Thursday, July 25, 2013


Today.  Yes, today.  It was just one of those days, but perhaps I should back up to yesterday.  :)

Yesterday, two sweet friends came to my home to help me with canning two 25 pound boxes of tomatoes.  It was my first time, and I was so excited!  I had spent two solid days on the road trying to gather all the needed ingredients and trying to clean my home well enough that I would feel comfortable enough to have them over!  lol!  I never got to that point, but I gladly welcomed them in with open arms!  I sure am glad they didn't go in my bathroom and closets!  ;)  In no time at all, we had prepared 7 pints of tomato juice, 19 1/2 pints of salsa, and 12 quarts plus almost 1 pint of spaghetti sauce.  I enjoyed having them here so much!  I hope we get to do it again!  Though the recipe cards were left at my home, I didn't have permission to copy the recipes, so I returned them to the rightful owner at church last night without writing down the recipes.  I'm sorry I don't have one to share today, but I will have one to share some day.  :)  Here are a few pictures, though, of the finished products.

I used some of my old jars from an estate sale.  These first two pictures are
just some close ups of the jars.  They have spaghetti sauce in them.

This is the tomato juice.

Most of the finished products with the salsa in the
tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, and salsa

Today, though, I woke up thoroughly exhausted and just wanted to go back to bed.  The little girl woke up wanting to eat, and the little, energetic boy just wanted to stay in the bed. I just wanted to get out the door to our church's ladies day.  The children ate a bowl of cereal and got dressed while I got ready.  I thought perhaps my day was looking bright.  I dragged myself through the door of the home our group was cleaning and set to work in zombie mode.  When I was close to being done, my little one came in asking to go home and just not acting himself.  While I was there, I checked his temperature to discover he had a fever.  Since I knew he had already had symptoms the night before and his sister just got over strep, I made the decision to go ahead and get the antibiotic he had been prescribed at about the same time just in case he ended up sick, too.  Off I went praying God would keep me awake on the hour and a half ride from where I was.  As you can see, God provided and protected us there and back.  Once we got home I absolutely crashed on the sofa with the little man beside me in the recliner.  When I finally got myself awake enough to function, I realized he was too warm and checked his temperature again to find it was 104.  Sigh...I hate seeing my babies so sick.  I finally got his fever back down.

The whole day, I fought the grumpies.  Perhaps my body is fighting off sickness too.  Boy does Satan know my weaknesses and how to attack me at my weakest!  I absolutely refused to give in.  As horrible as I felt on the inside at the upside down way my day was turning out, how tired I felt, and the beer can someone put in my mailbox getting beer on my mail I refused to lose patience with my children or myself.  The emotions of grumpiness warred with the peace of God most of the day.  Praise God!  Except when the beer can nearly sent me over the edge causing me to post a negative comment on Facebook which I soon removed, I let God freely reign.  I overlooked the messy house.  I let go of the guilt caused by sleeping on the sofa, I let go of the insecurity caused by inferiority of cleaning skills brought on by cleaning with Mennonite women ( ;) That was totally brought on by myself, not them.), I let go of the fact that my dress was shorter than I liked and my legs were too white, I let go of the fact that we were supposed to start school this week, and the book I paid expedited shipping for a week ago still hasn't arrived, I let go of the fact that the lawn needed to be mowed, I let go of the fact that the flower beds look like jungles, I let go of the guilt that I had to spend money to feed my children fast food junk because we were on the road most of the day, and I let go of the frustrations over many things that are lacking.  I just let go, period.  I just let go and let God have control over that which I could not control.  I just had to let go and rested in his peace.  I had to give it all to him. He says, "Come unto me all ye who are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Today. Yes, today.  I put it all at his feet.  Could he really be sitting before me, yes, the tears would have washed over his feet, and I would have gladly washed them with my hair.  I don't think he would have condemned me further for all the things that are wrong.  I think he would be happy that I laid down Martha and gave in to my Mary heart.  His love couldn't have been any more real if I had been wiping the tears from his precious, nail scared feet.  Oh, how I love my Savior!  I praise God for his love and faithfulness!  He is more precious than all the world to me.  Have you taken time to just rest in his fullness and grace today?

Until we meet again, may you be blessed.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Monkey Butter with Cherries

I have had so much fun in the kitchen today canning a recipe I first discovered in the canning group to which I belong on Facebook.  It is a lovely, fun group!  There are always new ideas popping up to keep the canning excitement going, and someone is always there with a quick answer if trouble arises in the middle of a recipe.  Someone's question there about Monkey Butter sent me straight to the internet and Pinterest in search of a recipe I could save.  Goodness did I find a lot, and for the most part, they are all the same!  For that reason, I don't feel I am "stealing" anyone's work when I post the recipe.  I know I have at least one Monkey Butter recipe pinned on my Pinterest 'Can It' board.

My recipe, though, has one special ingredient:  cherries!  I normally do not like cherries, but yesterday as I walked through the produce to go to the checkout, there were so many bags of beautiful, dark cherries.  My canning imagination kicked into high gear.  I vaguely remembered the monkey butter recipe I had pinned.  I couldn't remember if it had cherries or not, but I knew I was going to can something with the beauties that were nestled nicely in my buggy!  I had to make another round through the store to pick up a couple of items I thought I might need.  I can hardly believe I actually remembered coconut and 20 oz crushed pineapple! Luckily, I had already picked up bananas, because I had totally forgot they were one of the main ingredients!

Today, the children got up eager to help!  They cut up five bananas, and my oldest helped with stirring for a short while until her arm got tired.  :)

We added a half cup chopped cherries, a half cup of shredded coconut that I chopped in the food processor, three cups sugar, and three tablespoons of lemon juice concentrate to the bananas in a large stock pot.

Doesn't it look beautiful and delicious just like this?  From this point it was cooked on medium until hot stirringly constantly.  Then the stove was turned to low.  The mixture simmered until thick.  I stirred it often to make sure there was no sticking or sugar burning.  Once it was as thick as I wanted it, I spooned it into six hot and sterile jars, and water bathed the jars for 15 minutes once the water came back to a boil.

I love the dark pink color!  The little bit that remained in the pan was immediately spooned over small bowls of vanilla ice cream!

OH.  SO.  GOOD!!!  We were ape happy!  ;)  Try it, and let me know what you think!

Monkey Butter with Cherries
5 spotless bananas, sliced
1/2 c shredded coconut
20 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 c chopped, pitted cherries
3 c sugar
3T lemon juice concentrate

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture is hot.  Then turn the heat to low and simmer until desired thickness, stirring often.  Once mixture reaches desired thickness, spoon mixture into hot, sterile jars.  Close jars with canning lids and rings.  Place in a water bath.  When water comes back to a boil, time for 15 minutes.  Remove jars to a toweled area.  Leave and let them cool completely before moving or touching them.  

There is a lot of controversy as to whether canning monkey butter is safe to sit on the shelf.  Many people do it.  As for me?  I am still on the fence as to whether my jars will go to the frig or sit on the shelf.  Let me know what you think!  :)

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Picking Up the Hogs

Yesterday was quite a busy and crazy day.  It was the day to pick up our three hogs from the butcher shop.  Bill's father was getting one of the hogs, and we were going to put the other two in our freezer.  We were just praying it would all fit.  Unfortunately, yesterday morning Grandpa called and said he just didn't think he could make the long ride.  He recently had hip replacement surgery and wasn't having a good day.  Making that little-over-an-hour drive just wasn't going to happen.  Who could blame him?  Around the same time, I had checked on Alissa to see how she was feeling since she was still in bed.  Her fever was 103.5.  I looked in her throat and knew she had to go to the doctor.  Bill and I looked at each other as if to say, "Uh, oh!  What are we going to do!?"  Lol!  We knew we had to act and think fast.  We had already analyzed our bank account, and we really felt we just didn't have extra money to spare for a freezer since we had just bought the computer we desperately needed for school, especially if we were about to pay out of pocket for a doctor's visit and medication and repairs to his big truck (again!) and a house payment and a truck payment.  Sigh...I did all I knew to do.  I just looked at Bill and said, "We will have to do what we have to do."  As he quickly took off to make a two hour round trip to pick up a chest freezer, I quickly got ready to carry my sweet little girl to the doctor.  As I got ready, I refused to stress.  I just placed it in God's hands.  I told Him I trusted Him to provide.  He has taken such good care of us so far.  Why would I doubt He would do it again?  I simply didn't doubt or worry.  I knew He would work it all out.  He always does.

We made it to the doctor, found out for sure Alissa had strep throat, headed to get her medication, and made the almost hour trip back home.  Once home, Alissa took her medicine and crawled back in bed.  Bill had already gotten back home and was rearranging the garage to make room for the new freezer before leaving to get the meat.

On his way home, he called worried we still weren't going to have room.  I quickly cleaned out the refrigerator, keeping only what was absolutely essential as I listened to storms approaching from the same direction he was traveling with all the meat just thrown into the back of his truck.

Again, what was I to do but trust God would just make it all okay?  Despite all the thunder and lightning, Bill arrived home without getting wet.

This is what three processed hogs in the back of a truck looks like.  We flew trying to put it all in the freezer as it was quickly thawing.  As quickly as we were moving, we somehow managed to keep the meat organized according to it's kind.  I can't believe how fast we got it done!  And guess what!?  We had a little room to spare!

The meat in the new freezer

Meat in our old freezer

Meat in our frig for canning- Boy did this make a HUGE mess
for me to clean up!  My refrigerator has a had a THOROUGH
Within minutes of getting done, we knew exactly what we wanted for supper.  We decided on pork chops, cream corn, zipper peas, and a blackberry cobbler (from the blackberries we have been picking in the field.).

My husband and son ate until I thought they would get sick!  Jake keeps
asking if we can have it again tonight!
This was out of this world!  I wanted to act like a little piggy and just stick
my face right in the pan!  Rest at ease, I controlled myself. ;)
I came in, checked on Alissa, and got supper started.  Once everything was going, I went back and checked on Alissa again.  It had only been about thirty to forty-five minutes, but her fever had spike to 105 degrees.  I nearly flipped out!  I pulled off her covers, unclothed her as much as she would allow, gave her Advil, and started wiping her down with cool cloths.  I did exactly what I had done all day.  I prayed over her asking God to deliver her from the fever and that it wouldn't cause any harm to her body.  Her fever did come down to 102 within the hour, and I left her side to eat.  While we were eating she came in the dining room smiling asking for something to eat.  That was something she hadn't done in over two days!  She ate a few bites and decided she wanted to stay with us instead of getting back in bed like she had been for two days.  In an hour she was playing a little with her daddy.  :)  What a sight for a tired Mama's heart and eyes! I did stay up and watch over her through the night, but as of this afternoon, the fever has not returned!  To top that off, when Bill checked on his paycheck this morning it was more than double what he was expecting!  I am just moved to tears!

My God, our God, is SO good and loving!  He has provided so much for my family the last few days.  I can't sing His praises enough!  I don't have enough words worthy enough to praise His great name!  "O, For a thousand tongues to sing!"  My friend, I wish I could pour out of me and into you what I feel for and know of my LORD!  He is capable of so much more than what we have courage to even ask for!  He loves you, and He is more than able to provide for your need!  We must simply trust and obey.  I hope my story gives you hope to trust Him and follow through with what He has asked you to do.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pea Day

What a fun day it was around here, well, except for my little girl being in the bed sick with a fever all day. Thankfully, Bill is home and was able to stay with they children this afternoon and evening while I went some of my church friends to shell our zipper peas.  A couple of the ladies drove to a town close by and picked up a huge load of produce to bring back home for many of the other ladies in the community.

I thoroughly enjoy my time at Mom's house.  Mom is the mother-in-law to two of the ladies I join every week for a gathering.  Mom is widowed.  She lives in a beautiful, white farm house surrounded by cows and fields.  My children call her Grandma Sarah.  I really enjoy my time in her home whether we are sitting around one of her huge tables or whether we are working like busy bees such as today.  Mom is always very quiet as she listens to the overabundance of conversations in her home.  I love to watch and listen when she does speak.  Most of the time it is in PA Dutch to one of her children or grandchildren.  Sometimes I like to imagine what it must have been like to live in her home when it was full with her twelve children.

When I knew we would be shelling peas today, I knew I had to take my camera in hopes that she wouldn't mind me taking pictures.  I especially wanted to take pictures of her hands at work.  How I wish I had pictures of my own grandmother's hands.  Mom graciously allowed me my passion of photography even though she must have thought how strange I was.  :)

We had a room full of ladies shelling, most of whom had their children running about.

This is the view of one side of the room.
A couple of sweet ladies on another side
Is this not the sweetest?  I couldn't seem to catch her twin
in action.  :)
Bushels of beans make great tables for babies!

Mr. Cutie Pie

Another little one with his mother.  We will soon have
another little one joining in on the fun!

Two peas in a pod!  ;)

At the end of our four to four-and-a-half hours, we had shelled seven bushels of beans, cleaned the tremendous mess, and had the dirty bowls and pans washed.  If it had not been getting late, I am sure we would have done more.  I brought my peas home and blanched them to freeze.  I ended up with twenty pints!  I think I will get one more bushel so that we can have them at least once a week until next summer when I can get more.  :)  I love looking in my freezer at the peas and corn that I have put away so far.  Next on the list is tomatoes, then peaches, and then apples!  Perhaps I will find a few surprises to throw in there in between.  :)

Tomorrow, we will be going to pick up our hogs we had butchered.  I can just imagine all the meals we will be enjoying and all the memories I will be reliving as we eat.  I will surely be thanking God for all his many beautiful blessings in my life.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Computer

Hi friends!  We finally had to break down and purchase a new computer.  Now I can start posting again! We have been so busy, and there have been so many things I have wanted to share.  I look forward to sharing with you all again!  I have missed you!  :)  Tonight, though, is just a short hello.  I will be heading out tomorrow to shell, blanch, and put zipper peas in the freezer with a group of fun, lovely ladies.  Perhaps I will be able to capture some great photos to share!  Until then, may you be blessed!