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Friday, June 22, 2012

Early Mornings Make For Productive Days!

Dave is currently working on a job that is about an hours drive away so we have been getting up at four-thirty in the morning so he can leave by five-fifteen.  Each morning as I blearily look at the time, yes it is only four-thirty I force myself out of bed with the comforting thought that I can return once I see Dave off to work. But by the time I have started the coffee on the stove, made sandwiches for Dave's lunch, put away last nights supper dishes, I am wide awake and feel no need to go back to bed.  I am getting so much done in the morning, it is wonderful.
Here it is not even nine in the morning, I saw Dave off and have since done done four loads of laundry, three are hanging out and fourth will go out shortly, five loaves of bread are rising and will be ready for baking in about forty minutes, the house is tidy, the chickens and calves are fed, peas picked last evening are shelled, blanched and in the freezer, strawberries picked a few weeks and frozen are now thawing on the kitchen counter in readiness for jam making a little later. I have had my prayer time, done my bible reading, and plan to get some sewing done today.  Dave will be working out of town for the next six weeks or so, and although we don't like getting up so early, once up it is not so bad.
I have several sewing products to work on.  I had blogged recently about a huge gift of fabric and other bits and pieces of sewing notions, in the fabric was a pretty mauve floral calico and I am using some of it to make a dress and bloomers for our grand daughter, Alivia, who is due to arrive in late October. The fabric goes well with a lilac colored cardigan and bonnet I recently finished knitting for Alivia.  The dress is cut out and I hope to get it finished today.  I have made my husband many, many, many, shirts over the years, and I have another one to make for him, it will be a little wild!  We recently made some corn hole sets, a game that is easy and fun to play, I made the toss bags out of flame print fabric, one set was black background with orange flames, the other black background with blue flames, jokingly we said that Dave needed a matching shirt for corn hole, so now he will have one.  The shirt will be in the blue flame fabric, the underside of the collar and the pocket will be in the orange flame fabric - it will be a very loud shirt.  I have joked with all the guys that they should enter a few corn hole team competitions and that I will make them  flame shirts to wear, they haven't taken me up on the offer yet!!  I recently purchased some blue pinstriped poplin to make myself a jumper, I would like to get it cut out today and hopefully finished over the weekend. Poplin is such a comfortable fabric to wear in the summer time as it is light weight.  I have a baby quilt to make for Alivia, I recently went shopping with my daughter-in-love Traci to choose fabric, I haven't yet decided on a block pattern but plan to browse through my quilting books for inspiration.
Well have a blessed day,


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Random thoughts on a Wednesday Morning

Oh another book shelf cleaning took place this morning, I decided to donate the many religious books that I have to our church library, I pray that they will offer comfort, guidance, and inspiration to others. 
I have spent many years seeking the perfect book, the one that will show me how to live a christian life, the one that will inspire me and have all the answers, the one that I can say, "this is it, this is the one!!", and today I can say honestly say that I have found the perfect book, it is the one that all the other books I read took inspiration from, it is one that I have had all along, and of course you know the book I am speaking of because it is the Holy Bible, the Word of God.
I realized, oh if only I had sooner, that reading books written about the book is like drinking powdered milk, it is okay, it offers sustenance, but it really isn't at all like the real thing, and if offered a glass of fresh cold milk, or a cold glass of mixed powdered milk we all know what we would choose.  So I have cleared my path, and really started to read the bible with open eyes and I am learning so much.  At this time I am reading through the Acts of the Apostles, it is the beginning of Christianity, it is an exciting time, miracles are being performed, people are healed, thousands are baptized and committed to being Christian. The early church is forming, people are so on fire, they are selling their homes and possessions to live communally and they put the proceeds at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to each according to need. It wasn't perfect, the people needed guidance and correction, but boy did they have zeal. It is exciting to read.  I have also been reading Proverbs, this book of the old testament has always been a favorite of mine, it is filled with wisdom, and most everything is applicable to 21st century living because people are still essentially the same, some wise, some foolish, some prudent, some lazy, some sinful, some diligent, some faithful, I often chuckle as I read through proverbs, some favorites:

Proverbs 28 19 "He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food, but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty"

Proverbs 26 22 "The words of a talebearer are like dainty morsels that sink into one's inmost being"

Proverbs 25 17 "let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house lest he have more than enough of you, and hate you."

Proverbs 24 33-34 "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest--Then will poverty come upon you like a highwayman and want like an armed man"

What I am I trying to say this morning, well I think it is this, if you want to learn about how to live life as a Christian try reading the book that the Lord gave us, the bible.  

I recently went to Shipshewana, while walking around a man was handing out tracts, I took one when offered, stuffed it in my bag and read it a little later.  It was essentially an offer for a free bible study, so I thought why not, I have always wanted to do a bible study, but have never found one that seemed to be simply a study of the bible, so I went online and submitted my name and address and about a month later my study arrived. It was kind of exciting, in the envelope was a booklet of the Book of John, and lessons 1 and 2. Lesson 1 covered chapter 1 of John, and lesson 2 chapter 2. The questions in each lesson really took me verse by verse through each chapter, I feel as if I know the two chapters almost by heart.  Once done with the lessons there is a test to take.  The test is sealed and not to be opened until the lessons are done, I took the test this morning, it was probably 20 questions, mainly multiple choice, I now have to mail the test back and wait for my next lesson to arrive by mail.  
If you are interested in doing this particular bible study you can sign up for it here,

I mentioned that I had not found a satisfactory bible study in the past, my main dislikes are that they are always for a specific group, for example for new moms, for old moms, for retired people, for working women, for stay at home moms, for dad, for single men, for teens, you name a group you can probably find a bible study aimed at them, perhaps there is one for left-handed basketball players??? Who knows. Anyway, I don't want to read/study the bible through the lens of a category, does that make sense? This mail order bible study, that is FREE, seems to simply be a bible study plain and simple.

And now for something completely different - WE HAVE HOT WATER AGAIN :)  YEA!!  Our water heater, we have a love hate relationship with it, is very temperamental.  Our home was originally all electric when it was built in 1974, at some point natural gas was run to the house, thankfully, and the furnace and water heater are gas, we ran a gas line to the kitchen when we moved in because we prefer to cook with gas.  Because the house was originally all electric we are stuck having to have a power vent gas water heater, there is a fan on top of the water heater to push fumes up and out of the basement to the outside.  A power vent gas water heater costs almost twice as much as a conventional gas water heater.  We replaced the water heater 6 years ago, and have had nothing but trouble with it, parts fail continually, we joke that there is nothing stock on the water heater anymore, every part has been replaced at least once. In reading reviews of our water heater our experience is not unique.  Why do we keep this behemoth, well it is under warranty, and every time it breaks down you simple call the 800 number, explain the problem, and they ship overnight at not charge  a free replacement part. We called on Thursday evening, they wanted my husband to check a couple of things, he did and called back on Saturday morning, they determined the part needed and said it would ship on Monday, it arrived yesterday, so last night Dave drained the water heater and installed new part, he then ate dinner at a rather late hour while waiting for the water to heat.  After dinner he went upstairs and enjoyed a long, hot shower, a nice reward after a job well. done.

Blessings to you,


Friday, June 8, 2012

Emigration Part 3 - Learning to be American!

Once here in America we had a lot to figure out. You would think that moving from England to America would be an easy move after all there is no new language to learn and Americans like English people.  However it was not so easy, leaving one culture for another is a huge transition.
We moved to the US in 1978, I was fourteen, a difficult age for most of us as we are in the process of leaving childhood behind and figuring out how we fit into the adult world.  We had lived in America for two weeks when I started ninth grade, high school was culture shock.  Everything was different, in England we always wore school uniform, every school child in the country wore school uniform. School uniform consisted of the following for girls, black or brown shoes, white knee high socks, gray knee length skirt, white blouse, gray cardigan or v-neck pullover, and school tie. Blazers were expensive and usually optional, and in grade school all girls had to wear navy blue underwear (available from Marks and Spencers). Colors of uniforms varied from  school to school perhaps dark green, or navy blue, or burgundy, rather than gray, but the components were the same. My first day at Homestead High School was eye opening, no school uniform, although most students wore jeans and t-shirts, some looked like they were ready to go out for a night of clubbing.
The very first class I attended was homeroom to start off the new school year, I had absolutely no idea what the term homeroom meant, it turns out the students in my home room had last names beginning with G -K, and occasionally through the year all students had to report to homeroom, I still have very little idea what the purpose of home room is.  I sat by a girl called Brenda, she had color tinted glasses on and was rather strange looking, she asked me if I wanted to see a picture of her boyfriend, I said yes, well imagine my embarrassment when she whipped out a picture of some guy lying naked on a bed!  Welcome to High School.
Being the only English girl in school was a mixed blessing, if anything needed to be read out aloud in class guess who they picked to do it?  As I am a rather shy person by nature the attention my accent brought to me was horrifying, my younger sister Michelle was in seventh grade and although not as shy, she too tired of the constant attention the accent created. We both lost our accents very quickly, I still pronounce some words differently, I say been like bean, not bin, roof for me rhymes with tooth, not ruf, my kids tease me about the way I say orange, apparently I say it differently, people often ask me if I am from the east coast.
My Mom had heard horror stories about drugs in American high schools, she had told us to be very careful and  if anyone ever shoved us up against a locker and tried to force us to take drugs we were to say NO!  For the first few weeks of school I was constantly worried that someone would actually do this, as time wore on I realized that this was not going happen. Sure there were kids who smoked pot, but they didn't push it on people, they were kind of a secretive group.
Gym class was bizarre, the girls had to wear a dreadful light blue and white gym suit, it was a one piece shorts/shirt creation with a zipper up the front and an elastic waistband, it was made to be voluminous if you stretched it out the shorts would come down to your ankles.  We played sports games that I had never heard of, softball, in England we played a game called rounders, dodge ball, never heard of it, jumping jacks I had never heard the expression, basketball, in England girls only played a came called netball, and football looked to me a lot like rugby, and no one played soccer what I would call football.
High school life, I had never been to a pep rally and found the first few I attended to be rather overwhelming, I had no idea what they were for.  I went to Friday night football games with other kids, I did not have a clue what was going on, and again initially found it overwhelming, but quickly started to look forward to the big game.  Basketball season started, again I had no clue what was going on, but it was fun to go to the game, eat popcorn, drink pop, and hang out with friends.
Lunch time at school was an adventure for the first few weeks, there were foods I had never heard of, tater tots, brownies, cinnamon rolls, sloppy joe, it did not take long to realize these things were pretty tasty.
After several months of attending high school I began to relax and as it started to feel familiar I settled into the routine. There were so many choices of classes to take, so many students, and so many activities to participate in that it still felt overwhelming at times but all in all it was okay and I did survive my four years attending and received my diploma, and have no desire to repeat the experience :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beef and Noodle

Beef and Noodle in their new home, and not really too sure about it.

A few years ago we decided to try our hand at raising a steer, so we acquired Banana a Holstein steer who was about two months old, we raised him for almost a year and half and then had him butchered.  While raising Banana, we acquired another steer, Jersey, he was a Jersey, and eventually we had him butchered.  Home raised beef is the best! We have not had a steer for about fifteen months, throughout the winter we talked about getting another one in the spring. Then our older two children, Matt and Amber, both married and out of the house, expressed and interest to go in together on a steer and have half for each of their respective households. Over the past few months we started getting ready for the new steer and two weeks ago started our search to find calves.  We were aware of a man a few miles north of us who raises Black Angus, Dave and Matt went to talk to him to see if he sells his calves, he does not, instead he raises them to full size and then sells.  A few miles south of us a family keeps a fine herd of Black Angus, we do not know these people and we were not comfortable simply knocking on their door to ask if any calves were for sale, so I wrote them a letter. The letter was received and the man called my husband, although his calves were not for sale he provided contacts for a number of other people who might have calves for sale.  I emailed a couple of other people who keep livestock to see if they knew of anyone selling calves, they did not.  Throughout the spring we made numerous trips to Springfield Greenhouse, owned and run by a nice Amish family, many of their neighbors had barns full of Holstein calves, so Dave asked the husband if any of the neighbors were selling calves. We learned that the Amish farms along his road don't own the Holstein calves, rather they are paid to raise them and that is it.  We kept running into dead ends, we did not want to go to an auction because we are amateurs and felt that we would most likely end up overpaying and not be too sure where our calves had come from. Our son Matt purchased the Free Ad paper, there were a few ads for calves, most were much larger than we wanted and too expensive, the going rate is about $1.40/lb.  We called and left two messages, one man called back, he had 350lb calves which were too expensive, he then mentioned that he had five eight week old calves who were fully weaned, they were holstein/jersey mix and were ready to go. The Amish farmer lived a few miles down the road from Springfield Greenhouse and not too far from us, Dave and Matt stopped over to check out the calves, they looked good so they purchased them.  The following evening everyone was excited the new calves were coming home!  When Dave pulled in the driveway on Tuesday evening all of us, Matt, Brad, Emily, Amber, Henry, Patrick, baby Charlie, and myself, were waiting on the front porch.  Dave, Matt, Brad, and Emily left to pick up our neighbors horse trailer and headed over to get Beef and Noodle, (daughter Amber picked the names). A short while later the calves arrived, they did not want to get out of the trailer, but very soon they were settled into their new home and although a little shaken with their ordeal they seemed okay, and we are now back to raising steer.
Waiting for Beef and Noodle to get out of the trailer. Henry, Emily, and Patrick all wore cowboy boots for the occasion.

Noodle - waiting to leave the trailer.

Henry climbing the gate

The nosy girls in the chicken run!

Hi, my name is Beef!

Hi, my name is Noodle!
I am pleased that the calves are Holstein/Jersey mix, in blind taste tests of home raised beef, Holstein is #2 and Jersey is #1, so we should have some good beef.  I have to say that the Jersey we raised was delicious, the fat was yellow like butter, and the meat extremely tender.  It is said that meat from a dairy breed is always very tender and very good, both Holstein and Jersey are dairy breeds.  The only drawback to the dairy breeds is that the ratio of bone to muscle is higher so pound for pound there is less meet on a dairy steer - but it is such good meat that a little difference in quantity does not worry us.