Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First Snow

There is so much gratitude in my heart today.  There is every day, but God's glorious creation and (in my husband's words) awesome yet gentle power of nature showed it's face today and we woke to this site out of our bedroom window.  I can't tell you how it made my heart leap with joy to see it.

The fact that my God cares enough to not only provide what is needed to sustain me, but also to give me the things I want (in the flesh) also.  A house and church home has been at the top of that list for quite some amount of time.  And He's provided both this year.

And a furry critter to help fill my heart with even more love. 

I don't know why I love this particular view out the kitchen window so much... maybe it's the little wooden sign attached to the tree....

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Conversation From Across the House

Last night I pulled a pair of sheets out of the washing machine that did NOT smell good.  Daniel proclaimed "ewww... those have to either be run again or thrown away!", so into the laundry basket they went again.  This morning he smelled the same smell again, whilst laying in bed and kept pondering on what has changed - what is that smell.  When he got to work it hit him that since we have front loaders and no longer have a laundry ROOM, but only a laundry closet - we've had to leave the door to the washer closed all the time.  We love, love, love our front loaders, but one draw-back is the smell if you leave the door closed.  So, we've always just left it open to dry - problem solved.


The solution to the current smell problem is to run a heavy cycle of bleach through the machine and leave it open to air dry.  So that's what I did first thing this morning.  I started the "sanitary cycle" on the machine with my enzyme detergent, oxy clean, bleach, and vinegar for the rinse cycle.  It runs for about and hour and forty-five minutes on this cycle.  About half-way through its cycle - Ali, who was looking for the iron, had this conversation with me - from across the house:

Ali: Um, mom....
Me: yes, Al...
Ali: You realize the washer is filled with bubbles????
Me: yes, Al...
Ali: And you realize there are bubbles coming out the TOP of the machine????
Me: WHAT???

Ali: Uh-huh.  There are bubbles coming out of the top of the machine.
Me: You're joking!?!?! (as I got up from my chair doing morning reading, to go see what she was talking about)

Ali: Nope!  They're coming right out the top of the machine...
Me:  (upon arrival to the machine) ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha..... I guess I put a little too many enzymes in the machine, considering I had no clothes in there.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....

Laughing at life, sometimes, is the only way to get you through.  LOL!  It did the job for me this morning....

A joyful heart is good medicine,  but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Friday, November 21, 2014

Baking Oatmeal

We really enjoy oatmeal around our house.  It wasn't too terribly long ago that I was made aware of baked oatmeal.  Baking oatmeal... not something I had ever considered, but willing to try.  And try I have; multiple recipes.  However, I've not been pleased with most of the recipes.  One better than it's predecessor, but still not what I was wanting.  Some of the textures were way too eggy (is that really a word?), some very wet, some entirely too sweet.  So, when I made a new batch the other day that was better than I'd had up to that point, but still not "the one" - my youngest daughter encouraged me to ask a certain friend for their recipe, including that she thought it was the recipe I was looking for.

So I asked.  And just as she thought - it was exactly what I was looking for!  The perfect baked oatmeal.  I just had to share a new favorite.

Baked Oatmeal:

3 cups oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup fruit (dried or fresh)

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix dry ingredients in a 9x13 pan.  Blend (by hand or with mixer) the milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Pour over the oat mixture and mix all together thoroughly.  Bake for 40 minutes.

(note: since we don't drink milk in our house I substituted coconut milk.  Also, I didn't have brown sugar on hand, but I still had succanant in the cupboard, so I used that - cane would be fine too)

As you can see... the texture is wonderful.  It's not an eggy mass of overly saturated oats.  It's almost as if each oat is coated and prepared individually, but is it ever moist.  I'm going to try using maple syrup next time... and blueberries!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Taking a Break

We've taken a break from finishing the last few tiny items in the kitchen - just because - well, we're tired.  But we'll get our groove back soon I'm sure.  In the meantime - I just love looking at this from my chair in the living room - even in its unfinished state.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Garden Mint Tea in the Winter

We were first introduced to garden mint tea at a bible study a few years ago.  We took one tiny sprig home with us that night at planted with hope it would yield enough for us to have our own tea.  And yield it did.  We planted it right amidst all our other landscaping not knowing how invasive it really is - we dug it up when we moved from that house putting it in a flower pot.  It didn't make it through the winter.  Sadly the next spring we were, once again, without mint for our refreshing summer beverage.

When we bought this house, a friend of mine had just bought a new-to-her house also.  It had a wonderful bunch of garden mint planted, of which she gave me a clump.  I brought it home and eagerly planted it in my new garden (this time in a place that it is allowed to take over).  We've had fresh mint tea all summer long... wonderful.  However, winter is quickly approaching and temps are starting to dip below freezing.  I noticed some dark spots on the mint so I knew it was time to harvest it for the winter.  I didn't even realize I could do such a thing until a very dear Mennonite lady instructed me how, exactly, she makes a concentrate to hold them over.  So out I went today with my basket and clippers in hand.  I had already made three batches by the time I thought about sharing this with a picture.

For a normal batch I clip a few sprigs and put it in a saucepan to boil.  However, this time around I called out the calvary - my 12 qt. stainless steel stock pot.  I've never done this before so the amount I used is not precise, just loosely filling the pot and then covering completely, to the top, with water.  Bring to a rolling boil and "cook" for about 15 minutes.  The water takes on a greenish/brownish color and a heavenly minty smell begins to waft through your house.

I added stems and everything - because I've learned with small batches... trying to sieve out individual leaves floating in my pan takes entirely too much time.  And there's a house here to finish :o)  I use the slotted utensil from the above picture to lift the plants out of my pan and ready them for a trip to the compost.  From here I add sugar.  I add much less than the original recipe calls for, but I sweeten it to satisfy my husband's taste buds.  He likes it to be a smooth minty. lightly sweetened flavor.  For the 11 qt of tea that is actually left in my stockpot after evaporation happens I add about 3 cups of sugar - stir to disolve.  Then let it sit and cool.  I collected plastic containers (cottage cheese, mayo, spaghetti sauce, cool whip) from my neighbor, my mom to store the tea in.  Once cooled and transferred to the containers I put them in our long-term storage freezer. My understanding in how to use/serve it throughout the winter is to thaw completely and add that same amount of cold water to the pitcher.

 And we'll be enjoying this all winter long.  

PS - it tastes just as yummy as hot tea also ;o)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bead Board in the Dining Room

If you recall... the dining room looked like this from the door when we did our walk-through.  Nothing but that beautiful, 1990's glass chandelier.  Since moving in we've realized a few things about this room.  The door that's open has to be replaced.  It's pretty bad... rotten kind of bad, but that didn't rate on the priorities for this year.  That big, beautiful, stone fireplace... has to be taken out.  We've got 3000lbs sitting on the floor in that one space with no additional support under it.  It's pulling away from the ceiling and wall pretty significantly - and it's only gas - we can't make it wood burning, so we'll be replacing it with a nice wood stove in the spring/summer 2015.  However...

With an open floor plan, such as this, in the living area - merging the different spaces so they look cohesive and still making a room "it's own" becomes more difficult than I thought it would be.  I wanted to relate the two spaces and still make them two distinctive rooms.  Since I went with bead board on the ceiling in the kitchen, I thought it would make sense to add in bead board around the dining room, which defines it as it's own space at the same time.  So, although not finished, the dining room looks like this right now.  Bead board installed and fresh paint - that's all so far.  Obviously we're not finished, but moving right along at a steady pace.  The door leaned against the other door is the replacement - just not yet replaced ;o).   The bare drywall you see is some of the work left to do in the living room as we're moving from room to room.

This view makes it look a bit more pleasing to the eye.

This is the before view of the dining room from the living room.

And the view right now.  We extended the bead board around the breakfast bar.  We weren't intending to do that right now, but with just enough material left over from the room - we ended up with just enough to finish around the bar.  That was a definite YAY! moment.

 This little, antique dresser entered our life as mere storage and that is how it has remained.  I will replace it with something in the future, but I'm not in any hurry.  I will wait for the perfect piece to come along - until then - this little guy has a home.

One final view from the kitchen.  The light we have in here right now is not permanent either, but I had it in my stash and I couldn't live with the 70's chandelier any longer, so this one is my temporary fix :o)

OH!  And I couldn't finish this post without pointing out how the edge of the bead board meets up with the stone on the fireplace in that corner by the birds.  I didn't know how we were going to deal with it... then Daniel said "I have an idea..." - that will be for separate post.   But for now that all about the bead board in the dining room :o)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Farmhouse Table

I've wanted a farmhouse table for a very long time.  I've owned several tables trying to get the "right look", but they've never been a farmhouse table.  Truth is... you can't get farmhouse table look without a farmhouse table. At least not the look that I wanted.  Then, one day, as I was browsing my favorite online store (aka - Craigslist) I saw this little gem.  And it was a price that I could actually afford!!!  Then - on a seperate day - browsing that favorite online store... I found the windsor chairs that I wanted.  And it happened to be in the same town I picked up my new couches too.  Serendipitous!

I found the cute placemats at Goodwill; all for $1.

While out searching for one of our chickens the other day I noticed some wild Barberry bushes in our woods - of course I wanted some... so I asked Sydney to go get them for me :o).  I did, really, but alas I felt terrible that she was getting torn up for MY want of a new table centerpiece so I joined in and got them myself.  They bucket is from a free garage sale in Texas.

Unfortunately, the bucket has holes in the bottom of it so I couldnt keep the leaves pretty.  However, in this eye of the beholder all of it together is farmhouse perfect.
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