Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maggie and Allen were excited about feeding the honeybees today. The bees are doing just great!
Here's a closeup. I wish Maggie were here to explain the picture. I'll have her update it when she comes home. Sarah, Maggie and Allen went to a fundraiser for autistic children that is being sponsored by Maggie's Occupational Therapist.
Maggie loves the way the bees will find any sugarwater. These are drops she spilled. Someone asked if we could notice bees around our property. Oh yes! We see them everywhere! Most of the time their bright yellow pollen-filled sacs are very visible. Yippee!
We have gotten a lot of chores done today. Maggie and Anna worked on the mini bikes.
They are very proud to know how to do whatever it is they are doing.
Even though it is very warm and humid (88 degrees), we spent all morning in the garden. This is Maggie transplanting voluntary raspberry bushes. Maggie has to wear an electronic thing that attaches to her arms while she is using them. She says it feels good.
Lizzie made this jumper for Maggie. Lizzie has sure gotten the sewing bug!
Ruthie, Lizzie and I went to the farmers market and bought strawberries, cantaloupes, celery, leeks, lemons, tomatoes, broccoli, and...
seedless watermelons!! Yes, they are as good as they look. Very sweet!
Dinner should be ready in a few minutes. I am making this recipe from my Country Living issue (May 2009) and it looks and smells delicious! And did I mention how easy it is? Just squirt fresh lemons over chicken breasts, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix 3/4 cup of peach jam (from the amish store) and 4 cloves minced garlic. Spread over chicken and bake, uncovered, for almost an hour at 400 degrees.

Well, I have 8 minutes until the chicken is done, so I will go steam some broccoli, and stirfry some celery and leeks. I may even steam some rice. I cut the large stems off the broccoli and shredded them for slaw tomorrow.

Just one note about the above picture: It is never a good idea to squirt lemon into a cast iron skillet. I put the lemon on my chicken while it was still on a glass dish, then slid the chicken into the skillet for the rest of the recipe.

Added later: We loved the chicken. Definitely a keeper recipe. The only thing I would change is to double the peach and garlic mixture so there is extra sauce to serve on the side.

Enjoy your weekend. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Seems like yesterday, not 26 years. (And not one strand of brown hair left on my head!) I remember how special it was for me that both sets of parents, both sets of grandparents, as well as our pastor, gave their blessing. Mike's parents have been married 58 years and my parents have been married 51 years. That's the kind of legacy I want to pass on to my children.

Mike and I went to a chinese restaurant for dinner, then drove around Leonardtown to see the beautiful sights. We ended up at the home of his boss, who gave us a grand tour of his 1877 home. What a treat!

I'll write more tomorrow. It's been a busy day and I'm bushed. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Isn't this a beautiful picture? My friend, Heather, painted this during an all-day artfest in her kitchen. It had been a rainy couple days, so Heather decided her homeschooled children would like to spend the day doing art class. We've done that, too! Anyhow, I thought this picture was beautiful. I hope Heather puts a white matt around it inside a white picture frame. Wouldn't it look nice on the front of a notecard? Thanks for letting me share this, Heather.
Mike is teaching my youngest three children morse code. Here he is practicing with Ruthie. I guess Mike hasn't given up his dream of having his children share his love of ham radio.Mike has this noisy little thing to practice with. You can also go to this website and learn. (Actually, there are many good websites that teach it.) In an effort to please Mike, Sarah and I took a ham radio class 10+ years ago...and totally flunked it. We just couldn't understand the technical stuff...and it didn't help that we had terrible teachers.

We couldn't even do the morse code. The teacher would give us a sentence in morse code, then we'd have to write it down. Then we had to read out loud what we wrote. Yikes! I remember one time Sarah and I both got the same answer..."The tent walked up the hill." We still laugh over that one.

This is the Morse Code chart:

A . - di-dah

B - . . . dah-di-di-dit
C - . - . dah-di-dah-dit
D - . . dah-di-dit
E . dit
F . . - . di-di-dah-dit
G - - . dah-dah-dit
H . . . . di-di-di-dit
I . . di-dit
J . - - - di-dah-dah-dah
K - . - dah-di-dah
L . - . . di-dah-di-dit
M - - dah-dah
N - . dah-dit
O - - - dah-dah-dah
P . - - . di-dah-dah-dit
Q - - . - dah-dah-di-dah
R . - . di-dah-dit
S . . . di-di-dit
T - dah
U . . - di-di-dah
V . . . - di-di-di-dah
W . - - di-dah-dah
X - . . - dah-di-di-dah
Y - . - - dah-di-dah-dah
Z - - . . dah-dah-di-dit

This is one of Lizzie's two muscovy ducks. I am having a hard time with her (the duck) being on my porch. She's making a mess of it. I don't know how to train her to roost in the trees like she's supposed to.

This Sunday, my Dad's Virginia church is collecting donations to take to the two local indian reservations. These two tribes are the Mattaponi and Pamunkey, and are the oldest reservations in this country. So tomorrow, Dad is coming to take my children shopping since Dad signed up for the only thing left on the list...underclothes for all ages. We've been joking about "unmentionables" ever since:-) Dad figures my children would know more about buying such things.

Dad's church will be having a special speaker, Sharon Suneagle to come and share with the congregation. Should be exciting!

Tonight we had thunderstorms for the second night in a row. We even got a call from the local government to warn us of the severity of the storms. Wow!

Enjoy the season. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We were very excited yesterday to see our first honeycomb from our hives! Mike and Maggie have been regularly checking to make sure everything is going well. Evidently the bees weren't making the honeycomb in the right place, so Mike scraped these off. They feel like soft wax. The queen had made eggs in it already. Wow! I love spring colors. Yesterday we planted the rest of our asparagus and onions. It was 75 degrees...and very warm in the afternoon sun!I finished Ruthie's second dress. I have never been so miserable making a dress. I tend to be a perfectionist with my sewing, but I could not make this pattern work perfectly. Always had to be tugging and forgiving.
I used this Simplicity pattern. The teal dress is the view with the longer jacket, the purple the shorter.
I really like the fabric coordinates from Joann's Fabrics.
Oops...I should have turned the floral fabric around to match the grain of the polka dot.
Our family has watched two good dvds lately. Faith Like Potatoes by Affirm Videos is based on a true story. I enjoyed watching the beautiful scenery of South Africa. This is the first time I have ever thought of Africa as beautiful!
Walking across Egypt was also well done by Feature Films for Families. Both movies had no foul language or immodesty. The only rock music was a few seconds between a few scenes.

Mike bought an armful of good dvds at a garage sale, so hopefully we will find some more to share with you. If you'd like to borrow either of the above videos (and live locally), let me know.

Enjoy your Sunday. We are waiting for rain here in southern Maryland. No drought this year! Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yesterday I was excited about getting the honeybees, so I didn't get a chance to share with you about our Easter morning. Our sunrise service was held indoors because of the cold weather (we Baptists are becoming wimpy!). Afterwards we went back to church for breakfast that was prepared by Bonnie and Owen. What a treat! Isn't this a gorgeous flower arrangement? Bonnie has a real touch with decorating. (Oops ~ Bonnie just let me know that our friend, Jeanette, arranged the flowers. So much talent for one church!)
And Bonnie doesn't forget the children.
Even though Bonnie was busy doing all the breakfast, she was still able to find time to make special Empty Tomb cakes for her Sunday School class of 4 and 5 year olds. I had never heard of these cakes...which are also called Easter Crescent rolls, Tomb cookies, etc. You can find a good copy of the recipe here that also explains the spiritual symbolism.
I left my camera with Owen so he could take a picture of the finished product...but he forgot to show the empty tomb! So today I stopped and bought a tube of crescent rolls and got my three youngest children to make 8 of them.And this is the empty tomb! I found many versions of the recipe. We rolled out the triangles, brushed with melted butter, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar, and placed 7 mini marshmallows in the center; fold around the marshmallows and pinch the dough. Brush with more melted butter, and sprinkle more cinnamon. It is the melted marshmallow that creates the empty tombs.

I think this is a terrific idea for children, especially if they are kinestic and learn by doing with their hands. Thanks for the idea, Bonnie.
I would like to share with you another blessing we received this weekend. Our family wanted to sing this song called, "Three Empty Crosses" that we have on an amish cassette. We have tried for two years to find the music to it, but were always unsuccessful. Unfortunately, we were having trouble with a few notes, and unsure about a few words.

Last Thursday evening, with a prayerful heart, I looked at the cassette tape one more time...and realized the cover opened up with a listing of the composers. Voila! So this time I googled the name of the song + the composer...and I finally found a woman who was selling 25 copies! But that was Thursday...and we needed to learn the song to sing on Sunday.

I emailed the woman, whose name is Elaine, and asked if she could email us the pages if I bought the 25 copies. And she did! What a blessing! Elaine has a wonderful blog. Take a look and enjoy. I love belonging to the family of God. Thanks so much, Elaine. (And today my 25 copies came in the mail!)

I know this is off the record, but once a month or so, I indulge my love of the old west, and read this website called Chronicle of the Old West. This month there is a nice poem called, "I Am Thankful." Be sure to read it. This website also has a fun page called The Chuckwagon that contains recipes from a hundred plus years. I'd like to try the vinegar pie.
Well, tonight I didn't serve kale because I was in a rush, so we had a fast throw-together salad that was delicious. Salad mix, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, fried rice noodles, cilantro, and a little bit of chicken (2 breasts for 8 people). We served it with hoisin sauce. Ooh la la!

I hope you also had a joyous celebration this weekend. One good thing about the poor economy...I didn't see any ridiculous eggs hanging from trees, or blowup bunnies.

He is risen indeed. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, April 13, 2009

Maggie's Honeybees are here!

Early this morning I got a phonecall from the clerk at the post office ~ come get your bees! Maggie and Mike were up at Walter Reed, so it was up to me to bring the bees home. This is exactly what I picked up. I was surprised at how calm and quiet the bees were. We weren't supposed to get the bees until tomorrow, so it was a nice surprise to get the phonecall.
The directions said to mix 10# of sugar with 1-1/2 gallons of water, then spray onto the bees. Boy did they come alive then! They must've been hungry. The sugar solution sure woke up their buzzers ~ it was noisy!
Mike called our expert friend, Chris, to let him know about the change in dates, and he came over when he had a break from work. Too bad Chris wasn't able to stay for dinner ~ I had set up a double batch of my sourdough cracked wheat dinner rolls so he could take a batch home. He was long gone by the time they were finished baking, so I sent a batch to my neighbor. This is Maggie, momma to the honeybees.
The smoke calms the bees down. Maggie said Chris barely smoked the bees.
This is one of Maggie's Queen Bees. Chris gave us so many tips that I can't imagine doing bees "by the book." Now when I look off our back porch I feel like a farmer. I sure hope these bees help our orchard.
What was the most surprising thing I learned? That you have to pour water on the bees so they won't fly away!! I felt sorry for the poor little bees when I saw this picture. I hope it was warm's only 54 degrees out!
Today I stopped by an amish produce stand hoping to buy $2 worth of kale. The woman gave me this huge 13-gallon trash bag full! For $2! She said today was her last day of selling kale because her hubby will plow the field tomorrow. We ate some tonight that was delicious. I cooked it with 2 strips of bacon, 2 squirts of brown rice vinegar, 1 large chopped onion, and some garlic salt. Yummy! Even though I used 16 cups of chopped kale, it didn't make a dent in the bagful. Wow!

The good part is that my family loved the kale so much that they've asked me to make it every night. We'll see how long it takes them to eat those words!:-)

This time next year we should be eating our own honey, maybe sooner. It sure has been exciting learning about the whole process. Today I ordered Allen's 25 chickens, so I guess that will be another learning process. I love it!

Two more cold days, then warmer weather. I can hardly wait...I am definitely tired of bringing all my hanging planters in each night. Enjoy this season. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tomorrow morning we will be going to our church's sunrise service. Afterwards we will have breakfast at the church, so Maggie and Lizzie are busy baking. It smells delicious!

So far they have made two trays of these sweet rolls,

a batch of powdered donuts,
and a dozen blueberry muffins ~ my favorite!
We got lots of gardening done yesterday. Little black guy helped us dig rows.
After romping in the clover field, and digging trenches in the garden, Little Black Guy was exhausted.
I have been in the sewing room all day working on Ruthie's Easter dress (shown in picture). I have the dress finished and am halfway through with the little bolero jacket. I'll post a picture when I finish. I cut out two outfits, but I can tell I'll only get the one finished today.

I've been enjoying listening to lots of good music ~ The Sons of the San Joaquin, The Bar J Wranglers, The Marshall Family, The English Brothers, Sons of the Pioneers, and The Old Fashion Revival Quartet. What a blessing.

I hope you are having a productive weekend as well. My daffodils and lilacs are in bloom. The woods have green buds poking through. And we've been getting lots of light, steady rain. I love springtime!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How do country boys with no televisions have fun? Spudguns! Mike and Allen built two spudguns recently. There's the smaller one on the ground, and the larger missile gun that they're shooting. I tried to time the camera to catch the potato flying through the air but it goes too quickly.
This is Allen stuffing the potato down the chute. Mike doesn't usually dress up for these events, but he had just gotten home from work and Allen couldn't wait another minute. Aren't they handsome guys?! Our family is off to Mount Zion United Methodist Church for the noon service this Good Friday. This is the same church where we go for our Christmas eve services. I was raised in a UMC (in Glen Burnie, MD) and one of the things that impacted my spiritual life was the Good Friday service. Back then, the service lasted three hours. Today's service will last one hour. I think it is important for my children to take time on this holiday to reflect on what Jesus went through to pay for their sins.

Afterwards, we hope to come home and get some serious planting done in the garden...if we can beat the rain.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Added later:

We just got home from church and ate lunch, so I thought I'd go ahead and share about our service. I am so glad we went. This is a picture of the church. There were probably 40 people in attendance today. Not bad for a noon service on a workday.The service was well done. At one point, we had to go up front and hammer in a nail on the wood cross. I was trembling when it was my turn. My family agreed that the actual pounding in the nail really hit home that it was our sin that drove Jesus to the cross...but His love that kept Him there. PTLThis is one of my favorite signs around our county this time of year. This sign is located on the gate of our local transfer station (trash pickup). Even though Easter means egg hunts and candy baskets to the world, at least we can still call it Easter.

Before we left for church, I loaded up my crockpot with 1# macaroni, 1# browned beef, and one 48 oz can V8, and set it on high. When we got home 1-1/2 hours later, it was perfectly done. Yummy! Years ago I would've shredded a cup of colby cheese over top, but now we just season with garlic salt. Still yummy.

Hopefully your day is as sunny and warm as ours. Many blessings ~ Kathie