Tuesday, September 30, 2008


For my first try at gardening, I've had a pretty good year. Our tomato plant in particular was especially spectacular. And fruitful. For awhile there I was harvesting 5-8 tomatoes a day. With the cold snap, it's down to 8 or so a week, but we still have quite a few tomatoes to contend with.

My family "doesn't like tomatoes" - or so they say. They don't like plain tomatoes. But they like pizza, spaghetti, chili and all sorts of tomatoey foods. So I decided to make tomato sauce with my tomatoes. I found a recipe for lazy, I mean efficient, folks who don't want to peel & seed tomatoes all day. You can find it here. And then you can be efficient like me & Laura.
All I did was cut out the core of the tomato, quarter it, and throw it in the blender. Hit puree and you're good to go. It took all of 10 minutes to get all those tomatoes in the pot. I did add some onion, garlic, peppers, carrots, and basil for flavor and added nutrition, so that took a bit more time. The results were worth it though.

After 2 hours of bubbling away on the stove, the sauce was all ready to go in the canner. I got 5 pints and 1 half-pint out of my tray of tomatoes.

I have repeated this process twice now. My friend Lori gave me a 1/4 bushel of tomatoes from her garden that I used also. I've canned a total of 3 quarts, 9 pints, and 5 half-pints of tomato sauce. It's rich and thick and will taste wonderful in the middle of the winter.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Tree Comes Down

Those of you who have been to my house probably remember (or are quite familiar with) the HUGE tree that hung over the driveway. It was hard to miss. The base of it grew right between the house and the driveway, and the branches completely covered our driveway and shaded almost half of the house. It was a box elder tree though, and was starting to have problems. Each year, we lost more and bigger branches off the tree and could tell it was starting to die. Just a couple of weeks ago a large branch fell, barely missing the motorcycle and the fence. We knew it was a matter of time before the really big limbs would come crashing down on the house or the cars.

So, last Thursday, we had the big tree cut down. It was bittersweet in a way. I always enjoyed the shade and protection that it provided. And it was such an old tree. It had seen many more years than I. If trees could talk, I'm sure it would have had great tales to tell. But it's time had come and we were ready to see it go.

The tree service guys did a great job. They had the big beast on the ground safely in only 4 hours time. Teagan's grandma & grandpa came over and we all sat watching. I've never seen Ruby sit still that long. It was really fascinating to watch.
When it was finally down, we went in to investigate. The core of the tree was less rotten than we had expected, but it was still rotting. The tree guy said we might have had a few more years, but you just never know. The kids had a great time exploring the tree.We measured the widest part of the trunk... 54". That's 4 1/2 feet! Here's Kordell with one of the big chunks of trunk.
By the end of the day, there was nothing left but a pile of woodchips and sawdust where the tree had been. (oh, and piles of brush and logs all over the yard...) Our house looks a bit naked now. And it's still weird to look up and not see tree. We will get used to it, I'm sure.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Frugal Friday: Ditch the TV

Now, I know how most of my regular readers feel about their beloved TV's, and I think most of them know how I feel about it, but this issue has come up a few times this week in my mind, so I am revisiting it here.

Save money! Get rid of your TV!

Those of you with televisions, think for a moment about how much you spend on it. First, you have to buy it and you probably bought the nicest one you could afford! Then you bought a DVD player, a gaming system, and maybe even surround sound. You paid to hook up cable or a satellite. You pay to buy or rent movies. You even pay for electricity to run it all.

Ah, but those aren't the only costs. You sit there and watch countless advertisements, which send you running to the store looking for the newest gizmo, the limited edition flavor, the hot new color, the end-of-season clearance sale!!! How many times have you gone out for a burger, ice cream, pizza, because a commercial made you hungry??

And there are costs that aren't financial... you pay with your time too. Instead of looking at you family (and interacting with them) you stare at a glowing box. You pay with your health. You pay with your intellect (I'm sorry, but TV does not make you smarter.)

So, save money. Enrich your life. Turn off the TV!

Michelle at Frugal Granola has a wonderful post on this topic here. She makes a very eloquent argument.

And for more Frugal Friday tips, go to Biblical Womanhood!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rutabagas: A Health Hazard?

Well, they seem to be a hazard to my health!

I bought a rutabaga at the farmer's market last week. They were only 50 cents, so I picked out the biggest rutabaga in the basket. I decided to cook it for dinner last night. I called my mom for some rutabaga-cooking tips and got to work.

Can I just say, rutabagas are not easy to prepare! At all! They are lumpy and bumpy, but have to be peeled, and they are thick and hard to cut. I was having trouble cutting the huge thing with my usual knife.

So I got out the BIG knife. More power right?

I don't think that was such a good idea.

I cut a big hunk out of my middle finger.

And apparently I don't do too well at the sight of my own blood. I nearly fainted while Teagan was bandaging my wounds.

I saw the doctor today and had him look at it to make sure I didn't need stitches. He said there was nothing to stitch... I took the whole piece right off.

So, I am a hurtin' puppy today and will be for awhile. Doc said to expect a long healing time due to how I cut it. It's not easy to do all my mom work without using that finger! And the bandage makes it hard to bend, so it looks like I'm flipping everyone the bird. yeah, nice.

At least I didn't bleed on the rutabagas. But I might not buy them again for awhile.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Adventurous Afternoon

This afternoon I had an opportunity to spend some time alone with my 2 baby girls. (Okay, so Ruby's not a baby anymore, but she's still my baby!) Teagan & Kordell were off doing some guy stuff of some sort at Grampa's, so we had the place to ourselves.

Our first order of business - harvesting some vegetables from the garden. There was a bunch of broccoli that needed picked, a few peppers that were ready, and a couple of eggplant trying to take over the world! (Okay, that's exaggerating, but they were getting REALLLY big.) I gave the girls a ride in the garden wagon and Hosanna ate grass while Ruby & I harvested. Then we came in and put up our harvest. Hosanna napped on my back in the carrier and Ruby helped wash the broccoli and pick the seeds out of the peppers.

When all that was done, we took the scraps to the compost pile and got the mail. Exciting stuff, I know.

We had a little time before Jade was due home, so we decided to go for a walk. Ruby was upset that she didn't get to ride in the stroller. I suggested she ride her bike instead. She'd never been able to ride out on the road, so this was a big deal. She happily hopped on her bike and off we went. She did really well staying on the side of the road and stopping when we heard a car. We made our way down the road to look at the neighbor's cows. As we were admiring their bovine beauty, Jade's bus turned down the road. Apparently short walks take a bit longer with training wheels.

Now, in the past when the bus came before we were all the way home the driver would just drop her off wherever we were and I would have to wrangle her home with us. But we have a different driver now! She opened the door and said, "Need a ride?"

So we all piled on, bike, stroller and all. What fun!! Ruby was SO excited to get a ride on Jade's bus. We drove the 1/4 mile (or less) home and all piled out again. What an adventure we had!!

It was a good afternoon with just the 3 of us. :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back to Homeschool

Since Jade went back to school, it was time to get back to work at home as well. Kordell was not as excited to see the new year come. He doesn't really like school and it's like pulling teeth to get him to do anything. In an attempt to make things more likable, I'm trying a new approach for science. It's called nature study, and it's as simple as it sounds. He's studying nature. He started a nature notebook and everyday I encourage him to go outside and observe something in God's creation and then draw & write about his observations. So far, he seems to be enjoying it.

The first day we found some acorns on the ground, so our study was about acorns.

He kept all the acorns he found so he can put them out by Dad's hunting stand. You know, to lure in the big bucks. Because there might not be any acorns in the woods...These are his notebooking pages about the acorns. (You can click on it to make it bigger.)
It worked really well the first day. The next day he didn't want to do it. But he's coming around the more we work with it. Now if I could just figure out how to make math exciting...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to School

Yes, school started 2 weeks ago, but I wanted to share pics from Jade's first day of first grade. She was SO excited to go back to school... and frankly, I was just as excited to see her off. I needed a break after the summer.

So, here she is waiting for the bus.
And there she goes! Off to Mr. Wendland's class. Bye Jade!

All the reports coming home are glowing. She is doing wonderfully and settled right back into the school routine. She even did show & tell on her own last week. She took her little notebook and showed the class her drawings. I'm very pleased with the transition this year. It's been much easier than last year. I'm excited to see her progress!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Hubby's Old...

...And I'm not! Neener neener. :-P

Teagan turned 30 yesterday.

We had a big bash last weekend to celebrate his big day and Logan's 12th birthday too. Here are the birthday boys (with some of the rowdy partygoers):
And Logan hamming it up for the camera. He had to do something interesting for me to photograph... it was too breezy for the candles to stay lit. We sang to them anyway.
And here is a shot of our family taken that day. There were tender emotions as Grandma Anthony praised the Lord for Teagan's life. There were days they didn't know if he'd live to see 30. And yet, here he is, blessed with 4 mighty arrows and a fruitful vine.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brave or Stupid

Yesterday I did something brave. Or maybe it was stupid.

I went on a date with my husband and we took the motorcycle.

Now that doesn't sound so bad, does it? People ride motorcycles all the time, right?

See, the thing is, I can't even ride a bicycle. There, my secret's out. I never learned as a kid, and though I've tried, I never got the hang of it as an adult either. I finally got rid of my bicycle. No use letting a good bike rot in my garage if I'm not going to use it. And after the scooter incident I decided that I should stay on 4 wheels thank you very much. (What scooter incident? Well, let's just say it was Willie's fault and it's lucky I wasn't hurt worse.)

Anyhow, my history on 2 wheels was not very promising, so I had never given much thought to the motorcycle. I have 4 kids to raise after all. But my husband loves his motorcycle and he always dreamed of us going for a ride together. He lined up a babysitter and I agreed to a date on the bike.

We went out yesterday. It was all of 40 degrees when we set out and me with no leather clothing to speak of, so it was a brisk ride to say the least. The first 20 miles or so I hung on so tightly to his jacket that my hands cramped. When we stopped he told me not to do that, I wouldn't fall off. So I stopped, which is good because if I'd done it the whole 50 miles I probably wouldn't be able to type today! I had to talk myself through the ride - Don't panic. Hang on. Lean in to the corner. Stay in alignment. Don't bang into his helmet. Teagan thought that was funny when I told him, but it kept me sane and on the bike!

In the end, I learned how to (mostly) relax and enjoy the ride. It was so interesting to not only see and hear the countryside, but also to smell it. That sounds funny, but it was what I really noticed as different from riding in a car. The smell of the corn fields, the horse barn, the forest... it was a whole new dimension.

I also learned a new level of trust in my husband. I had to trust his abilities as a driver and follow his every move to keep us upright and going in the right direction. It occurred to me that our whole marriage should be like that - me trusting his ability to "drive" this family and following so closely that it appears we are moving as one person.

So what do you think? Was I brave or was I stupid? I think I was a little of both. But it was worth it. My husband was blessed by my actions and attitude. It doesn't get any better than that.

(no, that's not us) Image courtesy of Canada Trust. Thank you google image search.