Monday, November 30, 2009

What miserable weather we had today. Cold and rainy. The rain poured at times making it dangerous driving. Glad it's over and I'm in the comfort of my home. Ruthie had her first full violin lesson today after breaking her arm. And yes, as you can see in the picture, Adina will be having a joyful bundle in March. We're so excited!

Allen opened up the beehives yesterday to see if they have enough food, and he got stung! No, he didn't have his protective gear on. Lesson learned.

We had fajitas this weekend...yummy!
We used green and red peppers, and vidalia onion.
Usually we use top round steak, but I found skirt steak on sale at the commissary. That is the meat of choice for Texans, but I prefer the less-fatty top round. I rubbed the spices into the raw meat while the cast iron skillet was preheating in the 400 degree oven.
We used this fajita seasoning that Sarah brought home from Texas. Everyone loved it...but I still prefer to use Paula Deen's recipe for brisket here (but remember to use half the salt).
I broiled the meat for about 5 minutes. Didn't take long. The smells were heavenly!
Sarah sauteed the veggies in another skillet. I broiled the meat.
We didn't have any corn tortillas (which I preferred), so we used regular and whole-grain pita bread. We heated them enough to soften. Usually we add a bunch of freshly chopped cilantro. I can't believe we forgot! This is one of our easiest and most favorite meals.
I have been looking online for a good used creche. I don't know what I'm looking for but I figure I'll know it when I see it. Actually, I would love to find the same nativity set that Mrs. Bonnie bought at JC Penney for church. I'm not in a rush. But while I was looking, I found two adorable native american creches. Look at that cute angel above the doorway of the tipi!
I like the colors of this one...but I like the cactus on the first one.

We are preparing to have the "old folks" from church this Friday for lunch and a mini-concert. We have 26 signed my parents and our family. This time I will set up 5 banquet tables...the most my kitchen will hold.

I've been keeping my eye on the weather because Mr. Al from church wants us to have a fire in the fireplace...regardless of the temps. Last year it was 80 degrees outside, so I am hoping for a cold day. So far it looks like the temps should be in the 50s. That's good. Now we have to find some dry wood!

Enjoy your week. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving Day. We sure did. Maggie and Lizzie spent the morning making pies, so the kitchen smelled wonderful. Then I made sourdough rolls, and off we went to Mom's for dinner. It was nice seeing my brothers and their families. Darling Abigail is walking nonstop now.

Our family has been working on this puzzle all week. It is called State Birds and Flowers. We almost gave up was that hard!

This month in my Country Woman magazine (Reiman Publications) there is the story of a woman who gets together every Thursday evening with her siblings to do jigsaw puzzles. So for Christmas one year, her hubby gave her a huge brown box full of 15 puzzles...only he had dumped all 15 puzzle pieces into the box! It took the siblings 9 months or so to finish all the puzzles. What dedication...but what fun!I recently went on a journey to find a good treadle machine...and what a journey it was! I originally had a treadle machine from that I bought during the Y2K scare. I paid $300 for it. What Lehmans didn't tell us until after Y2K was that this Singer machine is for looks...not everyday sewing. I quickly found that out as I was never able to sew more than a foot without the threads breaking. So when Ruthie started asking repeatedly to sew on my treadle, I decided to investigate a low-cost machine. My goal was to get a machine that worked, in an oak cabinet that was nice to look at. Well, I quickly realized the oak part would have to wait...good cabinets run $300-400 here.

I found the above White brand machine on for $75. I still think that is a good deal. BTW, for those of you who live in VA, you can easily get a working treadle in a pretty cabinet for about $100! I almost made the trip. When I started to use the White machine, I realized it was completely different from the Singer treadles. Actually, it is a very nice machine, and there are restorers who will only touch a White machine.

I visited a Mennonite friend who showed me 3 of her 4 treadles. She had two Necchis, a Singer, and a Kenmore. But my other Mennonite friend told me that all the girls nowadays buy the 712T Janome that is built exclusively for the treadle machine. So I ordered one of those for $199 and free shipping from Amazon. I got it within 3 days!

However, the Janome didn't fit into the White cabinet because White does not follow standard measurements. Arrgh! So I sold the White machine for $99 (to get back my gas money as well as machine money).
Meanwhile, I walked into the thrift shop and the lady asked me if I wanted a Keystone sewing machine that didn't work. For free. I glanced at it and saw that the belt and motor were attached on the back so I could easily convert it to a treadle. I brought it home and spent an hour oiling and removing all the electric parts (pedal, light, and motor). I had way too much fun restoring this machine!

The good thing is that this machine now works like a charm. So I ditched the Lehman's machine and put the Keystone into my Lehman's cabinet. I didn't have to make one fit perfectly.

However, I still had the Janome with no cabinet, so when I saw a beautiful Singer treadle for sale on that was located 10 minutes away, I snatched it up for $80. Mike had to saw off a few pieces of the cabinet to make the Janome fit, but now it works perfectly...and what a quality machine.
Yes, now I have two machines that work wonderfully. I can't bear to part with the Keystone even though I don't need two machines. Right now it makes a nice lamp table in the music room, so I don't have to rush for a decision.
This is a closeup of the Janome 712t. Love it!  Added 11/17/11:  In response to the many emails I've received regarding my Janome treadle sewing machine, I've published a post just for this purpose here.  There are many photos on this post.  Hopefully this will help. ~ Kathie  Anna is trying her hand at the treadle. The best thing about this Janome is that the reverse works smoothly...usually treadles are hard to reverse. This also has the buttonhole feature, zigzag, and 20 optional feet! There is something very soothing about working a treadle.

Treadle machines are definitely making a comeback thanks to the emphasis on being green. There are several nice blogs about sewing with treadles, my favorite being Treadle Quilts.
Today Maggie and Ruthie went to VA with Mom and Dad, so Lizzie is making Ruthie a dress for Christmas. Lizzie got lonely down in the sewing room, so she dragged her machines up to the kitchen. Anna and Sarah had brunch with the peeps...their friends from church who are home from college. Mike is running around getting lots of little jobs done before he and Allen go hunting again. And I am trying to get interested in sewing. Once I start I won't want to stop, so I want to make sure everything else is done.
Just one last note. When I visited my Mennonite friend with the treadles, she had just gotten a brand new wood cookstove. She was cooking many pots of food and having a grand time. Her home felt so cozy...all wood flooring, paneling, furniture, etc. One whole wall of her large kitchen was windows with a beautiful country view. Wish I could take everyone there to enjoy it.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yesterday I was reading and found an article that featured meatless Thanksgiving meals. There was also this beautiful edible cornucopia. Isn't it lovely?! You can find wonderful directions for making this cornucopia on a website called Chica and Jo. The directions are step by step with pictures for each favorite kind of directions!

The recipe for the cornucopia calls for refrigerated bread dough, but I would make a healthy whole grain dough. Can you guess what this picture is? Yesterday someone gave our dog a plate of leftovers. (My pattern is Blue Willow.) Well, Ollie wasn't hungry, so he decided to bury the plate for another time. Fortunately a bit of blue was showing or else we would have never found it.

We had a busy day today. Maggie had two long appts that were just far enough apart that we came home in between. The past three days have been miserably drizzly, but late afternoon the sun shone through! Hurray!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day. We will be choring in the morning, then going to Mom's for dinner. We have much to be thankful for. Our temps are supposed to be a high of 57 degrees...heat wave! Friday is back to regular cold weather.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

When I was in Texas last year, I read about a popular drink there called Aguas Frescas that is made from hibiscus leaves. I wondered if it was tasty but never tried it. So when our local amish bent and dent store had boxes of it for $1/box, I bought two. Yummy! It is wonderful!

When I got home, my Dad gave me a Texas magazine that had a feature article on Aguas Frescas. There are many flavors...but the most common flavor is called Jamaica (pronounced huh-my-kuh). I googled to find a recipe of which there were many...including a watermelon flavor I'd like to try next summer.

Evidently I am not the only Jamaica lover because when I returned to the store a few days later...they were all gone!!

This time of year is hard for me to blog because I keep wanting to share with you my great deals for Chistmas gifts...but my children read my blog. Since Ruthie rarely reads it, I'll share with you this gift I got for her. This is called the "Root Vue Farm" because you can see the roots growing. Since Ruthie always enjoys gardening, I think she will love this. I only wish the company would spell it correctly...view instead of vue.

This is an expensive gift that normally sells for $29-36 online, but I bought a used one from amazon for $19. Not bad!

Maggie and I love this gift that is popular this year. This is a Mason Bee House. Mason bees are wonderful friends...great for pollinating. They just don't produce honey. This sells for $15. I am going to ask my uncle for some bamboo stalks and try to make our own.
Since I like funny signs, this is my latest. Looks like directions for cooking on the grill, doesn't it? Well, I took this picture in the ladies now you can guess. This sign shows how to properly place your baby on the diaper changing table. I always wondered how!!

Sarah took my children Christmas shopping today, so Maggie and I are enjoying the quiet. This is our second day of drizzle, so there is mud at the bottom of the porch stairs. Yucko.

The commissary shoppers were friendly this morning, so I enjoyed getting my shopping done. What a difference it makes to be surrounded by folks with a happy attitude.

Keep dry, safe, and warm. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anna decided to start her own blog, so I thought now would be a good time to introduce it. It's called View From My Valley at Take a peek and look at her pics from her recent trips. I will try not to duplicate all of Anna's pictures, but here are my favorites. This picture shows a log home in St. Augustine, FL.
Yes, the four rooms were carved out of the tree!
Anna will be posting lots of pics from this house. Looks cozy!
And this hen lives under the log house.
Mike, Lizzie, and Anna also visited Castillo De San Marcos. Allen would enjoy this place. Anna has all sorts of fascinating facts about this castle.
The town of St. Augustine reminds me of San Antonio with its rich history.
This log fort used to surround the entire town.
Then back to the hotel where they enjoyed the jacuzzi.
This is a fun picture from Sarah. She snapped it while driving through the Town Creek neighborhood. I'm glad modesty prevailed!
Now for my update on Maggie. Most of you know that 4-1/2 years ago, Maggie strained her arms/hands from practicing the piano too much. For 4+ years we have been taking her to neurologists, physical therapy, chiropractors, occupational therapy, Johns Hopkins, pain management, ortheopedics, etc., in an effort to have her diagnosed and healed.

Maggie's current therapist has recently mapped Maggie's brain, called neuro biofeedback. The results of the mapping confirmed what the therapist suspected: There is nothing wrong with Maggie's hands and is her brain that has rewired itself incorrectly. It is sort of like the phantom pain that patients feel when they lose a limb. (The above picture shows what it looks like to be mapped. Maggie had EKG lubricant all through her hair when she was finished. We came straight home so she could wash it off!)

The good thing is that her therapist is confident that Maggie's brain can be re-trained with 40-60 sessions of biofeedback. PTL!! The only bad news is that this is an expensive treatment. So right now we are trying to get Tricare to finance these treatments so that we only have a co-pay payment. Maggie still goes for accupuncture treatments, and to the chiropractor.

So we are feeling hopeful as we enter this Thanksgiving season. We just had a rough week because Maggie's meds didn't get refilled because of a mixup, but the old Maggie is now back and funnier than ever.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Daniel 11:32b "But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." Well, we do know God...and we have been doing exploits! I looked up exploits in the dictionary, and it means great deeds, adventures, or spirited acts. Yep, that's us!

Sorry I've been offline for a couple weeks. I was just plain busy. Once I stop posting it seems to be very hard to start up again. Hopefully I am back for awhile. It is very therapeutic for me to write.
Since today is Sunday, we are only home for a couple hours between services, so I don't have much time to do this post. The good thing is that Anna finally downloaded her pictures, so I have lots to share over the next week or two.

Last week our family started up a favorite old hobby...putting together puzzles. What fun! We've done 4 so far. I woke up with a crick in my neck...and there's no doubt what caused it!

Poring over puzzle pieces reminds me of reading the Bible. You can read the same verse many times over your lifetime, and each time you get a different blessing from it. Puzzle pieces also look different every time you study them!
Yesterday was the annual ensemble recital for Anna and Lizzie. They had a lot of fun. Lizzie played two pieces and Anna played one. That's my mom turning pages. Mom teaches piano to my four youngest children. (The oldest two have graduated.)

Anna played her piece with her Grandma. It was a very enjoyable recital.
At the end of the recital the students pose for group pictures. Usually we know half the students (from 6 teachers) but yesterday we barely knew any.
Anna and Lizzie went to Florida with Mike two weeks ago. I will share their pictures this week. There were three highlights to the trip...staying with Grandma and Grandpa, horseback riding with cousins in Ocala, and visiting St. Augustine, FL. I haven't seen the pics either, so it will be fun for me too!

Hope you are looking forward to Thanksgiving week. We are going to my parents' home a mile away, so I should have any easy time of it. The only bad part is that Maggie's therapy will be canceled for 4 days. That means she'll be in pain by Monday. So that is my prayer this week...that Maggie will not be overcome with pain next weekend.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Once a year I make a trip to the nearest laundromat (in Charlotte Hall) to wash my son's king-size comforter. I have to use the triple-size machine that takes 14 quarters. I love visiting different cultures...and this place is definitely a different culture!
There was only one couple and another woman. I spent my time talking to the couple, an elderly black couple who are retired farmers. They go to Ebenezer Methodist church, one of the oldest churches in our county. I had to stifle a laugh when they told me the name of their church in their southern Maryland drawl. Ebineeeeeeezah. I tried to give them a tract but they cannot read. However, after talking to them about the Lord, I think they are true believers.
Can you tell this is amish territory?
I always enjoy reading signs. Anyhow, it was a fun trip. I enjoyed being directed by the elderly folks. "Chile, put you's blankie in that thar misheen."
We are busy in our basement this week. Ruthie had to give up some of her play area.
We moved all the game tables up against the wall, and we're slowing moving my entire quilting/sewing/ironing stuff into the basement. I am giving up my beloved quilting room to Mike so that I can move into his office area...which is much larger. First we have to paint his area and add some electrical outlets, so everything will stay crammed here for awhile.
Fortunately, all my fabric is on wheels. Now I have to lug in the bins and all the miscellaneous piles of projects. Now that we're almost done, it's getting exciting. Anna will be thrilled. I left the cutting table so she can still cut out fabrics.

Mike had to go to Florida for a couple days of meetings, so he took Anna and Lizzie along for the fun. The hotel has a pool, so the girls are planning on a lot of swim time. Then they will visit Grandma and Grandpa L. for a few days. I miss them!Henrietta the rooster (I know...but we named her before we found out she was a he) is my favorite pet right now. She gets herself to safety every night by flying over the 4 ft fence, and lets herself out in the morning. She scrounges for her own food...and eats whatever kitchen scraps I give her. What could be better?! She loves to be near people and runs to be with us whenever she hears us. But she also loves to be on our porch, so I had to make this mesh gate.

Right after I took the picture of Henrietta, I felt something pull my camera down, and that made me snap another picture. It was Ranger playing with the handle of my camera. That'll teach me not to take pictures in my slip!
All the pets are sporting heavy coats now. The goats almost look like miniature bison with their uneven fur.
I saw this picture on our website. Isn't it cute? It comes from I took a peek, but I tend to avoid websites like that because most of it is not usually clean. I didn't see anything bad...but I only glanced.

I won't get much basement work today because we have three appts and Tang Soo Do. This past weekend we had some wind, so our trees are almost bare. The girls will be surprised when they get home.

I'm working on a post to update you about our new sewing machines and fantastic deals. Take care and enjoy the beautiful weather. Many blessings ~ Kathie