Saturday, November 27, 2010

Making Apple Butter is a Snap!

I'm very grateful today for friends and family. Yesterday we went to a friend's house down the street and helped them make apple butter for a while. Here are some photos I thought you'd enjoy.

First you peel the apples.

And peel.

And peel some more.
(That's my husband, Drew, by the way.)

Until they look like this.

Then you dump 'em in here.

Then you stir.
(That's my son Peter stirring.)

And stir.

And stir some more.

Then you double-stir.

And double-stir some more.

You look cute for the picture,
And you're done!
Now isn't that easy?

It actually requires A LOT more than this, as I'm sure you know. We're thankful for Twila's father who got up at 3am (yes, you read that right!) to stoke the fire and get started, for Dale and Twila's hard work in getting everything ready, and all the food Twila and her daughters prepared. We were invited to a big breakfast at 6am, but didn't quite make it...

Unfortunately, we had to leave before the canning was started, due to a sudden death in our extended family.

I won' t be posting this coming week, but will return the week of December 6th. I will miss all of you out there, and look forward to catching up when I return.

God bless your week, my friends!

I'm joining Brenda for the Gratitude Challenge today. (I haven't been faithful in posting every day for the Challenge. Thank you for letting me participate this last time before it's done!)

I just learned she's hosting another meme for the month of December, called Holiday Bliss! Yay Brenda! I'll put the link up when I return. The button will look like this:

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Table

I thought you might enjoy a few pictures from my friend Heather's Thanksgiving table. This is from last year.

She really went all out with the decorations. Beautiful. (Pardon the deer head stuck on the wall; they're avid hunters. Not me.)

Hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


A beautiful Wednesday morning. Nice, sunny and clear outside. Supposed to get a little colder today -- in the 60's.

Photo by Jimi Ann

I envy all you in the north enjoying a "real" autumn with chilly weather and blankets of snow!

Today I'm grateful for SILENCE.

I have a day without the children today, which rarely happens. You that homeschool know how it is when you have to practically schedule time to go to the bathroom alone! Forget completing a thought, that's out of the question most days! So, I'm very, very, very, very, VERY grateful for this day when all the children went to Mimi's. (Mimi is their grandmother.) They'll spend the night and we'll meet up with them tomorrow for Thanksgiving at Mimi's. I have to make a few dishes, and I desperately need to make some dresses, but I'll do it in SILENCE. Aaahhhh....blessed quietness.

Photo by Jimi Ann

I'm grateful for the SILENCE. To not have to talk to anyone. The last time I had a substantial amount of time alone, I went the entire day without talking. Yes, from the time I woke up, until the evening when my husband came home. It was WONDERFUL.

I turned off my phone (I just checked it periodically in case there was an emergency or something).

Photo by Jimi Ann

I declared it a mental health day -- a recovery day. Kind of like a sick day, but I wasn't sick. A retreat. We all need retreats, especially when you're with people who need you 24/7. Jesus retreated, and we need it too.

I made myself a nice breakfast and read a devotional with a cup of tea while watching the morning unfold.

Took a loooong glorious sha-bath. (That's a shower, turned into a bath, for those who haven't experienced this luxury).

I did some light cleaning, with no big goal in mind. You know, it's actually relaxing cleaning and putzing around the house when you're alone, and it's quite meditative.

Photo by Jimi Ann

I read. I prayed. And I wrote.

I did everything slowly, purposefully, and was fully in the moment. I exhaled and remembered not to hurry or rush. My shoulders relaxed. My soul was refreshed and quieted.

It's an especially treasured gift today, in light of the hustle-bustle of the holidays coming up. SILENCE. I read somewhere recently, it's my soul learning to breathe again.

Photo by Jimi Ann

I want to share a verse of one of my favorite hymns:

"Blessed quietness, holy quietness,
Blest assurance in my soul.
On the stormy sea Jesus speaks to me,
And the billows cease to roll."

"Joys are flowing like a river,
Since the Comforter has come;
He abides with us forever,
Makes the trusting heart his home."

(Click on the picture of my hymn book above to read the rest of the lyrics if you want to).

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and hope you all have a blessed time of Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Don't forget to breathe!

Again joining Brenda for the Gratitude Challenge. I'm very grateful for her.

I also just discovered Wordless Wednesday, which I'm excited about participating in! Next week, I'll really have a wordless Wednesday, not just write about it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SOUTHERN AUTUMN for Sweet Shot Tuesday

Photo by Jimi Ann in Harmony

In the south, the landscape is unique in the fall. We have the beautiful golden tones of the changing trees, and still have the bright green grass as a contrast. The first frost happens very late in the season usually so the grass stays green through much of autumn.

Some of my recent favorite photos (taken by me) are in this post, and this one.

Visit Darcy at life with my 3 boybarians for Sweet Shot Tuesday to look at some awesome photography. (A lot more awesome-er than mine!!)

Sweet Shot Day

Books, Boys and New Friends

Tuesday. Another day to be grateful. Today I'm grateful for books, boys, and new friends for me.

Last week we went to the library to check out some books on Thanksgiving and The Mayflower. While we were there, we found this book:

As soon as we got home, the activity started. The 3 boys took the book and started making all kinds of contraptions. (One was the tent I showed you last week). Here's a page from the book:

Here's the product from this page:

It really sails! They sailed it in the bathtub, but that wasn't exciting enough. So they all ran down to the creek and sailed it in there. One boat's not enough, so they made this:

My husband went to take a shower that night, and walked out with it in his hand. He had a very puzzled look on his face and asked what in the world was this contraption in the tub. Well, can't you tell, it's a floating-boat-can-contraption-thingie?

They also found in the book how to make kites:


Peter at the park

Up, up and away!

Poor George

I'm also grateful to get to know new friends from Brenda's Gratitude Challenge.

And I've just discovered Branch of Wisdom's A Month of Thanksgiving, met a few friends there, and look forward to visiting more!

Branch Of Wisdom

You ladies have enriched my days in the past weeks...Thank you. I am truly blessed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Grateful for ANCHORS

It's Monday morning. I hope you all had a good weekend!

I'm grateful for a wonderful weekend, albeit a very busy one. Yesterday was great, the meal turned out well, and we had a very nice time of fellowship. We ended up having 38 people here!

Today I'm happy to wake up looking forward to a quiet, "normal" day. Over 12 hours of people, people, people! Although it's fun and needed, it's exhausting.

I'm extra grateful that tonight we've been invited over to another family's home for the evening meal. A little quieter tonight since it'll only be us and them. And, we get to enjoy someone else's labor of love! Yay!

Today we'll straighten up the mess a little, do some schoolwork, and drop those anchors back down.

Large ship's anchor

Anchors are things that we instill in our day that keep us grounded, so to speak. I learned this from Dr. Raymond Moore, one of the early homeschooling pioneers, who wrote a lot of eye-opening books, one being "Better Late Than Early." Anchors are times in your day that you and your family can count on happening. They bring a sense of order.

Some anchors could be:

Breakfast at 8am
Lunch at noon
Afternoon Tea/Quiet Time at 3pm
Afternoon Chores
Dinner at 6:30pm
Family Time in the evening
Tuck in and prayer before bed

Very simple, ordinary things. Some days even just meals and bedtime at the expected time bring a sense of order and peace to a family. When the children can count on these times happening most days, they know what to expect and it keeps them a little grounded.

Obviously, we can't keep as many anchors down when we're not at home, or when special circumstances come up. And it's nice to have healthy diversions and such. But, for the most part, we try to keep our anchors down and the children are much more settled as a result. And when the children are settled and happy, the parents are more settled and happy.

Just a simple little thing that works. I'm grateful for anchors, especially our eternal Anchor, Jesus Christ, Who keeps us grounded even when we have no anchors of our own in place.

"Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest driven soul,
I am peaceful, for I know,
Wildly though the winds may blow,
I've an anchor safe and sure,
That can evermore endure."

For the complete lyrics to this beautiful hymn, click here. What do you think about anchors?

Join Brenda today at Garden of Learning for lots of inspiration on gratitude.

Branch Of Wisdom

I've also linked up with Branch of Wisdom for "A Month of Thanksgiving" Visit there for help in counting your blessings!

Have a blessed week, friends. Please tell me about your weekend or upcoming plans for your week!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Gift of Hospitality

Saturday. Safely through another week.

"This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it."
(Psalm 118:24)

Today I'm grateful for the gift of hospitality
. We're hosting for church tomorrow, meaning we invite any visitors home for the Sunday noon meal. Sometimes this can be up to 40 people! (Our church does everything BIG, and most families are, well, BIG. We're the small family. We're 6.) I really like getting to know the new or visiting families, so this is a good thing -- having them over for a relaxed Sunday meal.

But how can it be relaxed with that many people?? It's doable! We do it by remembering that it's about hospitality, not entertainment.

Preparing ahead of time takes away a lot of the stress.

I'll be spending a few hours today preparing food and cleaning. Here's what I'll make:

2 lbs. noodles, cooked in salt water and drained

6 lbs. ground beef, fried with onions

2 pints peas or green beans

4 cans cream of mushroom soup

2 cans cream of chicken soup

2 cups milk (or more if you want it more soupy)

1 loaf bread, toasted and broken into pieces

Mix all together. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake in electric roaster at 250 for 4 hours. Serves 50.

Sounds easy enough, huh? Pauline already browned the beef for us earlier this week, and we froze it. So, just have to throw everything in this here electric roaster on Sunday morning, turn it on before church and, Wa-lah!

I'm grateful for my electric roaster:

We actually RAN OUT of food once when we had company. How embarrassing is that?? My huge crockpot wasn't huge enough. Next day, my husband ordered me this electric roaster. Great investment.

We'll also make this very easy dish:

Applesauce Jello

4 pkgs. strawberry jello
4 cups boiling water
4 cups applesauce

Dissolve jello in boiling water, stir in applesauce and pop in fridge.

Children love it and it's very filling. For a nice holiday twist, use cherry jello and dissolve 1 cup red cinnamon candies in water before stirring in applesauce. Mmmmm.........

Then, all we need is a nice big salad and extra bread.

We'll also make 2 chocolate cakes. But if we don't get to it, I can always serve Peter-cinnamon rolls! And there you go.

I'm also grateful for children who like to bake. They come in quite handy.

We're very informal when we have lots of people over to eat. We set up the food around the counter, buffet-style, and people just go through the line.

We eat wherever. Some at the table, some in the living room, or some outside on the deck if it's nice. Children usually like to go outside to eat, and they especially enjoy eating on the trampoline! We can do that pretty much year round here, since the weather's mild.

It's about HOSPITALITY, not entertainment.

We don't go crazy cleaning. Pick up stuff people could trip over, make sure there's at least one clean bathroom, quick dust, sweep and vacuum and that's about it. Don't you feel somewhat uncomfortable when you go to someone's house and it's so spic and span you could eat off the floor? The first thing that goes through your mind is, "Hope they don't come to my house!" Clean and sanitary, yes. Fit for a magazine cover, no.

Again, HOSPITALITY, not entertainment. People remember smiles. They remember you being calm enough to sit a spell and chat.

My good friend Mary Alice and her neighbor

They remember your laughter. They remember that they were more important to you than your house.

Celebrating my birthday at Mary Alice's

"And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so, minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (I Peter 4:8-10)

George and Uncle Butch

My engineer husband, who specializes in pipes, just enlightened me about the word "manifold." In the piping world, a manifold is when a pipe branches out into multiple pipes to distribute what's being conveyed or pumped. See:

So that sheds deeper meaning for the verse above. The grace of God we receive as a gift can be "distributed" to others by using the gift of hospitality. Neato! I guess engineering isn't so boring after all! (My husband wants you to click on the picture above and notice the people. It shows how big the pipes are. It's very exciting to him...)

Have a great weekend everybody!

Visit Brenda at Garden of Learning for inspiring posts on gratitude.