What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


It's been a long while since I wrote a 'Weekending' post and, since this past one was a bit of a doozy, I knew now was as good a time as any.

Matt had quite a project he was working on every spare moment of a long-weekend (more on that in a bit...) so I tried to document that for posterity.  The rest of the photos I took over the weekend were of FOOD.

As I was scrolling through the pictures I thought "Wow.  Here Matt was so productive this weekend and accomplished so much...but it seems I did NOTHING this past weekend."  And then I started to think- now wait, I organized and cleaned the school room!  I organized the Spare Oom and emptied a dresser for Tiddle clothing!  I did this, I cooked that..."

And then I once again realized the sometimes discouraging truth of Mamahood... the work that we do is consumable.  The food we make gets eaten up.  The rooms we clean get disorderly as soon as we walk away from them.  The clothes we wash get dirty as soon as they find their way to little bodies.  

All that is left is crumbs and smudges.  And, well, I guess smiles and giggles and full bellies and warm bodies.

This, I suppose, is some solace.  ;-) 

Molasses cookies- so delicious.  I really must post this recipe sometime.  It has been a while since we made them and I had forgotten (until the batter was halfway mixed up and Corynn was nearing a panic with the enormity of it) that the recipe was a huge one- calling for 8 cups of flour!  Needless to say, we had molasses cookies spilling off the cookie sheets and we have quite a few frozen molasses dough balls in the freezer for a quick cookie bake.  ;-)

Matt made me breakfast one morning.  What a man!  

I roasted a 24+ pound turkey (bought from Wegmans at .48c per pound) over the weekend and then had a freezer meal making marathon for after Tiddle is born.  I made four turkey potpies (two nights worth of dinners) along with Turkey and Gravy (to be eaten over biscuits or toast), BBQ turkey for sandwiches, Turkey Soup and about a gallon of cubed turkey for turkey salad (all in meal sizes enough to feed our family).   Turkey dinners and molasses cookies- what more does a postpartum Mama need?!

While I was working inside all weekend (DOING THINGS! I DID!), Matt was racing against the clock to finish a barn project he started a couple of weekends ago.  Our cow, Penny, was due to deliver soon and Matt had quite a bit of barn work to do in preparation of that.  Penny had broken up much of the already broken up concrete over the last two years and the stanchions were small and uncomfortable for her to overwinter in anyway.  Matt had plans to take out the wooden stanchions and replace them with tiestalls (more spacious and comfortable) and pour concrete.  Which meant, of course, first breaking up the rest of the OLD concrete.

He made these plans early in the fall and then realized something else needed to happen first, which pushed the barn plans further down the road- and closer to both cold weather and Pennys' freshening. Ah- the pressure!  The race was on!

He took out the stanchions and then, with the help of the boys, pick-axed the concrete until it was no more.

Then, he had to build wooden frames in preparation of pouring the concrete.

He also had to move the vacuum pump further down the barn and re-do all the the piping and electrical stuff.

Concrete making and pouring day... that was a loooooonnnng day.

He poured concrete the day before the cow was due.

It really was a miracle that he finished the barn work before it was too late.  

I'm a wee bit jealous of Matt and his projects.  

They take grit and sweat and muscle and (most of all) time ~ but in the end, Matt can sit back and look upon his work with great satisfaction and pride, knowing that he has changed the landscape of the place for many years to come.  Not just for a few minutes. (Which is about how long I can change the landscape around here! hehehe) That four inches of concrete in the barn is going to be there as long as we are around (and longer!).  No one can break down the foundation 10 minutes after he replaced it.  The new siding on the barn and his new door and floor and porch are constant beacons of his hard work and reminders of a job well done....and well, done.  He DID that!  

I still can't believe he finished in time.  HE still can't believe he finished in time.

And it was just in the nick of time too- because guess what happened the very next day?!?

(Pictures of a very personal sort to come tomorrow...stay far away from this blog if birthing cows gives you a case of the squirmies!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tiddle :: 6

Living, Making, Doing :: A Countdown to Baby


Story time is getting pretty crowded around here.


The upstairs of our house gets pretty darn cold during the winter months and, while I have hope that this year may be better than previous ones, I knew I wanted to have a little extra warmth tucked away for Tiddle.    

I followed the instructions for the Patchwork SleepSack from the book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby by Anna Marie Horner but scratched the whole "patchwork" part of it.  Instead, I found such a perfect fabric already in my stash!  I lined it with flannel I was given earlier this year (in the EXACT amount I needed) and used leftover bits of bias tape, velcro and rick rack to complete it.  FREE!  


The biggles brought in the handmade cradle Matt made for our babies from the Granary.  

I cried when we put it in there last year and I very nearly cried when we brought it back in.  

Preparing for Winter: A Papa Project

The last two Pennsylvania winters on the hill were brutal.

 We had an inefficient woodstove which required about 24 face cord of wood to get us through- and not even warmly.  Can you understand how depressing it can be to cut down, split, stack, haul inside every week and burn up 24 face cord of wood and still be freezing cold all winter- wearing coats and bathrobes inside?  Having the ice cubes in my bedside water upstairs still fully formed in the morning?

Well, let me tell you.  It's depressing.  

So last year, instead of  putting our tax return money toward a new van as I had originally intended, we instead decided to invest in a more efficient woodstove.  I seriously questioned whether or not I could remain sane through another harsh winter.  I think we all did.

When the weather began to turn in October, we went to replace the very inefficient woodstove we had with our new 'Beast' only to discover- it wouldn't fit down the stairs.  We knew the foundation wall to the basement had been shifting but we didn't realize the extent of the situation until that moment.

The stone wall needed to come out for us to get the woodstove in and, it being the end of October and all, the clock was ticking.

So Matt does what he often does- he got straight to work doing it.  Just hauled right in.

I really admire that about him.

While Matt is the sort to just roll up his sleeves and get to work when a job needs done, I tend to think about what needs to be done, write a list of all that is needed,  break it into stages, think about when the perfect time would be to work on it, and then procrastinate until I can't procrastinate any longer.  

It took about two weeks to get to the next stage (time and weather factor in here) during which time we had just a tarp between the outside and basement.  Cats came in.  And cold wind.

And then came the block laying.


Next came the stairs.  Hauling armloads of wood down cellar every week on icy broken stairs was not fun, with a capital NOT.  It is a miracle no one broke their necks these last few winters.

So Matt made some forms and poured concrete.

Isn't concrete so beautiful?  It is to me. 

 (Now I KNOW I am officially a country girl...)

Testing them out after they've cured...

But the true test happens when we bring wood in for the first time:

Big helper!  He's so stwong!

We've had such an unusually mild Fall so far and for that I am SO, SO THANKFUL.  We would have been in BIG trouble if it had become cold early as the last two years have been!

 I would love it if a mild winter followed this blissfully mild fall.  But if not- we are ready to hunker down on this hill to survive (nay, thrive!) through the winter.

Thanks to the hardworking fellow who lives here and God, who gave us not only the means to do it but also gave this particular fellow to me.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tiddle:: 7

Before I get THREE weeks behind, I had better get to posting these Tiddle posts... 


A baby crown~ a total newborn photo prop, I admit.  ;-)


Sorted through all the newborn clothes and brought them in to wash up.  I brought in both the girl and boy stuff- most of it was yellow, green or white anyway.  I have surprisingly few clothes for a boy because Andrew was a spring/summer baby and Judah, being the Hoss that he was, skipped the newborn sizes entirely.  

AND I actually BOUGHT something for Tiddle- those stinkin' cute elf socks up on top.  How seriously CUTE are they?



I stopped being able to comfortably touch my toes several weeks ago.  Matt used to paint my toes when pregnant.  Now he shares the responsibility with several eager girlies.

Adele' made sure to sketch out her nailpolishing plans properly.  ;-)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Makings (And the Long Awaited Soap Recipe!)

It rained for the first time in a LONG time last week and I jumped on the chance to make some new soap.  Kids playing board games, apple bars to nibble and soapmaking with a friend.  It was dreary and pitter pattery outside- which made inside all the more cozy.  Love those sorts of days.

Chocolate Hazelnut, Lemon Verbena, Bayberry and a rebatching of Red Clover Tea this go-round.  We always make several batches- all those bars below are just my half of them.    

I promised you all (quite a long time ago, I'm afraid) the recipe for homemade soap that doesn't require taking/matching temps.  I figure now is as good a time as any- there is still enough time for soap to cure for Christmas presents!

Here it is:

Can't get much Simpler Homemade Soap (Without the Hassle of Temperature Matching)

3 lbs fat (we used a mixture of Lard, Coconut Oil and Tallow)
9 oz. lye
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. lemon juice
1/8 c. borax

Put water in kettle.  Add lye.  Stir well.
Add fats~ stir until dissolved.
Blend in lemon juice and then the borax.
Stir slowly to trace. (Can set kettle in cold water to speed up this process if needed...)

Pour into mold.  Cut into bars after 2 hours.

I canned up some Candy Apple Jelly using homemade cider.  I was amazed at how clear and vibrant the color was when I had used such dark, opaque cider as the juice.  And the recipe is super simple...using cider, red hots, sugar and pectin.  (And it set beautifully!)

We haven't tasted it yet- perhaps it is disgusting.  But it sure looks pretty in the light!

I don't think Tiddle likes tomatoes.  I can't seem to eat anything tomatoey ever since getting pregnant.  I've never had such severe heartburn in pregnancy and never for an entire pregnancy.  Weird.  So, homemade pizza nights are not quite as thrilling for me these days.

In the summer I ate salads instead.  Now that the weather has turned, I don't really feel like salads anymore.  Most of the time I make breakfast pizza (with the added bonus that breakfast is already made for Saturday or Sunday!) which I eat.  But last week I decided to splurge and make stromboli. It is EASIER to make than breakfast pizza (no sausage to cook, no eggs to scramble, etc.; just plop on the meats/cheese and fold up) but it is MUCH more expensive with all that lunchmeat inside of it.  The tomato sauce was kept ON THE SIDE.

Splurges like this deserve documentation....so I took a picture- even in the weird light of a Autumn- darkened kitchen.

We made our cider last weekend.  I was so happy to get that done!  We've been planning to do it for weeks now.

The cows were ready and waiting for apple nibbles- which they were given in abundance.

One of the cows may or may not have become drunk on the apples fermenting into alcohol in their belly.

The Mister has started his winter beard.  Handsome fellow.

We made seven gallons of cider- some of which I froze, some I canned.  Having never canned it before, I am interested to see if canning affects the flavor at all.  It is nice to have it on the shelves though, instead of filling up the freezers.

Some of the apples were too squishy to grind well so- it looks like I have another day of applesauce making in my future.  Not totally out of the apple-woods yet.  ;-)

Yesterday I tackled the living room toybox- a spot that I haven't organized in over a year.  Possibly two.  I discovered two things-

1) It was basically a deathtrap for babies- with marbles, rubber bands, little legos and every other chokeable item lurking in the corners for their next victim.


2) I am pretty particular about toys that make it into this house.  I don't like (and won't keep) dumb toys that require nothing of a child. This excludes almost entirely the noisy, flashy toys that are 95% of the toys that line shelves in toy departments.  Toys, for them to make the cut into the Newman house, generally have to foster some sort of ingenuity on the part of the child.  They have to DO something.  And by DO, I don't mean make noise or flash.  They have to SPARK imagination and creative play.  And those sorts of toys happen to have a million pieces.  Blocks, marble run pieces, Legos, Playmobil, railroad tracks, kitchen food.  It is insane how many LITTLE pieces we have in this house.  That said, I am not sorry about them.  They have created many an afternoon of ingenuity and play.

I was glad for the toybox to be done- all the scattered bits put back in their rightful spots and the dangerous things outed completely.

Corynn and Andrew rewarded my efforts afterwards with cinnamon swirl cookies- which were like eating snickerdoodles on speed.  Children baking cookies is a dangerous thing for me...

I won't be able to hide my indiscretions for much longer.