Friday, November 14, 2014

The Three-Month Progression

In my mind, the month of September signifies school in full swing.  Then comes the three month progression that builds slowly and peaks at the end of December. October is relatively calm. The garden is mostly done.  Other than apples (early October for us), everything has been put up. The days are still mild. Pressures are low. We start getting cozy with fires and shorter days.

roasting and pureeing butternut squash

Then comes November.  My thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The calendar starts filling up with special activities and gatherings.  Since garden work has been abandoned (there's always work that can be done if we want to), we turn our attention to other projects.

the sad, sad state of our garden

Jamey and Sam are renovating the kids' playhouse (an old hog shed)- complete with an actual floor (versus dirt) and electricity.

We look forward to Thanksgiving time with family.  I start a mental list of all the special things I hope to do in December.  We're desperately needing a break from school but we push forward.  We'll take a week off for Thanksgiving.

The faces of our barns are repaired and protected.  As you can see above, the sides of the larger barn and the roofs are in need of paint/repair (a good summer project).

This progression toward Christmas is a mixed bag for me.  In my mind it's like a long climb up a steep mountain.  It makes me tired but at the same time it's invigorating.  I get the occasional blister (a little stress) or major leg cramp (a mini breakdown) but regular breaks and forcing myself to slow down and enjoy the view as I go helps.  Approaching the peak, I get giddy and forge ahead despite my exhaustion.  My eyes are on the prize.  At the top, I am in awe.  The vista is more than I could have imagined and way more than I deserve. Pin It

Monday, November 10, 2014

Free Cookbook Deal for Christmas Giving

It's that time of year again!  We're keeping our eyes peeled for gifts for the special people in our lives OR we're trying to think of things to add to our own Christmas list for loved ones who want ideas from us.  Well, I hope that I can help.  Not only that, I want to give some gifts away!  So....

From now until December 15th, every 5th purchase of one of my cookbooks will be free.  In other words, if you order a cookbook and it happens to fall on a multiple of 5, you will be charged for the cookbook and shipping but! within the next day, I will reimburse you the cost of the cookbook (you will still pay shipping and tax, if it applies)

The cookbook is spiral bound with a clear plastic cover.  Go here and scroll down the page to read more details as well as reviews.

If you happen to order two cookbooks and one of them falls on a multiple of 5, you will get one of the two for free.  If you order five cookbooks, you'll be guaranteed to get one free, etc. This applies to the coil-bound cookbook version only (not the e-version).

Also, just so you know, I am going to start the free giving at a random number between 1 and 5 which means that the first, second, third or fourth order that comes in will be the first free one.  I will go with every 5th from there. Click here to order yours.

Blessings, friends. I hope you have a wonderful week!
Jane Pin It

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Need New Shoes? Make 'em.

At first it didn't occur to me to post about this but after mentioning them to some friends, they insisted I do so.

I think I mentioned before that Jamey is a runner.  He hasn't raced in a few years but still feels best when he runs regularly.  He's a long distance runner- preferring ultra-marathons over shorter distances that focus on speed.  This is why he recently picked up the book Born to Run.  The book highlights the Tarahumara, an indigineous Mexican tribe who have become well known for their physical endurance- specifically in long distance running.  In recent years the book has inspired interest in running barefoot or with minimal footwear.  The idea is that modern running shoes coddle our feet and cause a running form that makes us more prone to injuries. The book inspired him to try a different type of minimalist running shoe called 'huaraches.'  He was particularly interested in trying them because he could make them himself.  And, you know, we like to save money.

Not only has he made himself a pair (and has been running and doing yard work in them) but he also made pairs for all three of our kids.  On warmer days, the kids prefer to slip these on (they don't need tying each time) to go out and play. Jamey is impressed with how comfortable they are and how well they stay on his feet.  I have fussy feet that crave all kinds of support so I haven't accepted his offer to make a pair for me.  He thinks my fussy (and wimpy) feet would benefit from these and while I think he's probably right (please don't tell him I said so) I'm not sure I'm ready.  I mean, they're tire walls for heaven's sake.

I think all this is very amusing especially when a friend pointed out that they sell something very much like them online for quite a bit more than what Jamey paid to make his (which is nothing except for a few dollars worth of bungee-cord for the kids version and paracord for his - the old tire was free).

So, friends, there you have it!  Are they all you imagined? ;-) Pin It

Monday, November 3, 2014

{Non-Technology} Gift Ideas

The past few years I've moved most of my Christmas preparations (gifts, cards, etc.) to before Thanksgiving.  When I'm successful, it lets me truly focus on Advent during Advent- a crazy concept indeed! It allows time for more meaningful Christmas preparations- those of the heart and mind. December is still full of neighborhood gatherings, special church programs and concerts but in between there is peace (depending on your household- the concept is relative:-)).

This is why I'm thinking about gift-giving already.  And I thought you might appreciate some gift ideas that have proved to be wonderful finds for our family- and none of them require batteries or wifi.  Some I've mentioned before and some are new treasures.  Click on the pictures to find further descriptions and additional information (like reviews) but feel free to check other stores and websites to find yourself the best deal.  And don't forget to use your Swagbucks or Ebates earnings to make them even more affordable.

Storytime Toys- These are really sweet little playsets. We have the Goldilocks one below as well as the Three Little Pigs set.  They come in very sturdy carrying cases (with a handle) where the sets can be stored in between playing marathons.  This is one of the things I like best about them- they can be taken apart and stored compactly.  I rotate toys often and these sets make that easy to do.


Peek-a-boo Blocks- I have fallen in love with these blocks.  We didn't have them when our kids were little but I purchased a used set on ebay for our foster child.  The photo below doesn't quite do them justice.  Each block "does" something when you shake it, turn a little dial, etc.  For example, the chick in the egg below makes a peeping sound when you press the one end of the block.  Our big kids (and I) enjoy playing with them, too.  They are on the expensive side, so find a set that suits your fancy and then keep an eye out at yard sales and sites like ebay.


Dutch Blitz- This is a fast-paced group card game that is so much fun.  Young kids can start learning early as all they need to do is match colors and count to ten.  The skill comes in with how fast you can place your cards down while everyone else is vying for some of the same spots.  We play this game a lot at our house- often with neighbor kids.


Playmobil- Ah, playmobil. Every year we continue to add new sets to our collection.  Often our kids use their saved up allowance money to buy the sets themselves.  These are toys worth saving for the next generation (and the next!).  I love the imaginary play that the sets inspire.  While legos tend to appeal to boys, in our house, our girls gravitate to playmobil.


Alphabet Blocks- This was another semi-recent purchase at our house.  In the photo below you can see the different colors in the box which are not shown in the pyramid.  They are beautiful. The cost reflects the "investment" mentality in these blocks.  This is another toy that will be enjoyed for generations.  Each block has a letters, numbers and a picture of an animal on it and the box is a sturdy place to store them when they're not in use (or in our case, a giant plastic pretzel container:-)).


Radio shows like Adventures in Odyssey (young and older kids), Ranger Bill (older kids), Little Orley (young kids) and The Sugar Creek Gang (older kids) are great for car trips (in place of DVD players or hand held devices) and for listening to as they wind down before bed.

Colonial Williamsburg Dolls- Our girls share three of these dolls which can also be found here. These dolls are sweet, well made and very reasonably priced.  Their layers of period-accurate clothes can be removed for re-dressing.


Heart to Heart Dolls- These are an exceptional alternative to American Girl Dolls.  They are extremely well made and represent the beauty of many nations- including Ethiopia, Mexico and Afghanistan.  And the price isn't nearly as extreme.  Browse around because some of these dolls are significantly cheaper than others.


I Never Forget a Face game- This is a darling memory game where faces are matched.  On the back of the box, it tells you where each child is from.  The tiles are sturdy- our game has been well loved for many years and is still holding up beautifully.
Sewing Kits- Sadie takes sewing lessons and her little sister, Miriam, wishes she could, too.  While we wait for her to get a little older, I've been picking up these sweet little sewing kit projects. Everything you need is included (except scissors).  With sewing holes punched in the felt, it makes these projects perfect for beginners and tiny hands. I've taken these kits along places where we needed to wait- it's a perfect quiet activity to make the time pass quickly!


If you're looking for book ideas, do not fear!  I will tell you a little secret.  Use the Sonlight website! I know both homeschoolers that don't use the Sonlight curriculum and folks that don't homeschool at all who use their website for excellent book ideas.  What's best is that you can browse by grade. You can then shop directly from their site or find the book elsewhere.  Here's how- follow this link, hover over "By Grade" at the top and choose the grade. Under the picture of all the books, click on the picture of the globe, then scroll down the page to see all the books.  Sonlight uses real literature so mostly what you'll see there are excellent novels (and a few textbooks).  Click on the ones that interest you for more details.

What are some of your family's favorite (non-technology) gift ideas? Pin It

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Harvest Tally 2014

Finally, I'm able to wrap up our harvest tally for the year.  It's less in many ways than other years but it's so much more than I thought we were going to be able to accomplish. It worked well for me to lower my expectation to absolutely nothing and then be pleasantly surprised as our pantry slowly filled up.  God is so very good.

We used a pressure canner for the first time this year (green beans and soups) and this was our first full year of using the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids.  Overall, I'm still very impressed with them and had good success.  For some reason, I didn't get good seals on my peaches which was discouraging because of how much work canning peaches is.  I just chopped up the peaches that didn't seal and threw them in bags for the freezer.  I do love that buying lids every year or so is a thing of the past. Also, I can say that not one of our Tattler lidded jars has come unsealed- a problem I occasionally experience with metal lids.  Their seals are super tight.

I hope your harvest was gratifying no matter what it's size.  What a gift it is to grow your own food!

Harvest Tally 2014

2 gallons, 1 quart and 1 pint honey

zucchini, chopped and froze, 17 2-3-cup bags
New Zealand spinach, froze, 11 quarts and 11 pints
zucchini relish, 15 jelly jars, canned
zucchini bread, 20 loaves, froze
green beans, 37 quarts pressure canned

tomato soup, 6 quarts canned
chopped tomatoes, 13 pints canned

Brunswick Stew, 14 quarts pressure canned
tomato sauce, 17 quarts and 28 pints, canned

corn, 10 1/2 quarts froze
red raspberries, 1 quart and 3 pints froze (many just didn't get picked or what did were eaten)
vegetable soup, 13 quarts and 1 pint, pressure canned
bell peppers, 1 gallon froze
peaches, 23 quarts canned and 8 3-cup bags froze
peach jam, 12 jelly jars froze

tomato juice, 13 quarts pressure canned
pearsauce, 10 1/2 quarts canned

applesauce, 105 quarts canned

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pallet Trailer for Lawn Mower/Tractor

Jamey wanted something to haul things around the property.  Things like firewood, produce, brush, etc.  There's often room for kids as well.  Working with some used pallets, some old (and new boards) and a couple bicycle wheels, he built this and it works great.

sweet potatoes

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Monday, October 20, 2014

October Thus Far

Where does the time go?!  I actually know right where it goes I just wish it I could control the speed of it all. You know- to fast forward through the laundry and dishes and vacuuming and press slow motion during the sweet times with kids, friends and family and those rare, rare moments I have to myself to recharge.

Here are a few glimpses into our last few weeks.

I'm sorry this photo is blurry.  I just wasn't willing to get any closer.  Sadie had run inside saying there was a huge raccoon by the red raspberries.  To make a long story short- it was acting really strange so I called animal control and a ranger came out and put it down.  It was a beautiful animal but the safety of our kids trumped its sick self.

We traveled to Jamey's parents' house for applesauce making and when we drove in the driveway, they were well on their way!  They had all the apples and jars washed, many apples were cut and a large vat of applesauce had already been turned through the strainer.  Three cheers for my amazing in-laws!!

After making applesauce and celebrating Jamey's birthday with his family, we traveled north into Sullivan County, PA, where my family is part owner of a hunting cabin (where I've been going since I was very young).  We like to travel up this particular weekend for the local Fall Festival.  If you ever have a chance to go, you must!  There are craft and food booths galore but what we enjoy the most are the lumberjack competitions- log rolling (above), chainsaw carving, ax throwing, spring boarding, hot saw competitions, etc.  Jamey would love to enter one of the competitions some year. Pharmacist lumberjacks are a rare breed, I would think:-).

The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying family (particularly my newest nephew who we met for the first time), taking walks and playing in the creek. Oh, and eating. We do a lot of that there as well.

Walking with my {almost 12-year-old} boy.

At home, the rest of the garden was brought inside- white potatoes, sweet potatoes, dry beans (Scarlet Lady Runners below), butternut squash, some surprise tomatoes and peppers, and...

...a huge bowl of shiitake mushrooms.

With the garden gleaned and the applesauce made, our harvest season is complete...except for our pig. But she's a story for another time.
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