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

Friday, September 12, 2014

'Maters













Beautiful orange and red bulbs on shriveled brown naked stalks.   That is essentially the state of my tomato beds.  And the state of my living room is something like this: beautiful tomatoes of all different stages of development sitting upon crisp white window panes in order to bask in the ripening sun.

(This is what happens when one sends young children out to harvest RIPE tomatoes.)

Upon the advice of several friends and the ease with which the task is accomplished, I've decided to can more whole tomatoes in jars this year and see how I like it.  Previously, I would make a few batches of salsa and sauce the rest of the tomato harvest.  Canning whole tomatoes is much easier than either of those and really just consists of washing the fruit, cutting off the bad spots/stem, shoving them in jars and giving them a nice hot bath.

Spaghetti sauce is a bit more time consuming...there is cutting the tomatoes into smallish chunks, putting them through the food strainer, preparing seasonings/onions/peppers, boiling it all down for hours, adding store-bought tomato paste to thicken and then water-bathing the jars.

Canning whole tomatoes is much easier and faster in the short run.  But will it be as easy and fast when dinner is fast approaching and I have 20 minutes to get a pizza in the oven or spaghetti on the table?  

That has yet to be determined.

Home canned spaghetti sauce has always been one of those homemade 'convenience foods' and I certainly don't want to lose that!

One thing I know for sure- canning whole tomatoes requires MANY more canning jars and much more space for storage.  I have completely filled my whole canning cupboard at this point.  The bottom shelf in my kitchen is also full.  The top shelf can't be used for full jars because it becomes too heavy and begins to distort.  So I have reached the point that always comes around this time where I must be creative with storage.

Bookcases?  On the stairs?  Under beds?  On our nightstands?  

One never knows what may happen when one gets desperate.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bright and Cheery

The Desperate Farmwives video below was compliments of my Mister.  I don't know WHY he would feel the need to make one...and I have NO IDEA how that feedbag that he showed in the video became frayed.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.  You could tell it was him because the video was accompanied by a short succinct sentence.  And OBVIOUSLY one sentence doesn't cut it for the likes of me.  Chatty, I am.

I don't know what other videos he may make or when the next will appear...but I will be on the lookout same as you.  I don't need an excuse to enjoy a good Mattie video.  Isn't that eye twinkle something?

Our pumpkin/sunflower patch is pretty spectacular these days!







Our nature table usually holds dead things (lets be honest) like  fruit wasps and butterflies but when Andrew found a wounded bird, he put it inside our wicker cage and gave it a home on the nature table too.  For a few hours.  Before it was released into the woods far away from the cats and nearby the brook for water.




When in the throws of canning, Mothers often allow their children to do crazy things- just to keep them occupied and OUT of the kitchen.  Facepainting always works.


Andrew is a Jersey cow chewing on daisies.  In case you couldn't tell.


I've been wondering where all our eggs are disappearing to these days- then I caught the culprits red handed.

our first garden grown cantalope of the year!

Morning in the living room.  



the cutting garden is providing me lots of bouquets.  I am trying to soak them up for the flowerless winter ahead.  I am not sure if it is the cold that makes winter so depressing- or the lack of flowers.

The boys are digging up the sod and finding stone sidewalk.   If you stop by- beware the little cars by the stoop!

  

Remember I told you I wanted to do a colorful version of the blessing bonnet?  Here it is!  I decided on purple and green.

Due to my unfortunate babyless situation, I must use Chrissy doll to model.








 I have so much to do in the kitchen today.  The floor is filled with buckets 'o squash, the windows are lined with tomatoes that were plucked too early this weekend and are now prime for putting up and the garden hasn't been properly harvested from for several days which, during this period of intense ripening, is just asking for trouble.  There will be buckets and bowls worth to fill the floor further, I am certain.  And the milk-house fridge is FULL of milk because I have been too busy/lazy to do anything with it.  This, too, is disastrous.  Something must be done.

And yet the day is half over and the breakfast dishes are still waiting to be hidden in the dishwasher.  That is what happens when I realize, a few hours before deadline, that a Schoolhouse Review is due by noon!  And I certainly can't leave you all hanging with just a REVIEW post.  ICK.  

There was only one thing to do.

I simply HAD to sit here and show you some of the bright cheery things that keep my spirits up during these busy, fleeting September days.

May your day be cheery and bright, my friends.  



Review: Under Drake's Flag

We live in Boondock-ville.  Our grocery days are practically all day affairs because of the long drives to and from any and all stores.  Our church is an hour away.  Getting anywhere at all involves a long, longer or WHY AREN'T WE THERE YET?!?! drive in the car.  One of the ways those long car rides become more bearable for four children and their Mama is by making sure I always have an arsenal of good cd's to listen to.  Music is good.  Audiobooks are better.  Dramatized Audio Programs are, in my childrens' minds, the creme de la creme.  The best of the best.  The most special of all.  And I have a new (to us) one to share with you today!

Under Drake's Flag: The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A.Henty is a dramatized audio production put out by Heirloom Audio Productions. It is a tale of the Spanish Main under the leadership of Sir Francis Drake and the boys who came to serve there.  There is action, suspense, and intrigue.  There are shark attacks, soldier attacks, land attacks and sea attacks.  There is a mother's sacrificial love and a princess who keeps popping up when least expected, there are unexpected alliances, moments of cruelty and moments of kindness.  And, always, courage and determination from the boys who must grow to be men in the situations they find themselves.

Heirloom Audio Productions uses top notch musical scores and art sound design by the some of the same talented individuals behind Lamplighter Theatre, the Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theatre production, Adventures in Odyssey and the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre) as well as a phenomenal acting cast including Brian Blessed- the Long John Silver of Return to Treasure Island, the Lord Loxley of Robin Hood and the Jean Valjean of Les Misérables.  (As an aside- is there anything more fun than listening to a bunch of actors with a British accent?)  The whole production was outstanding.  As we drove down the highway, the waves crashing and the water bubbling made it sound like we were sailing along in a ship of our own. (It was actually a very odd feeling to be driving in a sea!)

Audiobooks bring the stories of history to life for both children and adults.  No one needs an excuse to enjoy an audio production... I enjoy them and I haven't yet met a child who didn't enjoy them!  I highly recommend audiobooks as we love them so...but especially for children who may be slower readers or have a hard time reading more mature volumes.  The goal, for these children especially, is to show that stories can be given life and how exciting it can be to relive them.  Once that is established, these slower readers will be given a great impetus to keep chugging along as they work to hone their reading skills.  Because they will know the great wonders a book can hold and how great a feeling it will be to experience it for themselves!  For these children especially, their minds are capable of understanding the stories but their reading skills haven't yet grown that skilled.  Audio-books are great for them.

Under Drakes Flag is an entertaining audio production for the WHOLE family!  On their website they claim it can be for 6 and up but I can attest to the fact that younger children can be just as enamored with it.  I have a four year old and five year old who liked it an awful lot too.  We've listened to our copy several times already and keep it in the car for all of our sea-faring whims.

Under Drakes Flag is a two CD set with over two hours of entertainment and sells for $29.95.   Within the set is a small study guide and copy of Sir Francis Drakes' prayer.  We were also given a downloadable copy of a much more in-depth study guide which included listening points to listen out for, vocabulary words to define and thinking further questions to delve into discussion. With the purchase you are given four bonus gifts as well!  A more affordable MP3 download is available for just $20 and includes some bonuses as well.  Other CD packages are available as well.  Check them out.

And guess what?  They are doing it again with a new G.A.Henty adventure this fall!  In Freedom's Cause : the Real Story of Wallance and Bruce.  SUPER EXCITING.

Find them on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/UnderDrakesFlag 

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Monday, September 08, 2014

My Sweets








Corynn and Judah, the not-quite-Twins, had a birthday recently.  My sweets just keep getting sweeter the older they get.  I love them so.

Since Corynn has been getting the birthday choice of cake and dinner since little Judah was too little to care, we switched things up this year and let Judah choose the birthday dinner and the cake.  Corynn got to choose the birthday breakfast and the ice cream not-quite-cake.  

This whole not-quite-twin thing can be complicated!

Monkey bread and Smoothie for breakfast.
Meatloaf and greenbeans for dinner.
Excavator cake and Orange N Cream Ice Cream for dessert.

I got zero pictures of cake blowing out because before I had put the cakes down Judah had blown out the candles.  

Little stinker.

Or should I say big?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

For Tomorrow















fake-blocking the bridal shawl.
Percy, the outdoor cat who always sneaks in (little devil), has good taste.

Okay Percy, now you're dead.














Enough with the food pictures already, right?  That is what I was thinking when I emptied my camera card the other day.  Am I perpetually hungry?  Am I obsessed with food?  

No. (well, maybe.)

Rather, I think it is because I just don't manage to leave the kitchen anymore.

I think also may be me trying to assure myself that as hard as I worked that day- there was something to show for it.  The canned stuff gets put behind closed doors.  The food gets eaten up minutes after being made.  The kitchen gets cleaned up for the night and I go in bed wondering- WHERE IS THE PROOF?  Surely there must be something to show for all that I've done!  I've worked ALL DAY.  

Oh yeah- it was consumed.

So these pictures of food are my desperate attempt to capture that proof...the only consolation that indeed, work was done. 

That, and children who seem to be growing inches every evening while they sleep.  

Isn't parenting that way too?  Every day you work and you train and you read stories and you wash faces and you kiss dozens and dozens of kisses and you correct dozens and dozens of times and you do a million things for the sake of your child and then- they go to bed for the evening and you fall into bed exhausted and the house looks just the same and your efforts are tucked in bed with your babies.  Nothing to put on a shelf and stare at.  Nothing to show off to your neighbors, friends or in-laws- "Lookie what I did today!"

But with canning, winter comes and you eventually need food- and so you open up the cupboard and grab a jar full of summer that was tucked away months before.

With parenting, one day you discover that your dependent toddler has grown up into a young person who contributes to the household, talks kindly to strangers, reads good books and learns a million things that you never knew from them and lives in obedience.  And then that young person, years later, will take with them all those precious moments that you gave freely of yourself with nothing but sweet sleep-filled nights to show for them and become grown adults whose lives were changed, shaped and encouraged by the work that you did many years before.

The new cool-ish mantra 'live for today' is just about the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

Because guess what?  What we do today (whether seen or unseen) will affect tomorrow in some way. And it can only go two ways- what you do today can make things better tomorrow or it can make things worse.

I live exactly opposite of that.

As a canner, I don't live for today.  I live life today so that in the future we will be well fed.
As a parent, I don't live for today.  I devote my days to raising, training, educating, loving my children so that one day they will become parents who do the same (but better!) with their own children.
As a grown-up, I don't spend money on silly fads or expensive toys or long vacations, I'd rather save it.  Because someday there will be a need.
As a Christian, I don't live for today.  I live for the future.  I live in this world so that I can live in the next.

I may not see the proof of my work at the end of the day, but eventually I will reap what I sow.  We all will.

We will see the fruits of our labor (or lack thereof).

And I am praying they will be abundant and sweet.