Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mr. McGregor's Garden

My flat parsley has really enjoyed the cooler weather of fall. It has gone crazy the past few weeks. So have my children. They have discovered that the parsley is edible and I can't keep them out of it. I figure it's another way to load them full of green leafy things! They have been eating it by the handfuls. After checking on them outside, I overheard them playing "Peter Rabbit," taking turns chasing each other out of Mr. McGregor's Garden. Maybe they are rabbits after all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Emergency Indeed

This article was published on the Campaign For Liberty website. I usually love everything Anthony Gregory writes!

An Emergency Indeed

By Anthony Gregory

The White House has declared Swine Flu a "national emergency." In the last year, at least 5,000 have died worldwide from H1N1, according to the WHO, making this an "epidemic." Contrast this with the 250,000 to 500,000 — 50 to 100 times as many — who died of the regular flu. Then consider that the great majority of swine flu diagnoses in the last year turned out not to be the flu at all.

The real national emergency is the threat to our liberty. When the president declares a "national emergency," he typically martials the heavy hand of the state in ways unseen when there is no "crisis." Today we have so many "crises" — terrorism, economic collapse, health care, global warming and now swine flu — that no area of our lives is safe from government meddling. This particular "emergency" could lead to despotism: Mandatory vaccinations, quarantines, government control of transportation and so forth.

Be on the lookout in the next couple days for a new piece by Dr. Adam Murdock on swine flu hysteria in our featured articles section.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sassy Gingersnaps

You know the question: "What is your favorite dessert?" Whenever I get that question I really don't have an answer. Don't get me wrong, I am not a girl to turn down dessert. Offer me pretty much anything in the general dessert category, and I will take you up on your offer. But, to narrow it down to just one - impossible!

This week I made a batch of gingersnap cookies. I hadn't made these since last year during the holiday season. I knew I really liked them, but upon pulling these spicy sweet lovelies from the oven, I had an epiphany! This just might be my favorite cookie! I know, it still does not meet the full criteria of the all-time favorite dessert question, but at least I got an answer for the cookie department! Eating the first one, warm from the oven, confirmed my love for this snappy gem. Then I had to wonder, if I love these so much, why hadn't I made them since last December. Never really came up with a definite answer, but I believe I had categorized the gingersnap as a seasonal cookie.

The gingersnap surely pairs well with crisp fall leaves, frost on pumpkins, juicy turkeys, silvery sleighs, jingle bells and other holiday fare. But, please don't make the mistake that I did with limiting the gingersnap to only a few precious months of the year! Pull out this recipe spring, summer, fall and winter to give this little treat the respect it is due! You just might discover a cookie favorite of your own, or at least one of your favorites!

The way we generally handle cookies in our household is to make the dough and just make one sheet of cookies. We refrigerate the dough and continue to make one tray at a time over the next several days. What can I say! I like fresh cookies and can't really stand making tray after tray of cookies, trying to lay them out all over the counters to cool. It's just easier this way.

I feel like I must confess that on Wednesday, I ate 11 gingersnap cookies over the course of the day. E-L-E-V-E-N! And that does not include all the cookies I ate Monday, Tuesday or today! Maybe I have discovered the real reason why I only make these cookies a few times a year!

This recipe comes from Sugar Pie Farmhouse. Head on over to Aunt Ruthie's to feast your eyes on some amazing holiday decorating inspiration.


from Sugar Pie Farmhouse

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

Beat together butter, sugar, molasses and egg until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Combine all ingredients until well blended. Chill dough for 1 hour in a covered container. Roll teaspoon amount of dough into a ball. Roll dough ball in sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on how soft or crispy you like them. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Joys of Toddlerhood

Julius has been singing "Mawee had a yiddle yam" all morning!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adventures in Homeschooling

Since we are nearing the end of October, I thought I would give an round up of our homeschooling activities thus far. Since Layla is only four years old, I am still keeping our school time very simple and short. Our two main focuses are faith and reading. Nathan ordered a precious little Catechism book for young children and he printed off a collection of shorter scriptures for children to memorize. We talk through the Catechism book a few days a week and usually go over our scripture memorization every school day. The Catechism book has brought up some interesting conversations about Adam and Eve, Satan, covenants, sin, Jesus' death on the cross, and salvation. Layla also seems to be a natural when it comes to scripture memorization. She has already memorized 6 scriptures!

A month ago, one of the gentlemen at church told her he would give her a quarter for every scripture she quoted to him. After earning a dollar a few Sundays ago, the guest pastor overheard her and handed her another dollar! She was able to use her hard earned money to buy tickets to get on the blow-up rides at the Cider Mill.

While Layla has been memorizing scripture, Julius has been observing. About two weeks ago, Julius tapped me on the leg and quoted the very first scripture Layla ever memorized! It was so adorable hearing God's Word in his cute mumbling two year old voice! Put a bunch of marbles in your mouth and say, "First Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character." That's how he sounded! Soooooo cute!

Layla has also been making progress with her phonics. We are using a vertical phonics program and she has been working on all the sounds of a, t, s, l, e, m, i, and n. She has been successfully sounding out shorter words composed of those letters. She is now working on the different sounds of o, d, r, h, w, b, er, and th. We will soon be moving on to words with these phonic sounds.

Some days Layla will spend time doing copy work or practicing writing her letters or words of her choice. She also has several workbooks that she will work on. Again, I try and keep it light and simple. The only thing that I make mandatory right now is Catechism, scripture memorization and phonics. The rest is often at her request.

In the afternoons I have been reading aloud to the kids. This is an important part of the Charlotte Mason theory of homeschooling as well as the Thomas Jefferson Education Model. We finished Charlotte's Web last week. That book was wonderful as a read aloud because it brought up all sorts of questions and conversations. Layla asked if animals really talked. We discussed butchering animals and where our food comes from. The book details the scientific explanation of how spiders spin webs. It covers a variety of vocabulary words such as "salutations" and "languishing" and it gives definitions. Layla also recognized the different emotions that the book's characters experienced. All this from a lovely little classic! I guess there is so much to be learned from reading and discussing the classics, lol! I say that sarcastically! I just read a book on the classics/mentor model of education and will hopefully be posting a book review soon!

Right now we are reading Sprout and the Dog Sitter, which is not really a classic, but my copy of Ann of Green Gables is out in the garage and needs to be dug out for our next read aloud.

Overall, I am very happy with the school year. Layla is just plain ready for phonics, whereas last year she wasn't. Kids are ready to read at all different ages! Her being ready to read makes this school year so much easier and pleasant. That's it so far! We will keep you posted on our homeschooling adventures throughout the year!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Fall Favorite

Yesterday I discovered a new love for our fall time meals and snacks. Nate had asked a while back if we could make some pumpkin butter this fall. I have never had pumpkin butter, but if it was like apple butter, I knew I would have no complaints. After glancing over a few recipes, I whipped up a small pan full. It was delicious. And it was so easy. It tastes of fall. If you serve it warm on top of a hot piece of bread, then you are sure to warm your belly on a chilly fall day.

Pumpkin Butter

  • pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
  • brown sugar, light or dark
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • ginger
  • ground cloves
  • butter
  • apple juice (optional)

I didn't give amounts because I don't know how much pumpkin butter you will want. If you are planning on consuming it by the bucketful, then get some big cans of pumpkin puree. If you want just a small jar, then start with a small can of pumpkin puree. Place pumpkin puree in a sauce pan on medium heat. Add brown sugar and spices to taste. Add a tablespoon or so of butter, if making a small amount. Add a few more tablespoons if making a larger amount. Stir over medium heat until butter and sugar are melted and all ingredients are well combined. If you feel your pumpkin butter is too thick, then thin it out with a little apple juice. Serve warm for the most "wow" factor. But don't worry, it's still delicious cold from the fridge the next morning. To really blow your mind, serve it warm on bread fresh from the oven! Store in the refrigerator and consume within a few weeks.

Easy Bread Recipe

from Hillbilly Housewife

  • 3 cups of flour (half whole wheat, half unbleached all purpose)
  • 1 packet of yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup very warm water

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, dissolve yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Add oil to water and yeast. Add dry mixture until dough starts to form. Hand knead for 8 minutes, or knead in stand mixer using dough hook. Lightly grease a large bowl and grease ball of dough. Place dough in bowl and cover. Place bowl in oven with another bowl of hot water. Let dough rise for and hour or two until doubled in size. Remove bowls from oven. Punch down risen dough and knead a few times and shaped into loaf. Place into greased bread pan and cover. Butter seems to work the best for greasing the bread pan. Allow to rise for 30 minutes or an hour until loaf fills bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden. Remove from pan. Serve with butter, pumpkin butter, or your favorite toppings!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Well, today it happened. The flannel sheets went on the bed. As I put them on, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. Nathan swore when we were first married that we would NEVER use flannel sheets because he couldn't stand them. Now today, after 8 1/2 years of marriage, they are on the bed in early October, at his request! Funny how things can change in a relatively short time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy

The other night as I fixed biscuits and gravy for our dinner, I was reminded of how much I like the ease and comfort of this recipe. If you make it this way, its not the heart-attack-on-a-plate dish that you normally think of. Brown a pound of ground beef or ground turkey in a frying pan, seasoning heavily with salt, pepper and lots of sage (dried or fresh sage is fine). Don't drain the fat when finished. Add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Fill the pan 2/3 full with milk and continue to cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Taste and re-season with more salt, pepper and sage until it tastes like yummy sausage gravy. Serve over fresh biscuits. Add lots of vegetables and fresh fruit as your sides and you have a reasonably healthy meal!

This is our standby biscuit recipe. Fast, fresh and delicious!

Fluffy Baking Powder Biscuits

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

2 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour (we tend to do half of each)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, room temp.
1 cup milk

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with pastry knife, fork or just crumble together with your fingers. Should resemble crumbly meal. Add milk and stir until just moistened. Drop onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 450 degrees.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What's In Your Chicken?

Today we drove out to Springport High School to pick up 8 pasture raised chickens. Springport has a lovely FFA program where the students have been raising pastured chicken to sell to local communities. For starters, they are tasty! The chickens are smaller that what you normally see in the store, but for good reason. The chicks are given no steroids or antibiotics. They are given feed the first 4 weeks of life, but after that they are put out to pasture for the next four weeks and they eat off the fields. They are butchered and you get them young and fresh. They look the size of what chickens should probably look like. No colossal giant chicken breast here! Chickens were not meant to be the size of dogs! The meat is sweet and tender and the drippings are delicious. They make an excellent gravy.

Nate and I love this program because of the delicious chicken, but for other reasons too! First, we are supporting business from our local community. Second, the students learn important experience in business. At the end of each batch of chickens, students figure out their costs of raising the chickens, determine their profits and make adjustments to their asking prices to support the purchasing and raising of the next batch of chicks. What valuable life lessons they are learning that they will probably remember and apply for the rest of their lives! Lastly, Nate and I love supporting businesses that make better choices in food health. We would like to see lots of changes in the way food is raised and processed in our country, and the best way to make change is to use our hard earned cash and support those businesses that line up with our values.

For a little info on the dark side of white meat, click here.

So I encourage you to do a little research in your community and see if you can find some local ways to get your meat fresher and cleaner! I think you will be happy if you do. Check out the Internet, ask around at farmers' markets, chat with local farmers, etc. It might take a little work, but once you find your connections, spread the word!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

No More Tears (Well, Almost)

Just a little update on Gunnar and his napping. I am pleased to announce that he is now going down for naps without any crying. Hooray (applause, cheers and shouts of joy are all appropriate for such an accomplishment)! We are very happy about this, as we have enough whining and crying from other members of the family (no, I am not talking about Nathan).

The next step will be to tackle the task of sleeping through the night. I am currently building up my courage and will power for this. It will probably require a few sleepless nights, but as with most things in life: NO PAIN, NO GAIN!