Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spice it Up ... Round Two!

   We Ordered MORE Spices! Bottling the cumin and garlic powder felt like a lot but this time we ordered four pounds of nutmeg, ginger and cloves today and that really was a lot. I think we're stocked for the winter now ... I mean, what else is there :)?

    We got these spices through our little Amish-run bulk food store just like the cumin and garlic powder. We get a lot of our bulk items (the ones we don't get from the LDS Church Storehouse) from that little store like spaghetti, baking soda, raisins, etc. We get our fresh vegetables in bulk (the ones we don't grow ourselves) from the family that let us take a tour of their sorghum molasses farm last year. We get apples from a local orchard, almonds through my grandparents out west, and our bulk paper products at Costco.  

And, of course, my two greatest helpers ...
   Their aprons are so CUTE. My brother's green one was a gift from my mom's parents. They've been serving a senior mission in Central America for the past two years, but they will be home before Christmas. The orange/blue one was a gift from my Grandma who we visited just last year.    

    And there we have it ... I think we're through with spices for a while. We're moving our second refrigerator downstairs just as soon as we finish painting the new drywall and Mom wants to put all of the spices and seeds for planting in there. But until then, we'll just store the bottles in our food storage room.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Raking Together the Last Bit of Autumn

    Well, it's that time of year ... but, like I said a few posts ago, we'd better enjoy it because autumn is on it's way out and then comes winter and back to college (for me anyway).  I enjoyed this evening a whole lot ... I need to remember to make time for evenings like these.

    All of us, except for my older brother and Dad who were working on other jobs, took time to rake the yard before dinner. In the fall time we usually spend from three o'clock to five o'clock working as a family on whatever needs to be done. 
    In the summer we work for longer because there is less school to do and in the winter we work less because that's when we get in most of the year's schooling. We home school year round, but the workload changes based on the season. 
    I really liked this schedule when I was still in school, and I like it even better now as I help Mom teach. Schooling year round and working with our books for longer in the winter allows the family to spend more time with the farm in it's critical seasons (spring planting and fall harvest).

    Remember this little drop-off? He stuck around for quite a while, but just a couple days ago his toenail got ripped off and he's been on three legs. We finally called the pound and they sent a very nice man to come out and pick him up. I hope they fixed his toenail up. 
    My family has sent four different dogs to the pound since I was twelve: Sophie, Woofie, Lady and Woofie (yes we named two of them the same thing). Three of them were drop offs. 

A turkey feather I found in the leaves.

    His job was to stand in the wagon and stomp down the leaves so we could fit more into each load, but I guess he just got a little tired. That's alright ... tonight I didn't feel like that slave-driver that I usually am from three to five :) My sisters are amazing at remembering that that people are more important than tasks, but I still struggle with that unfortunately.

    Tonight, I forgot the work (for a little while) and had fun with my siblings and it turned into funnest evening I've spent in a long time. I need to remember this for future days :)

Of course, you can't get away with just raking the leaves ... what's the fun in that?

Woodland Princess

That was fun, but back to work ...

    We didn't have too many leaves to worry about because we don't have a lot of trees in our yard.
    All the leaves got dumped into our compost pile. We've built four bins on our hill out of cinder block, rod-iron and gravel two years ago in 2011. They hold our compost, black dirt, mulch, and sand. I'll have to do a post about how we compost and what all that other stuff (black dirt, sand, etc.) is for. Until then, I'll be enjoying my family and trying not to let the work get in the way.     

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Getting Rid of that HUGE Wasp's Nest

    So, we've had this enormous wasps next hanging in a tree beside out long driveway. It's far enough away from the house that it didn't bother us. We only remembered it was there when we noticed it driving to and from home. 
    But, one day, my brother and sister decided to take it down. Surprisingly, it was pretty painless. For some reason, when my brother went to investigate, there were no wasps around. So he climbed up on top of the car and cut the branch off with the nest dangling off of it without a a single sting or anything.  

Can you believe that that entire thing is made out of wasp spit?

    These two are so fun to be around. They keep all of us around here on our toes. They're both different, but so much fun! My brother drives me crazy by taking everything I say literally, especially my idioms :). My sister is sentimental and dramatic and can change the most ordinary of days into a roller-coaster. They both tease around the clock, prank whenever the moment is perfect, and enjoy a good-natured string of banter.
    It would truly be boring around here without them.

My brothers ... Gotta love them!

    After that episode my brother drove the car back to the garage. I can't believe he's going to be driving in a few months ... where has the time gone?
    The wasp nest is in the garage too. Dad is a little wary of it. I think he's convinced that it's going to erupt one of these days. I really don't know what happened to all the wasps, but I guess we'll find out come spring ... But I won't be here :( 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Family Fun Day at Leman's Hardware

    It was Grandma's last day here so we decided to spend the evening in Leman's Hardware and have dinner at Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen. Leman's a a HUGE touristy place for people who want to take home the simple living that comes with Amish Country. 
    It has everything from toys to furniture to tools to dishes to baskets to stoves to books to soaps to candles to refrigerators to foods to sewing machines. Basically everything homestead/simple-living/down to earth-ish. 

    It's a fun place to look around and just let the mind wander. I especially like the housewares area because there are always new life-simplifying things that I love to find. All we bought was a strainer and a small bag of really great cranberry granola ... the place is just way too expensive to shop seriously :) ...
    But we did spend quite a while in there enjoying grandma and each other.

Walls and shelves and barrels full of the funnest stuff ...

    After we got tired of walking around we drove to Mrs. Yoder's kitchen. It's a home-style Amish-quality restaurant that we all love. Everyone except Grandma (who got tomato basil soup) got the buffet which included the salad bar (with my very favorite broccoli salad ... I'm going to have to get the recipe from one of my Amish friends so I can post in on here), meat loaf, pot roast. noddles, mashed potatoes, brown and white gravy, green beans, hot corn, eclare, orio cake, and tapioca pudding.
    My older brother made a two little Fed-Ex trucks out of the paper napkin rings and we folded the ten dollar bill (our waitress's tip) into a fan and stuck it in one of the trucks. I wrote the adress to this blog on the other truck. I hope they visit.
    We miss you Grandma! Thanks for spending a week with us! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Family Fun at the Cider Press

    Cider Pressing was a blast! As always. 
    Sorry that I don't have any pictures of the bushels and bushels of apples that we pressed into gallons and gallons of juice and cider. I was just so busy loading and unloading crates that I forgot that I had a camera in my skirt pocket. These pictures were actually taken by my Grandma. She's visiting from Arizona. The last time my family visited her was this last January.  

Thanks for taking such great pictures Grandma ...We love you!

    Here's my little man lying in the empty apple crate. We pressed more apples this year than we've ever pressed before: Two crates of red delicious and three of golden delicious. It was a busy pressing day and a VERY busy canning day afterwards. Mom, my sister and I canned, non-stop, from seven in the morning until nine o'clock at night. 
   I was pretty tired, but it was fun.    

    Another cider-pressing come and gone. Where did all that time go. I can't believe that college is just around the corner. My break has just flown by! Every day just keeps getting shorter and shorter. It will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas before we know it!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Spice it Up!

    Sometimes it seems like my family never does anything halfway. It's a good thing most of the time :) We like to have a year supply of everything from Kleenex to apple sauce to bottled water. Spices are no exception. Why make a mess when you can make a MESS?

    Mom buys almost all over her spices (ones for stove-top and baking) at the little Amish run bulk food store. We used to be able to see that store from our front porch, but a newly married amish man (one who actually helped to build our house) is building a house of his own right between up and the store. But, you get the idea: it's very close by.
    Anyhow, Mom bought two large tubs of both cumin and garlic powder and me and the young ones spent our afternoon bottling it up. It's better to keep anything and everything edible in glass rather than in plastic (especially if you plan to let it sit for a couple months or more) because plastic often leaches chemicals into the food.

    The only tools we used: jars, lids, rings, measuring cups, funnels and the chopsticks Mom brought back from her mission in Japan when she was twenty-one. She brought a lot of things back with her from her mission like the recipe for the best gyoza (pot stickers/Chinese dumplings) EVER. That recipe is a must-blog for sure. 

    I love having lots of spices on hand. The ones I use the most are Nutmeg (apple muffins, rice pudding, pumpkin cake, etc.) Curry (curried lentils & rice, Japanese vegetable beef curry, etc.) Garlic Powder (corn chowder, stir-fry, ranch dressing, etc.) and Cinnamon (granola, molasses cookies, oatmeal cake, etc.)
   Other baking spices that we keep on hand: allspice, cloves, ginger, etc. 
   Other stove-top spices that we keep on hand: onion powder, cumin, parsley, sage, oregano, cilantro, paprika, bay-leaves, etc.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's Autumn Time! It's Autumn Time!

    It was a beautiful day and my little man was enjoying every little bit of it! I love him so much. He reminds me to slow down and enjoy life as it comes instead of always forcing my way ahead to things that are less important.
    I love autumn myself, and really haven't taken time to enjoy it until now. My favorite things about autumn: apple cider pressing, the smell of fallen leaves, the crisp evening breezes, warm fires in the masonry heater, pumpkin cake (we just seem to make it more this time of year), Thanksgiving, sweaters and cardigans, gathering in the wood as a family, fresh apples, and more!

They just don't come much cuter ... as far as I'm concerned :)

    Don't forget to enjoy autumn while it lasts. I'm determined to do a better job. There are only a few more months until I head back out to college. I Can't Believe It!
    Also ... surprise, surprise! feature me and this blog on their site. Check out what they had to say! I was really surprised and excited! I feel like a movie star :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Prime Time to Prime

The basement walls are clean and the floor is mopped ... it looks like the prime time to prime!

    The hardest part about this whole project (I thought) was finding clothes to paint in :) We had a lot of paint shirts that we wear over our clothes when we do arts and crafts, but no pants or skirts to wear. The first day, a couple of us (myself included) safety-pinned the paint shirts into makeshift pants. But that was  little uncomfortable so we hunted around and came up with better outfits. 
    Besides my room, we're also finishing a guest bedroom, bathroom, my Dad's office, the hall and two hall closets. Priming the ceilings was the worst (almost as bad as finding paint clothes :), but two of the rooms have drop ceilings so we didn't need to prime those.
   Slowly, but surly we'll have this basement finished ...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Gathering in The Wood As a Family

    One of the last things we have to do every year is make sure we have enough wood for winter. All of the wood we need is right out there in our forest, but it has to be chopped up, hauled and stacked in the woodshed. It's a big job, but the whole family gets together to do it. The first Wood Gathering has turned into a family tradition that we all look forward to.

    There's a creek that cuts through the forest and most of the wood that we cut this year is on the other side. So, instead of crossing the creek we drive on the road and cut into the woods on the other side. We bush-hogged a trail through the brush a few days ago so there was no trouble getting to the pile of wood.
    One of the best parts, in my opinion, is riding in the trailer as Dad or my older brother pull it down the road. I always love to wave to our neighbors as we drive past. We are blessed to have good neighbors.

    This is the first time we've driven out new trailer. We've used the hay wagon in years past, but it's just really large and hard to maneuver around trees and things in the woods. This new trailer couldn't hold as much as the hay wagon (the hay wagon held close to two chord!), but it was definitely easier to handle.

    We have multiple piles of split wood in various places in the forest. We find dead trees, fell them, chop them up with the chain saw and split them all before bringing it up to the shed. This tree was an elm that had already fallen. Elm wood (if it's completely seasoned) burns really hot because it's so dense. We like to use Elm when we tap maple syrup.

    Here's the next tree on our firewood list.

    This HUGE Beach tree fell a couple years back and we haven't chopped it up yet. It is so huge that we had a company out to see if they wanted to buy it for planks and boards. They didn't think it was worth coming out for just one tree and we didn't want them cutting any more so we're just going to use it for firewood. Until then, it's a fun Jungle Jim.

We let this pile of wood lay here a little long and a couple mushrooms found a home.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. 
~ Henry Ford

It's feels great to be a member of such a hardworking team. Farm life and family life have taught me lessons that I can't learn anywhere else.

    What a great day! We're slowing filling this shed, one stick at a time. Someday we want to keep a two year supply of wood curing in the shed, but right now, we just keep enough stored for the coming winter.
    With our masonry heater (which I'll be doing a post about soon :) we only use five to six chord of wood a winter, but that's still a whole bunch, which means we'll be heading back out to the forest pretty soon.