Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

 We had our family dinner last night. We usually do have it on the Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend so we have all day Monday to relax and do whatever we like.
 This morning my men are out fishing and I am getting ready to head to the next town to get more things for a Pumpkin Pie. All of it was gobbled up before my son got a piece (he was too full for dessert and wanted to wait for his piece) so I told him I would make him a new one today. ~smile~
 We had the usual for dinner last night  - Roast Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (My hubby makes the very best stuffing!), corn and turnip and carrots mashed with butter and brown sugar. Oh and Crescent rolls - funny how they are almost the highlight of our meal. I don't buy Pillsbury Crescent rolls except on holidays so they are a treat I guess. Funny how that goes...homemade bread or rolls are not a cause for excitement here but store bought ones are! It is like that with cookies too. I bake a lot - basically everyday so when we get store bought cookies it is a rare occasion. My friend Nancy once told me she went to some event where there was a meal and all the "Non Amish or Mennonite" men and children were so excited for the homemade cookies and all the Amish and Mennonite men and children were super excited for the store bought cookies!
 I thought I might show how I decorate my pumpkin pies. I make a batch of pie dough. My recipe makes a double crust so I use one for the pie and the other I roll out and cut out leaves and make vines and bake them on  cookies sheet with and upside down cake pan on it so I can have some flat leaves and some bent ones so the will lay nicely one the pie.
Then once the pie is cooled off I arrange them on the top. It just makes the pie look a little more special.

 Our Pastor yesterday preached a wonderful sermon from Psalm 92 about Thanksgiving to God. And how it should be done on a regular basis. It isn't something for once a year. It is good to start and end our day in prayer and thanksgiving. He said we need to be exuberant in our praise! If we aren't praising God much anymore we need to examine our hearts and get them back in line with Him. Praise is inexhaustible - we will never run out of reasons to praise God. We need to praise God in EVERYTHING! Our thoughts are not His thoughts and we can trust that whatever happens in our lives is in His control.
 We also had a time where a few people in our congregation shared things they were thankful for. What a beautiful time! It actually brought me to tears at one point when a lady shared that God is in the details. The fall colors around us are amazing and a joy and God could have made the world grey and He didn't. She went on to talk about how nothing is out of God's control. I so needed those reminders yesterday as I have a new health issue troubling me and I am waiting to be able to see a doctor this week I hope but I do trust that all is in His hands!
 So it has been a blessed weekend of worship, family time and food! I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving whether today in Canada or next month in the U.S.
Thanksgiving Blessings,

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wild Grape Jelly

Wild Grape Jelly

  Near our town is a wild life area that used to be farms and as a result there are many, many apple trees and also grape vines. All have gone wild now but still produce an abundance of fruit that is free for the taking. As a bonus it is pesticide free!  So, I picked SEVERAL big bags of apples (more on that later) and picked a big bowl of the wild grapes.
  Wild grapes are quite small and tart. They are also super dark! The jelly I made looks almost black! To make it I washed the grapes and then plucked them from the stems. (wearing gloves to avoid purple fingers) ~smile~ Then I put them in a sieve and tried pressing them to strain out the juice. That did not work! So I had to get my gloved hand right in there and squeeze them and squeeze them. There was a lot of juice from these little grapes but it was super thick, even after I strained it through cheesecloth. My jelly came out very thick.
To make the jelly I used Redpath Quickset for jam.

 I use this for all my jams and jellies and it works so well - very quick and so simple to use. All you do is put the required amount of juice in a pot add the quick set and some lemon juice, stir and boil for a few minutes and that is it! Couldn't be easier!
 I added a bit of unsweetened apple juice to the grape juice to get the needed amount of liquid but you cannot taste it at all.
 So that was my wild grape adventure - now I have to deal with all the apples I have waiting for me in the kitchen!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life Among the Amish and Mennonites

We are so blessed to live very close to many Amish and Mennonite communities. They are wonderful people. One of the biggest blessings of living where we do is the Amish bulk food store and the farms where you can buy veggies, plants, eggs, pies and other baking. 
  The bulk food store is located in a separate building behind an Amish family's house. I get the best flour there! I don't know what it is that makes it different but my baking and especially my bread turn out so much better when I use that kind. They also sell a vast variety of spices very inexpensively as well as bulk packages of sugars, molasses, yeast, honey etc. etc. All of it is priced far below what you would pay in a store. The only indication it is there is the plain painted sign at the end of their driveway that says "Bulk Food" It was one of our best finds.
  Another place we love to go is right down the road and it is an Amish farm that sells produce, plants eggs and baking. Two older sisters run this side business together. We call it going to the egg lady but in reality there is so much more and again just incredible quality for so much less than the stores. They are such sweet ladies too. Again the only indication they are there is a painted sign by their mail box that says "produce". Mary (one of the ladies) is always quite happy when I bring her a printout of the weather forecast for the week ~smile~
  Then there is Amelia and her husband just around the corner. They are amazing people! So welcoming and sweet. They have also been growing GMO and organic produce and raising their animals without antibiotics or growth drugs and hormones. Amelia's husband has read up on these things and decided that isn't what he wants for their family or to sell. They sell GMO free and organic produce of all types, along with eggs, pork and chicken. They are also deeply concerned about the possible loss of religious freedom one day. Her husband is extremely knowledgeable on current events and loves to discuss it all with my hubby!

  All along the roads in these communities you will see these hand painted signs at the end of driveways. Signs for quilts, baking, produce, lumber, leather work, and shoe repair among others. I am so glad we chose to stop in one day and now have these wonderful places to shop and lovely people to visit. I would encourage anyone to pop in and see what is available at these kinds of places.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monkey Cupcakes

This is a picture of some monkey cupcakes I made for children's ministry. I don't remember where I saw the original idea for this so if it is yours thank you so much the kids loved them!
I just made some cupcakes and iced them with chocolate frosting. Then I put on the vanilla wafer face and ears (for the ears break a vanilla wafer in half and stick the broken end in the cupcake on each side). Next I piped two spots of white icing on for the eyes and put a chocolate chip in each one for pupils. Then it was just a matter of piping on the nostrils and mouth.
It was so fun to make these and the children had a lot of fun eating them. ~smile~

Friday, September 18, 2015

Keeper at Home

  A man I know once asked me what it is about women that make us want to look after our homes. The answer to that question is God. God created women to care for our homes, our husbands and our children. We were created to be a helper for our husbands and it is an exciting and wonderful calling!
   I never felt happier or more fulfilled than when I gave up working outside the home and became a full time homemaker. I used to manage a busy spa and yet my favorite parts of that job were doing the laundry, helping the therapists by readying rooms and caring for the clients needs. The whole time I was there I was longing to be home.
  People today have an easier time understanding being a stay at home mom than they used to but they still have a hard time understanding being a stay at home wife when the children have grown up.
They generally feel that women whose children are grown should go out and work. I don't feel that way at all. In Titus 2:5 it doesn't  say "...keepers at home while your children are young then go work". It simply says keepers at home. 
  I know there are those who think women are lazy because they want to be at home rather than out working. But being home all day gives them the freedom to serve their husbands. I can go to bed when my husband does and get up each morning early to look after him, get his breakfast and coffee and make his lunch before I see him off to work. I am home to look after whatever he would like done during the day. I am able to go on trips with him without any conflicts in work schedules. Our home is clean and looked after and I can have baking done for his lunch or snacks. I have the time to make homemade meals from scratch everyday and make special treats for him - like homemade hummus - his favorite ~smile~. You can save a lot of money by doing things like making meals, baked goods and snacks from scratch. Another way a stay at home wife can save money is by sewing and mending the things she already has.
I try and  preserve foods for later use. I just made salsa the other day and have already canned our pears for winter. Next week will find me picking apples and making applesauce and apple pie filling God willing. Then comes picking wild grapes and making jelly. I can make many of the gifts we give as well and make  things for our home. I can also open our home for hospitality because I have been here to keep the house clean and to do baking so I can offer surprise guests something.
  Being home full time also gives me the opportunity for outreach and ministry work. I am able to have neighbours and acquaintances over for a coffee and chat, opening the door for spiritual conversations. I can go and do outreach activities, teach junior church and soon Sunday school as well as I have the time to plan the lessons and the crafts. I can have a ladies Bible study here one afternoon a week and I am able to head the ladies ministry at our church which involves studies, outings and special outreach projects. All these things are only possible because I am home full time.
  I am a very content and very fulfilled keeper at home - it is a very busy and very happy life!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Godly Woman - An Example to Follow

I was thinking this afternoon about a funeral I attended some time ago. the funeral was for a lovely woman named Edith.
  During her funeral they said some remarkable things about her that I would like to share with you as she is a worthy example to follow.
  She was an excellent wife, always working with her husband together for God on their farm. She even worked on building the church in her place at his side.
  When the pastor said ..."her husband praises her.." Her husband called out Amen. I can only hope to do as well by my husband.
  She was an excellent mother  - her children arose and spoke of this. All her children were raised in faith, they remember her willingness to play with them, even swimming in chilly lakes and walking the shores. Let's remember to take the time for our children, believe me the time flies by so very quickly. I often tease my son that he was 4, I blinked and now he is 24. How I miss the days when he was small and wanted me to play. How grateful I am that I did.
   Many gave tribute remarking on her incredible hospitality, she always made everyone feel welcome even when they popped by unannounced. She was always ready with treats and refreshments. They said it was so easy to come to her home and so hard to leave. Edith made everyone feel very special and very welcome.
  She was an excellent homemaker  - many remarked on how well she kept her home to spite all her other duties. Her home was always clean and neat and ready for company.
  Edith never wasted food. She was a gardener with huge gardens and every bit was canned frozen or cooked, not wasting anything she was blessed with.
  She was a wonderful seamstress sewing dresses and quilts of quality - she worked willingly with her hands.
  She kept a sweet disposition though she experienced severe tragedy in her life and never wavered in her faith.
  She was known for her love. she loved others and they knew it whether family, friends, acquaintances or those she just met she loved them all and it showed.
  Her husband and she were sacrificially generous, giving to the church, those in need and those that weren't.
  Edith had a quiet and gentle spirit. she was never heard to argue, slander, gossip, complain or even be angry. She never raised her voice. Her grandson remembered 3 weeks he spent with them when he was a boy full of mischief. He said when he needed discipline she never went for the wood pile she just a look on her face and he knew he never wanted to hurt her again.
  She was excited and passionate about her faith - she excitedly told others about her faith, she was thrilled to share. She was on fire for God!
  It was said often that she was a wonderful woman, a virtuous woman who can find, they said she was one for sure and her value is far above rubies.

 All of this makes me think about what they would say at my funeral.  Selfish? Too shy to share faith? Waster of blessings and tosser of food. Hired out sewing because she was too lazy to learn. Loud, gets angry, faced tragedies with despair, Home too messy to have company. Unwelcoming? Gossiper? Slanderer?
Oh Lord let it not be so! I pray God helps me to learn from this wonderful example of a truly godly woman. 
What would they say of you?
Picture available here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mississippi Mud

This past weekend we were blessed to be invited for dinner at our friend's home. I made this super yummy dessert to take along. It was my first time making it. I know that you should never make a new recipe to take somewhere before trying it first but thankfully it was a big it - both of the men had a big piece and then had a second bigger piece! ~smile~ So I thought I would share it with you.

Mississippi Mud
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup butter
In a 9x13" pan blend crumbs and sugar. Melt the butter and pour over crumb mixture. Mix well. Press crust into the pan evenly covering the bottom only. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool completely.
8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese, softened
1 cup icing sugar
12 oz. container of Cool Whip, thawed
3 cups of milk
2 - 3.5 oz. pkgs. of instant chocolate pudding
Mix cream cheese and icing sugar well. Fold in half of the Cool Whip. blend until smooth.
Spread on cooled crust.
Blend milk and pudding, stirring until thick. Spread over cream cheese layer.
Spread remainder of Cool Whip evenly over the top.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
(I sprinkled the top of mine with a bit of chocolate cookie crumbs I had on hand just to make it look a little fancier on top. You could add chocolate curls, crushed Crispy Crunch bar, etc. or just leave it plain on top)
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!