Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To the woods again we go!

We spent our second weekend in a row at the mountains, but this time it was with my family.  We don't usually do a family vacation in the summer together but we try to keep MASCA Weekend open for the entire weekend at dad's cabin.  Our school does not participate in MASCA anymore so the kids had regular school days.  It wasn't a big deal because we were still able to leave for the woods around 5:30 Friday evening.

Earlier that day, I cleaned dad's shop and brother Jason said to Ashlyn that she should ride with them up to the mountains right after lunch.  She wasn't into it at first but then decided to go with them.  Knowing that Shakia would be along changed her mind quickly!  They picked up her at noon and then we met them later that evening at the cabin.

Dad and John Mike were in Kansas on a week long hunt.  It was disappointing when we found out the dates were the same time but we decided to go with tradition.  We missed you up there!

Dad is in the process of building a new cabin.  The old tiny cabin in the woods got torn down weeks ago and now a new home is being built.  It's still just a shell but it's a start!  So, we all stayed in the pole shed.  This is located right next to where the new cabin is being built.  It works.  Some bedrooms.  Two bathrooms.  A small kitchen.  Lot's of rugs spread out on the concert floors.  A woodstove to keep it toasty.  Really toasty.  Warm water.  Lot's of couches here and there.  We make the best out of it.  Really.  We still always have fun no matter how the conditions are.  We will all appreciate the new cabin greatly!!!  :)

The guys went hunting Saturday morning and evening.  No deer were killed.  Matthew even went out with Tyler Saturday evening.  They got so cold but waited out the hunt.  They only saw some chipmunks.

We play games a lot when we go to the cabin.  This time it was "Golf", "Dice" and "Panic".  We eat big breakfasts, snack for lunch and then have another supper meal.  Great food!  We also had a touch of the stomach bug up there.  Mom, Addison and Matthew were not always feeling the best.  Thankfully, they were feeling better by the time we came home.

I didn't have much time Monday morning to do the laundry or clean up our mountain things because I was out all day shopping with the Lapp sisters.  I picked them up soon after the kids were off for school and then dropped off Ashlyn at moms.  Thanks mom!  We went to Exton this year for our day of shopping together!  Rosie met us down there and we went from one store to the next.  It rained all day too making it a fun day to shop!  We grabbed lunch and even some pizza before heading back home. 

Meanwhile, mom took Matthew to his orthodontist appointment and he had his molding done for his upcoming expander.  Thanks again mom for filling in for me!  Matthew is in the beginning stages of many trips to the orthodontist.  Plans are to make his upper jaw wider so there is room for all his teeth!  This should also help with his bite!  He's being a pro so far and is being brave through the whole process.

The weather has been so cold outside!  In the 20's and windy!  We even had our first flurries and even though it's not officially winter yet, it sure is feeling like it is!!!  I keep thinking of the homeless or those who don't have much warmth on these bitter cold days!  It's just another reminder for me to be very thankful for the things we are blessed with!!!  Especially warm clothes and home, clean water, comfy beds, health and food!

We will be staying indoors much more with it being so cold outside!  Winter may be coming a bit early but that should give me some extra time to scrapbook or get my big puzzle out!  With the holidays right around the corner, we will be busy baking cookies while the Christmas music is playing.  Celebrate these holidays with the real meaning behind them!  Giving thanks and remembering the birth of Jesus!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The first snow has fallen!

Hearing the forecast for much colder weather coming at the end of this week also brought some talk about some snow falling!?!  Ashlyn is so excited about "snow" and she is totally hyped about the upcoming holidays!  I mentioned yesterday to her that it might snow if Jesus tells it to today.  She was again so excited and she says she can't wait to eat the snow because "I love eating snow!"  It's so cute and contagious to see her enthusiasm about snow!

The kids were home from school and we were all just doing our usual routines.  Hadassah was working on homework while listening to Odyssey.  This girl does not seem to outgrow these episodes!  I'm glad!!!  :)  Matthew and Ashlyn were hanging out in the living room.  I was making cheeseburger soup for supper when I looked out the window and saw it snowing!  I yelled, "It's snowing outside!"  Everyone came to look and see it falling slowly from the sky.  Hadassah was happy but not near as excited as the other two kids.  Matthew wanted to go to the attic and bring down all the snow gear.  Ashlyn wanted her boats on and get her tongue on some freshly fallen snow!  I said "no" to the snow gear because really, it was only a dusting of snow on the ground.  The two youngest grabbed for their jackets and boats and went out in the cold flurries!  They loved it while it lasted!


Waking up this morning to the snow still on the ground was not a surprise.  The tempts did drop and we were at freezing point this morning. 

It really is starting to feel more and more like the holidays are approaching!  We keep receiving flyers in the mail advertising holiday goodies.  I strung up the outside Christmas lights the other day when it was still in the 60's and boy did I get to hear it!!!  Mike came home yesterday from work and said that two of the guys at work went past and saw our lights up already!  They got all loud about it and said that's it's not even Thanksgiving yet!!!  I put my hands up and replied, "Hun, you tell them to calm down!!!  I agree with them totally!  I only strung them up on a warmer day and after I get to see them in the dark to make sure they look fine, I plan to unplug them till after Thanksgiving!"  I was happy to have more people on my side about this topic!  I can't wait for Christmas but until after our holiday focused on gratefulness, we will keep the lights off!  :)  From then on out ... we will be celebrating the Christmas Holiday as much as possible!  It really is the best time of year!

If you were one of those who got to see the snow fall last night, be thankful!  I'm not a fan of cold weather (that's why my new feather down's jacket is in my closet waiting to be worn) but complaining or muttering about it doesn't help one bit!  Get the heat turned up.  Start the fireplace. Wrap in a blanket!  Sit inside a sunny window and let the rays warm you up.  Get your slippers on and drip some hot cocoa!  I am gonna some how try to make the best out of these cold months ahead too!!!  We can do it with grateful hearts!  Smile!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Apple Pie!

I was all into the fall flavors this year, like usual, but for some reason my recipes that I've used (or so I think I've used before :) ) just were not turning out the best.  I have many pumpkin pie recipes highlighted in my cookbooks with most of them being very similar.  Some make 2 pies.  Or four.  Or even more.  The other week, I grabbed one of those recipes and cut it in half.  Four pies is too many for us but I only wish I would have went for it.  There are always people in mind that would love to receive a pie as a gift!  (Thanks to Lynn for thinking of us when she baked some of her famous pumpkin pies!!!  Very good!)  Well, I cut it in half and they both turned out looking terrible.  I mean the taste was great and good but if dessert is not looking pretty ... it some how makes a big difference on how fast it gets eaten!!!  My pumpkin whoopies were not the best either.  Flat.  Not pretty.  The pumpkin cookies I made were however a hit!!!  My family really loves these and for that reason I have made them a few times this season already!

I kept thinking about apple pie.  Apples are fresh and very in season right now, so I grabbed a few baking apples at the store and hoped to make a pie!  Last year, Mike went for a hair cut (cousin Ashley cuts his hair), and before he left they handed him a piece of warm apple pie.  Cousin Kate had made it from scratch!  He came home and sat at the dinner table with it!  He wasn't hungry for supper but wanted the pie!  He started eating it and after many yums, he did offer me a bite!  It was so yummy and delicious.  I asked Kate for the recipe and tucked it in my recipe book.  Now, with the apple season upon us, I kept thinking about this pie recipe.  I took on the challenge the other day and it turned out perfect!!!  Much better than the pumpkin pies even though I will try these again too!!!

If you like warm apples with a simple, easy way of making a pie from scratch, try this recipe!  You will be impressed with yourself.

Start with making the bottom and top pasty.
2 1/2 cup flour
3 Tb. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix this in a bowl and then add:
1 cup shortening
Cut in the shortening with a knife or pastry tool.  Toss the dough with 5-6 Tb. ice water.  Your dough should be feeling pretty good by now!  Divide the pastry dough into two pieces and roll each piece this between two sheets of wax paper.

Next you mix the pie ingredients.
6-8 tart apples, pared, cored & chunked
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tb. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tb. butter, cut in pieces

Peel, core, slice or chunk your apples. 
In a second mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour and spices.
Gently toss apples in dry mixture.
Line a 9 inch pie plate with one pastry shell.
Fill with the apple mixture by simply dumping the apples right on top of the dough.
Dot with butter pieces.
Adjust your second pastry over top of the apples.  Fold the dough over all the apples making sure to cover them all. 
Cut slits on top for the steam to escape. 
Seal edges by pinching the top and bottom pastry's together.
Brush with some milk and sprinkle the top with sugar. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 60 minutes or until apples are tender and the crust is golden brown.
This makes a big pie!  Serve warm with ice cream!!!

The warm pie made the whole house smell so good.  We had to invite Matt's over to help us eat it because it was huge and worth sharing!!!

It is a 60 degree day outside today and I think I'm going to attack the leaves and grass once more!  Mowing the yard is coming down to a close.  The colder weather is to come this weekend so I am off to do some outside work!!!

Enjoy some pie!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pottery, crepes and hunting!

Here I go again ... quickly trying to blog before the kids come home from school.  Blogging goes best for me when I do it right after they leave for school in the morning, but my mornings have been too busy lately!

It's been a busy week and not a so healthy week for me.  I do not ever remember having a cold as bad as I have right now!!!  It started last Saturday with being a sore throat.  I sipped hot lemon water and sucked on cough drops.  Then on Sunday my throat felt better but I could feel a cold come on.  Each day my cold seemed to just get worse!!!  I slept on the couch for three nights because when I start blowing my nose and coughing, I knew it would disturb Mike.  One night, at 2 AM, I was rubbing my feet with Uncers and praying for some relief.  Hot drinks really help and I'm constantly else blowing my nose, washing my hands or putting another cough drop in my mouth.  I am trying really hard to keep this from spreading to my family but we all, except Mike, have the sniffles!

With me not being totally up to par and with keeping tissues on me 24/7, it did not ruin our plans.  Thursday the kids only had 1/2 day of school.  I met with each of their teachers in the afternoon and was so proud to hear that they are both doing well in school!  Their report cards look great!  Good job guys!!!  That night we went for some groceries and packed for the upcoming mountains trip!

Friday was a no school day.  I was out of the house early with taking Matthew and Ashlyn down to my mom's.  Thanks mom for watching the kids!!!  Hadassah & Courtney sold a ticket at the school sale in September to take two girls to do pottery and eat crepes!  We planned the fun day while we had the day off of school!  The girls and Sherry met us here and then we all traveled into the city to Pottery Works.  The girls loved this and did a great job with their art!  Then we had lunch at an old favorite place of ours ... Rachels Crepes!!!  We don't get here often but when we do ... WE LOVE IT!!!  Totally enjoy every bite!!!  I had their turkey dinner crepe and I ate the entire thing with much happiness!  It was so good!  Hadassah ordered a make your own crepe and she loved it too.  I was too full for dessert but it was extremely hard to say no to the pumpkin crepe!  The girls ordered the huge ice cream filled crepes and shared!  They laughed and talked and ate!  Hadassah had a blast!

 These girls have a total howl together!!!  Such great friends!!!  Here is my awesome crepe too.  It was steaming hot with turkey, filling, cranberry sauce and gravy!!! 

We got home to quickly load up the Yukon and head to the mountains.  Mike had left early and took Matthew along because the guys wanted to be there for the evening hunt.  I picked up Ashlyn and Suz & Jen met at our house by 4:30 and we headed for the Zook's new cabin.  They built a new cabin and we privileged to be asked to go with them so soon!  Very nice indeed!  It was dark by the time we arrived and the men were coming in from their hunts.  Dave hit a six point buck and everyone was happy to see the deer being drug in!  The kids played well and it was a late night for the guys as they played Acquire.  My cold was so not fun up there and so going out to the couch after midnight was no fun!  I was afraid I would disturb others with my coughing and blowing my nose.

Saturday was a sunny nice day at the cabin.  I was so lazy and Suz and Marilyn enjoyed chatting and tending to the children.  Matthew went out to make a fort in the woods.  The little ones loved playing in the open basement.  The food was delicious!  The men hunted morning and evening.  Hadassah and Ashley went with Jordon to his spot Saturday eve and they loved that!  These three had a blast and even laughed in the woods.  They saw two doe so they must have been silent for little bit!  :)  Jonathon shot a nice big ten point!  It's always exciting when there are deer shot because that's why they hunt!  Good job guys!  It was another late night for the men as they played more Acquire, card games and ate pumpkin pie at 1 AM!  I was again on the couch and I kept waking up to them laughing and laughing.  I was glad someone was at least feeling good!  :/  At 3 AM, Mike came over to me and kissed me goodnight.  I felt miserable and he prayed for me.  My chest was sore from all my coughing and lying down just didn't help.  It seemed to make it worse.  His prayer did help though!  I relaxed and slept well till morning!

The view from the cabin is great!!!
 Ready to hunt!
 Ashlyn and Bryant had a blast together!  Cute!
 The three ready for their adventurous hunt!

Sunday morning we were all on our own fixing our breakfasts.  Then we had devotions.  We ate a big cooked lunch and played more games.  No one seemed to be in a hurry to leave the nice cabin!  Clean up time did come though and we headed home before dark.  We picked up Ginger on the way home and she was happy to see us again!  Being with Sadie since Wednesday was good company for her!  She loves her dog sitter!!!  :)))  My cold did seem much better on Sunday and for that I am very grateful for!!!  Sleeping all night in my bed was wonderful!!!

It was back to school for the kids on Monday.  Then Ladies Bible Study for Ashlyn and I!  Then to my huge pile of laundry was waiting for me in the garage!  Weekends away are such fun but it always leaves a big pile of dirty's for me to clean!  I picked the kids up at school because Matthew had his second orthodontist appointment.  Last week, they took some pics of his mouth.  Now we need to talk about what to do about his crowded upper jaw!  We looked at our options and then they put on four separators on his teeth.  It looks like many, many upcoming appointments, but I am sure it will all be worth it!!!  Mike was out of town for the evening so it was just the kids and I for supper.  I made our favorite chicken:  Chicken legs in a baking dish.  Sprinkle lots of Lawry's seasoning salt on top.  Put some water in the pan with the legs and bake at 350 for one hour.  Then bake another hour at 300 degrees.  Keeping it uncovered the entire time!  It's so easy and so good!!!  It tasted great with pasta and green beans!!!

I was out of the house soon after the kids were off to school because Ginger was getting her stiches out!  She's been a pro throughout the entire hernia surgery and recovery!  She is very happy to not have her cone over her head any more!  (It kept her from licking and bothering her incision.  She also got groomed so now she smells and looks great too!!!

The holidays are coming fast!!!  I purchased a cozy jacket today to help prepare me for colder weather.  (I'm not sure I will ever like the cold chills?)  I've been listening to Christmas music and ordering our family Christmas cards is now off my list! 

I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons!!!  No other holidays fill the air with such gratefulness and glee!!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ginger turns four.

Ginger turned four years old on October 24.  She's such a good dog and we love her a lot.  She behaves.  She listens well.  She loves belly rubs.  She is part of our family. 

Ashlyn and I loved on Ginger extra much that afternoon.
Belly rub!


Ginger is now healing from her hernia surgery last week but is doing well!  For that, we are grateful!

November ...

Hadassah flipped the calendar page for me and said, "It's November now!"  She's been counting the weeks till Black Friday shopping!  That's become a major highlight for the two of us to do together!!!  It's also been getting colder as the summer months have officially left us.  The wind was blowing and howling yesterday and the lights even blinked a couple times at church because of the wind.  With it now being November, the holidays are right around the corner.  I can't believe I'm typing out those words ... but it's true!  This morning on the radio, I heard, "Only seven weeks till Christmas."  I was shocked and went right to the calendar to count the weeks.  They were right!  7 1/2 weeks till Christmas!  Ashlyn was excited to hear that and said, "I love Christmas because then it's going to snow.  I love eating snow!"  :)

Thinking of November does not really get me into the Christmas rush just yet because I know Thanksgiving is first!!!  I wish we could not rush through the thanksgiving season so fast but every year it seems like the Christmas Spirit is coming sooner.  Don't get me wrong, I love everything about the Christmas Season!  The birth of Christ, the nativity scenes, the smells, the tastes, lights, gifts, family gatherings, etc. but taking a special holiday like Thanksgiving is something we all need big time!!!  Thankfulness is so important!  If we are thankful, we are not so moody!  Not so greedy.  Not so focused on ourselves.  Willing to share with others the blessings God has given to us!!!  Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and for that reason, we will still be thinking lots of fall and drink more apple cider!!!  :)  I will not pretend that Christmas will go on hold though in my mind.  We have a shopping day coming up with sisters.  I looked at my Christmas list this weekend to see what's all to be shopped for.  I have Christmas music playing softly because I am a huge fan of Christmas music and only seven weeks of it is not near long enough for me!  :)  Can we think Christmas and yet be very thankful!?!  Yes, indeed!!!

Hadassah and I got a night out to shop and sip on hot drinks together!  I love when we can do this!  It was very impromptu.  But those seem to be the most fun anyway!!!  I was on the couch part of the day with a major sore throat.  Drinking hot lemon water and teas felt the best!  I wished for some Halls to suck on.  Mike and Matthew were out working on the farm at dad's and getting some work done on his four wheeler and when they got back home, I mentioned going out with Hadassah.  She was all into it so we bundled up and wrapped a scarf around my sore throat and headed for the gas station to get a pack of Halls.  I had them in my mouth most of the night and they really helped soothe it!  We started by shopping Marshalls a bit and then went to the mall.  We strolled through the stores and Hadassah bought a new pair of boots that she is really pleased with.  We ate Chinese food and noodles, warm soup and then stopped for a milkshake and hot tea on the way home.  We noticed some Christmas lights were being displayed outside at some homes and again, the night out with Hadassah was fun!  We got home and all cuddled in blankets and watched a movie.  Family time is so special!!!

My throat feels much better but now it sounds raspy!  A slight runny nose is to be fought yet.  Talk about healing up ... Ginger is doing the same!  Last Tuesday she had surgery to have her hernia removed.  She did good in surgery and now has a line of stiches to heal!  She has to wear a cone over her head to keep her from licking or biting the incision.  She's been real good through the whole process.  Keeping her from jumping up on the couch or on and off Hadassah's bed has been a challenge though.  We've been keeping her on a leash inside a lot so she don't jump and ripe a stitch but as of yesterday, we've been letting her roam the house more freely.  She seems to be getting better and I keep watching the stitches.  They are looking fine and we can't wait to get them out next week!  Until then, she's living with that cone thing over her head!

The holidays are fast approaching us!!!  I can't wait!  Pumpkin pie and hot cider are my two sweet picks!  Have a great day and I hope the sun is shining as bright for you as it is here at my home!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Weekend in Pittsburg!

It was a trip to Pittsburg for Mike and I!  It's become an annual event to go to a USA city, watch a football game and enjoy a fun weekend away from home!  Last year we had John and Damien & John and Kathy and us.  We went to Dallas, TX, and had a total blast!!!  We toured the city and watched the Dallas Cowboys game!  We knew then that this is something we wanted to continue!

When we planned our trip this year, it was just John and Kathy and us that went.  The Smucker family is going through cancer treatments for Damien.  We missed them a lot!!!  Hopefully, they will be able to join us next year!!!  :) 

This time the men planned a fun trip to Pittsburg.  A trip that wasn't so far.  A trip that we could drive to and no need to buy plane tickets, rent a car, and travel as many miles.  A three day outing and not five.  Although Texas is going to be hard to beat, it was a very fun outing!!! 

We ate so much food and bread!!!  We started out by John and Kathy picking Mike and I up at home and went straight to Panera Bread.  A coffee and bagel was ordered for all of us.  John's introduced us to their favorite bagel from Panera, Cinnamon Crunch, and now we are hooked!  They are so good!  I like bagels and I know this is going to create a hunger for bagels in a whole new way. 

We traveled the four plus hour drive to Pittsburg.  By now, the children were awake at home and Lena picked them up for the weekend!  THANK YOU, LENA!!! 

We started out with touring the city by going on the Incline.  It's a train car like track that takes you straight up the mountain side.  From there we could get a great view of the city!

 Viewing the "Point" and the football stadium.

For lunch, Kathy told us that Pittsburg is known for their certain foods!  Who wants to get regular food that we can eat at home if we have other Pittsburg famous options?!!!  She told us about the "Pittsburg Sandwich" and we went to the market circle in town searching!  Show enough, we found the restaurant Primanti Brothers.  These sandwiches were so good Mike had them a couple times through out the weekend.  Thick slices of bread with a cheeseburger, then hot French fries, then topped with a handful of coleslaw and tomatoes.  They made hundreds of these!  The restaurant was packed out and the employees were working 100 miles an hour.  What a business!  What a sandwich!!!  A real highlight for us!!!  We also enjoyed their fried dill pickle spears!  So good!

Then we took a "Just Ducky Tour" through Pittsburg.  This was a ride on a bus/boat.  It drove us around the city telling us history and details of the city.  Then it went to the river and drove into the water!!!  The wheels stop working and a boat propeller went into action.  They used these years ago.  We drove down the river and then came back to the roads.  Interesting.
 See us?  Ready for the tour.
 This was the river and looking at the football stadium.

When we were on the incline lookout, we looked at some restaurants along the way.  There was this one very nice restaurant!  We knew we would want to eat our dinner there that night.  We asked for reservations but the only available time was at 5 or 9 PM.  Restaurants with this upscale class get reservations far out ahead.  We gave our number in case of a cancelation but we didn't think we wanted to wait till 9 to eat.  We did though.  We waited and went at 9 PM and it was worth it!!!  Delicious food!!!  Outstanding view of the city at night time!!!  Great dessert!!!
 Chicken (for me) ... leg of lamb (for Mike).
 The city at night.
We were tired and ready to relax at the motel!  The next morning, we went to church with Jesse.  Jesse, John & Kathy's son, is in college here in Pittsburg.  He ate dinner with us last night and then we went with him to church Sunday morning.  We loved the singing and message!!!  We were taught about the creation and teachings from Genesis.  We grabbed some lunch and then headed for the Steelers football game!  The day was sunny and not too cold!
Here we are ready to find our seats!
 We got there in good time and enjoyed the sunshine on our faces till game time. 

 Here come the players!
 The game was exciting.  Even for someone like me that does not understand all the details and plays!  I do know when they get a touch down though!!!  :)  The place went wild!  After the winning game against the Colts, some players met in the center to pray.  So neat!!!

More city buildings!

We ate frozen yogurt, pretzels and cheese late at night.  I guess this is OK but sure wouldn't want this style for every day!  ;)  With lots of walking, we were again ready for rest!

Monday, we went for another bagel from Panera!  :)  Then we visited Senator John Heitz History Center.  This was a museum of Pittsburg history.  We walked around viewing many stories and learned some new things!  Mike loved this!  Here's a picture of him behind a goalie set up at the museum.
We spent a few hours in the museum and then went for lunch, again, before heading home.  Mike voted to have his third Pittsburg Sandwich, but we chose to go with another Pittsburg fav!  Subs at Jimmy John's!  Fresh cut meat with fresh cut veggies.
The drive home went fast as we chatted and laughed, sipping Starbucks.  The kids were home from school before we were but they didn't mind staying here till we got home!  Thank you so much Lena for caring for the kids all weekend!!! 
Time with hubby is like recharging our marriage.  We love to get away on date nights, sometimes on full weekend getaways like this one, or even if it's just sharing a cup of coffee after supper.  Spending time together is a real life tool that keeps moms and dads communicating.  It keeps us laughing.  Full attention on each other!  Thanks so much for the fun weekend Hun!!!