Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mennonite Chinese New Year Party

It still involves food

fancy clothes, 
but just fewer people
and in this case people from further away.
We skipped the dragon and the bubble wrap in favor of lots of talking 
and discussing wheel chairs and external fixators.

So glad to meet Tyler and Rachelle tonite
Mr Gabe went home early and I didn't get a picture

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Keeping Warm

 Keeping people warm and well-fed is a daily challenge.
Ben works outside/inside he never knows, but mostly he is in the cold.
When the weather was first getting colder he requested "something other than
cold sandwiches"
But there is no microwave in the work truck
So I bought another thermos not quite the same as the other kids have.
I ordered one for Shekinah awhile since the price seems to keep going up.
But ...
"Mom, it's not very hot when I eat it."

I came to realize that these thermos' aren't made to sit in a work truck in below freezing temps
for 5+ hours. So I made a thermos jacket!
I was quite pleased with the not the looks
but it works!
Took some thinsulate, covered it with some waterproof fabrice (that whole bolt I bought a few months ago) stitched on some velcro and viola!
The other thing that helps keep this boy warm...besides the seven layers of clothes...
is something we call a neck ruff...?? 
It's a piece of fleece that is tighter than an infinity scarf, but looser than a turtleneck
Stitched it together real quick one morning and it is right up there with the credit card
"never leave home with out it"

 My friend gave me "wall words" and I finally got up the nerve to
read the directions and put them on my wall
Zeke: "you just couldn't stand and empty wall?"

Then...on to feeding these hungry people
40 pounds of sour cherries will start us off
The local orchard is selling frozen fruit this winter
along with a bunch of other close-to-date items.
It is sales like these that help the bank account.

And someone reminded me tonite that next week they will be half way to 30
Actually it was I that reminded him he is not only getting close to 16, but 
30 as well and a third of the way to 90.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Looking For Good

Last Sunday, I stayed home from church, with a friend's foster baby (he's supposed to stay out of crowds for a few months)
I listened in on our church service, while the sermon was on Barnabas and being and encourager, something the minister said struck me.
He mentioned how we are so programmed to think negatively of any given situation. Lyndon Johnson pointed out, "If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read : 'President Can't Swim'."
We read the weather forecast and cynically snort "yeah, we'll see." Do I give credit when the forecasters are actually right?"
In the international adoption world we first meet our child the day before adoption, parents are advised "prepare for the worst, and hope for the best."

It's way late for New Year's resolutions, but I thinkit would be a good idea to look for the positive in all the interactions with my children. A child makes themselves annoying by standing in my way...he/she is just needing some closeness with me and not actually trying to be annoying.

Then another child leaves yet ANOTHER load of laundry sitting in the washer, I am sure he/she is just so busy doing math or history homework that they really didn't have time to do their chores.

You get the idea ( I know those pronouns are off but they read my blog!)

This past week has been interesting, on Tuesday I took Parker and Shekinah along to do some banking and a stop at the post office. When I was getting Parker out of his seat I noticed a catch while I was closing the roll door on the van. I opened it and tried again and THE BACK PART OF THE DOOR FELL DOWN!  Thankfully I had already taken Parker out of his seat and the bottom roller stayed in its slot. Otherwise the door would have fallen on my toes or worse. The door was too heavy for me to put back in it's place. My dear hubby was able to put it back into place when he came home that evening. Needless to say everyone has had  instructions on how to PROPERLY open the van door and the replacement part is in the mail.

In other news: Shekinah is rising to the challenge of getting ready for Kindergarten. A number of times in the past few weeks I asked her to do something and she was reluctant. All I needed to say was, "well, you should learn that before yougot to school, but if you want to stay home another year, that's OK too."
We suddenly know how to open the van door from the inside (not the one that fell off), draw the letter "K", and recognize a bunch of numbers. Tying shoes and getting the letters of her name in the correct order are next on the list.

Then the big boys had a youth group function. It was labeled "color night"
The colors selected were pink and brown
If your birthday fell in the last half of the year, you got to wear pink
Guess which half of the year these boys were born.

This dapper young man left the house in his father's wedding suit coat
(he doesn't fit into the pants)
carrying his great-grandfather's cane and wearing great-grandpa's glasses.
Old-fashioned night with a different youth group

If these pictures should suddenly leave my blog, it would probably be because
 my children read my blog

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Faking It

Warning! This post is full of OPINIONS....opinions that are probably a bit unpopular but, here goes--

The other weeks one of my enthusiastic basketball players came home from a game.

"Boy! you should have seen ______he sure faked it. The other guy barely touched him and down he went!"

Clueless mom: "Why?"

" Well we got two free foul shots"

"Wait! You mean you fall over on the floor and pretend someone hit you so you can get free shots?"

(OK OK, until a week ago I didn't know they use  A WHOLE BUNCH of new footballs PER GAME!)

I was assured that it is perfectly legal and is considered  good strategy. I even checked with my older kids and "yes, mom, that is true".

So what's the big deal?

So tell me? If I put my hand on my son's shoulder and he flinches and moves away or even says "OW!"
What would you think if you were watching?

We try to teach our children to always speak the truth and "even a 'half-truth' is a 'half-lie' "...well you know where I'm going with this.

So when is "faking it" OK?

On to other things. This is the 20-shades-of-gray-and-brown quilt that I made in the beginning of January. It was really called "Forest in a Foggy Snow"

This one was an order and I sent it off yesterday. 
"Wedding Rings"
Definitely not my choice of color but I love the design...
maybe I can do something with the idea another day.

Then my "boss" gave me this stack of silks, velvets and other shiny fabrics and asked
if I can make a Crazy Quilt. It has so many personal angles for the customer that I might
have to do something I never did before....refuse an order.
There are just too many ways that I could make the wrong thing PLUS I will probably
fall in love with it and want to keep it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Potluck Review

Every so often our church has a fellowship meal after the church service. Often the food committee plans a menu so that each family has only to bring "four dozen rolls" or "4# of ham balls" (just an example). But occasionally we have "pot luck" which means "bring a hot and cold dish"  or depends on the translation "bring the best, fattening food you can possibly think up".  I ,unlike some of my family, love tasting different kinds of food.
  By the way, who brought that black crock pot full of baked beans? I need the recipe.

Since people were asking about my food I thought I'd post's not the fanciest or the fattening-est but it is Chinese food for the crock pot.

My daughter-in-law told me about this site and I tried the Mongolian Beef the other night-used ground beef instead.

Here is the recipe with the tweaks I made:

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

1 pound ground beef, (you can fry it before you put it in the crock pot, I simply thawed it when I had 6 hours to cook it. Fried it for church pot luck)

1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup soy sauce (I think it made it a bit strong ...start with 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar

Fry or thaw your ground meat, put in crock pot.  Mix the remaining ingredients, be sure to wisk in the corn starch. Pour in the crock pot. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours.  The "gravy" was a bit thick so I added water as the day went along. (This morning I added 4 cups of water  to my tripled recipe at 10 AM)  In our experience you can never have too much gravy.

Serve with rice

I made rice for pot luck too...searched the internet for recipes and those recipes had 2 cups water to 1 cup rice.....that makes mush when you are making jasmine rice.

I simply measured my washed rice* into the crock pot with my normal measurement of
 1 cup rice to 1-1/4 cup water and added a bit of salt.

I made 5 cups of rice to 6-1/4 cup water.... should've made more

Should've sprayed the crock with cooking spray too

cooked on high until for 2-1/2 hrs and then back to low (10 AM)until lunch was ready. It was plenty soft, but better than trying to make rice between end of church and "time to eat".

* You don't wash your rice? I don't always wash mine, but good Chinese mamas do. Supposedly takes off some of the starch and any impurities that might be on the rice. I only buy  jasmine rice anymore...well except for that one time I almost killed my family by buying regular Carolina rice....but let's not talk about that. Wa*mart sells it (bottom shelf below the Chinese flavorings or up a few rows under the Mexican food supplies) It's a bit more expensive but it's worth it.S*ms Club and your local Chinese food store carry the 25# bags. Put the amount of rice that you are making in a bowl, add water to cover by an inch or so....slosh the rice back and forth with your hands until the water is milky, pour off the water and do it again.  That my friends is "washed rice".

QOTD: The other Saturday I bought chicken pies for supper when DH got to the bottom of his he said "Uh Oh I shouldn't have eaten's for singles only.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Formerly a Shirt

                     When I dig through the bins at Goodwill and come across a nice shirt with good quality fabric, I don't care what size it is. If it fits one of the skinny people in my house....OK
But if it is size XXL then my mind goes to other sewing projects.    This fish shirt has been on my stash pile for quite some time and I got a sudden urge to see if I could make a jumper.
     The bodice comes from the sleeves, the skirt is the main part of the shirt...from the yoke down. 
Leave the shirt tail intact. I added some denim to the bottom of this one to lengthen it.
My photographer didn't quite follow my instructions. I wanted a good picture of the hem line...
            Then there was a shirt that Joe didn't wear very great for Shekinah

Not sure what was up with the eyes.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Rice Bags

Cleaning up my inventory aka: cleaning out corners.
  Came across my accumulation of rice bags. They are tough bags and I hate to just toss them..
but there is a limit! so I took two apart and made one BIG bag...wonder if I could get a week's supply of food in there?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

After we ate our fill of egg roll, pot-stickers, rice, cookies and ice cream, we got to the
The girls could hardly stand it today. The UPS truck and the USPS each delivered one
last package. I found all the gifts and piled them behind the sofa yesterday.
Faith and Shekinah spent their day double-checking that they were still setting there.
Parker opened his gift first cause he is the youngest. 

                        Faith got her "our Genera*ion" doll (poor man's Amer*can Girl)

                                                 the much awaited blinky scooter

                                              I put Glenda's money in a tiny little money box.

                            And dad's gift money for chickens got folded into birds, and a heart.

                                          Joe relented and decided he wants a gift afterall. Originally,
                                   he wanted to save all his Christmas money and his birthday money
                                   for a much coveted tablet (the electronic kind).
                               THEN they hauled in a BIG box and I have a DISHWASHER!
                                                                      I was surprised!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Aunt Ann's Yogurt

A couple of you asked for my yogurt recipe so here goes.   I'd advise you to read up a bit on yogurt making,(If you already know all about yogurt making and just want the recipe, read the bold print) there are some tips...such as

 "yogurt does not like to be jostled while it is becoming yogurt"

Temperature is important, get a digital or quick read thermometer.

Milk can be fresh from the farm, but non-homogenized will give you a layer of cream on the top...
 yum or yuck depends on which child gets it.

I have been using whole milk simply cause there are some frightfully skinny people in my house, but I probably should use "blue" milk for those of us who are watching our cholesterol.

I have had the best success using store -"boughten" yogurt for my starter. When I used my yogurt for the starter in the next batch, my yogurt got runny....tasted OK, but we like yogurt that can stand up for itself. That's why we use gelatin.

Oh and get containers and lids ready in advance so that you aren't scrambling around, worried that your yogurt mix is getting too cold or too warm while you find lids, containers, or counter-top space. Don't ask my how I know this.

Aunt Ann's Yogurt

2 quarts milk
place in a heavy bottom kettle

1/4 cup sugar; just let it sink to the bottom don't stir yet

Sprinkle 1-1/2 Tablespoon plain gelatin over the top of the milk
Don't stir

Heat to about 100 degrees (use the thermometer)
Now you can stir, but sure to get the sugar mixed in

Heat to 180 degrees (read up on yogurt making to understand why)
Stir occasionally while it is heating

When it has reached 180 degrees, remove from burner and set in sink with ice water or simply set on counter to allow mixture to cool to 110 degrees.
 I understand that you don't want to vary this by much cause then you add the yogurt culture. You don't want to kill those healthy little "bugs" that make yogurt so healthy for you.

While the milk is cooling prepare the culturing sister-in-law uses her oven and simply turns on the light for the keeps the oven warm enough. I found out that my oven light doesn't work, even after I put in a new bulb. So, I pulled out my big ice chest, lined it with a tablecloth (folded so half of it can fold over top of the yogurt containers), heated a pint jar of water, closed the jar and put it in the ice chest, so that it is warm for the yogurt culturing.

When milk has cooled to 110;  add 5-6 oz of plain yogurt

 I use the Greek yogurt cause it is thicker....from my reading I think you can add most any kind of plain yogurt, your end result just might be a different texture. If you read yogurt labels you can see that there are different qualities....oh and don't buy old yogurt (so local peeps Glenwood might not be the best choice)

Stir in yogurt and
 1 Tablespoon of vanilla  (optional)

After there are no lumps in your yogurt mixture and the temp is between 100 and 110 degrees, start ladling yogurt into containers  Pop 4 at a time into the ice as to not loose heat. When all the yogurt is in containers, fold the other half of the tablecloth on top. I leave the hot water jar in the ice chest, but on top of the cloth. Set the ice chest somewhere quiet, where no one will be using it for a sled, wagon, step stool or bully pulpit. After 4 hours get the yogurt out and put in fridge.