December 29, 2009

It's That Time AGAIN....

It's the time of year when alot of us go through the 'end of year' evaluations. What worked, what didn't work, what can we do differently or better then the last year? Looking back over 2009 it was a year of change. I suppose every year holds change, but this year  was a bigger change then previous years. I worked myself out of a job....  our last two 'kids' Autin & Audrey, graduated from high school! Granted everyone still lives at home, but they are all 'young adults' ready to face what comes their way in life. The challange that comes with this is....

as a mom, I need to allow them the blessing of making mistakes. Talk about hard! Just yesterday as Travis was heading out for the evening, he was slipping on his canvas shoes (no warmth & not much tread) and I just couldn't help myself! LOL I reminded him that it was *snowing* and those shoes won't do much good in this weather! He smiled at me and put on more substantial footware then headed towards the door.... again, hmmmm, 'Trav, you might want to take a coat, that hoodie isn't gonna be warm enough if you get caught in the storm!' LOL Oh boy, do I have alot to learn! As this was happening, I was also chatting with my cousin on the phone who was overhearing all of this conversation....  'Mel, how old is he now?' I know... I know... BUT I bet EVERY mom would have done the same thing!! Good thing we all have a great relationship! My kids laugh and we talk about the 'mom thing'... they know it is hard and love me in spite of it! LOL :) 

Change! Who in the world deals with that well?
Our most recent family picture taken in June 2009
Me, Travis, Audrey, Austin, Abby (Austin's girlfriend) and Pete

Looking forward to 2010 and wondering what awesome and special things God has in store for us!

Focus for 2010....  HOPE

Dictionary definition of hope
 HOPE : verb
1: to cherish a desire with anticipation
2: to long for with expectation of obtainment
3: to expect with confidence, trust

 Jeremiah 29:11 says,
 "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.
 "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a HOPE."

Hebrews 6:11-12 says,
"Our greatest desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you HOPE for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead you will follow the example of those who are going to inhereit God's promises because of their faith and patience."

Praying that each of you who reads my blog will also experience the hope that only comes from knowing the One true God, the I AM, the Lord God Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is through Him that we can have true hope!

November 28, 2009

When Did Frugality Become a New Trend??

I just read an article on another website asking for ideas from anyone who was returning to 'the old ways' of doing things during these financially stressful times. That piqued my attention immediately thinking I'd find some awesome ideas! I had to chuckle when I read the topics she already had listed:

Baking bread    (check)
Living with cash instead of credit (check)
Cloth diapers instead of disposable (We did do that when we were at home! LOL)
Growing your own food (check)
Libraries (check, Although recently I've had a good supply of hand me down books!)
Lay away plans (I don't think the stores offer that any more...)
Christmas clubs (Hmmm, why did I stop doing this?)

They had a few other ideas such as using a cobbler for our shoes (not that the quality of shoes now-a-day is worthy of a cobbler if you could even find one!), leasing to buy, renting one time use items instead of buying them such as a wedding dress or tools etc., public transportation and making your own cleaning supplies.
I guess the biggest question in my mind is.... WHEN DID WE STOP DOING THESE THINGS!? :) Alot of us still live like this. We were raised with frugality in our blood I guess. Naturally we all splurge occasionally, but who can live without frugality is more my question! Early in my marriage a favorite publication was "The Tightwad Gazette"... yes, there is such a thing! And what was a 3-4 page newsletter folded and mailed monthly, is now sold as a book called "The Complete Tightwad Gazette"!

FRUGAL:  is the practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services to achieve a longer term goal.

STRATEGIES: reduction of waste, curbing costly habits, supressing instant gratifications, using financial restraint (self-control), not getting trapped in the social norms,  etc.     (as defined by Wikipedia)

Sounds like simple wisdom to me!! I sure hope we have been able to model this type of living for our kids! There are sooo many traps out there in the big, wide world, and yes, we've all fallen into some of them...  but I hope & pray we all can see clearly now the wisdom our parents & grandparents!


"Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows."   Proverbs 13:11

November 22, 2009

Cranberry Jelly

I found an awesome recipe on Food In Jars  for "Cranberry Jelly"!

I've made cranberry bread, cranberry sauce and I've added cranberries to stuffing... but I've never made cranberry jelly before!

This was a 'had to make' recipe for sure especially now that Thanksgiving is only a few days away!

After cooking the cranberries, sugar and a little apple cider till the cranberries pop and cook down a bit, I put them the sauce through a food mill to remove the skins.

This is the first jelly that I've made that didn't call for 'Sure Jell' or any kind of pectin in the recipe! I was a little skeptical to be honest, but it did solidify quite nicely!
And here they are.... the finished product!! Can't wait to try it on toast in the morning!! I bet it would be a wonderful glaze on a pork roast too! :) 

November 11, 2009

Mrs. Hacker's Chicken & Noodles.....

I tried something new today....  a friend's special family recipe! It was not too hard to make, a little time consuming, but the outcome is well worth the effort!    These are the noodles drying..... 

Here's the chicken all cooked, cut up and ready to go back into the broth with the noodles!

Broth with noodles cooking & chicken added back in!

One confession...  the recipe does NOT call for peas... but for those of you who know me well, you know I can never make ANY recipe without adjusting something!

October 31, 2009

Ana Sapphira.... (or, The Boys' First Music Video!)

I wanted to share with you the first music video that Ana-Sapphira has put out there!! Austin is the bass player and Travis is one of the guitar players! It isn't the style of music that I particularly enjoy, but they enjoy it and we support them!! They are all Christian guys and their desire it to play Christian Metal....   

October 27, 2009

Broccoli Soup (Cheater's Version)

Ok, confession time...  this isn't ALL home made as I bought a 'packaged' soup starter. Over the weekend I was in the grocery store and found 'Broccoli Soup' by Bear Creek. I looked it over and decided it would be ALOT easier to use this as the base and add to it then to start from scratch. I know, I don't often take this road, but I must admit, this time, it was worth it!

Broccoli Soup                   (Cheater's Version)

1 pkg. Bear Creak Broccoli Soup mix.  Follow the directions on the package.....  Keep this warm either in the stew pot you are using or in your crock pot!

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. Broccoli Crowns (I used only the flowerettes cut off into smaller pieces, washed). Put the broccoli into a separate pan with water to cover them. Boil until soft. (OPTIONAL: You can also add a couple of diced potatoes to cook along with the broccoli.)
1 lb. diced ham  Add the ham in with the cooked broccoli to warm through.

I added the broccoli/ham along with the water to the prepared soup starter. This added the extra fluids I felt it needed for the consistancy I prefer but, you can always drained the water out first if you'd like! 

I allowed the soup to sit for a few hours in the crock pot on warm before serving. Because it is nice and thick, this soup does very well in bread bowls! Optional serving suggestion: Add fresh grated cheese to the top of soup! YUMMY!

Seafood Chowder

Seafood Chowder   (my version)
1/2 stick butter
2-3 ribs of celery diced
1/2 cup sweet onion (more if you like, diced or sliced)

Sautee the vegetables for a few minutes then add:

6-8 diced medium sized potatoes 
water just to cover potatoes

Allow this to slow boil until the potatoes are soft but not mushy. While the veggies are cooking, get your seafood ready.

1+ lb.  Crabmeat   (real or imitation crab.... cut into bite sized pcs.)
2 cans Whole Baby Clams  (You'll find this in the tuna fish isle, but fresh clams are good too.)

I also added a small amount of lobster. You can add whatever seafood your family likes: shrimp, scallops, haddock etc. Be sure that the seafood is cooked through, especially if you add raw meat!

At this point I add and stir in a little more butter and turn down the heat. The water should be just barey enough to cover the veggies and meat.... and if not, that is ok.

Add 1 quart of LIGHT cream    (You can use evap. milk, non-fat, high fat, totally your preference!)

Gentlely stir and add a little salt & pepper if you'd like. If this is too thick or you feel that you need extra liquids, add either water or milk products. I like to make chowders earlier then the meal I'm serving it at so the flavors have time to meld together!

I put my chowder in a crock pot to keep warm for a few hours. It was thick enough to serve in bread bowls and delicious enough that the guy all wanted seconds and some had thirds!
Whether you make your own bread bowls or buy them at the bakery, this meal will wow  everyone! Take the time to enjoy your family as you enjoy this meal!

October 25, 2009

YUMMY LUNCH TODAY!! :) I Couldn't Wait to Share the BREAD BOWL Recipe!

It has been cold & rainy over the past 30+ hours.... what better meal then a hot chowder! Naturally, in my family we have different opinions of what makes a great soup/chowder! The guys all LOVE seafood chowder (not my favorite thing!) and I Audrey & I enjoy a warm bowl of either corn chowder or broccoli-ham-cheese soup!!
It was my goal for yesterday to make all of this, but it never came to be....  other things became priority, and rightly so! I did get the dough made up for bread bowls and this morning, I let it warm up and rise again then I formed 8 balls of dough while I made the broccoli soup and baked them while I made the seafood chowder!

IT WAS SOOO EASY, I thought you all may want to make them for your favorite stew/soup/chowder too! :)

BREAD BOWLS              (Taste of Home Test Kitchen)

2 Tbsp. dry active yeast
1 Cup warm water  (110*-115* F)
1 Cup warm milk    (110*-115* F)
1/2 Cup shortening
1/2 Cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. salt
6 cups all pupose flour   (I added a little more as I kneaded it)
cornmeal   (to sprinkle on top of bread bowls before baking)

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeart in warm water. Add the milk, shortening, sugar. eggs salt and 2 cups of flour. Mix 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.  Place in greased bowl turning once to grease top. Cover & let rise in a warm place until doubled.  About 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 pieces; shape each into a ball. Grease 2 baking sheets and sprinkle with corn meal. Place four balls on each sheet approx. 3-4 inches apart. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake 350* for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from sheets and allow them to cool.

For bread bowls, cut a thin slice off the top of each bread ball/bowl. Hollow out the bottom half, leaving a 1/4 inch shell. Discard the removed bread or save for another use: bread stuffing or bread pudding!) Fill each bowl with your favorite stew, chowder or chili!  ENJOY!!

October 24, 2009

God's Devotion To Us....

There isn't much one can add to this..... listen to it with tissue in hand! It is beautiful....

October 1, 2009

Pumpkin & Black Bean Chili

After MUCH discussion on face book about this meal, I thought I ought to share my recipe with you! I made it yesterday for our dinner last night... and it was a hit! NO ONE could figure out the 'secret ingredient' which made it all that more worth making again!! I finally gave enough hints and they figured it out AND THEY STILL LIKED IT!! :) Sneaking in extra nutrients is always a good thing! PUMPKIN & BLACK BEAN CHILI

1/2 to 1 Cup sliced onion (I use 1/2 C. Vidalia onion)
1/2 Cup diced green peppers
1/2 Cup diced yellow peppers
1/2 Cup diced red peppers (you can use 1 color pepper or add a little HOT if you'd like)

Saute in oil or simmer in a little bit of water until tender.

Add 1 pound of ground beef (85-90%) and cook until evenly browned.

At this point, I put this in my crock pot and added:

2 Cups of pumpkin puree (YES, you did read that correctly!) I had 2 cups frozen fresh pumpkin, but adding a can of pumpkin will do just fine!!

2 26-28 oz. cans of black beans (drained & rinsed)
2 26-28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
dash of salt
2+ Tbsp. of chili powder (season to taste, adding black pepper optional)

Allow this to cook on low in your crock pot or simmer in a big stock pot on your stove top! I had it in my crock pot for a few hours.... then on warm till dinnertime! Serve with dinner rolls, biscuits or fresh bread!! (pictured is a bowl of chili with a slice of Oatmeal-Molasses bread!) Any way you serve it, it will be a hit!
A MUST DO AGAIN RECIPE IN OUR HOUSE! HOPE YOU LIKE IT! Obviously, I cook to feed a crowd & have leftovers!! One of the wonderful things about chili is that you can adjust the amounts or change an ingredient if you want and it will still come out delicious!! ENJOY!!

September 14, 2009

An Amazing Whale Watching Adventure!

Yesterday we went on a whale watching ride! We traveled down to Rye, NH to the marina in order to go out on the ocean with Granite State Whale Watch. What a fabulous day to be out on the ocean! We passed by the lighthouse on White Island (I'm pretty sure I have that name correct) in the Isles of Shoals. We traveled out for about 2 hours which translates into approximately 25 miles. On the ride we saw a pod of around 70 white-sided dolphins swimming & jumping around and then we saw 5-6 fin whales blowing & surfacing for us!! It was incredible!!AND THEN WE SAW HIM.... a beautiful (if that is possible) humpback whale! He is known as Tigris and he was born in 1984 making him 25 years old. He was in an amazingly playful mood and he kept us all entertained for probably an hour!! He would surface & blow and dive under the boat ... bumping it a couple of times for fun, and then come up on the other side of the boat!! He was so close that we could feel the spray as he blew a couple of times!! :)
See how his fin is kinda green looking! That is because of the plankton & other food that was sooo thick in the water for the whales to eat! Here is just coming up from under the boat... He dove a couple of times and lifted his tail out of the water for us to see!! Eventually, we had to leave this amazing spot and head back to shore. We were out from 2-7:30PM and watched a gorgeous sunset!! WOW doesn't even begin to describe this trip!!
Here we are at the end of the day, just getting off the boat chilly & tired!! BUT... fully pumped! I think this will have to be the beginning of a family tradition! Defnately a trip like this should be put onto your 'Bucket List' if you have one!!

June 23, 2009

It is Official.....

June 19th at 7PM (or shortly thereafter...) Audrey & Austin graduated from high school. I LOVE this picture of them together! How special it must be to go through life celebrating the highest points with a twin! They are so sweet! Ya, I know..... I'm the Mom, I'm suppose to think this way right?! Well, ya... but it is also true! :)

What does next year hold for them?? Hmmm, that is the million dollar question! Austin plans to take the next year to work & SAVE money while pursuing his music. He is interested in a school in Florida... MMI (Motorcycle Mechanic Institute) and maybe by this time next year, he'll ready to go. Audrey is looking into some online courses and also taking photography courses a tech. school. Eventually, she'd like to work with young children!

CONGRATULATIONS AUDREY & AUSTIN! We are proud of you both!!

June 15, 2009

Yesterday's Sermon Is Making Me Think....

Yesterday was week 4 of a series called "Roots". The main theme is to allow God to work on each of us in those buried, hidden places of our hearts. The hurts & pains & unforgivenesses that most people carry through life and unfortunately, most times, find that those 'hidden areas' are not so hidden ... but rather used to put a strangle hold on our hearts.

Well, a few of the key things that I heard were:

"Jesus is the ONLY NORMAL person born since the Garden of Eden." (IF we want to look at what is normal .... stop looking side to side and start to look closely at Jesus's life... what he did, how he acted & reacted, how he handled relationships.... etc.) Hmmm, this is a definate nugget to chew on this week!

Our text was from Genesis 3:8-11 specifically looking at the first question in verse 11 which is a question from God to Adam & Eve, "Who told you that you were naked?" Notice Adam didn't answer Him.... but he somehow had figured out how to sew overnight! Did he use roots to sew the fig leaves with? This is word picture of mankind even now.... instead of being transparent with one another, instead of dealing with the hurts, we tend to cover them and allow the roots to grow... and go deeper & deeper within us. Adam & Eve walked with their Maker naked and didn't know it, and that WAS NORMAL. (they walked physically naked, but they also walked transparent & honest... they didn't cover up & hide emotions. They didn't disquise what they were dealing with.... AND THAT WAS NORMAL!) Here's more nuggets to chew on.....

God wants to change the 'cottage' of our lives into a palace! He wants us in relationship with Him. We need to allow Him to gently uncover & start the work of pulling up roots. OK..... a full course meal of nuggets awaits me this week!

June 11, 2009

All Dressed Up and Out on the Town!

Austin & Abby went to her prom the end of May. Austin rented his FIRST ever tux and off they went to "A Night In Paris"! Sounds like fun doesn't it!?! Here they are all ready to go.....

Last Weekend....

Last weekend we hosted a clinic to teach people how to use the mobile processing unit. (Basically, it is a horse trailer with killing cones attached to the inside of the doors, an electric feather plucker and other supplies; table, corrals-pens, fryer pot, propane burner etc.)

We belong to a small, but state wide organinzation that helps beginner & small farmers! This is one of the pieces of equipment that can be rented for use! :) In order for others to rent it, they need to be shown how the stuff is used properly..... that is where we come in! We house it, rent it and hold training clinics each year!!

We had maybe 12 people here Saturday morning ...... lots of fun! OK, if you remove yourself from the actual activity, and focus on meeting new people who have a common goal which is: raise our own food! It is fun to hear the stories, compare notes and trade ideas!!

After we were all done and cleaned up, one of the men was able to teach us how to process two of our rabbits. I know.... DON'T get all worked up, it was quick & easy! I was able to do most of it!!
For our first dish, I used a friend's recipe for chicken pie and substituted rabbit for chicken! I have to say.... the meat is very mild, very tender and very good! There is a difference, but not a bad difference. Will we do this again? Well, voting from all 6 eaters in our family say YES!

FYI: none of the rabbits that you have seen on this blog were 'processed'. :) Thus far, our policy is that if they have names.... they stay on the farm!

April 26, 2009

Playing Catch-Up!

It has been a while since I've posted..... I thought I'd show you what I've been preoccupied with! :) Since my last post, we've added 5 new rabbits to the 'herd'. Yup, that is truly what it is called! The first time I used that word referring to the rabbitry, Pete laughed at me! And, I have to admit, I chuckled too when I first read it being used in reference to rabbits! Generally, we think of the 'herd' of cattle Pete's family has raised forever! Oh well..... this herd will be much easier to deal with! :)

These are the two we brought home Friday morning! Introducing Anna & ??..... actually, we haven't decided for sure on the other name! :) These little beauties are Californian Rabbits...... most noted for the dark ears, nose, tail & feet and white bodies! We also got a Californian buck on Saturday morning (not entirely sure of his name yet) and 2 New Zealand does a few weeks ago!! They have been named Gracie & Clara! I think we have finished buying our stock.... at least for now!! :) We've been busy building cages and deciding how to arrange everyone!

Since it is such nice weather around here (finally), we brought the bucks outside and hung them on the outside of the barn..... they seem quite happy with this arrangement! Above is Max (NZW) and Jackson (Flemish Giant). And below are Silas (NZW) and Sinatra.... our mystery buck!We call him our 'mystery buck' because are aren't too sure what breed he is..... he is a big, beautiful buck with blue eyes!! We have sent his picture to someone who will hopefully be able to tell us what his opinion of breed is! Until then..... 'mystery buck' sounds good! :)

Soooo, that is what I've been up to as of late! I am still driving a 'school bus' (ok, a mini-van) in the AM & PM and trying to get the 'spring clean-0ut' done! I tackled my 'to-do list' this past week while I've been on 'April vacation' and I did manage to cross a few things off! (BUT, I STILL HAVE LOTS MORE TO GET DONE!)

Until next time..... please enjoy a tall glass of iced tea and a good book! Find a hammock, a yard swing or a bench near a brook and treat yourself to a mini-vacation! Ahhhhh, don't you feel better already! :)

April 12, 2009

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever,

with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose!


Christ arose!

~Robert Lowry~


March 24, 2009

Spring Fever Anyone??

Does anyone else have spring fever?? We've had the most beautiful weather the past few days that I'm ready, no, more then ready for spring! The snow is melting, the mud is appearing, the load limit signs have been hung with care, the sap is boiling into maple syrup, the bunnies are growing, the chickens are finally laying more eggs!! YEAH.... spring is in the air!

Everything is ready for warmer weather! Audrey and I went to Connecticut this past Sunday to pick up two New Zealand White rabbits (does) and all the way down we could see 'spring' arriving! We were in Waterbury and they have GREEN grass!! HURRAY! I know, for those of you who live in warmer climates, you may think I'm a bit nutty..... but it has been a LONG time for us who have been seeing white ground everywhere!

Today the temperature is 42* and there is a bit of cool breeze, but the sun is shining absolutely beautiful!! God's creation is awakening and shouting for joy all around us!

Next sign on spring..... potato salad and veggies & meat on the grill!! (Can't hardly wait!)

March 8, 2009

New Babies...

Hazel is checking out her babies!
Here's a quick peek! They are about a day old here.... we took a quick count, I think we saw 9 or 10 babies! YIKES!!

Here they are at 5 days old! (Update: We counted 11 babies, WOW!! Unfortunately, 2 of them died.)
Their eyes opened around 10 days old and here's a 2 week old picture that we took with a cellphone camera! A few of them have started jumping out of the nesting box... but they can't get back in! :) We carefully pick them up and put them back in, wearing a glove and under the watchful eye of 'Mama Hazel'!

March 6, 2009

A Little Snow Fun....

Over the past few weeks, TJ has taken his snowboard and a shovel out to the field and made himself a pretty good trail & jump! It looks flat in these pictures, but there is a definate slope that makes him go pretty fast!
He's had lots of fun as you can see! Last weekend, Audrey took her camera and went out to the trail with him.
She caught quite a few good action shots of him going over the jumps! He landed most of the jumps...... but sometimes they landed him instead!

March 1, 2009

Happy 19th Birthday Audrey & Austin!

Today is a day of celebration in our family!! This is the day we celebrate the gift of two amazing children! Ok, maybe they aren't technically 'children' anymore... but they will always be so in our hearts! :) I love this picture... it is actually posted on my refigerator!! :) They are about 2 1/2 yrs. old and donning new sweaters that my mom had knitted for them!
We had a wonderful day! The day started with a surprise phone call from friends in Austria!! What a blessing that was! :) Then we went to church together (Austin left early as he was playing in the worship team). After church we went to "The Weathervane" for a seafood dinner! The day was finished up with cake and ice cream! Austin requested his usual favorite 'Jello-Cake' and Audrey actually made her own cake this year... trying to duplicate a 'coffee' cake (not to be confused with a coffee-cake) that they had in Honduras! (IT WAS YUMMY!)

This picture was taken this past summer at my mom's church! They have grown up from the cute little toddlers into wonderful young adults! You are blessings to us! We love you!! Happy Birthday Audrey & Austin!!