Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gingerbread Houses

Merry Christmas!

This was the activity for the little girls Christmas Day afternoon.

When I saw the boxed versions at the store I thought they were a bit pricey...  And my first thought was I can make those and buy all the candy for the price of one.
Which is true - well at least the price of two and I needed four.
So began the process.  I found a great recipe for gingerbread via Martha Stewart Living.
Baked up four houses (one batch of gingerbread dough made two houses)

These I had done before the little ones arrived.  
When the little girls were here we broke-up butterscotch candies to make the windows for window glass.  (275 degrees for 10 minutes, apx.)
The front 'stained glass window' is different color lifesavers crunched up and done the same way.
We used stiff royal icing for the 'construction' compound.  

Up to this point all went really well.
 Then the put-it-together process began, what a hoot.
  We would get things together and then add another piece and the structure would come apart.  Patience was needed.
(At this point I was thinking paying for the prefab houses would have been well worth the money...) 
 But my dear daughters - in - love had  great patience and stuck with the projects helping the girls hold walls and roofs until the frosting was set. 
Now the decorating began.  I think as many candies were eaten as are on the houses.  Our youngest loved the 'roofing'.  She ate her way through enough 'shingles' for a whole house.  :-)
The table was covered with royal icing as were the girls.  The dogs loved it if something made it to the floor and did their part by cleaning up.

But memories were made and fun was had by all.
We cleaned up the table and the girls and then got a few photos so we will have record of the final product.

Hope you too had a fun Christmas project.
a little bird

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Reason We Celebrate.

I wish you a blessed and beautiful Christmas.

Jesus came to earth to give us a way to heaven.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

l'chiam - to life

Kurt slipped away Wednesday evening.  His journey in this world came to an end.  He is now in paradise with Jesus.  Craig and I are now turning our focus from care giving back to life.  Christmas is coming.  I think it will be quieter and more subdued than some but a true celebration of the real meaning of Christmas.

Jesus came to earth to give us a way to heaven.

My dear brother-in-law accepted that gift of grace.  He believed that Jesus was the son of God.  He believed that Jesus loved him and he loved Jesus.

That fact has made his passing easier for us.  It doesn't mean that we don't miss the person but it gives us peace knowing where he is.

Last night our deep thinker, 4 year old, granddaughter said, I miss Uncle Kurt.  Mimi where is he?  I said, "he died, he passed away he is in heaven."  Her immediate response, "did he find God?".  "Yes, Gem he did."   Ah peace.  She was at peace about it and ran off to play.

Our 6 year old granddaughter had profound words of wisdom as well.  When she was here this past Sunday she cut a Christmas  ornament out of paper and wrote on it, "He uses us to love other people".  How true.

Thank you for your prayers as we traveled this road.  They were answered.
God is good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shout out for the VA and Hospice

I would like to give a BIG shout out for the VA and Hospice.

These people are amazing.    There has been negative press in the news about the VA.  But all we have seen are amazing people doing a wonderful job.  Both agencies have treated my brother-in-law with respect and dignity.  

We are all doing well and hanging in there as we go through this process.  It is amazing how our daily devotions seem to speak to the moment.

Here are two that have really stood out lately.  God is good all the time!

a little bird

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Time Out!

I will be taking a 'time out'.

My husband's brother has come to live with us and he is quite ill.
Our time focus has been redirected for the time being.

Your prayers for our family as we move forward would be much appreciated.

a little bird

Monday, October 6, 2014

Still Here - Just Busy

I'm still here, we have just been very busy.  We've been canning, dehydrating and freezing.
My daughters in love too have been canning and making beautiful items for their families this winter.
We have all been trying to 'put by' before the snow begins to fly and the gardens are done for the year.

DH and I made a very quick trip to Michigan to see family.  We took a week and our motto was divide and conquer.  DH spent time helping his mother and I spent my days with my mom trying to do some little things while we were there.

We did silly things really.  I cut mom's hair, took her shopping, drove her to see my sister and husband, shared a cup of coffee and conversation.  We did all get out together for steak dinner and I even got an afternoon with my  youngest sister for lunch and some fun shopping.  So really we accomplished quite a bit since we only had 4 days.

We are back to our 'pay money' jobs now as well as home to continue to tuck items away while the beautiful fall lasts.  One more load of wood is on the list just to make sure there is plenty for winter.  I have tomatoes on the vine and when we have a frost I will have grapes to juice as well.  So we are here and plugging along... just hasn't been a lot of time for blogging.
Hope you are having a beautiful fall and putting by for winter.
a little bird

Friday, September 5, 2014

Food Storage - Wendy DeWitt

I think this is a great video on food storage.  My mom wanted to see this video so I am sharing it with all so she has easy access.  Hope you enjoy it.

Wendy has written two books Everything Under the Sun and Everything Made Simple.  They are food storage plans for a year.  A 'how to' in a simple manner.  So if you would like to do food storage this is a simple way to get started.
I am not LDS but they have some great information regarding food storage and they are generous to share this information with all.  I thank Wendy DeWitt for sharing her knowledge and books free of charge.

My mom also had some questions about a gamma seal lid.  I use these on my flour and rice because they are easy access.


  a little bird

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It was a dark and stormy night...

We have had two hail storms in the past two days.  The picture above is from yesterday's storm. 

Below is the school yard today, still covered with hail from yesterday's storm.  Sadly the gardens are shredded.  What made it through Thursdays storm was trashed in Friday's...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force

What a blessing.
This brought tears to my eyes. These men were heroes.

Sample Reel for 'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' - Playmount Productions from Katahdin Productions on Vimeo.

Genesis 12:3New Living Translation (NLT)

I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Food Saver

One of my dear friends called tonight and asked me about  my food saver.   I'm posting pictures for her of mine as well as some demos from youtube on using the Food Saver.

We use this for of course freezing meat, in the bags, which works wonderfully. 

 I also use mine for vacuum sealing jars of my dehydrated foods.  It extends the shelf life by years.  This is only for items that would normally be on the shelf.  You can use it for refrigerator items and it will extend the life in the fride too.  The big craze is salad in a jar.

I purchased my jar lid attachments from Amazon.  Below is another example of how to use the jar lid attachment.

These attachment are GREAT!!  The super thing is you use the lid again and again.  A real money saver.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Judging at the Fair

I was asked to be a judge at the county fair this year for home preserves.  But since I have never judged before I requested to come as a helper this year so I could see how everything works.

Oh it was wonderful!
The beautiful canned goods, baked goods, and dehydrated goods.  We judged adult class and then children's class.  Let me tell you there are some wonderful up and coming preservers and bakers out their.

There are many criteria areas judged for canned goods, these are just a few:
head space
labeling (what is it, date processed, etc.)
processing time - was the correct time for our altitude used
And many more but it was great fun and it was wonderful to see all the beautiful produce put by.

One young person entered dried apricots.  They were the very best non commercial I have ever seen.  Once the fair is over I'd like to ask them what their secret was, mine have never turned out so lovely.
Happy fair time.
a little bird

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Penny In Yo Pants

(8/11/14 addendum: this doesn't work with all skirts...  I'm sure the material makes a difference.  Knit fabric or light fabric is the best.  Many of my summer skirts hit just below the knee which is modest and cool for the summer weather.  But when you put a penny and rubber band in the mix it hikes that skirt to 3 or 4 inches above the knee...  just a word to the wise.  So for that length skirt I will go back to my garter style elastic to hold my skirt in place.)
I bike to and from work most days and I love skirts and wear them almost every day. I have an elastic band that I slide up garter style to slip over one edge of my skirt to keep it from flying up and exposing a bit too much...but Eva at Opulent Poppy just shared a GREAT idea!

You place the penny on the back side of your skirt and rubber band around the penny on the front side turning your skirt into pants (well almost).  This is perfect!
Thanks again Eva for sharing this great idea.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The finished jam.

Yesterday was 103 degrees so I decided to take advantage of the heat and finish drying the oven fruit leather outside.  I cover with lightweight material so the air can get in and out but not bugs.  
This is actually a shear curtain panel, it works great.

This is the leather from the dehydrator.  
I cut them into serving sizes leaving the parchment right on them for storage.

They are all in a large plastic tub for conditioning.

Post-Drying Treatment

Conditioning. When drying is complete, some pieces will be moister than others due to their size and placement during drying. Conditioning is a process used to evenly distribute the minimal residual moisture throughout all pieces. This reduces the chance of spoilage, especially from mold. To condition, place cooled, dried fruit loosely in large plastic or glass containers, about two-thirds full. Lightly cover and store in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place for four to 10 days. Stir or shake containers daily to separate pieces. If beads of moisture form inside, return food to drying trays for further drying, then repeat the conditioning step.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Apricots, Wheat Crackers and Basil...

My mom checks this blog often.   And she likes to see some updates.  Which I'm not always great at
So Mom this is what I've been up to today.

 I cut the third cutting of my basil.  It's really doing well.  It actually came back from last year volunteer.  So that had a good bath, a spin in the salad spinner and then into the dehydrator.  It took a few hours to dry.  Last cutting I hung it in the open air to dry but this time I was in more of a hurry I guess???

It dried down beautifully.

After vacuum sealing all of my latest dried items: mint chamomile, basil I decided to make some  wheat crackers.

I made a big pot of bean soup so crackers sounded  good.

My recipe:
3/4 cup warm water
1 package yeast (2.5 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
let this set a few minutes for the yeast to dissolve then add,
flour freshly ground from 1.5 cups wheat berries  (Vita Mix dry blade)
and freshly ground pepper

I let this rise for an hour or so.
While this was rising I got a call from a friend who wondered if I wanted apricots.  They have an orchard and  have so many they will rot before she can get them all processed.  
I ran quickly out to her place for some lovely very ripe apricots.
Came back home to finish the crackers.  I cut the dough into 16 pieces rolled them out thin and then put them on a hot griddle, not oiled.
Cooked them for a minute or two on each side.  They really are tasty.
After a bit of lunch, bean soup that I had put in the crock pot this morning it was time for apricots.
Two batches of jam. and six trays of fruit leather.

I used parchment paper in my dehydrator for liners.  I  can cut and roll it on the same paper once it's dry.

I ran the apricots with some lemon juice in my blender to puree and then onto the parchment.

I am drying two cookie sheets of fruit leather in my oven.  I added some coconut to the top of this one.

Apricot Jam
2 quarts crushed apricots
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
That's  it.  Bring it to a boil stirring often so it doesn't scorch.  Boil until it thickens, about 25 minutes.
Put in your clean warm jars and process according to your altitude.  

So there you have it.   That's my day.  I have washed the kitchen floor, the counters are wiped off and dishes done.  And I'm done too.  Time to have a bit of dinner and then I think a movie is in order.
Love you mom.
your little bird

Saturday, July 26, 2014

DIY Cough - Throat Drops

I have been meaning to do this for months.  Last fall we bought some herbal cough drops and they were very nice. (Swiss Alps yodeling man) I also have a friend that buys the essential oils cough drops they were wonderful but very pricey ($.60 per drop). Or at least  I thought that was a lot to pay for a cough drop.  So ever since then I thought certainly I could make these myself.   So today was the day.

The first thing I did was to steep some STRONG herbal tea.  I used chamomile, rose hips, peppermint, and orange rind.

After steeping I stained through a coffee filter because I wanted it completely clear.

Cough drop recipe:
1 cup of herbal tea
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon butter

Bring to a boil to a hard crack, 300 degrees
When your syrup is at 300 degrees remove it from the heat and let it cool just a bit. 

Then add  1.5 tablespoons lemon juice.
Be very careful - it splatters!

At this point these are very good herbal drops.  You can stop right here if you want to.
(Swiss Alps yodeling man type)

But I wanted to duplicate the pricey essential oil drops so I added some LorAnn's oil.
I used Anise, Spearmint, and Cloves.
I have to say these are wonderful!
I really do think they are every bit as good as the $$ drops.  

Since I haven't yet purchased molds I needed to make my own.  

Below is powdered sugar in a cookie sheet pressed firmly with a second pan.

I used the end of a whisk to make indentations in the sugar.  It was a good size for the drops.

When the drops were hard I sifted them out of my powdered sugar so it wasn't a waste of all this sugar.

These are the finished drops.
I think these are worth investing in some good silicone molds.  I think that would be a lot less work and clean up.  But I really wanted to try this before spending the money for the molds.

Store in an airtight container.

a little bird

Lovely Dishes

My dear friend had a yard sale.  She decided to sell her china - I tried to talk her out of it but she said she never used them so she was getting rid of them.

I think they are just lovely so I bought them.  Now she can enjoy her china when ever she comes here because I  will use them.

She is right we do need to use our lovely things often.  Otherwise its just  stuff that takes up space.

So dear Karen I will use and enjoy your dishes often. And I look forward to your next visit so we can have tea in these lovely cups.
a little bird 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Where did June go...

Where did June go...?

I took the month of June off from work.   I work at a school so most of the school is closed for the entire summer but some of us need to work through the summer too.  :-)  So it is back to work tomorrow for me.

But I had a great time just being at home through June.  I did some cleaning I never seem to have time for through the school year (and yes there is still more I wish I would have gotten done.)  I helped in the garden and the yard,  I even got a camping trip in with the granddaughters.  I think that was the highlight of my time off; six days in the mountains with four little ones is time well spent!

I thought since I have been pretty much absent from blogging I would just share some pictures of June for me.

A day at the fabric store.

Relish - using Tattler Lids

Birthday party
Can you see the teapot in the middle?

Cilantro - Coriander 



Honey Crisp Apple

Leaf Lettuce

Second birthday party

Fresh honey straight from the hive that morning

Hiking with my four favorite little girls! 

This was my June in a nut shell.  What a great way to spend the month.
a little bird

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Flag Day 237

Happy Flag Day!
Since I was a young girl today has been a special day.  A day to look back over our history and think about this wonderful country.

And now the day is even more special - four years ago today - our sweet granddaughter #3 was born.
Happy Birthday dear Gem.

In the United StatesFlag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.  The United States Army also celebrates the Army Birthday on this date; Congress adopted "the American continental army" after reaching a consensus position in the Committee of the Whole on June 14, 1775.

For a printable of the above click HERE


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