth
-1/4 cup flour
-8 oz. Cheddar cheese
-1 ½ cups milk
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1/4 to ½ tsp. pepper
-1/4 cup sour cream

In a 3 qt. sauce pan, brown beef: drain and set aside. In the same saucepan, sauté onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 Tbsp. butter until vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes). Add broth, potatoes and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 to 12 minutes until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt remaining butter. Add flour, cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to soup; bring to boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat; blend in sour cream.


Thyme for Meatball Soup

1 egg
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 pounds red potatoes, cubed
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) beef broth
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes

In a large bowl, combine egg, bread crumbs, half of the thyme and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-in. balls. In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, brown meatballs; drain and set aside. In the same pan, saute onion, carrots and mushrooms in oil until onion is tender. Stir in the potatoes, broth, tomatoes, meatballs and remaining thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.


Family Vegetable Beef Soup

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (46 ounces) tomato juice
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
2 cups frozen cut green beans
2 cups each finely chopped celery and carrots
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook the beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours.


So there are a few of our favorites! And if any of you would like to share your favorite soup recipes, I would love to see them! My cook book always has room for more soup recipes. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Frost

We had our first heavy frost yesterday morning, and what a delight it was to go out and enjoy the beautiful, crisp morning and to watch the sun's warm rays gradually melt the frost away. I always love seeing the amazing designs that the frost makes!

"And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?" (Job 38:29b)

"From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen."
(Job 37:10)

Frost edged leaves of a plant in our flower garden

A frost coated Zinnia

The sunlight gradually reaching the pasture and melting away the frost

A fallen sweetgum leaf

Frost covered marigolds

"Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
(Psalm 139:14b)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ten Things . . .

Awhile back, Hannah passed on the “Honest Scrap” award to me (thank you, Hannah! :) and a part of it is to share ten things about myself, so . . . here they are!

1) I love antiques! Especially ones related to the farming/country type of lifestyle . . . old corner cabinets and pie safes, wood-burning cookstoves, quilts, farm tools, oil-burning lamps, washtubs, treadle sewing machines, pretty much any wood furniture that has a more country style and finish, embroidered linens, and so much more! Thankfully I have a family who enjoys antiques, too, so we visit antique stores occasionally together which is so much fun!

2) This kind of goes along with the above one . . . I love old books! And not only the lovely covers and bindings and the
beautiful pictures, but there is just something about an old book that is . . . well, I don’t even know how to describe it (those who love old books themselves will know what I am meaning! :) But it's not just any old book that I like . . . My sister and I have recently discovered at a couple of different antique stores (and a library book sale) quite a few literary treasures written in the mid to late 1800’s and a few in the early 1900’s. These books that we have found are not only wonderful stories, but they are also full of scriptural truth. So not only is one getting ‘entertained’ (and I use that term loosely :) while reading them, but the heart (if it is open to the Lord) is being convicted. And little by little my collection of these wonderful books is growing!

3) Quality time . . . this is perhaps the greatest and most important thing to me in relationships with others (especially my family). Spending time with them, and especially in conversation together with deep, ‘intellectual’ conversation being the most meaningful. While I always enjoy the small talk and chit-chat, I especially love the times when I can sit down one-on-one with someone (or in smaller groups) and talk about scriptural topics, world issues, plans/goals, things to do/how to do them, and other similar things.

4) I am a 'morning person' [though, I still like staying up late sometimes, too. :) Especially when Leah and I get to talking . . . fun times!] There is something about getting up early while it is still dark outside, being able to see the sun gradually bring light and warmth to the day, reading my Bible, taking a morning walk, taking care of chores while the dew is still heavy on the grass, or any other number of things. Plus, mornings seem to be the most profitable times of the day for me as well.

5) I do not like going into caves (though I do not mind the ones that are set up for tours such as Carlsbad Caverns [which I’ve been to once]) . . . the squeezing through tight spaces, being in such thick darkness, and being underground is not terribly appealing to me!

6) Anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time will probably have the idea that I like vegetable gardening. :) But it’s not just the actual gardening that I love, but the wonderful feeling of growing, providing and preserving our own food. The whole idea of living more self-sufficiently is something that I (and my family) love to learn about as well as try to implement more into our lives. Our little just-under-four-acres cannot support much, but we now have fruit trees, blueberry bushes, a large vegetable garden and chickens, with more planned to be added in the future!

7) I have a terrible sense of direction! Going exploring in the woods alone is definitely not advisable for me as I’d likely never make it back! ;)

8) Singing is something that I love to do! Especially with my sister. :) We very much enjoy sitting around the piano together while I play hymns, and she’ll sing the melody and I’ll sing the alto. Dishes time is also another ‘singing time’, and it gets even more fun when Mama joins in as she is so good with different harmonies. I have learned a lot about harmonizing by just listening to her and then trying to follow along as best as I can.

9) And while we’re on the topic of music :) . . . I am a ‘note-reader' when it comes to playing music. Playing by ear is not something that comes even remotely easy to me, but I have finally started to be able to pick out simple melodies on the dulcimer and fiddle. It always takes me awhile, though!

10) Flowers are something that I love . . . whether in the garden, in fresh arrangements, dried, or pressed. And just about any and all kinds of flowers (as long as they are not the exotic and more strange looking ones) . . . iris’s, roses, daisies, sunflowers, black-eyed susans, larkspur, daylilies, morning glories, mums, pansies, violets, and the list could go on and on!

So there you have it! Ten (hopefully interesting :) things about me. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Card Making

We have had some fun times with the girls in our girls group recently, and one of those times was spent making thank you cards for Miss Lila (the lady who shared all of the tea party items with the girls.) The girls did such a wonderful job making the cards, and it warmed Leah's and my hearts to see what they had written inside. How much these girls have grown over the years!


(just a note - the cards at the end of the table were sample cards. :)

Diligently working away

Starting on the front of her card

Stopping for a smile

Our lesson for the day was on looking for ways to bless others and then giving of ourselves to do it (and we used the gift of the tea party items as an example.) This is showing a heart of love and service to others, as well as generosity and unselfishness. We then looked at several verses and discussed them as we went along . . .

. . . through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.” (Romans 15:2)

After reading and discussing these verses, we talked about practical examples of ways to serve and bless those around us (and this does not necessarily mean giving physical things.) Looking for ways to bring joy into other's lives and to build them up in the Lord . . . it can be something as simple as a smile, a kind word, or even doing the dishes with a cheerful heart.

We then turned it around a bit and asked the girls something along the lines of "as the recipient of a loving service, how should we respond?" The girl's answer to that question led to the card-making. :) Once the cards were all made, we had a pleasant time visiting and cross-stitching until it was time for the girls to go.

So that was one of the special times that we have had together recently!