Zechariah 13:9

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. Zechariah 13:9

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cheese, Composters, and Blessings

Thursday, 31 March 2011

  • Cheese, Composters, and Blessings

    A huge benefit of living on a dairy farm is having abundant milk.  Milk to drink, to make ice-cream, milkshakes, and cheese.  I haven't made cheese in a long time, partly because we live close to Hornings :), and partly because I seem to find other things to do rather then take the time to make cheese.  However, it is cheaper for me to make our own, even though Hornings has reasonable prices, and we love homemade cheese.  Dave has been after me to start making it again, so we will see if I can be consistent (which is not one of my strong points), and make some each week.  It is rather simple and requires few ingredients.  If you have access to raw milk, maybe you want to give it a whirl.
    Muenster Cheese
    Huge kettle, timer, thermometer, cheesecloth, cheese press, 4 gallons milk (if not raw, whole, for sure), 2 cups cultured buttermilk, 4 tablets junket, 2 tbsp. salt, and time.
    Pour milk, buttermilk and junket (dissolved in 1/4 c. water) in kettle and heat to 86 degrees.  This is lukewarm to the touch, just in case your thermometer don't go that low. Turn heat off.  Let set for 1 hour.  Cut curds and heat to 102 degrees. Turn heat off.  Let set 1 hour. Drain off whey by pouring into a cheesecloth lined strainer (whey is suppose to be very good for you and you can use it in your baking, too).  Mix the salt into the curds and gather curds into cheesecloth.  Put into press for about 1/2 hr, then flip block of cheese over and press for about 1 -2 hrs. with 15-20 # of weight.  Cure for 2 months (if you really can, we can't leave ours alone).      
    Calves, pigs, cheese 001
     Calves, pigs, cheese 002
    Calves, pigs, cheese 003
    Calves, pigs, cheese 004
    Calves, pigs, cheese 007
    Something that we have been thinking about is composting.  It seems we usually have alot of food scraps, not that we are wasteful people, we're not , but we do not like the stems of broccoli, or carrot peelings, or the wrinkled outer leaves of cabbage, or cores of apples, or things that are found in the back of fridge that smell funny.  I found this really neat website that gave instructions on making a compost bin and the boys were all game to help make one.  We could envision this rich composted soil that worms would love and that we could put on the garden, instead of what we were doing...tossing the scraps across the street in the weeds and wondering why we smell skunk every now and then!   After some discussion, though, George decided to purchase not one, but two composters, and I think this is a much better deal than making one.  What do you think?
    Calves, pigs, cheese 011
    Scraps in....sausage and bacon out....win - win solution!  Have you ever gotten close enough to one of these critters to notice their eyes?  Almost creepy... they are so human like.....
    I wanted to share something that we have been doing for years that has blessed us as a family.  Life gets so busy sometimes that we forget, or neglect, to pay special attention to each other.  We each seem to get lost in the shuffle.  We have a laminated chart on the fridge with the days of the week going down the paper.  Each of our family names are cut out and laminated so they last longer.  At the beginning of the week, we put all the names in a bowl and pick one out at a time and put them behind the days....like this....
    Calves, pigs, cheese 005
    We each have a special day on which we, especially, get prayed for and get a special place setting at supper.  Each week the names get shuffled again and our special days get changed.  The boys just love setting that special spot and love being named in the prayer.  Something simple, but meaningful to us.  We find that summer time is not so easy to do this, for if we are busy with outside work, our meals are not always so organized, but this works really well in the winter time.  It just so happens that our names hold out for the number of days, but if it don't for you, you could repeat names or put other people's names in a place and then pray for them, give them a phone call or send a card.
    Calves, pigs, cheese 006
    Until next time................

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rainy Days, Heartburn, Old Friends, a Treat

Sunday, 20 March 2011

  • Rainy Days, Heartburn, Old Friends, a Treat

    Ummm....interesting title.....so, am I indicating that old friends cause heartburn on rainy days while eating a treat?  Nope!  Just updating on what has been happening around here.
    I love rainy days!!  I love to hear the rain on a tin roof and smell the wet earth.  But, most of all, I love rainy days when indoor projects get done because the men can't work outside.  That was what happened at the beginning of last week.  We had a bedroom wall that was unfinished.  The logs needed to be chinked and it was one of those projects that just did not have priority - until now.  Last summer we had wasps in our bedroom too many times and they were able to come in from the attic eves through an unchinked space.  So, Dave put it high on the priority list.  He also decided that it was something that the boys really could learn to do and so it became a great elective for school....learning to chink logs.
    The before picture....
    Home renovations 001
    project underway...
    Home renovations 003
    Home renovations 006
    Home renovations 036
    They did an excellent job and I expect no wasps this year!   Another project that got finished (almost, still needs trim) on a rainy day was a wall between the mud room and rest of porch. 
    Home renovations 022
    We were blessed with a free, beautiful door that someone had put out at their mailbox for free.  It worked perfect!  Once again, Dave thought the boys could learn some skills, so....another elective....learning to hang a door.
    Home renovations 023
    Home renovations
    There are MANY more projects that need done in the house, so bring on the rain!   No, seriously, our house really does need lots more work, but slowly it is getting there.  It is not new, not perfect, but it is our HOME and that is what matters.
    Heartburn.....for many, many years it has been Dave's companion and not a welcome one, either.  As the years progressed, it became more & more frequent until it was an every day thing.  For a long time, we thought it was all stress related.  Then, we started really thinking that it wasn't just stress, but also something he was eating.  Was it the eggs in the morning?  Or dairy?  Maybe meat?  The last few months it had gotten so severe that he was eating next to nothing and still got heartburn.  He was convinced he had cancer, for now he not only had heartburn, he had stomach pain.  He tried the prilosec and got relief, until a week after he finished it.  Anyway, something had to be done and he wanted to try something else before seeing a specialist.  Well, he is now heartburn free!!!  Praise the Lord!!  What was the culprit?  Wheat!  As soon as he took all wheat out of his diet the heartburn and pain was gone.   One time he thought he would test it and ate a piece of homemade bread and pronto! heartburn.  He can now eat whenever he wants and anything he wants, but wheat, and he does great.  We can't believe it!  After all these years and it was wheat?  Why, oh why, didn't we think of it sooner?
    Time marches on, we get older, our families grow, we make new friends and some things are forgotten.  However, some things are not forgotten and they live on through all the circumstances of life.  That is how it is for the friendship of 4 women.  "Us" 4 women.  We have known each other since the beginning of our lives and have grown up together.  Each of us eventually got married and somewhat went separate ways.  However, every now and then we get together and reconnect.  This week, we were able to have lunch together again.  2 of us are grandmas now and all of us have been through different trials and changes in our lives.  It was really nice to catch up and enjoy a few short hours together.
    24 1/2 years ago at my wedding....Karla, Marcy, me, & Dawn
    2011..... Marcy, Dawn, Karla, & I
    4 of us girls
    Eating out twice in 1 week?  wahoo!  I can stand it!  Last night, Gordon and Kelsey took Dave & I out to eat for part of our Christmas present.  The choice was ours and after much deliberating it was Golden Corral.  Our opinion?  uhhh.....not first pick.  Hoss' still ranks among #1.  We had a really nice time, just the 4 of us.  Thanks to our favorite daughter & son-in-law for the treat! 
    out to eat 002
    Until next time................

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Still and Quiet II

Tuesday, 08 March 2011

  • Still and Quiet II

    Yesterday I reread my last blog on sitting still and being quiet.  I realize how much more I could have said, or noticed things I shouldn't have said.  I realize that a picture could have been painted in the readers mind when I talked about me having a hard time being "quiet".   Here is this 44 year old woman who is red in the face, stomping her foot and talking loudly - I want answers right now!! Not a pretty picture at all!!!  Those who know me, know that I am sometimes too quick to speak and my words get me into trouble.  It is something that I am working at.  Being slow to speak  is a great virtue and I want it and with God's help, I can obtain it.  The kind of "quiet" that I was talking about, is the "quiet" that is FELT in our hearts, in our minds, in our very soul.  A quiet that comes when we refuse to let life's storms tip the boat.  It reminds me of a story in the Bible.  Jesus and His disciples were in a boat..... 
    And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? -- Mark 4:35-40 KJV
    Jesus has that kind of "quiet".  The kind where no fear or doubt is found and faith abounds. We can be a big mouth kind of person proclaiming loud statements - literally.  We also can be a shy and timid kind of person, but be "standing up" and screaming loudly on the inside where nobody but God sees.  He was "quiet" on the outside AND inside.  We can be like that, too, by continually surrendering to Him and refusing to allow the high winds and waves of life's storms to topple our boats.  We can rest peacefully in the "hinder part of our ships" when we allow Jesus to be the navigator.  Oh, how I am learning.............
    Until next time.........

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sit Still and Be Quiet

Sunday, 06 March 2011

  • Sit Still and Be Quiet!

    Sound like a familiar command?  It does to me!  What conjures up the most memories is sitting in church with the children on the bench beside me, wiggling and whispering.  So distracting to me and those around us.  Something happened this past weekend that once again brought the phrase to mind, but in a different light.
    I had plans on Friday to run some errands and tie up my trip with a stop at a friends house to visit and let the boys play with her boys.  I had not told the boys of these plans, for I knew that I would be harassed all week long - "mom, how many days.....", "mom, how long will we be able to stay", and on and on.  So, Thursday night I told them that we were going to pick up potatoes near Pine Grove, go to Bill's produce, stop at another friends for a computer monitor and then I had a surprise stop for them.  Oh, boy!  The interrogation began!  Couldn't I give just one little hint?  Was it going to be fun or educational?  (For some reason, they have a hard time combining those two.   If it is considered educational, then surely it isn't all that much fun, right?  Sounds too much like school to them!)   Were they ever there before?   They determined they probably would be disappointed with this surprise stop.  I told them I was not going to say a word, they would just have to wait and see and trust me.  Friday morning, the interrogation continued with all the same questions.  Somewhere in the middle of it all, the Lord opened my eyes to a spiritual lesson and that the lesson was for me, especially.  I told the boys that sometimes (most times, really) God does not provide all the answers right away, nor does He reveal all His plans for us up front.  Our duty is to trust Him, for He always has our good at heart and that is what I wanted them to do - trust me for I want to please them, make them happy and surprise them.  While telling them all this, God was clearing His throat and tapping me on the shoulder wondering if I was paying attention to what I was saying.  You see, I have been having a very difficult time living the sermon that I was preaching to them.  I have been feeling anything but "quiet" for a long time.  There have been some things in our lives that we have not had clear direction in for years.  We think we have the answers only to be proven wrong once again.  Under these uncertainties, I wiggle and whimper and instead of sitting quietly, I stand up and boldly proclaim that I have to have the answers and know what God is doing and why and when - NOW!!  He must feel like I felt when the boys would not leave me alone with their curious pestering.  He knows the plans He has for me and my family.  He sees the whole picture, the whole future.  He knows what is best for us.  He is saddened when I refuse to surrender and trust Him and allow Him to be in control.  My duty is to sit quietly at His feet and wait patiently on Him.  To trust Him with all my unanswered questions - all my concerns - all my decisions - all my future - all my relationships.  All my families futures, decisions, and unanswered questions!  Only in His time will He continue to reveal His plans to us, even if they are only small sections of the blueprint at a time.  "So, Lord, I will be quiet and sit down at Your feet and learn from You as Mary did in the Bible.  Only then can I hear Your still small voice and have Your peace wash over me.  Amen!"   Shhhhhhhhhh......do You hear Him, too? 
    Until next time......................