Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sweet Poison

Standard kitchen canister....

Looks innocent enough.

Wait... whaaaaa?

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Run for your lives and the health of your teeth! It's the Christmas Aftermath Kitchen Canister of Dooooooom!!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009


There once was a Mommy Tomato, a Daddy Tomato, and Baby Punk Tomato. They were walking along, as only tomatoes can do, but the Baby Punk was always behind and they always had to wait for him, so the Daddy squashed him and said:


Oh. Whew. Not sure what happened there. Sorry. Reverting to my childhood a little, there. The point is that I have some catching up to do here since I didn't bother to blog at all for the first three days of Christmas, so calling birds, french hens, turtle doves and a partridge to you all.


Anyway. Our Christmas time has been flying by in a haze of running hither and yon, and this little pastor's family is tired.

BUT! We're very happy to be looking forward to a vacation! An actual, real, darn-tootin' VACATION. Because we're leaving, on an actual jet plane, for Oregon in two weeks.


We're making use of some cheap-off-season-plane-tickets-turned-ridiculously-expensive that were bought for us by some very generous blood-relations who actually miss us and wish for us to come visit. (Particularly my brother, who is heading off on his next adventure at the end of January.)

So we're gonna get a little January relaxin'!

That is, after we get through all the stress and anxiety of figuring out exactly how to keep our house warmish while we're gone and how to keep the animals from starving or being eaten by that fox I saw the other day and how exactly to fit enough warm clothes into as few pieces of luggage as possible because we have to pay for them.

Are we crazy to be driving two hours to Detroit and then flying through Chicago in JANUARY? I'm certainly praying for some gooooood weather at DTW and O'Hare and PDX...

So I need to start acquiring some good airplane entertainment for a 4-year old. This is always a challenge when we fly-- keeping the boy busy. But I have to admit that it's gotten WAY easier than it was when he was a baby. So I really should enjoy this last time of slightly-easier-flying before I have to start flying with a baby again. It occurred to me that I should dig around and see if I still have that portable cassette player (you know... "tapes"? Remember those?) that I used when I was about 10. It's probably long gone, but I'm thinkin' Jonah would probably happily sit and listen to tapes for the whole trip. Maybe I can get one cheap on Ebay...

And speaking of "baby"... at that point, when we leave I'll just be getting to the point in my pregnancy where my jeans don't fit anymore, but maternity pants are of course, enormous. They don't tell you about that part, you know. That looooong in-between time when nothing fits. A friend just lent me her Bella Band, so I'm hoping that will get me through...

Okay, so now I'm really rambling and I'm sure I sound ridiculous. It's just that my head is gonna explode with all the stuff running round in it... Our departure date is not very far away... Did I mention I would be gone for over two weeks? Nathan will return after about 6 days, but Jonah and I will be staying longer to get the fullest use out of our visit.

It's gonna be GREAT!

***insert panic dance here***

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Medicine

My little sore throat and cough from the last post turned into a monster virus in a hurry. So I ended up spending all day yesterday in bed with a fever, which finally broke early this morning, but I'm just wiped out. So much for all the fun Christmasy things I was going to be doing this week... Maybe I can still get a little baking done tomorrow. And the gifts I was still working on finishing for some kids on my list will now be Epiphany gifts. Or midwinter gifts, depending on when I get back to them. Oh well. It's fun to get something new in the middle of winter, right?

Jonah spent the day with some friends yesterday, but today he's on the bed with me watching YouTube. We both just about suffered apoplexy over this one:

Monday, December 21, 2009


Okay, I know my blog is a little lame these days. So I'm just checking in so you know I'm still alive. I am. I'm just tired.

I have trouble making myself do much of anything, blog posting included. I know it should only be a few more weeks until I have some energy and am feeling a little more alive, but for now, I'm tired. It's taking all my energy to try to get Christmas things done (and even then, I'm cutting back from what I had originally planned to do...) in between all my floppings down in the chair by the fire.

In that case, I'm also having a little trouble taking care of household things. A few days ago, I made a giant pot of Sloppy Joe and told Nathan, "We might get sick to death of eating Sloppy Joe, but at least we have food in the house! Breakfast, lunch and dinner, baby." He actually didn't complain. Starvation does that do a person.

This afternoon after baking bread and packing up a box to mail, I looked around me and was suddenly appalled at the condition of my household. Ugh. What a pit.

So we bundled up and went outside to take water to the chickens and get the eggs and tromp around the yard following all the animal tracks (man, we have a lot of rabbits out there...).

If I don't see the mess it doesn't bother me, right?

Except then I had to come back in. It is winter, after all, and I can't stay outside nearly long enough to not be bothered by the fact that it looks like a bomb went off in here.

Speaking of bombs, I've never wished for a dishwasher more in my entire life. More dishes? Again? Where are the paper plates, anyway?

And speaking of it being winter (cuz we were... before...), today is the first day. First. Day. Just? Only? You mean spring isn't coming yet? Cuz it's been winter for at least a month. And the depressing thing is that when spring technically arrives in March, it will still be winter. How unfair.

Am I sounding comlainy? Whiny? Maybe I do. I really don't have anything to complain about, but I am any way.

Did I mention we all have sore throats and coughs? And it's Christmas week? And Nathan's not allowed to sleep Christmas week for all the church work he has to do?

I've given him my Kill-What-Ails-You-If-It-Doesn't-Kill-You-First Plague Tonic (onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish, habaneros --all raw-- chopped up and soaked in vinegar for 6 weeks. The resulting vinegar is... "potent" to say the least.), homemade elderflower tincture, vitamin C, Airborn, Zinc, and I'll keep pouring cod liver oil down his throat long after he passes out from my helpful ministrations.

So now I have a heapin' heap of laundry to do and lots more baking this week, but for now I'm going to go engage in some more flopping in that chair over there by the fire...

Maybe tonight we'll skip supper and go straight to Hot Toddies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Of Christmas Trees and Four-year-olds


A Christmas tree with a four-year-old is fun.

Well, if you don't count the seizure-inducing possibilities.

See, we have one of those four-hundred-and-seventy-nine-function tree light strings. You know the type-- there's a little button that you push to make your lights blink according to different settings like "Soft Twinkle", "Gently Falling Snow", "Landing Strip", "UFO", and "Emergency Helicopter". I had it set to some nice, slow gentle twinkling, but then Jonah discovered the switch.

Oh, you should hear the delirious laughter (his) and the migrain moaning (mine).

But still. Fun.

Jonah is at the wonderful age right now where he can understand and enjoy Christmas and all it's about, but everything is still new to him.

All through Advent, we've been talking all about what Christmas means-- why Jesus was born as a little baby and what a blessing our Salvation is. We talk all about it quite a lot, and we sing the song he's learning with his Sunday School class for the Christmas Eve program at church. He understands it all and is happy to hear about it. All the rest --the tree, cookies, presents-- are just gravy to him. It will probably only be this way for this year and then it will all change next year. But for right now, it seems like he doesn't quite remember what we did last year and doesn't expect it. "A tree? We get a Christmas tree? In our house? Wah-hoo!" He didn't pester me about it-- he just accepted it as great fun when we told him we would be putting it up. And then there are presents to go under it?? Even better! We talked all about the symbolism of the tree and lights and presents and he was happy to learn it all.

Yeah. We're definitely having a lot of fun.

Even the part where the Christmas tree get undecorated and redecorated a seventeen times per day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Someone Is Watching Me...

Okay, this is really freaking me out.

I'm feeling a little paranoid here.

I almost did it.

I almost signed up.

I've ignored lots of invitations before.

It's easy, I just click "delete".

Lalala!! Not gonna do it!

Do I need another timesuck?


I already did the MySpace thing.

Everyone seems to be moving on, myself included.

No Facebook for me, people!

And then.

Then, it happened.

My Mother sent me an invite.


Now everyone is on Facebook.

Except me.

Because I have principles, people.

I'm not really sure what they are, but I'm sure I have them.

But I was gonna just give in.

"It'll be fun!" they whisper in my ear.

The voices.

So I almost clicked...

And then...

Then I saw the words, "Other people you may know on Facebook."

So I clicked the "load images" button on the email (which is always there because my trusty butler, Thunderbird, protects me from intruding images, which it figures is pretty much all images...).



There were pictures of all my friends!

I mean, my REAL LIFE friends.

People that I know HERE in my REAL LIFE.

It wasn't just showing me some of my Mom's friends who I might happen to know.

No, no.

Here were pictures of people that my Mom does not know and who do not know her friends and do not know her friend's friends because they're MY FRIENDS in MY LIFE. Here. On MY SIDE of the country.

How did they get in a Facebook email invite from my Mom?

How do they know?

I haven't even signed up, and yet Big Brother Facebook knows all my friends.

Nice going, Facebook. You thought that clever ploy would make me want to join-- after all, ALL MY FRIENDS are doing it!

Haha!! You don't know me well enough! I was raised among Conspiracy Theorists! I know these Orwellian tricks!

So IT knows all my friends. What else does IT know about me? Did it see the peanut butter sandwich my son left to plasticize behind my couch? Did it see that I was too tired to brush my teeth before bed for three straight nights in a row? CAN IT SEE MY PILE OF DIRTY DISHES????

Why stop with knowing who I socialize with, huh?

I tell ya, it's freaking me out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Things That Came Out of Jonah's Mouth at Suppertime Tonight...

"I'm like a Sandhill Crane!"


"What are the rings for?"
"Uh.... what rings?"
"On planets!"


Someone please tell me where he comes up with this stuff.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Ensemble necessary for milking goats and locking up chickens tonight:

Two layers of pants
Two layers of socks, the top being wool
A tank top
A long-sleeved tee
A fleece hoodie
(And that's just what I've been wearing in the house all day, exchanging the wool socks for slippers...)
A warm hat and the hood
Warm boots
Scarf, wrapped three times

For putting Jonah to bed:

A hot shower
Fleece footie pajamas
Six layers of blankets
Thick wool blanket on top, tucked in by the wall to keep it in place

On our bed:

Flannel sheets
Four blankets
Down comforter
And I'm reeeeeally missing my metal hot water "bottle" that I brought from Switzerland. It corroded a hole in the bottom from so much time sitting on the woodstove before bedtime last year. There's just nothing like a burning hot container of water at your feet in a freezing bedroom...

Baby, It's COLD Outside... we'll stay in and make gingerbread cookies.

With a -15 windchill at 9:00am this morning (don't want to know what it was during the night...), I'm more than happy to stay inside and bake. It's bad enough when I have to go outside for a few minutes to take warm water to the animals, poor things. It is just stinkin' cold and the wind is vicious. Feels like February around here-- oh how I wish it were...

The gingerbread people don't look like they're dressed for this weather...

Sundresses and Bermuda shorts, indeed.

Jonah's people look like I feel...

Is it spring, yet?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We'll Miss Him

I cried when I read the email from my Mom.

I cried again when I saw her blog post.

I was actually surprised to be so upset. I'm not there to notice that he's gone. He's not been in my life anymore since I moved away. But he's part of my childhood and he's part of my family.

I've never known another dog like Shadow, and probably never will. He was almost human. Or super-human. Or super-dog. I guess we just always kinda thought he might go on forever and always be a part of the family. He was just so happy. But he was very old, and it would be cruel to let him keep hurting.

After we moved to Oregon when I was a kid, I wanted a dog in the worst way. My parents were tentative about the idea. I scanned the classified ads regularly until I saw an ad for a Border Collie in need of a home.

"Please, Dad?" I asked...

He wasn't to sure. Border Collies are high-energy dogs and we didn't exactly have a big farm for him to run. But he agreed that I could call on the ad and we would see about him.

I just had a really strong feeling that we needed to go see this dog. But after I talked to the owner, who needed to find a home for him because she was moving away, my parents were even more unsure. He only had three legs, you see. Dad was uncertain how that might affect his ability to get around.

But we went to see him where he was being boarded at a vet's office. As soon as we saw him, we were all smitten. He didn't bark like the other dogs when we came up to the kennel. He just sat patiently and waited for us. We took him out for and walk. He was gentle, calm, patient, intelligent. He didn't even know about his missing leg and was quite agile without it. The bonus was that he couldn't jump up on anyone, he'd just put a paw on a person's thigh instead.

We took him home. He settled in quickly. For the first few days, we didn't even know if he could bark. He took it as his job to guard and protect us, but he was not obnoxious about it. He barked when a car he didn't recognize came in the driveway and that was all. He checked on the animals and babysat wayward chicks without hurting them. He chased off varmints and patrolled the trees for squirrels. He accompanied me every morning and evening while I fed and milked my goats.

I can't remember ever being angry with him like I have been with other dogs.

We grew up with him. He was part of our family.

Every time I've gone to visit my family, he's been overjoyed to see me. He never forgot a friend in his life. Every time I've left my parent's house, I've wondered if I'll ever see him again.

There were many times that we expected him to just not wake up one morning, but he just kept going. He had a job to do, and he was determined not to give it up, no matter how tired he got.

So we had to tell him it was time to go. He could be done.

But we'll miss him terribly.

(More stories and pictures of Shadow in this post my Mom wrote about him last spring.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dealing in Real Estate

I just came across this article about a family farm in Missouri being prosecuted for the sale of raw milk. It's a Natural News article, and I usually take everything this particular author says with a grain of salt, but he really does have a way of saying it like it is sometimes.

As the Springfield, Missouri News-Leader paper reports, "Two undercover investigators with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department allegedly caught two of the couple's daughters on two occasions selling a gallon of milk each from a Springfield parking lot. Charges followed in municipal court."

In case you're not yet sure what you're reading here, note carefully that these daughters were not caught selling crack, meth or crank. They weren't dealing second-hand pharmaceuticals to yuppie school kids. They weren't selling e.coli-contaminated hamburger meat, cancer-causing diet sodas (made with aspartame) or canned soups laced with MSG. They weren't even selling broiler chickens contaminated with salmonella -- just as you can find in every grocery store in America. Nope, they were selling raw milk. You know, the bovine mother's milk, unpasteurized, unprocessed, non-homogenized and wholly pure, natural and innocent. The stuff America was raised on. The stuff your parents fed you when you were a kid, if your family was lucky enough to have a cow.

Raw milk sales treated like drug-dealing. That's the crazy world we live it. Read the whole article here: Raw Milk in Missouri.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The First of the Christmas Cookies

Because it's the Second Sunday in Advent, and not the least of all because my sweet husband admitted to a raging sweet tooth, I decided that Jonah and I could get started on the Christmas baking today.

We made my favorite childhood Christmas cookie. It's a yummy cream cheese cookie with walnuts and three chocolate chips on top (except now I like to use Ghirardeli dark chocolate chips-- yum!). I've since started referring to them as "Trinity Cookies" when Nathan asked several years ago just what was "Christmas" about them. So I told Jonah that the three chocolate chips represent the Holy Trinity --Father, Son and Holy Spirit-- and we talked about that while we baked.

When I was a kid, making these was a great family activity, since the littler ones can have the job of placing the three chocolate chips. Depending on the age of the kid, the chips don't always end up in a neat little triangle. But Jonah is at a good age for it this year and did pretty well.

Yummy! Now I feel like Advent is officially upon us.

Now I'm going to be a Very Bad Blogger and not post the recipe. The reason for this is that I think I have the recipe wrong. Yes, I've been making them for years, and I'm not sure I've been doing it right. I mean, they taste great, but the dough never seems to come together right and I always have to keep adjusting it until it does. Soooo... maybe my sister or my Mom will be kind enough to post the real recipe in the comments?

Would the real Cream Cheese Trinity Cookie recipe please stand up?

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Last year for Christmas, my Mom gave me these cute little plates:

I really like them, but I haven't really done anything with them. I just didn't know how to display them. Wire plate-hangers don't seem to come that small. So I've had them floating around-- most recently the green and yellow ones were in the china hutch and the red one was on the stove as a pretty spoon-rest (except I don't seem to be very good about using spoon rests. Don't want them to get messy, you know...).

But just last week, a good friend gave me this:

Squeee! Perfect.

So I hung it beside my new pantry door with a monkey hook (whoever invented those should be a millionaire!) and put my cute little plates on it. Love it! (Sorry for the poor colors in the photo... my camera just doesn't get it. You'll have to use your imagination a little.)

On the other side of the door, I have these vintage fruit packing labels:

I like the way the colors echo each other across the door. (The only think I don't like about this arrangement is the evenness of it-- it bothers me. Four plates, two labels. I'd love to find another label to make it three on that side... Although, the plates all hang together as one entity, so all together, there's an arrangement of three, I guess...)

Now to get some red paint on that door...

Friday, December 4, 2009

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...

If you get up one cold Advent morning
and decide to spend the day with Christmas music playing,
at the sewing machine making some Christmas gifts,
you'll need the house to be warmed up first.

If you want to warm up the house,
you'll need to do some baking.

If you want to do some baking,
you'll have to find a recipe.

If you look in your cookbook,
you might decide that banana-walnut-chocolate chip muffins sound very yummy.

If you want to make banana muffins,
you'll have to find some bananas.

If you go to the freezer to see if you have any frozen bananas,
you might find the freezer oddly... warm
and running with drippy, icy blood.

If you want to know why the freezer is bloody,
you'll go behind it to discover it's been unplugged.
For several days.

If the freezer is looking like a massacre,
you'll need to clean it out before you put it back to work.

If you consider shutting the door
and pretending you didn't just see that

If you don't want to loose your year's supply of meat,
or at least you don't want to fight with frozen blood everywhere for the next year,
you'll have to clean the freezer.

If you want to clean the freezer,
you'll have to take everything out,
sort out the stuff that's just too far gone,
wipe off the blood,
and pack it into coolers.

If the food is all packed in coolers,
you'll want it to stay cold,
so you'll take it all out to the porch where it's currently 26 degrees.

If the food is taken care of,
you'll spend the next hour spraying rubbing alcohol
and chipping bloody ice
and mopping up bloody water
and wiping out the freezer.

If you do all this work,
you'll suddenly remember that you are currently 9 weeks pregnant
when you get a bad case of the shakes.

If you have the shakes,
you'll call your husband to please come home and finish this job.

If he comes home to finish,
you'll want to do something about those shakes.

And you'll really,

Wish you had made those banana-walnut-chocolate chip muffins.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's a Puzzlement

I just put a pot of turkey wild rice soup to simmer on the stove for supper. Jonah helped me make it. While I was ladling the broth from the stock pot where it's been simmering all day to the soup pot, Jonah asked for some to drink. He certainly didn't need to ask twice-- I gave him a little juice glass of that nutritious bone broth with a shake of salt and some water to cool it. He drank it up and asked for more. And more. And more. The whole time I was making the soup, he sat on a stool by me and talked about the ingredients and sipped cups of broth.

So he will happily drink plain broth by the glass (after glass, after glass, after glass).

I also gave him some small bites of cold turkey as I was cutting it up. And he even nibbled a few grains of uncooked wild rice, just to see what it was like.

Also-- he loves vegetables. I mean, adores them. It's always the first thing he eats on him plate. Broccoli? Yum! Ooooh, green beans! Carrots! Beets! Sweet potatoes! Asparagus! As long as it isn't onions, which he loathes for some reason, he'll eat it happily. Even raw garlic. No kidding.

Sound like a dream child? Well...

However. (And here's the very big "however.")

Put all these things together and call it soup?

Fuhgetaboudit. Not eating it.

I mean, I guess I really shouldn't complain. As long as I making food in which everything is separate, he'll eat like a champ.

He's also this way about stew, pot pie, and pretty much anything else mixed together.

I just don't get it. I always thought if the ingredients are good by themselves, they're even better all together-- they enhance each other. But not Jonah. I'm sure it's just the immaturity of his developing palate and I'm sure he'll grow out of it.

I just find it slightly bemusing and quite baffling.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Activity

This morning I explained all about Advent to Jonah. I told him how we wait the days until Christmas and remember the world waiting for the birth of the Savior. To help us count the waiting days, we made an advent chain.

I drew lines on red and green pieces of paper and Jonah cut out the strips. This was very good cutting practice for him-- something he's had trouble with.

When the strips were all cut...

I showed him how to make a chain with them.

This part got very tedious, but I think it's good for him to learn to keep going through a repetitive task.

He was very proud to end up with a fancy advent chain!

He can't wait to take the links off every day, one by one, counting the days until we get to the special white link on the end for Christmas.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Doogie Jonah

Jonah was playing on the living room floor when his Oma (Nathan's Mom) laid down on the floor to stretch out her back. Jonah thought this was an invitation to play, but Oma informed him that her back was too old for horsie rides.

So he gave her a back massage instead.

When she got up, she thanked him for the nice massage. He looked up from the picture he was coloring and said, "Good. If it starts to hurt again..."

"...You'll fix it for me?" she asked.

"Yeah, just come back." he answered in a very authoritative voice.

"Okay, I'll remember that."

We all chuckled about how "he never spends any time in a chiropractor's office."

Then he said, with that informed and assertive tone, still looking at the picture he was working on, "Yep. There's something happening with your brain."

"You could tell that from my back? Well... that's been going on a looong time." she giggled.

"Well. There is. It's in your brain."

"Well, what is it?" she inquired.

"Here..." he picked up his paper "I'll show you in this picture."

And much hilarity ensued.

Friday, November 27, 2009

There's Just This...

I made three pies to follow our Thanksgiving feast. Apple, Pumpkin, and Pear. I made them on Wednesday afternoon.

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, my sweet husband had a piece of pumpkin pie.

"Ummm... honey?" he said, "Uh... I think you forgot the sugar in this pie..."




I served plain pumpkin quiche to my guests. I ate apple pie, so I didn't even know.

Until today.

I made sure to get all the important things in there-- Eggs, cream, pumpkin.

What needs sugar?

There's really only one word that's appropriate for this situation.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Going Up?

Jonah: "Mom, is your baby naked?"

Me: "Uh, yeah."

J: "Why?"

M: "Because there are no clothes in there."

J: "We'll have to dress it?"

M: "Yeah, after he's born."

J: "She..."

M: "Oh. Okay."

J: "I'm just gonna call her 'Elevator'"

M: Giggle, "Uh... okay."

Thanksgiving Yummy

My Mom has posted a couple of good Thanksgiving recipes over at her blog: Apple Pie and Cracked Wheat Dinner Rolls. They're excellent!

I'm making Thanksgiving dinner for 14 this year. I'm planning to do Mom's apple pie tomorrow, and probably a pumpkin pie or two as well. I always make those dinner rolls as well because they really are extraordinary. I was toying with the idea of a sourdough version of them this year, though. But the fact is... I'm tired. Really, really tired. Besides pregnancy fatigue, there's insomnia to compound it. I've always been an insomniac in the first trimester... so I'm tired.

So this morning, when a lady from church called to confirm that she and her granddaughter will be coming for Thanksgiving dinner and she asked what she could bring, I took a deep breath --deeper, deeper-- and asked her to take care of dinner rolls. Make them or buy them, I said, just so I don't have to do them. That took courage, people. I mean... I make bread. It's what I do. Always. I made sourdough hamburger buns for Nathan's birthday supper last night.

I make bread.

How could I not make the dinner rolls for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, this year I'm not. And it'll be fine, of course.

Thanksgiving is the one big family/friend dinner party that I do every year, and usually, I like to make everything from scratch myself because I enjoy it. It's fun, really! I like to feed people yummy food. But now I am tired. I'm going to allow it and not make myself do everything.

So several dishes are being brought by guests, including the signature, but time-consuming, dinner rolls. But I have freshly butchered, 26-pound turkey cooling it's heals in my spare fridge, a house waiting to be cleaned, and plenty of food to make myself, including the most wonderful stuffing ever, if-I-do-say-so-myself.

But for today, I thought I would share this which I made yesterday: Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Compote. I've developed this over the last couple of years and I always like to make it a couple days ahead to get it out of the way allow the flavors to meld for a while before serving.

The cast of characters:

Fresh cranberries, pears, oranges, a chunk of ginger root, Sucanat (or brown sugar-- use what you have. And what's pictured, by the way, is not nearly enough), cinnamon, cloves, salt and the "secret" ingredient--Jalapeno peppers. Normally, I would use fresh peppers, but when I got out the peppers I knew I had in my vegetable drawer, I found they were... less than appetizing. So I broke out the peppers I had canned in the summer.

The "recipe" is pretty flexible and I always just make it to taste (I go through a whole pile of spoons--tasting all along.) and you could vary it according to what fruits and peppers you have available. I really like the particular flavor of Jalapenos in this dish, but Serranos might be good as well.

So, on to the destructions!

Break open the bag of gorgeous fresh cranberries and bask in their lovely redness.

Wow, those things are beautiful. Have I told you that that is my favorite color? Yes, that right there. The color of bright, fresh cranberries. I just love it and could feast my eyes on it all day.

Pick through them for bad berries, rinse them off, and toss them in a pot with some water, maybe about a cup.

Ugh. Lovely. Did I mention how much I love the color?

Cook them over medium heat until they soften and pop open.

Cranberries are very high in pectin, so the sauce will thicken very quickly. Watch carefully through the cooking and be ready to add more water so it doesn't scorch.

Add Sucanat (can get it at a health-food store-- it adds a lovely flavor and is higher in minerals than sugar) or sugar to taste. I think I used about a cup and a half. I don't like it to be overly sweet --it should be tart-- but it does take quite a bit of sugar to offset the sour cranberries. Minus 100 points to me for forgetting a picture of the sugar-adding. Lower the heat and allow it to gently simmer with some frequent stirring while you prepare the fruit.

Chop or dice the pears. I used two Bosc pears, which stay somewhat firm and keep their shape in the sauce. I had intended to peel them, but I forgot, and these pears are unsprayed anyway.

Remove the zest from the oranges (and if you want to be like the cool people, you'll use one of these awesome zesters that makes the oranges look all impressionistic), and then peel and chop the oranges.

Toss all the chopped fruit and zest into the sauce to start cooking. (And excuse the blown-out pictures-- my camera just doesn't always understand light.)

Usually, I like to put in a handful of raisins. I forgot to order raisins with my co-op order, so I don't have very many on hand and I need what I have for my stuffing. But that's just indicative of the flexibility of this sauce-- use what you have!

Add some cinnamon and cloves, to taste. I used probably a teaspoon of cinnamon and an 1/8th teaspoon of cloves. You can use more or less according to what you like. I add just a little shake of salt to bring out the sweetness as well.

Peel and grate the ginger root and stir it in. This works best if the root is frozen-- the grating will break up all those little fibers and prevent people from thinking there's hair in their cranberry sauce.

At this point, I just allow the sauce to slowly simmer until everything is cooked and well-blended. I added a little water once or twice to keep it from getting scorched.

After it's all cooked, I take out some of the sauce and put it in a separate jar. I have a lot of kids coming to my Thanksgiving dinner who don't appreciate their cranberry sauce causing them pain.

To the remaining sauce, I add some chopped Jalapenos. Like I said, I had to use canned, so they weren't quite as good as fresh, but they still brought the flavor and heat I was looking for.

I allow the peppers to cook in a for a while, and then put the sauce in a jar, labeled "Hot!".

Mmmm... yummy.

I make sure and make it clear to my guests which bowl of sauce is spicy and which is not. No need to cause unintended injury. Last year, however, the "hot" bowl was empty long before the mild.

It's just a condiment, so a quart of sauce should be plenty, but I'm actually considering making a little more. I like to spread it on my turkey sandwiches for the three or four days following thanksgiving.

Mmmm... I'm already craving those sandwiches. I think they might be my favorite part of Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In Which I Step on a Ledge

I'm going to step outside my blogging comfort zone a little here and write about a controversial topic. Then I'm going to click "publish post" and sit back and hope I don't get roasted.

I knew, earlier in the week, that Jonah had a little touch of something, as evidenced by the stuffy nose. No big deal, I figured. I later noticed the slight rash on his face, but thought absolutely nothing of it as he is prone to mild allergic skin reactions from time to time. I kinda runs in the family.

On Friday afternoon he was sleeping an awful lot, to the extent that we couldn't even wake him up. He only sleeps that way when his little body is fighting something off. I noticed that the rash, albeit barely noticeable, had spread all over his body. I started to put the pieces together, remembering several days ago when he mentioned that his ears hurt a little and rubbed around then and below down into his neck. Like swollen lymph nodes, maybe. I got out my Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child book and did some reading and came to the conclusion that he probably has Rubella, otherwise known as German Measles. No, it has not been diagnosed and no, I'm not taking him to a doctor. But I'm pretty sure that's what it is though who knows where he got it.

Obviously, it's a mild case, as Rubella almost always is in children, to the extent that we didn't even know he was sick.

No, he has not had the shot.

I refuse to get him the MMR vaccine, but that decision is not made lightly. I've done plenty of reading and research about it. I'm not saying this is what everyone should do, I'm just saying it's what we've chosen. Jonah is, praise God, very healthy and always gets over his illnesses with very little incident. I believe that the common childhood diseases are beneficial for the immune system, not generally dangerous (yes, I know there are exceptions!), and grant lifelong immunity, unlike many vaccinations. The diseases are also far less poisonous (in fact, probably the opposite, as illness frequently has a detox effect on a body) than vaccinations. Now, I would possibly make exception for certain things, especially tetanus (which is not an infection, but a poisoning), if I could find a way to be the one in charge and get only the shot I request without a fight. But so far, I'm not sure if that's possible.

The whole debate over "to vax or not to vax" is complicated and involved and filled with individual circumstances. I'm not going to get into all of it here and now. The main point of this post is to vent my irritation over a few subpoints.

From what I have read, Rubella is usually mild in children (I said "usually!" Yes, some kids get very ill. But that's also true of the common cold). However, it can be quite serious in adults, and devastating for pregnant women in which case a Rubella infection can cause serious birth defects on the developing baby. (In case you're wondering, my Mom is quite sure that I had it as a child, so I'm praying it won't be an issue for me. It's out of my hands, in any case.) Also, a childhood vaccination does not guarantee adult immunity.

Hm. Let's think about this a little here. Mild illness for children, serious in adults, sure immunity comes only with illness.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Doesn't it seem that it would make sense to just let kids get the disease? It's so highly contagious that it spreads easily and every unvaccinated kid is sure to get it. Most kids don't even realize they're sick with it. And then it's over. Immune for life, and fairly painless. I also strongly believe in the benefits of herbs, homopathy, and nutritional support for a sick child-- not to "cure" an illness, but rather to support the body in it's own healing efforts. I have personally experienced and witnessed some amazing cases of such supportive treatments. But our modern society has the mindset that we should be able to completely avoid pain and suffering (an idea that a Christian knows well how to refute, but that's another post) rather than deal with it and minimize as possible and simply support healing. We have immune systems, people!

And the same thing goes for chicken pox which benefits the person by giving resistance to shingles in later years (which cannot be said for the shot), not to mention forgoing the horrible possibility of getting the chicken pox in adulthood.

It just seems so insane that we should have to even run the risk of adult infection with these things that should be guaranteed in childhood. Rubella and chicken pox are becoming more rare now with the widespread use of the vaccines, so those of us who prefer not to vaccinate are backed into a corner with the risk of possibly not being able to expose our children to these illnesses at a time when they can easily recover. After all, it's not that we don't want immunity, we're just not afraid of dealing with a little discomfort for a good cause.

To me, this just shows the power of money. Near as I can tell, the medical establishment is not actually as concerned with our well-being as it is with the well-being of it's bank accounts. They can't make money from natural immunity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I've been making a lot of food the last couple of days. Maybe I'm just warming up for the holiday baking that starts in approximately 3.75 days. Or maybe it has something to do with this sudden and terrible need I seem to have to eat all the time. (Seriously? How can one tiny little person possibly need so much food? And why does my body, in trying to make me eat enough and frequently, make me feel so much like not eating. I mean really? Nausea? That makes me want to eat? Um. No.)

Some of the things I'm making are for a fun little get-together we're having over the next couple of days with some friends in Indiana. We're going to head down there tomorrow morning, and I'm going to be packing some yummy treats for everyone.

Treats like jalapeno cheese sourdough bread.

And super yummy cinnamon rolls!

Yeah... you know you want a cinnamon roll now.

For a breakfast change-of-pace, I made some sourdough English muffins yesterday. I finally found a pretty good recipe and wow, are they yummy. I love English muffins.

Can't figure out why they're called "muffins" though. Jonah was confused all day, poor kid. They're really more like a yeasted biscuit. If the English call these "muffins", what do they call... um... you know... muffins?

I'm actually dying to know.

I had a few small Chinese cabbages out in the garden still and the chickens were just mowing them down. It was time to get them in and do something with them before there was nothing left.

Instead of Kim Chee or Tsukemono this time, though, I decided to try making them into apple-cranberry kraut. I shredded the cabbages, grated some apples, and added a handful of dried cranberries (and then remembered that I have fresh cranberries in my fridge! Doh!)

Jonah helped. He had to make sure the cranberries tasted okay.

Hmmm... I wonder how this might taste with turkey?

I also made that Faux Pumpkin Pie (made with a super-sweet squash, but you wouldn't know the difference). Do you know that pumpkin pie makes an excellent breakfast? It does. Eggs, cream, pumpkin-- perfectly legal breakfast foods. Especially on stumbling down the stairs in the morning needing food now! Or else!

I have a cast iron pot of Beef Burgundy simmering away on the woodstove for supper. (Hey, why run the propane when I have a built-in slow cooker right there in the living room?) If you have never made Beef Burgundy and only made plain ol' beef stew-- you just have no idea what you're missing. Red wine makes ALL the difference in a pot of stew. Oh, and the bacon helps. A lot.

Yes. I'm definitely either gearing up for holiday food, or a long, plump winter. Or both.

Jonah's Day: Made

They're combining corn in the field across the road from our house.

To this little boy, that's pretty much a perfect day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

There Might Be Tears...

It's setting in already. Here it is, November 16, and I'm starting to feel cabin fever creep up on me. Actually, we had some truly gorgeous days and unseasonably warm weather last week, which was a real blessing, but today it's rainy and chilly, and they (and by "they", I mean my Amish neighbors, who always seem to be right about the weather) are talking snow soon.

I don't know how I'll get through the next five months.

Oh, I know! I'll complain about it on my blog all winter!



How's that for a start?

It could get ugly around here real fast, folks. I was not made for Northern Winter.

Part of the problem is being trapped in the house and not just that, cuz I could probably sleep and read books all winter, but being trapped with a bored child who would rather be out running barefoot and climbing trees and digging in dirt. How many times today --just today-- have I fielded these questions?

"What can we do?"
"Can I have a snack?"
"Can I watch a mooooovie?"
"Can I play computer games?"
"Will you read this to meeee?"
"What can I make?"
"Can I have a snack?"
"Where can we go?"
"Will you play with me?"
"Can I have a snack?"

And that's not even counting all the usual interrogation that goes on about every thing, small or big, that comes up all day. (Case in point: every time we talk about the new baby, we have to talk about how it comes out. Yeah.) And the "whys". Oh, lubme, the "whys". "Why is the sky blue?" pales in comparison to the bizarre and utterly pointless "whys" around here.

"Why does my biplane have wings?"
"Why are the dishes dirty?"
"Why are fairies naked?"
"Why is the milk cold?"
"Why is this crayon green?"
"Why can we not eat bad guys?"
"Why do Indians sometimes not wear shirts?"
"Why do we eat breakfast in the morning?"

"...Mommy... why are you sitting in a corner rocking and painting on yourself?"

The point is that this kid is bored. It's probably a good thing we don't have money to burn, or I'd buy a pile of toys and other paraphernalia for him for Christmas in hopes of making it through till spring. I know it's good for him to be bored, and an excess of toys would be very, very bad. Charlotte Mason writes of how good it is for a child to be bored in order to develop their imaginations and resourcefulness. However, it seems that she fails to mention the insanity factor for the mother.

But then, I guess that just comes with the territory of "Mother", right? Insanity.

I'm just not good at providing entertainment. I do try to have projects, lessons, books, crafts, etc. available for certain times, but that doesn't really take up that much time in our overall day. I also try to include him in what I'm doing whenever possible. But at this point, I'm very tired, and queasy quite often, so I'm just not into playing, or doing many "extras". (Aside: I just have to idea what kind of superhuman strength it must take for those Mamas who get really, horribly sick in pregnancy, but also have a bunch of little kids to care for. I think I would die.) My go-to answer for "I'm booooored." right now is "Go pick up your toys." It's actually quite amazing how quickly he finds something to play then. (Of course, once I say it, I have to enforce it... bummer. But at least once it's cleaned up, he can stay busy a while making a new mess.)

Today, I discovered that sending him outside with a compost bucket to dump doesn't work so well anymore because he's recently developed a horrific fear of our Wyandotte rooster, Cicero. Not that Cicero has ever hurt Jonah, he's just strutted in Jonah's general direction once or twice (and Jonah, of course, screamed and ran, aggravating the problem). So instead of sending him out and hoping he'll get distracted on the way back from the compost pile, I have to give him a pep talk about being the boss, shove him out the door, tears notwithstanding, and then stand on the porch and shout directions "Don't run! Just walk! Stop crying and walk! Swing your stick! He won't hurt you! He's afraid of YOU! Be the boss! Stop running! Walk! Be the boss!" Am I a mean Mommy? Of course. But I know he has to learn to be brave and a nearly-harmless rooster is just the ticket. But it also adds to my insanity factor.

Sigh. So I guess I just have to keep being Mean. Even when I'm tired and it makes me Insane.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kitchen Final

As I type this, I am waiting for the inspector to come and do the final inspection on our kitchen project. Can I just say? YAY. It is SO about time. More than three years on this project and we're finally gonna be able to take a breath again. Not, mind you, that this project is done. Cuz it's not. I still have a big, gaping hole of a corner that's waiting for cabinets and counter top, along with various odds and ends as well.

Do you hear that, Nathan? It's not done. Don't start feeling like it is, just because we've had a final!

Eh-hem. Just had to clarify that.

But I'm not hear to complain about what's not done! Nooooo! Far be it from me! In fact, I'm going to sing the praises of a few more things that ARE done! Yes! Done!

See, there are certain requirements to fill in order to be inspected and let off our permits.

Things like window trim!

Okay, well at least the inner part. The outer pieces will not ever happen until we sell this place, but at least the studs and insulation are covered up! It does look considerably neater.

Also, there's the little matter of my pantry door. For reference, let me explain my pantry situation. We have a very large mudroom/workroom/utility room, which is also our main entrance. The mudroom is not done, but when it is, it will be fantastic! We have big plans for it. The mudroom is situated right next to the kitchen, but to get to it from the kitchen, you go out into the living room to the mudroom door. A dear friend of mine made the brilliant suggestion when we were planning the kitchen that part of the mudroom be made into a pantry accessible from the kitchen. I love having such a clever friend. I would never have thought of that, but I absolutely love it!

So my pantry is part of the mudroom. Currently, it is only a small and temporary version of what it will one day become, but it's still great. The only problem is that it's had a non-functioning door for the last year or so. The very cute, old, wooden door didn't fit right for various reasons, and was nailed shut. So to get into my pantry, I have had to trot around to the mudroom, get what I need --hoping not to forget it by the time I get there-- and make my way back to the kitchen.

But no longer! A neighbor graciously offered another cute, old, wooden door that he had sitting around and Nathan installed it today! Never mind that the handle is not actually attached to anything and there is a piece of cardboard wedging it closed, I love it. Also, I think it's just... well... a-DOOR-able. Ba-dum-BUM.

Now to convince him to let me paint it red... Hm. Might not happen. But oh well. I have a door! To my pantry!

Will wonders never cease?

You know, I think that buying a house that's already "done" when you move in would be so terribly boring. As much as I look forward to having everything as we imagine it, it really does get addictive to have something new every so often!

And finally, the creme-de-la-creme, the part Nathan's been working his tail off, early mornings and late nights, frozen fingers notwithstanding-- the kitchen porch!

Yes, that's right, no longer does my kitchen door step out into a hole!

There is now a wonderful deck to walk onto.

I'm so excited about being able to use this next summer. To put the grill out here for cooking, maybe a couple chairs for eating breakfast, and being able to walk right out into my garden.

The posts are going to become a trellis for grapes and various other vining plants.

It's really nice and big because, while it didn't need to be so big, Nathan had the material around, so he decided to make the best of it. I think it's fabulous!

In fact, I think the whole kitchen project as turned out so great, and I'm just head-over-heals about the whole thing! (Which, of course, you can tell just by the sheer volume of exclamation points in this post!)


Umm.... oops.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And Much Hilarity Ensued

Jonah loves to be read to. He always has, but lately he's had a greater appetite for books, and he can't even read yet! He would love for me to just sit and read to him all day. I've been somewhat at a loss for what to read to him now. I'm a little tired of all the picture books-- even though we have piles of them, I've read them all whakillion times. And Jonah is at the point where he can sit and listen to something and follow along pretty well. A friend came to my rescue by lending me a stack of chapter books that she's read to her kids, so we started on those.

Today we were reading a couple chapters of A House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne. Oooooh the Pooh books! Why didn't I think of that! Those are just worlds better than the fluffy, Disney-licensed Pooh that we have now. Those things give me dental carries.

In the chapter we read today, Pooh and Piglet fall into a hole. They remember the Heffalump trap they made, and surmise that they are in a Pooh trap made by Heffalumps. They begin to plan what they'll do when they meet the Heffalump.

Piglet has a little daydream in his head in which he is very Brave and Eloquent and he scripts the whole thing. In his imaginings, the Heffalump finds him and says "Ho-ho!" repeatedly and Piglet just hums like nothing in the world is going on until the Heffalump becomes Completely Unsettled (I love the use of capitalization in this book-- it gives objects and feelings a sort of personality). Piglet then tricks the Heffalump into thinking he, himself is in a trap and Pooh and Piglet are saved.

That's all very well in his head, but when Piglet hears Christopher Robin and thinks it's a Heffalump, he tries to act out his script and it all falls apart rather quickly.

Our reading session fell apart rather quickly as well. I laughed so hard I thought I would have an aneurysm.

And being now Completely Unsettled, [Piglet] said very quickly and sqeakily: "This is a trap for Poohs, and I'm waiting to fall in it, ho-ho, what's all this, and then I say ho-ho again."

"What?" said Christopher Robin.

"A trap for ho-ho's," said Piglet huskily. "I've just made it, and I'm waiting for the ho-ho to come-come."

Okay so maybe you've have to have been there (and if you haven't read it-- you should find the nearest small child and start today!) but I just couldn't read any more! It was too much. Is it childish of me to be Completely Undone with laughter over Winnie-the-Pooh?

I'm not sure if Jonah quite saw the humor that I did, but he laughed right along with me, and we thus began feeding off of each other's hysteria in a way which I remember doing with my Mother from time to time and which often leads to Snorting.

Oh, the Good Times that come from Good Books.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shock and Awwwwww

Yeah, so about that last post. We are in shock.

I mean, wow. What an entrance! Here we're just going about our business-- nailing boards on the house here and there, shoveling manure, digging in the dirt, and giving each other wet willies-- and along comes this baby and says "SURPRIIIIIIIIISE!!!!!!"


Blink, blink.


I am just so out of this way of thinking. I mean, not to say I never think of babies, --I only practically start to lactate every time I see one (sorry, men)-- I just really try not to. I've learned that it's dangerous. I've been learning a lot about contentment over the last two and a half years.

So it's taking me a while to wrap my mind around this idea. Yesterday, as I struggled to eat my supper without gagging, I thought "Whoa... it's been so long that I don't even remember how to deal with this!" Not that I'm going to complain (well, not much, anyway). Nausea is a good sign, and it could be so much worse, anyway.

I will admit that I have a certain detachment this time. I keep saying, "Lord willing..." and "If..." and such. Miscarriage has never even been on my radar until it happened to me. And now... I think of it. I'm not afraid, I'm not worried-- God is in control. But I think of it. I feel like I can't really make plans yet. Not that that idea is rational-- lack of "plans" wouldn't make it any easier even if something were to happen, and we can't really plan anything anyway. Man proposes, God disposes, etc.

And is it silly of me to tell everyone right away? Oh well. It's so much fun to share it! Why would I keep such a fun secret to myself?

God is very, very good.

There's a fairly amazing element of timing to this as well. For one thing, I haven't done a single thing for my hormones or fertility lately. In the past I've used herbs, supplements, biofeedback and neurolink treatments. In fact, my first two pregnancies came soon after biofeedback sessions. So there was a huge temptation not to give God the glory, but this time, I have no choice but to see it very clearly.

And then there's the dates. I found out about this baby last week, and last week on Friday was the due date two years ago for the baby that we lost. (Silly to remember? I can't help it.) And this baby is due in July, on the very same weekend when my parents and most/all of my siblings will be two hours south of here for a church convention (as opposed to on the other side of the country). Coincidence? I think not.

God is very good, and we are very blessed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two Things

I realize that it's been a little quiet around here the last few days. But you'll understand in a minute.

First, I will show you this:


Now, I will show you this: