Monday, December 13, 2010

Pictures of haircuts

This picture was taken of Katie last week, she doesn't wear make-up every day but is here. I think she looks so beautiful (I'm admittedly prejudiced though) I can hardly believe that I'm old enough to have a daughter this old. Gulp!

I finally got Mr. G to agree that I could cut Asa's hair. It was down to his shoulders and he looked so girly, a lady asked what her name was in the store. Ugh. He looks so boyish now, I love it!

I got my hair trimmed up and offered to any of the girls that they could get their hair trimmed as well. Out of the 5 only Elisabethe and Abigail took me up on the offer. Here is Abigail, 5 years old.

And Elisabethe, 7 years old. Their hair is still below the shoulder, layered, with bangs. They can brush it themselves and it wears so much nicer now. I love long hair on girls but not when it's a ratty mess; I never seemed to manage to get it put up a lot of the time. A Mom has to know her limitations and when to concede that they can't do *everything*.

Elisabethe and Abigail got matching Middleton babies for their birthdays. A blond baby to match blond Elisabethe and a brunette baby to match brunette Abigail. Matching haircuts now too! :-) They practice their "mommy" skills daily, it's endearing to see.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Week In Feminine Dress, Day 5

"Nine and Co." skirt, "International Concepts" grey wool turtleneck, and a borrowed from Katie denim jacket. I *love* this skirt but it needs tall black boots before I can wear it out, so for right now I just wear it at home. In the first picture I'm wearing a tanktop under the jacket, but I think it looks better with the turtleneck.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Week In Feminine Dress, Day 4

"Jones New York Sportswear" brown corduroy skirt, black "Cherokee" turtleneck, tan plaid "Streetwear" jacket, black leather boots. All thrifted. :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Week In Feminine Dress, Day 3

Brown linen "Newport News" skirt, pink striped "Arizona Jean Company" shirt and brown tank top. Skirt was eBay but shirts were purchased at MCC (local thrift store).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week In Feminine Dress, Day 2

Green "Faded Glory" sweater from Goodwill, "Angels Jeanwear" skirt from eBay. I like the skirt but I can't get used to wearing skirts slung around my hips, I like them better to be at my waist.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week In Feminine Dress, Day 1

I have wanted to do a "week in feminine dress" forever but never got around to it. This week I'm determined to post an outfit a day! I really enjoy when other ladies/girls post their clothes, I get so many cute ideas. I could also tag this as "week in thrift store clothes" because that's where almost everything that I own came from.
"SO" Steampunk army green jacket (I have to think of Lauren when I wear this :D ), black "Cherokee" turtleneck, "Jeanology" denim skirt, black leather boots. All thrift store buys except the skirt was an eBay find.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Are you beautiful?

Sometimes I am so amazed at how God inspires multiple women to blog about similar things at the same time. This link takes you to a beautiful post on serving husbands. I was touched today as I read it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Male Privilege

I read an interesting piece on "male privilege" and I've been reflecting on it this week. I think that women today tend to think that women really are better off now than they've been in the past, but then you read a checklist like this and it brings it home that women really aren't viewed all that differently than they've ever been. But, I suppose that begs the question; if women are so "liberated" today then why do we willingly pander to the tastes/appetites of men? If we really wanted "equality" wouldn't we stop being swimsuit/lingerie models? Why is male approval a driving force for almost every woman I've ever met? Is it a God given trait or is it a symptom of a sick society? Mr. G's love tends to make him want to "lead and bleed", to provide and protect, whereas my love makes me want to cook his dinner, wash his socks and have his babies. I want to serve, he wants to defend (would I be considered "subservient" then?) I believe that God created men and women to be different, they compliment and complete each other and perhaps male dominance is a necessary aspect of their drive to protect. I'm not preaching here, just musing aloud and I'm very interested in your thoughts and experiences.

The Male Privilege Checklist

1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.

2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true.

3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.

4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.

5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are.

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low.

8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent.

12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.

13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to bel status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring.

27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.

28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car.

29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.

33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.

34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.

35. The decision to hire me will not be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.

36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.

37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks.

39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.

40. If I have children with my wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do.

43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.

44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.”

45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment.

45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.

46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Is being Quiverfull incompatible with an economic collapse?

I read a great, thought provoking, challenging article today on preventing pregnancy due to the economic crisis we're in. Good stuff! For the majority of our married life Mr. G has been "quiverfull" and I have not been, I wanted a big family, but the idea of giving up control of the situation really scared me. However, I agree with the article completely and I'm really examining my current beliefs to see if I need to change.

Is An Economic Downturn A Good Reason to Stop Having Kids?
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The news has not been encouraging lately. Between job losses, bankruptcies, and government takeovers, it is hard to be optimistic about the future from a financial standpoint. Even China appears more capitalistic than America these days (see here). As a result, many Americans are making very hard choices. There are even commercials on television depicting families sitting around the dinner table talking about difficult decisions they must make and dreams they must defer. My family and I have had similar discussions as I have had a few events cancelled on account of “the economy”. Things are indeed tough.

One of the overlooked consequences of the current economic downturn is the increasing number of people who have decided to forego having children. All over the western world people are deciding that now is not the time to get pregnant. As a result, the vasectomy industry is experiencing an economic boom. As evidence of this, there was a recent article in Bio-Medicine titled, “With the Economy Down, Vasectomy Rates Are Up.” The author notes that, “Doctors around the United States are reporting a sharp increase in the number of vasectomies performed since the economy soured last year.” The numbers are actually quite astonishing. One article reported more than a thirty percent increase in vasectomy rates in Canada. Things are even worse in some parts of the United States. The Bio-Medicine article reports:

Since November, Dr. Marc Goldstein, surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine in New York City, said his practice has seen about 48 percent more vasectomy consultations compared to the same time the previous year.

This is especially discouraging news in light of the already astonishingly low birthrates in the industrialized world (See: here, and here). Russia, for example, is expected to see their population cut in half (from 140 Million to 70 Million) between 2005 and 2050. As Michael Specter of the New York Times put it,

“Driven largely by prosperity and freedom, millions of women -- here and throughout the developed world -- are having fewer children than ever before. They stay in school longer, put more emphasis on work and marry later. As a result, birth rates in many countries are now in a rapid, sustained decline. Never before -- except in times of plague, war and deep economic depression -- have birth rates fallen so low, for so long.”

And that was 1998! Things have gotten progressively worse since then. Many European countries have already reached the “point of no return,” and are in danger of becoming Islamic Republics.

Unfortunately, most people view having children as a purely financial endeavor. This attitude was summed up well by Dr. Harry Fisch, a professor of clinical urology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City, who said:

"The issue about kids is often a financial one, and, if finances are low, it makes sense that people would be less likely to have more kids. And if they're thinking about it, this is the time."

Interestingly, things have been good (from a financial perspective) over the past few decades, but birthrates were still in decline. Thus, the current problem is not one of healthy birthrates becoming unhealthy in light of the economic downturn. Instead, greedy materialistic people who already saw children as a burden when they were ‘filthy rich” (which includes Americans at the “poverty line” if you look at things from a global perspective) are now in a panic because they are slightly less rich. But what does the Bible have to say on the subject? Is an economic downturn, or a set of difficult circumstances a good enough reason to stop having children?

I do not believe that an economic downturn is a sufficient reason to prevent pregnancy. I base my argument on four key factors. First, children are a blessing. The Bible is clear on this issue:

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalms 127:3-5 ESV)

I love the ESV translation of this passage. Here we see an important nuance in the Hebrew text. It is not the man whose quiver is filled that is blessed, but the man “who fills his quiver.” In other words, we should seek children. We should desire them.

Second, we are commanded to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen 1:28; 8:17; 9:1, 7; 35:11; Jer 23:3) One of the principle purposes of marriage is procreation. Of course, this goes beyond merely having children to actually bringing them up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) in an effort to spread the image of God (and the gospel) throughout the earth. As such, it is unthinkable for Christians to attempt to enjoy the benefits of marriage and avoid the responsibility of having and raising children to the glory of God. R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY said it better than most when he wrote:

Christians must recognize that... rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift... Morally speaking, the epidemic in this regard has nothing to do with those married couples who desire children but are for any reason unable to have them, but instead in those who are fully capable of having children but reject this intrusion in their lifestyle.
Third, any decision to avoid pregnancy has to be based on biblical reasons, and a struggling economy is not one of them. While I do not believe that there are many instances where preventing pregnancy would be “biblical”, I do believe that there are some instances where one could make a strong biblical argument for doing so. For example, if a man’s wife breaks her pelvis in an automobile accident, I believe he would be quite wise in holding off any plans for a baby. I know there are some who have argued that it is “never biblical” to prevent pregnancy. However, I disagree. As a pastor, I would advise a man in the aforementioned situation not to impregnate his wife, and I would base that advice on Peter’s admonition to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7 ESV). I believe this goes directly to a man’s role as protector in the home.

However, that is a far cry from the, “Things are really bad now” line of reasoning. Anyone wondering if the Bible gives any hint as to whether or not God would advise his people to continue having children in the midst of bad economic, or political times need only look at Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon. In the midst of conditions that make ours look like a day at the park, the Lord spoke through his prophet:

“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.” (Jeremiah 29:4-6 ESV)

I thank God that my ancestors who were slaves (by the way, that’s worse than an economic downturn) bore children in spite of their difficulties. Had they adopted today’s mindset, there would be no descendants of slaves alive in America today. We would all have been “prevented” in the name of “prudence”.

Fourth, if one has biblical reasons to avoid pregnancy (and this is almost never the case), the next step would be to employ biblical means in doing so. If a couple finds themselves in a situation where avoiding pregnancy becomes necessary, there are other issues to take into consideration. For example, birth control shots, I.U.D.’s, morning after pills, and many birth control pills, are actually abortifacients (they have the potential to cause early abortions when they fail at preventing pregnancy). As such, they should be avoided. Also, bodily mutilation (vasectomy, tubal ligation, etc.) is a serious and morally questionable alternative (1 Cor. 6:19). That leaves barrier methods (though this raises questions of “spilling the seed,” i.e., Gen. 38), and abstinence (which carries with it a whole other set of difficulties; 1 Cor. 7:1-5). In other words, such decisions are far from “cut-and-dry” for those attempting to think and act biblically in this area. We must search the Scriptures (I also recommend resources like Andreas Kostenberger’s book, God, Marriage and Family).

Unfortunately, most Christians never give such issues much thought. Very often we assume that since the practice of preventing pregnancy is so common, it must be biblical, prudent, and ethical. Moreover, most “Christian counselors” actually advise believers to prevent pregnancy in virtually any instance. For example, if they 1) are newly married, 2) already have two or three children, 3) have experienced “difficult pregnancies,” 4) had one or more deliveries via c-section, or 5) are in the midst of an economic “crisis” (i.e., can only afford one new car and a 2,000 sq. ft. house). If you don’t believe me, start listening to call-in “counseling” shows. I know this firsthand. Regrettably, my wife and I fell victim to such “counseling” after our second child was born. Suddenly, we had our girl and our boy (the perfect LITTLE family), and the all-too-common excuse of “difficult pregnancies,” (coupled with a Cesarean delivery) so it was time to shut it down. We hired a doctor to take his scalpel and suture, and tell God we no longer needed, wanted, or trusted him in that area of our lives. I talk about this dark episode in Family Driven Faith.

I believe the burden of proof is on those who wish to prevent pregnancy. Search the Scriptures to see if these things are true. We mustn’t simply assume that the old clich├ęs are true. I know we’ve always heard that the responsible thing to do is prevent pregnancy until you are “ready” financially (and there are no complications, or sickness, or dreaded warnings from physicians), but what does the Bible say? And who’s ever “ready” for a baby? Moreover, who knows what the financial scene will look like nine months from now?

There’s another issue at play here. Many people who prevent pregnancy today and plan on just “getting back around to it” some other time are in danger of, “tempting the Lord their God.” (Matt 4:7; cf. Deut. 6:16) Getting pregnant is not a guarantee. There are plenty of people out there who cry themselves to sleep at night because they’ve been trying for years and God has not opened the womb. People who put pregnancy off until a “more appropriate time” need to bear this in mind. You don’t know when (or if) you will get pregnant. As such, it is quite presumptuous to put it off until you decide you’re ready. Remember, God is the author of life, and every child is a blessing. Besides, who’s going to fix our ethical, spiritual, economic, and political crisis in the next generation if those of us who know the answer (the gospel) shut it down and stop launching arrows simply because they may require a little financial sacrifice in the short run?

The original article can be found here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

God's Provision

This isn't actually a Thanksgiving post but rather one that I wanted to write 2 weeks ago, however our computer died, was resurrected, died again and has been hopefully brought back to life again for a while. Never a dull moment. :-) Anyway, I was thinking about being thankful toward God for His provision, not just about material things but for the people He brings into our life. I was considering the marriage relationship, the oneness of a husband and wife and how often I let myself get sidetracked from the mystery that is marriage. A relationship, by the way, that God uses to illustrate His relationship with us, isn't that amazing? But I'll dwell on the things that Mr. G does that irritate me instead of being thankful toward God that He has allowed me to be loved by this wonderful man. Are you thankful to be loved? I'm not always. Shame on me.
I have also been blessed to be the mother of 9 gifts given to me directly by God in order to see Him more clearly. Nine little souls entrusted to me. I am very unworthy, I shouldn't even be trusted to do the laundry let alone be steward to human souls, and yet God has and does. Sometimes I see through the glass darkly and the way seems pretty unglamorous. I feel tonight that I want to encourage everyone to look around them at their families and press it upon your hearts that God placed these people in your life intentionally. It wasn't a fluke or happenstance. And we should be overflowing with thankfulness to God for loving us enough to give us all that we need to grow in godliness. Amen and amen!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Our Song

Do you and your spouse have a song? A special "just you and I song"? When Mr. G and I first knew each other, I was 15 and he was 18, our song was "Every Breath You Take" by the Police. My Mother found the message behind the song (at least when associated with her daughter) to be a bit creepy. :-) But he left for Washington and Jefferson College and we lost contact and there went "our song". When we reconnected years later, I was now 18 and he was 21, our song then became "April Skies" by the Jesus and Mary Chain. Mind you, I didn't choose either special song, it was Mr. G's musical taste that reigned, not mine. I grew to enjoy the music that he liked, well mostly anyway, and he grew to like some of what I liked. We don't listen to any song here that doesn't sound sweet being lisped by a 3 year old. It's a good rule of thumb that works well for us. It also means that some songs that I previously enjoyed, I can no longer listen to. I used to like the Red Hot Chili Peppers but most of that just isn't kid-friendly. If "Angie" by the Rolling Stones comes on the radio though, I'll turn it up and sing along. Same with the Boss' "Pink Cadillac", Led Zeppelin's "Thank You", Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" or Pearl Jam's "Black". I enjoy religious music, mostly older hymns and especially Sacred Harp but I can't stand Contemporary Christian Music. I mean, it's fine if you do, but CCM makes me want to run bamboo skewers under my finger nails. I don't think there's anything wrong with "secular" music, songs that speak about human love, loss, happiness, whatever. The Song of Solomon is, after all, about some pretty basic human things. :-) Mr. G and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this past week and privately renewed our vows. Marriage is good, I am happy. I have added 2 new songs to the "our song" repertoire: Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game"; love, love, love that song! And Jack Johnson's "At Or With Me", a happy, particularly danceable song.

What's your song and what's the story behind it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

A haircut gone awry

I got a haircut today, my first honest-to-goodness professional haircut in a long time. I have had long hair for decades, I *like* long hair. But, what started as a homegrown "just trim the ends off" spun wildly out of control, when I saw it I felt like throwing up. :-) So, first thing this morning I called and got an appointment to try to fix the damage. The result is this.

It barely skims my shoulders and I feel somewhat like a shorn sheep. Mr. G loves it and said all kinds of nice things about it but I feel So like this isn't me. I needed the catharsis of a blog post, the need to throw it out into cyberspace to see what the consensus is.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wassail Apples

Today we are canning Wassail Apples. This is a recipe that I came up with as a healthier alternative to Spiced Apple Rings which I like, but not the corn syrup content. They cause one problem (diluting the appley-ness by using water) and then "fix" the problem by adding lots of corn syrup. Yuck! My recipe is healthier and yummy besides.
Wassail Apples
*Bring to a boil 2 quarts of water, 1.5 cups white sugar, 1.5 cups brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and a pinch of cloves (optional)
*Fill quart canning jars with apples (I like Empires) cut in eighths or twelths (apple rings waste space and so require more cider to fill the jars)
*Add cider to apples, leaving 1/2" head space
*Can for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner
These are a tasty compliment to ham or sausage and are delectable atop pancakes or waffles with whipped cream!

We are making pulled pork sandwiches for supper tonight and the whole house smells good. It's chilly today so the fire is going in the living room, adding the wood smoke smell to the sweet scent of the spiced apples and spicy smell of the pork. Mmm!

Monday, October 25, 2010

This is for you Ma

Ma, over at Abundant Life Farm (if you want to read about other big, homesteading, midwifing, gardening, canning, blogging type women then head on over and be inspired) asked the meme question about "how do I manage". After I got done laughing at the very notion of me managing anything, I decided to sober up and type up an answer. OK, short answer: I'm a rotten manager. Truly. It's one of my worst qualities. Long answer would run something along the lines of: I don't know any big families who *truly* do it all, I think that's a sham that we use to beat ourselves up with. We think maybe so-and-so is the good example of the Proverbs 31 ideal, while we must content ourselves to have our life serve as a horrible warning. That's me, the horrible warning. :-) I think no matter who you are, how many children you have, whether you work or not (as if I don't work???), whatever, something has to slide. We all have priorities; maybe yours aren't homemade clothes, or homecooked food, but you have other things that are really important to you so the lesser things slide. That's how I find it anyway. My friend Anna has an immaculate house, but she rarely if ever reads to or plays with her little ones. Anna likes it, but *I* wouldn't, so I accept chaos in order to do the things that I think a good Mommy does. I think if we lived in a bigger house, actually had closets or storage space, etc I might do a little better. We generally have stuff everywhere. I'm bad at putting things where they go, but Katie is really good at it and I'm so thankful that I have her. She's been forbidden to marry btw. :-)
We get school done most days, people get fed and washed up before bed, chores get done, I make sure that I have all children present and accounted for and that's a good day. Anything else is icing on the cake. I must confess to often feeling like a homemaking failure and wishing that somebody who manages better would give me lessons. I tried MOTH but I despise the regimentation, I want a guideline not a bunch of rules.
I'm sorry for such a non-answer but honestly, it's the best I can do.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of commanding generals and tasty cakes

Just a couple of quick things on this brisk Saturday evening. After a few years of being dogless we amended that situation and brought this

home today. Our neighbors raise Black Labs to sell but have a few from a recent litter that didn't sell due to the economy. We bartered a grassfed Tamworth ham for him, a good deal I think! The boys now have a hunting dog and the girls have a pet. He is fairly calm and easy going, even when Asa bit him. :-) I have to protect the dog from the baby, ha ha. We haven't settled on a name just yet, but I think it will be either Ashby or Patton.

In other news we are celebrating Tabitha's birthday this weekend. No pictures other than her cake which is *so* good. It tastes like Autumn should taste.

Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cake

  1. 1 box of yellow cake mix

  2. 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I didn't have this so I used cinnamon, ginger and cloves until it tasted good)

  3. 2/3 cup pureed pumpkin

  4. 1/4 soft butter

  5. 3 large eggs

  6. 1 cup ground pecans

  7. 2/3 cup water

Mix ingredients and bake at 350 in a buttered and floured bundt pan until done. When cool frost with:

Honey and Spice Buttercream

  1. 1/2 teaspoon unflavored knox gelatin

  2. 1/4 cup honey

  3. 1/4 cup sugar

  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt

  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  6. 14 soft tablespoons butter

Combine gelatin with 1 tablespoon of water and let set for 10 minutes. Bring honey, sugar and 1 tablespoon water to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool and then stir a tablespoon or so of honey mix into the gelatin water, mix well and then dump back into the rest of the honey mixture. Add salt and cinnamon and beat until fluffy, add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time while beating, stir in vanilla and use immediately.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Perry Cider

We reached another Fall milestone last week when we pressed apples for the first and only time. Actually, we have "perry cider" not just plain cider this year. Our neighbor brought over 4 bushels of pears which we pressed along with the apples (pressed pears being perry) and the yield was 67 gallons! We use the community press here in our community and the cost for the 67 gallons wasn't even $25!

Eventually we'll be moving the table and benches into the living room so that we can eat where it's warmer, it makes a snug fit but it is also nice to have all evening activities center in one room, I like being all together. Our neighbor is giving us their 30 laying hens as they no longer want them so I will be raiding the recipe books for recipes heavy on eggs!

Sewing and knitting are carrying on as usual, but I don't really want to write about something that I can't take pictures of. I hope that situation will rectify itself before long.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We're toast

I'm afraid my friends that the slide is unstoppable now. When Ben Bernanke comes right out and admits it, well, I think it's pretty imminent. I hope you're as ready as you can be. Before I get a deluge of "God is in control" comments, let me say it right up front, I know. I know it and I believe it, but I also know that God is really big on sowing and reaping. About being diligent with what you've been entrusted with and I think we are going to reap the whirlwind. Read about it here and here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Depressing post

I don't have an upbeat post today, it hasn't been an upbeat weekend so you must bear with this somewhat depressing missive. We went to a thrift store on Saturday in the Big City, it is further away but generally has a better selection of wool coats. I wanted to cannibalize an adult coat to make a little coat for Asa that coordinated with his knit cap that is finished but I didn't want to post about until I had the coat done. I couldn't find anything suitable though, so that was a wasted trip. Outside the door was a black man begging for money for food, he said he was a diabetic and hadn't eaten in two days. I don't know about that, but I do know that he's asking and I believe that if you have something, then you have enough to share. Mr. G of course gave him some money. We don't see that sort of situation here in Little Town but we do in the city more and more often. I feel so sorry for the people that have given up hope. Where will they turn if no one can help them?

Mr. G has been underemployed for a long while and his hours keep getting cut, we now are making what he made in 1990 but with 11 people to support on it. It's very hard to say the least. Despite his degree he can't find a job in his field and he is basically applying for any type of work. We went today so he could apply at a pallet shop, they are hiring 5 people and paying $8.50 an hour. The man interviewed him on the spot and said he would stop taking applications when he had interviewed 100 men, he expected that to happen later today at the rate people were flocking in. 100 men in a day, all desperate enough to take a $8.50 job. The interviewer said an 80 year old man had come in needing work. It just breaks my heart, for us and for them. I am thankful that at least we have the ability to meet many of our own needs, we are shielded from a lot by our lifestyle. I read this pertinent article and thought I'd pass it along as well as the request to remember us in prayer about the employment situation.

I will be back with my regularly scheduled upbeat post later this week. :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Abundance Of Fresh Meat

Today we went to pick up the meat from the pair of pigs that we had butchered this month. These were grass fed Tamworth pigs, born right here on our farm; they had an ideal piggy existence with one very bad day. :-) Because Tamworths are an old heritage breed they don't reach market weight in 6 months, they were also slower growing than pigs that are exclusively fed grain. We could have butchered them last Fall, but we held them over for another year and consequently they were huge. We ended up with well over 400 pounds of meat! We have 8 large hams, 70ish pounds of bacon, spare ribs, 100 pounds of sausage and about that much of pork chunks to can. I am going to be very busy getting as much as I can into jars because we have chickens to do next. For the curious, our butcher's bill was $336, I have no idea what we would pay for that much meat if we had to buy it retail. I'm pretty sure it would have been more than that though. :-)

I stopped at my friend Anna's house on our way home. They have 10 children and haven't butchered yet this Fall so it has been a while since they've had fresh meat. I left some bacon with them and got a box of zucchini to turn into pickles. Anna is the one that I have make shirts for Mr. G and the boys, she charges $10. When we gather apples in the Autumn and have cider pressed we always take some over to their place because they don't have apples to turn into cider. I enjoy the rural give and take friendship that we have, it is the "community" that is largely lost in our modern world. Both Anna and I live in a world that has more similarities to the 19th century existence than it does to the 21st century. So, anyway, for Supper tonight there are fresh porkchops and homemade baked beans. And tomorrow we will have ham! Which, as a matter of fact, is another vestige of a by-gone era. What I mean by that is what was once common place, plain rural food such as: maple sugar/syrup or organic fresh meat is now a high priced specialty food that is beyond the means of most people. Only by creating an underground, homemade economy can I enjoy the life that I do. Of course the downside is that there is an awful lot of hard, unromantic work involved. :-) I don't know if you envy me or pity me, I hope that I paint a realistic picture of my life showing both the good and bad.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September Means The County Fair!

I know a lot of people are celebrating the end of Summer and delighting in the cooler temperatures that September brings. There is a charm in the change of seasons and a calm associated with the slower pace of Autumn and especially Winter. I will eventually join you, but for us the pace has yet to slacken. The cooler temperatures are a starting gun in the race between a killing frost and us. Many, many things are still in the garden and are yet to be harvested. On the farmwive's porches are makeshift tables sagging under the weight of bumper tomato crops. They will finish ripening and then be put to rest in the larder dressed as spaghetti sauce or salsa, barbecue sauce or perhaps plain tomato juice. My own porch has the requisite tomatoes as well as white peaches and pears. Most of the dry beans are out of the garden and strung upside down from the barn rafters awaiting shelling. The men shell about a bushel a day and have many more days work ahead of them.

Amidst the press of work comes the quintessential rural experience of the County Fair. Our county has held a fair every year since 1849, a chance to showcase the hard work that is a farmer's lot, a change to renew acquaintances and perhaps sell some breeding stock.

I was especially interested in the displays of canned goods, I'd like to enter next year and it was instructive to see which jars the judges favored. There are categories for cookies and decorated cakes, knitting and sewing, quilts and wood working, all signalling the effort to be the best in their class.
There were tables and tables of produce, giant pumpkins, wafers of hay, ear corn, dry soybeans and wheat.

We toured the dairy barns (mostly Holsteins with a few Jerseys and a very few Ayrshires), the pig barns (all of the same boring variety that can survive the stress of a confinement hog facility) and the poultry barn where there were some interesting varieties in addition to the far over represented Cornish Rock Cross (these are the brainless white chickens that you eat and spent their pathetic lives in chicken concentration camps). The only turkeys were Broad Breasted Whites. :-(

The fair used to be the place to witness innovation and see new breeds, but it has unfortunately become a showcase of what works in confinement. Still, I am glad to be a part of the rural heritage that is part and parcel with living here. It was nice to take a day off in the middle of the week and enjoy being with other farm folks. We came home, ate lunch and tried to fit some work in this afternoon. Most of the children want to enter produce in next year's fair, I want to enter some canned goods and perhaps some sewing. It refreshes and revitalizes us to remember some of the entries and think "I could beat that!"

Supper is waiting and there are tomatoes to can yet tonight. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Antebellum Baby Shoes

Asa is ready for his first pair of shoes due to the cooler weather we've been enjoying. We are attending an auction tomorrow and I wanted to be assured that his little toes were adequately warm, so I made these shoes this afternoon. They are a proper shape for the Civil War era but the pattern is a modern one that several reenacting Moms have adapted, it can be found here.
They were cut from the bottom of a brown wool blanket that the boys use, they are unlined and the edges are stitched with embroidery floss. I *think* the embroidery is period appropriate but I'm not positive (Sarah Jane, do you know?). The main difference between the inspiration pattern and these are the squared off toe, modern shoes have rounded toes but shoes in the 1860s have square toes. I squared the toe portion of the sole and then cut the toe portion of the "upper" to match. The hardest part was getting the pattern tweaked to where I liked how it looked, the actual sewing can be completed in a jiffy. I'd like to make him a silk quilted pair so these served as my test run and will be his "everyday" shoes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Am In Canning Paradise

We have a lot going this week in the canning kitchen. Over the weekend we canned tomato juice-21 quarts, salsa-10 pints, chokecherry/peach jelly-10 half pints and the Cowboy Candy that I blogged about before. This week we have more of all of the above to can as well as pears, more peaches (hopefully),

and Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash (that's it above, they're huge) and Pie Pumpkin. I'm canning both the squash and pumpkin in a sugar syrup, the pumpkin will have cinnamon and nutmeg added, then you can open a can and voila'! pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, steamed pumpkin pudding, pumpkin bread, the list is almost endless. I will can some pumpkin plain because we like it in Winter Vegetable Chowder (that has parsnips, carrots, beets, squashes and pumpkin). I'd like to can beef tips this week, but I might not get to that. I love canning but the sewing suffers when I'm busy putting things in jars and the canning suffers when I'm sewing a lot. Such is life. There isn't enough "me" to go around some days. :-) I put an advertisement in our local newspaper to purchase canning jars and over the past few weeks I have acquired about 600 more jars, there are jars *everywhere*! We have hundreds of jars filled already and plans to fill most of the rest. Life is busy, work is good, I am happy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cowboy Candy

On the canning docket today was Cowboy Candy, a yummy blend of hot peppers in a bread and butter pickling sauce. It's good on hotdogs, burgers, scrambled eggs or poured over cream cheese as a cracker dip. I am a complete wimp about hot peppers but I do like this!

Cowboy Candy
12 cups of pepper rings: bell, jalapeno, sweet banana, chili, any peppers that you like or if your name is Reber or Shumway then add lots of habanero or cherry bomb. :-D
4 cups of onions of onions
2 1/4 cup vinegar
1 1/2 cup or water
6-8 cups of sugar (8 cups if you like it sweet)
2 TBS of mustard seed
2 tsp of turmeric
2 tsp celery seed

-Wash and cut peppers & onions into thin slices and put in a large pot with the water and vinegar...bring to a boil
-Reduce heat & simmer until tender, about 10 minutes
-Add remaining ingredients
-Bring back to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for another 10 minutes
-Pack clean, hot, sterilized jars and lids leaving 1 inch headspace, adjust lids.
-Water bath can for 20 minutes
Yields about 7 pints

Monday, August 16, 2010

There's No Time Like the Past

Katie was away this weekend to the Hale Farm Civil War Reenactment. When we went to pick her up we had Bob Szabo take a wet plate image of Katie and Asa. I'm pleased with how it turned out, Asa wasn't unhappy he was actually smiling and kicking his legs so he's a bit blurred. I think it looks "real", do you? The image of Katie and Asa looks like it could be Aleks and I 20 years ago, how eerie is that?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

1860's Knitted Baby Vest

I have been working, for about a month now, on a knitted baby vest. I know that knitted vests were common in the Civil War era and it seemed like a wonderfully warm addition to Asa's winter wardrobe. Previous to beginning this project I could: cast on, knit and purl so I had many new skills to learn if I wanted to knit this vest. I learned how to increase and decrease, make buttonholes, crochet an edging and attach two knitted pieces together. And finally, today, the vest in finished!!!
And, wonder of wonders, it doesn't fit. Wow, oh good. I was hoping to have spent all that time for nothing. :-) Actually, it isn't quite that disastrous. You see, for the belt I tried knitting on circular knitting needles (something I had never done before) and the stitches looked wonky. I don't know, maybe there's a trick to making your knitting look neat on them? Anyway, I chucked the circulars and did the belt on regular needles, doing rows of 12 stitches. However, that made the buttonhole sit vertically instead of horizontally like the others. The belt is a bit snug (I didn't block the belt, by the way) and it makes the button pop out of the hole. I suppose the next step is to remove the belt and knit a new, larger one and then crochet new edging for it and re-attach, but I'm not really up for that right now so I guess I'll put it away and sew for a while. :-/

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Busy Day in the Kitchen

We've had a busy week in the kitchen putting things into canning jars. Hot, tiring work to be sure, but I know the reward will be worth it. Katie canned a canner load of Rattlesnake pole beans this morning, our first of the year. I was working on Rebekah's birthday presents while she did that and then we canned blueberries and pickled heirloom beets this afternoon/evening. Our beet varieties are: Chioggia, Golden, Lutz Winter Keeper. I don't think I'm a huge pickled beet fan, but they will add variety to the dullness of Winter's protein-heavy repast. I think we're about finished with the blueberries, I ought to make more syrup since what I did make is making its way to New York before long and I have none left for us. We'll see, I know we'll be elbow deep in peaches tomorrow and/or Friday and I don't want to bite off too much. This is our Pickled Beet recipe, it's from 1911.
Pickled Heirloom Beets
1. Wash beets and trim off beet greens. Dispatch a child to feed the greens to the pigs; meanwhile leave roots and 1 inch of stems and cook until tender, about a half hour more or less.
Drain beets, cool and peel. Next, admire them on the plate.

2. Cut into slices or cubes, place in jars and pack them in but don't crush them. Then admire them some more and call all of the children in to remark on the pleasing aesthetics that beets entail.

3. In a separate kettle combine: 4 cups cider vinegar, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups water, 1.5 teaspoons canning salt, and in a spice bag put 2 cinnamon sticks, 12 whole cloves and 1 teaspoon whole allspice. Add spice bag to vinegar/sugar and boil for 5 minutes or the amount of time that it takes a 4 year old to tell you about the presents that she wants for her birthday which is still 4 months away. Remove spice bag and ladle syrup over beets in jars.

4. Put bands and lids in place and can in a boiling water bath canner for a half hour. Watch the storm roll in as you frantically grab the laundry from the clothesline with clothes pins flying every which way. Let it occur to you at 5:30 that you have nothing prepared for Supper and call for pizza.

Be thankful for everything that was accomplished in a day's time and doubly thankful that every day isn't like today. :-D

Monday, July 26, 2010

Using bail canning jars safely in the 21st century

The home canning authorities no longer recommend using bail lid canning jars, their official ruling states that only modern bands and lids are safe. However, I'm sure that I can't be the only person on the planet who wants to use these for something more than a button jar, so here is a step by step tutorial to ensure your safety.

1. Bail jars need 3 pieces to function: the jar, the rubber gasket and the glass lid. The jar and lid must be without chips and the gasket should be free from weak spots or cracking. I buy boxes of gaskets from Kidron Town and Country store but Lehman's also sells them.

2. After jar is filled, using recommended head space, wipe any food residue from the jar and stretch the gasket over the mouth of the jar. There will be a "shelf" that the gasket rests on. Make sure that the gasket is flat and not twisted.

3. Place glass lid over gasket and put bail closure in place.

4. Process for recommended time and allow to rest on the counter for 24 hours and then check seal. To check seal you remove the bail closure and pick the jar up by the lid. The picture shows me checking the seal on a jar of blackberries. Hold the jar only an inch or two above the counter to avoid a broken jar in case it didn't seal.

I only use my bail jars for foods that are canned with the boiling water bath method, I don't use them in my pressure canner. Certain foods need to be pressure canned to kill any botulism spores, but foods canned with a water bath canner aren't prone to botulism. Food spoilage will generally unseal the lid from previously sealed jars, look funky and/or smell bad, any of these will be obvious in a regular canning jar and will be equally obvious in a bail jar. Observing proper safety measures can make using these vintage jars a rewarding experience and less like a death defying act by a crazy women who enjoys flirting with death. :-D

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Our gardens are producing bountifully, I've never seen such abundance before. The beans are doing fantastic, the pumpkins, squashes, and cucumbers look great, the tobacco is huge, and the beets promise to be a bumper crop. We are exceedingly blessed this year. And all of it is due to the extraordinarily hard working sons that I have. :-D

We braided the garlic today, first we sorted out the 60 biggest bulbs to plant next year and then we braided the rest. They are hung on the porch and smell wonderfully, if you like garlic that is. Earlier this week we made blueberry syrup. Blueberry syrup, for those of you who are so unfortunate as to have never had this delicacy pass over your palate, is a sweetened, thickened blueberry juice that is the perfect topping for Belgian waffles. You mush up any berry and boil for 15 minutes, strain and add an equal amount of sugar, return to a boil for 1 minute and can it. It is all of Summer's sunny goodness packed into a canning jar. MMMmmmm!

I received my knitted sontag this week. It was hand crafted by the very talented Sarah H and is beautifully knitted. All of the girls are getting something similar to stave off the cold this Winter.
I am very pleased with it, it is quality workmanship through and through!

I have been busily knitting and sewing up some needed clothing. Rebekah's birthday is in exactly 2 weeks and everybody gets a new dress or two for their special day. :-D More peaches are coming today so I better get going as there are jars to wash.......

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dressing boys in dresses

Why would you want to dress your little boy in girl's clothes? Aren't you afraid that it will feminize him? It's well known if you've been reading my blog for any length of time that I sew and dress Asa in gowns. He wore gowns exclusively until he was six months old and at almost ten months old he wears "modern" baby attire and gowns both. If you look at the issue from a historical perspective you will find that up through the ages, until well into the 20th century, babies were dressed alike and gowns were the baby garment available. A baby in diapers is more convenient to change in a gown and pants make no sense whatsoever if disposable diapers or plastic pants still lie a hundred years in the future. Our ancestors apparently weren't concerned about feminizing their sons and with good reason, gender roles weren't blurred and distorted as they are today. It wasn't until the close of World War 2 that babies began to have gender associated colors even, before that time pink was considered manly and blue was considered chaste and feminine. Today a baby sleeper is the unisex baby garment in much the same way as gowns were 100 years ago.
OK, I see, but you don't live in the 1800's, you live in this day and age. True enough, I live and am raising children in 2010, but must it logically follow that just because this or that is common today that I am compelled to follow along? We as a family are cultivating a modern culture Sabbath, a rest from the elements of our society that we think interfere with our communion with God. We choose to order our life differently and what we wear is a part of that.
Here are some historical images of boys in dresses.
2 genre' paintings from the 1840's. In general, boy's hair parts on the side and girl's hair parts in the middle. Understand, our ancestors didn't want their sons and daughters to be interchangeable, they wanted them to look like babies. CdV's show tiny babies with just a smidgen of hair carefully parted on the side, there was no desire to blur babies into one neutered mass.


Ronald Wilson Reagan and older brother Neil in 1912. Reagan certainly grew up to be manly and was not adversely affected by his baby clothes.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1885

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor, Anna and baby James in 1908. Not only did FDR's baby clothes not feminize him but he dressed his own son in gowns as well.