Nov 23, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Menu~

Thanksgiving Dinner 2011


Sage Rubbed Turkey
Delaware Farm Dumplings
Green Bean Casserole
(*the Green Bean Casserole was changed to
Lima Beans because my in-laws brought some
wonderful fresh beans from Delaware)
Corn Pudding
Baked Stuffing
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Homemade Applesauce
(*We left applesauce out because we had plenty of food!)
Seven-up Jello Salad
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Homemade Butter

Pumpkin Pie
Peanut Butter Pie
(*The P.B. pie was made 2 days later to go with leftovers!)
Cherry Cheese Pie Dessert
Cream Puffs
(These did not materialize since they are so time consuming.)

Lots of food means lots of leftovers! 
And, I like leftovers! 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
We have so many blessings to count.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

                                                              Psalm 100 

Nov 22, 2011

The Little Stranger ~

I am thankful for LIFE, LOVE, PRAYER, FORGIVENESS, GRACE, PEOPLE, CHILDREN, BEAUTY, FOOD, a HOME, and every opportunity to make a difference! Life is good!!
** Yesterday, I was coming out of our small town (604 population) pharmacy and a little hunched over woman leading a old blind woman were walking toward me, crossing the street. I was zipping past on my quest to get home, when the plain little woman said, "You have a nice Thanksgiving, ma'am." Whoa! Smack. Am I too busy? Too focused on my day? She made me smile, as I wished her the same.
 ·  · about a minute ago

Look familiar? Facebook. This was my Facebook post for the day. That woman really had an impact on me. She was small, plain and humble. She was most likely poor. Many in our area are. Yet, she left a mark on me with just a few kind words. Oh, that I could do that every chance I get.

We are getting into the holiday season. People are more warm and fuzzy. But are they really? Or is it that the holidays give them something acceptable to say, where at other times they would be at a loss for kind words? Kindness begets kindness, oftentimes. And when it doesn't...let your kindness be the last thing that old grump remembers.

We are such a blessed people, even in the midst of the messes we create or in the midst of circumstances, we are still very blessed. We should be sharing our blessings, encouraging others to do the same by our example. That little lady was an example to me yesterday.

Often God uses people like her. She is not all puff and fluff. Not adorned, not dressed fashionably. Though those are not bad things, they can distract us from our character. They can cause me to compare myself to others. There will always be someone more beautiful, better dressed and with a nicer home or car. Someone with a better job. But, that's not where it's at. It's in the heart of man that matters are settled.

If we focused on the things that matter more than things, we could see our relationships thriving. I heard news yesterday of a divorce. It always breaks my heart. Times get hard. Don't turn against your friends, your family, your spouse. Encourage, lift up one another, don't be easily offended. We never know what someone else is going through.

Well, I could go on and on...It's Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for the grace of God that gives me strength when I am weak. I am thankful to know his salvation, and have a changed heart.

25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
 29That no flesh should glory in his presence.
 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1 

Nov 21, 2011

The Little Brother Football Game- 2011

Last Saturday, we hosted a home-schoolers' football game. This was a great way to spend an afternoon doing something the boys would enjoy, and it cost us nothing. Just some popcorn for sustanance- homemade Kettle Korn, and homemade cheese popcorn. Easy.

 The idea was for the big boys to get together, grunt, spit, get dirty and see who was the "top dog," as big boys like to do, but in the midst of it all we ended up with a bunch of younger brothers.

 Hence a game of younger players went on alongside the older boys' game. While Ron looked after the older boys, it was my job to keep the younger game in line, and take some fun pictures in the process! 

The huddle of Team Super Hero.

Run Caleb run!
 The big ones did a fabulous job of making the little one feel very BIG!

And Team Super Hero throws...

This is Team Hugger. Well, at least two of them. 
After a while, the one in blue shirt was traded to the Super Hero team and the more 
gentle spirited Super Hero player was traded to team Hugger. LOL! 
That was NOT a good idea. Super Heroes and Huggers need to be mixed to keep a balanced team.

Looking for the interception!


Warrior face! Wow.

Happy face! Sweet victory.

Hence the name, "Team Super Hero." 
(The one on the end was traded to the "Hugger" team.) 
He could be on my team any day, I love those Huggers. :)
NOTE: I did not actually call them these names. Their differences were apparent during the game, but the names just came to me as I went over the photos! 

This one is blurry, but I love the expressions.

Tackled and lovin' every minute of it!

Comin' Through!

 Not too many boys would say this is a bad thing.
 Pretty cool whether you're on the top or bottom of the pile.

 They're tough looking, if I do say so! 
Most importantly, a great afternoon was had by all.

 And this is the littlest player, who loves leaves. 

During the game, a pile of leaves easily caught his attention.

We grown-ups miss out on these simple pleasures.

The End.
Oh, yeah.

Nov 19, 2011

Venison Sage Sausage

Venison Sage Sausage

6  pounds trimmed venison 
1  pound pork fat (our local grocer gives away 10# packages of pork trimmings for free)
5 Tbsp. kosher or pickling salt
1 Tbsp. ground white pepper ( black works fine also)
2  Tbsp. rubbed sage
1  tsp. ginger
1  Tbsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. ground Thyme
1  Tbsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1 pint ice water

Grind meat well. (Sometimes it takes two grindings to get meat finely ground and the fat mixed in throughly.) 
Mix spices and stir into ice water. Be sure salt dissolves well.
Pour over ground meat and mix.
When you think you're done mixing, mix 5 minutes more. Be thorough. 

Lastly, I fry a sausage patty (Never over high heat! Lean, grass fed meats need lower heat. High heat will dry them out and make them taste bad.) Cook slowly using medium heat and do not overcook. 
Taste test your sausage and add more seasonings according to your taste, if necessary. 

Makes 10 lbs. 


Laundry Room Redo & Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

This was a summer project that I've been very long in sharing! I wish I had a before picture of our laundry room. The truth is, it was so ugly, I never thought to photograph it. One day, I realized how much I hated the orange-ish paint that made me want to get out of there as fast as I could. Funny how some colors affect different folks in certain ways. Since that room requires a great deal of my time, I decided to find some leftover paint (which was a calming light brown/tan color) and give that room a new look. 

Next, Joel was recruited for painting...and did a fine job! In the midst of painting, we noticed that the flooring  could use replacing. It was cheap and icky. But, I did not want to spend much $ and I wanted it done NOW! ( I am usually not very patient once I get started on something. I can say things like, "Do you really need to eat? Fasting is good for you. We're almost done.")

And then, my wonderful husband took me to Lowe's, where we purchased some vinyl flooring and trim boards. He also decided to buy a utility sink! Yay! 

While we were at Lowes, this was going on at home...

Dylan and Jake were hard at work tearing out the old floor.
The room had already been painted here, but you can see the icky orange at the base of the wall.
(It was originally painted that color because I had leftover paint from when the girls talked me into painting the foyer that color! But, I don't spend my time in the foyer, so it doesn't bother me there.)

Laundry waits for no-one!
Not even a picture of a pristine laundry room.
 You can see the trim and baseboards are on
 (our home is rustic so 1x4's worked nicely for that).
The shelf holds each boy's stack of clothes and that handy hamper allows us to sort
as the dirty things are brought in daily. 
The new sink was installed by my handy husband. 

I couldn't help but to add some extra touches to make to make the room homey
and pleasant to spend time in. 

This was ugly and outdated, but easily brightened up with some 
cream colored crackle paint and rubbed with sandpaper.

This little touch was a gift from my mom.

These were courtesy of the thrift shop.
 The basket holds stain remover, dryer sheets and a little jar to collect my laundry "tips."
That lovely blue canning jar catches the clothes pins. 

This quilt was made by my great-great grandma and has been in a trunk for years. It seemed fitting to display it next to my grandma's washboard. The "quilt rack" is freebie from my mother-in-law. She gave me a few of these she got from Lancaster, PA. She used them to hang curtains and display her things above her windows. It's good to find a good use for them here.

Behind the door hides our ironing necessities.

The ironing board was a $2 thrift store buy and  the cover was bright blue, stained, and not very pleasant to look at. I was going to throw the cover away and looked at come cute $12 covers, then realized some fabric I had on hand, also from the thrift store, would look great on it. 

After a good movie, and some hand sewing, I had a great new look for my $2 ironing board.
I hand sewed because I wanted to relax and watch the movie, not sit at a noisy machine.
 Machine sewing would have worked fine.

 I basically laid the fabric I had over the board, cut around the board, leaving two inches or so to turn under, then turned it under and pinned it over the ugly blue top, gathering the corners as I went. The old blue cover is still there; that's its edging the brown fabric is sewn to. 

So, that's our laundry room re-do. Fun and simple. :)

In keeping with the laundry theme.... here's a great way to save your family some money!

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap 

(for front or top loading machine) 

                    4   Cups - hot tap water
                    1   Fels-Naptha soap bar 
                    1   Cup – Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda 
                    ½ Cup Borax
                    Additional water as called for

*Since making your own laundry detergent is popular right now, Walmart, Ace Hardware and other big name stores are carrying the ingredients at good prices. However, if you cannot find them at a store near you, they are available online.


~Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with4 cups of water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

~Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

~Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (It will gel)

~Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons for a nice fragrance, though I like the way it smells originally. (Essential oils are available online or at health food stores)  Add once soap has cooled. Some ideas are lavender, rosemary or tea tree oil.

*Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

Usage: Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

                  Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Nov 12, 2011

Mint Tea ~ A Family Tradition

When I was a young girl, my great-grandfather grew mint around his farm. Here and there, I would come across the smell, then look and look until I found it. To this day when I smell it I think of "Opa" (grandfather in German), and how he loved to tend gardens of both flowers and vegetables,
and I remember his gentle nature and sweet smile.

Here are my great-grandparents, Louise and Frederick Mueller, who came from Germany in 1927 on a steamer ship. Our daughter, Kaitie, uses the trunk they brought their belongings in to decorate her home. I should tell their life story sometime.

 Here's a little preview...

 He was Russian & German. She was Polish. He used his mother's maiden name instead of his given name, Mesekow, because of World War I . You see, it was not good to be a Russian living in Germany at that time. In the war, he was wounded on the head by a Russian Cossack as he ducked behind a fallen tree. The horse soldier had jumped the tree and hit him with a sword.

It seems like the our ancestors' stories are so much more interesting than our's sometimes.

Not that I want that to happen to me.

His profession was a gardener. He created and kept wonderful gardens for important people.

Though I'm a far cry from a wonderful gardener, I also do what I do for some important people.
 Our family and friends!

Over the years, I have learned to enjoy watching plants grow and the good things they produce...
and I wish I had Opa here now to ask him a million questions.

~ ~ ~ ~
Well, I started this post talking about, back to the mint.
It is very good for you and it's very simple to use...

The first step in this process is finding a mint plant!
We happened to find one growing by our creek. Can you believe it?!
So we just transplanted it to a spot by the house.
I believe Lowes, Walmart and the like, sell it too.

There is peppermint and what I have, spearmint. Peppermint is stronger and has stronger medicinal properties. I think I will add some to the herb garden come springtime. Spearmint is easy to grow, but it does not like very dry soil. It will produce essential oils in a sunny location, but also grows in part shade. The plant will spread, but can easily be divided and transplanted (or given as gifts). Small spiked flowers bloom in late June through August. Gather the mint by cutting the stalks a few inches above the root when the plant is first starting to bloom. Do this on a dry day, but before the sun gets too hot and the oil is drawn from the leaves. 

Mint is used to treat fevers, headaches, digestive disorders, and a variety of minor ailments. Spearmint is thought to have agents that reduce vomiting, relieve and remove gas from the digestive system and give strength and tone to the stomach.  It is also made into a poultice to relieve bruising and used in folk remedies against cancer. Again, both are good, but peppermint is the stronger of the the two.    

Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint, hence it was used as a strewing plant. It was strewn all around (tossed around the house) to keep rodents away. 

Here is mint drying in our kitchen. (See, no mice.)

After cutting the sprigs from the plant, I wash them and let them dry a bit in a colander. 
Then I tie the mint in bunches with cotton string and hang it to dry.
It will dry in a handful of days. 

After it dries, I pull the leaves off. 
Well, it's more like crumbling them away from the stems.

I firmly hold the bunch of mint in one hand and use my other hand
 to squeeze and work the leaves from the stems collecting them in a bowl.

Pick out any stem pieces that fall into the leaves.  

Then find a pretty jar, or any jar you want, to store it in.
I like this 1/2 pint jelly jar.

You also will want a tea scoop. I realize there is probably a more appropriate name for this, but that seems to fit. So, you need a "tea scoop."  Or, I am thinking cheese cloth or some other fine material would work to contain the leaves. Just tie it tightly. 

I always have a few little green leaves in my tea. 
I like that.

 The Tea Scoop in action. :) 

I fill the bottom of it with a few pinches of mint leaves- about a teaspoon.

Place it in your favorite fifty cent cup from the thrift store, because that makes it taste better, 
and add boiling water. Let it steep 3-5 minutes.

I swirl the tea around and let it steep longer since I like a strong mint flavor. 

Then add some home grown raw honey from your neighbor, if you have a neighbor that sells honey.
 If not, go get some from your health food store. It is so much better for you than store bought! 


Nov 9, 2011


About the worst feelings a person can have are being lonely and feeling misunderstood- or not understood at all. Those feelings are so isolating. Feelings aren't necessarily reality. But, they are very real to the person feeling them. 

It's easy for that to happen today with our texting, emailing, busy, busy lives. Someone posts something on Facebook and gets 21 likes and 12 comments- and it leaves them feeling good. Two weeks later they post something and get nada, nothing, zilch. Let that happen three or four times, and now they're doubting themselves, their worth, their friendships. 

Maybe it's a wife who gives her husband a hug and kiss and he seems disinterested, or she has things to say and he doesn't know how to listen. Or a husband who has had it rough at work, pressures weighing on him like bricks, and all he is getting is the feeling his efforts aren't good enough.

This can happen with children, parents, siblings, friends and all human beings who have any sense of who they are. 

We not only feel rejection, we all also have the power to communicate rejection to people, whether we are aware of it or not. Not taking time for people when they know you have the time communicates rejection. Not caring about how you speak to someone communicates rejection. Not being grateful repeatedly can communicate rejection. Not listening sends the message that the person talking is not important. 

I'm a born again Christian (John 3:7), and as I think about the power I have to make others feel rejected, I remember the rejection Jesus faced when he walked this earth. He was spit upon, mocked, beaten and crucified. And not just at the end of his life, but from the beginning of his ministry he was rejected in various ways.  He deserved none of it.

When I am the one feeling rejected and down, I can look to Jesus. He deserved much less than I do. He was sinless- perfect. Looking at him, I can know I am not alone. I can pray, and go to one who truly understands, and who has the power to help me through it.

1 Peter 2:4 

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious..

Nov 4, 2011

Extreme Makeover- Mailbox Edition

When we moved here to small town, mid-west, U.S.A., our address came with the option to use this abandon mailbox from a vacant house that looked worse than the mailbox. Ron was sorta for it; I was grossed out. So he put in a nice, standard black box. 
But every time we got a package, there was a note in the clean mailbox to get the package out of the gross mailbox. So, after Ron's suggesting (several times over the last few years), today we had Extreme Makeover- Mailbox edition. 

The exterior of the mailbox before...

This is what we started with. The old mailbox suffered from a rotten, bug infested "foundation." There were bullet holes allowing the water in the mailbox and all sorts of other problems that were not conducive to a healthy environment for our mail. 

The interior...eeww. Just EEEEEWWW.

First we demolished the old structure.
 Explosives would have been desired by my volunteers, but I didn't give the option.
Old mailbox on the ground so we could redo its foundation; taking down of our current mailbox in progress. 

New foundation going on, using the giant bolts from the previous box.
 They got the job done.

My tool box- don't be critical. I am a woman. 
 I'm not sure where the football comes in. 

Old mailbox remounted. I also used painters caulk and filled in the bullet holes.

Next we put cement into the ground around the bottom of the post. 
The old post was solid, but leaned backward. 

Then the paint crew came in. The volunteers did not agree with the designer's choice of  color, but were assured when they have their own home someday, their mailbox can be whatever color they like.

We also put rock around the base to hold her steady while the cement set.
 Then we decided to put rock all the way around the base and leave it. 

Next the old box got some dressing up.

Jake spray painted the inside. 

Although this project had a rough start because teen boys think that mom knows nothing about man things like building or fixing anything, they were humbled and we had fun. 

The old girl is still in rough shape, but it's a rural mailbox. 
I don't care about the roughness. The thing is probably 50 years old.

It really is straight. The picture is crooked. 
And the post needs some staining another day, when I have stain.

But, I am thrilled with the results. And the boys had to admit, 
though they would rather have blue flames,
 it is nice.

Surprise, Mr. Mailman!

Welcome home, Wright family mail.
 Welcome Home!