Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catching up

Wow, I am such a bad blogger. I have been so busy that I have neglected my blog. We had a really nice Thanksgiving. Of course we ate way too much as usual! The weekend of Thanksgiving, we went and picked out our Christmas tree. It was a beautiful day, and not super cold, which was nice.

Here is our tree! I think it is the best one we have picked in all our years of getting a tree.

Evie helped Jeff drag it to the truck.

Sierra enjoyed the trip too!

Evie got to visit with Santa after we paid for our tree.

Evie turned 9 years old the first week of December. I can't believe she is 9!! For her birthday, she wanted to get her ears pierced. She looks a little freaked in the first picture :). They do both ears at the same time, which is really smart for kids.

She did really well, and looks so pretty :). She is growing up way too fast!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For He Shall Reign Forever and Ever!

This video was so awesome I just couldn't stop crying!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It has been cold here, and I am trying to get my body used to it. I actually love cold weather. I know, I am weird :). I do miss all the fresh produce from the garden. We are eating the last of the tomatoes and peppers that I picked. Almost all the leaves are off the trees now, so winter is getting closer. I can't believe it is November already!

As we get near Thanksgiving (is that even possible that it is almost that time???), I am brainstorming for gluten free/casein (dairy) free/soy free (gfcfsf) ideas. One thing that we eat every year at Thanksgiving that isn't gfcfsf is green bean casserole. I found a recipe online for gluten free condensed cream of chicken soup, and gluten free condensed cream of celery soup. I decided to try it, and modify it a bit to make it gfcfsf. First I tried the cream of chicken. I made it and OH..MY..WORD...the stuff was insanely good. Like, waaaaay better than Campbells condensed stuff. This past week I decided to give the cream of celery a try. It was better than the cream of chicken! Jeff tried it, and was so bummed that we weren't going to be eating it for supper that night (I ended up freezing it)! He said it tasted even better than Panera Bread's cream of broccoli, which was a huge compliment since I adore Panera's cream of broccoli soup. I also found a recipe online for gf french fried onions, so now I can make green bean casserole!

I started making a hair album, with pictures in it of updos that I can browse through. I did it to try and overcome the latest hair rut I was in, where I was wearing my hair the same way every day. I have 3 new favorites. I had them in my other hair book with hand-drawn sketches, but hadn't really tried them. After trying them, I love them! Here are pictures of the three.
The first one is from a lady on the Long Hair Loom named Harpgal. It is a super easy braided updo, and stays put all day! I really like how it looks too. Dressy, but easy.

This one is called "The Masara", and is from a girl from Youtube named Torrin Paige. She has some wonderful updo videos on Youtube. This one is a bit crooked :(. Oh well.

This last one was from the movie "Ever After" with Drew Barrymore. I found the instructions online somewhere, but never could figure out how to do it. I finally worked on it and figured it out, and loved how it looked!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This week I took a much needed vacation from just about everything. Evie has had way too much going on, to the point where she was wired and overstimulated. We both needed a break, so I took the week off from homeschooling. I am very seriously considering year round homeschooling. I looked at this one woman's schedule online, and she takes a 2 week break after every 8 weeks of homeschooling, and then she takes 2 weeks off for Christmas and 1 week off for spring break. She takes a month off in the summer. I modified the schedule, just playing around to see what I could come up with. I have gotten burned out easily with homeschooling because of the sensory issues Evie has. I came up with a schedule where I took a week break after every 4 weeks of homeschooling (instead of the 2 weeks after 8 weeks that the woman that I read about did). To me, 1 week is a good vacation! Besides the week off after every 4 weeks of homeschooling, I figured in 2 weeks off for Christmas, and a month off in summer. It worked out to be 180 homeschool days, which is what is required. This way I am not constantly looking forward to summer. I get a nice break in summer, but not so much that I lose motivation. We are going to try it and see how it works. I really like the flexibility of homeschooling.

I am finding that I need to do more to meet Evie's sensory needs. Evie was diagnosed as what is called a "sensory seeker". She craves sensory input, and her sensory nervous system is basically screaming at her all day long for more input. It has been a really challenging past few weeks for us. Some ways to help with the sensory issues is to let her squeeze special squeezy balls, hit punching bags, swing in special swings, play tug of war, and do therapeutic horseback riding. I am thinking I need to invest in an indoor swing, and a punching bags. The squeezy balls are a challenge. She usually pops them really quick. We bought one once at a store, and she popped it in line after we paid for it! I took a picture of Evie at her therapeutic riding class a few weeks ago. I wish my camera took better pictures in the arena, but the lighting there is really crazy. She really enjoys horseback riding, and it is really calming for her.

Last weekend we got to meet our new addition to our family. We got to meet our new baby cousin, who was adopted from China. She is about 10 months old, and is soooo precious!

Evie got to hold her, and she just relaxed in Evie's arms. It was so sweet. She is blowing bubbles in this picture :). I got to hold her twice, even though there were about 50 people there. I wish I could have held her even longer! She is such a precious baby girl!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting into the groove of things

I have been neglecting my blog. I have been really busy since school started. So much going on! I started homeschooling after Labor Day, and it has gone pretty well so far. There is so much more involved with 3rd grade compared to K-2nd. It takes us 3-4 hours to get everything done. Evie is learning Spanish this year, and was doing great until I hooked up the headphones to the computer. Now she has to speak it, and if she doesn't get it just right, the computer will give her this beep sound. Then she will get frustrated and groan into the mic, and it will beep again :). Lol. She got pretty fed up with it today. It is really picky about the pronunciation, which is hard for a 8 year old. Besides homeschooling, Evie is in gymnastics and horseback riding, so we have been busy running from place to place.

Jeff and I started having a date night every Friday night, and that has been fun! We have a babysitter come for about 3 hours, and we go out to eat. Lately we have been hanging out together at coffee houses. It has been fun being able to reconnect with each other after being apart for all those months.

Bow season started a few weeks ago, but it has been so hot that the deer haven't been moving much. Jeff did get a deer about a week and a half ago. He got it right before he left for a business trip, so he wasn't able to help butcher the deer. I decided I wanted to try making venison broth, so I asked his dad to save me some bones with meat on it. He gave me a bag full after we got done butchering, and I was too tired to notice it much. I just stuck it in the fridge when I got home. I got up the next morning to cook it up, and when I opened the bag, I found that he had given me whole legs....not cut up! So I had these 3 foot long deer legs that I am supposed to try and fit in a stock pot. He must have thought I had a HUGE stock pot! I shoved them in the pot, and was hysterically laughing because these deer legs were sticking out of the pot. I told Jeff later that I felt like I was cooking up body parts, and he said, "Well, you were!" I finally took the legs out of the pot and tried to cut them up. After much work, I finally managed to get them in the pot without sticking out. I cooked up 20 quarts of broth. I used my pressure canner, and all but 1 jar sealed. I used the broth to make gravy over the weekend, and it made the most wonderful gravy!

I had a wicked computer virus, and Jeff had to completely wipe my computer. I had to hand write down websites I wanted to keep and my favorites list. The virus was so bad that we didn't want to risk reinfecting the computer by copying anything onto a disc. It seems to be working so much better now.

Well, this isn't the most exciting post ever. Sorry if I bored you all :).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I'm sitting here crashed out on the couch after a long day of homeschooling and canning. I canned applesauce today. The apples we bought are Macintosh, Courtlands and Gala's, which is a mix I have never done before. Here are some of them. We bought 2 bushels.

And here is what my kitchen looked like today. It smelled wonderful, but was SO sticky.

I canned 21 quarts total and then got too tired to do anymore. I still have about 1/2 bushel left. I am going to can them tomorrow, but not do applesauce. I am going to try canning sliced apples so I can use them in pies and cobblers.

My garden is going a bit crazy! This is what my side garden looks like. The pumpkins have taken over! You can barely see my tomatoes because the pumpkin vines are going over the top of them!

Here are some of my pumpkins. They are actually ready to be picked. They are supposed to be a pale orange, and the variety is called "Long Island Cheese" because it looks like a wheel of cheese. I thought they would be small, but they are big!

Amazingly, my tomatoes are producing like crazy, despite being overrun by the pumpkin vines. I'm not sure what I am going to make with them yet. I canned the ones we picked late last week into sauce. I have so many coming on that I am going to have to get creative. Maybe I will can ketchup? All 12 tomato plants are loaded like this...

Underneath all the pumpkin vines are my carrots. We picked a few today, and they were SO sweet and yummy. I wish I would have planted more! We still have a whole row to pick, so I am glad they are so good. Evie ate the littlest one, and most of the big one :).

I am so thankful for all the abundant produce that God has blessed us with this year!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Crazy busy last week!

It has been a wild last week at our house. First, Jeff got offered a job about 2 miles from our house that he couldn't refuse. He ended up taking the job and quitting his other job. He left on such good terms with his job that he quit, that they want him to do contract work for them in the winter! He started his new job this past Tuesday, and he had a really good first week. He gets to come home for lunch every day, which has been SO awesome! Love it!! God is so good, and has blessed so much. We are so thankful!

My garden tomatoes weren't coming on very well, so we bought 2 bushels of tomatoes that were heirloom organic tomatoes at a roadside stand. We got a really good price on them. I canned 20 jars of chunk tomatoes and 11 jars of tomato sauce. I also canned 30 jars of pearsauce, and froze 1/2 bushel of green beans. Now my garden tomatoes are taking off, so I'm not sure what I will do with them! I'm thinking about just canning them into sauce. We just bought apples, so this week I will start canning applesauce. The last thing I will can is grape juice. Here are my shelves, which are getting very full!

Trying to fit in homeschooling this past week was a challenge because of all the canning, and also because we found out the cats were infested with fleas! I have flea dipped them twice since Tuesday, and at the last bath we killed 40 fleas between the two of them. The natural flea shampoo we bought was completely worthless. It didn't kill them at all, so I tried orange oil (called Orange TKO). It repelled the fleas, which made them jump off the cats. Some of the fleas jumped out in the water and drowned, but most of them jumped off when we toweled the cats off. Evie was my helper! She would see one and go, "There's one!" and either she or I would pick it up and stick it under the water in the tub. We were amazed at how many we were able to get! I'm planning on dipping the cats again on Tuesday. I need something that kills the fleas, but I don't want tons of chemicals. I am going to try Dawn dish soap next. I read that it is supposed to kill fleas on contact. The dog is pretty much under control now. I have only seen (and killed) a few fleas on her in the past several days. I have been vacuuming the house every day. So far we haven't seen a flea, except for a few in the cannister after we dump it after vacuuming. Jeff got bit by one once, but Evie and I haven't. So I am trying to keep the fleas from infesting the house. I feel like I need to have a clone because there is so much to do!!

Evie lost her top tooth last week, and looks so cute with her gap :).

Monday, September 6, 2010

The blessing of adoption

I have been crying lots of tears of joy this morning. My cousin and her husband just adopted this beautiful little girl last night from China. They are there right now. Every time I look at this picture, and the pictures of her with her new parents, I just bawl. Knowing all they went through, and how long they have waited, I am just so thrilled for them. They wrote about how surreal it all was, and how they felt shell-
shocked. It brought back memories of when Jeff and I first held Evie. Unlike with a pregnancy, adoption doesn't have 9 months of preparation. Most of the time people wait and wait, then everything happens super fast all at once. You almost never know when things will happen. It only took us a year to get Evie. It took my cousin and her husband almost 5 years to get this precious baby. The wait for adoptions seems to be much longer now than when we adopted. Domestic adoptions are becoming so scarce that most people are adopting internationally.

When we were waiting to adopt, we found out a month before Evie was born that we had been chosen by Evie's birthmom. After Evie was born, we had to wait to see if her birthmom would really go through with the adoption. When we got the call to go to the hospital because Evie was really ours, we really didn't have any emotional preparation. It was SO surreal. I still remember just staring at her. I thought I would be crying hard, but instead I just couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that I was holding my daughter. She was absolutely beautiful, and such an amazing gift. I am so thankful that her birthmother chose life for her. As I look back and see the journey we have been on, I cherish all the memories. She has been such a huge gift to us. There are verses in the Bible that talk about how God adopts us into His family when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Having adopted, I see those verses in a different light. I view Evie as my flesh and blood, even though I didn't give birth to her. If I see her that way, in all my human-ness, how much more would God my Father who is perfect see us that way! My heart is so full this morning. I am so thankful for the blessing of adoption. I am so thankful for this new, beautiful baby girl in our family, who will grow up in such a wonderful home. What a blessing knowing that she will grow up hearing about the Lord. God is such a good God!

Monday, August 30, 2010

New updo and hair toy organizing

I tried a new updo that I have had in my updo book (a book of hand sketched hairstyles that I made), and for some reason I have never tried it. It is the Chinese Bun, and it was SO easy! It was also super comfy. I took a picture because I actually really liked how it looked!

I also organized my hair toys. I bought a jewelry organizer, and used it to organize my stuff. I filled both sides and hung it on the wall. I love that I can see all of my hairsticks and homemade hair pins. Here is one side

And here is the other....

I love that I can see all of my things! It has helped me use them more, which is always good. I'm trying to be more creative with my hair. I'm trying to wear it different ways to avoid boredom.

Today was our first day of homeschooling. It went really well! We homeschooled from 8:00 - 12:00, and it was a cram packed time. We are doing Rosetta Stone Spanish this year, and it was actually really fun! Plus I get to learn Spanish too :).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fun and busy days

It has been such a busy time at our house these past few weeks! It has been wonderful having Jeff home every night! I love being able to eat dinner together each night. His new job is going well, and he is really liking it. We are so thankful for that! I have been busy canning, getting stuff ready to homeschool, and de-flea'ing our dog. Poor Si Si was covered with fleas. I kept checking her because she kept chewing on herself, but I couldn't find any fleas. Well, I must not have been looking well enough because she was covered. So I had to flea dip her (I found some natural stuff), then I put some more stuff down her back (also natural). I have also been vacuuming every day. Evie took this picture tonight after I had just checked her for the 3rd time today, and after we had just been outside on a walk. She looks all tuckered out :).

I have been canning peaches. I have never canned them before. Evie was such a HUGE help! She helped me peel the skins after I put them in the boiling water and then the cold water.

I canned a bushel of peaches over 2 days, and got 27 quart jars. Each one sealed! Yay! I have learned to pray over my jars, and I pray that they will seal. That may sound funny, but I believe God cares about even the little things :).

I just got a bushel and a half of pears, so I am going to be busy for awhile! I canned 23 pints of salsa, so that is done. Evie helped me with that too. She has been my little canning helper this year. When she isn't helping me, or playing with friends, Evie likes to pass the time playing dolls. And she likes Daisy to feel like she is part of the playtime!

This past weekend, we went with Jeff's parents to Michigan and Ohio for a mini vacation. We went to Cabela's in Dundee, MI. I wish I would have taken my camera to that place! Wow, it was awesome! Then we went to the Toledo Zoo, which was amazing. It is ranked one of the top 3 zoo's in the nation, and I can see why. It was an awesome zoo!

Evie was really afraid of this polar bear at first, but got brave after we had been there awhile :).

We loved the polar bears. They had a beautiful underwater viewing area so we could see them swim. This one was the mama bear.

The baby's name was Siku, and he is the only polar bear cub in a U.S. zoo. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of him (he was jumping in the water). He didn't stay still for very long!

The wolves were probably my favorite. They are so beautiful.

It was Jeff's parents 45th wedding anniversary. We were glad we were able to spend the time with them.

They had a fabulous aquarium there. Jeff took this great picture of a Clown Fish inside an anemone.

Here is the drenched family! It sprinkled the whole time we were there, which was nice because we stayed cool. By the time we left, it was raining pretty hard. We went at a good time!

The gorilla's were fascinating. This big guy just stared at us. He was huge!

He was looking right at me. I'm thinking he didn't like me taking his picture!

Look at the other crazy gorilla's that were at the zoo!

Evie "hatching" out of an egg :).

My blog posts have been really long lately. I hope I am not boring you all! It is nice to have something to write about! I didn't really want to write much when Jeff and I were apart. I guess I felt too sad. I'm so thankful we are together as a family again!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Today is an exciting day! My hubby quit his job today, and is coming home for good tonight! He didn't give a 2 weeks notice because they are closing down the company anyways, and he didn't have anything to do. I am so thankful to God for His goodness to us. I get to have my hubby back :)!!

I haven't been the best blogger this summer, so I will try and throw a bunch of stuff into one blog post :). We had a fun time this year at our local 4H fair. We had beautiful weather, and it was a little cooler, so we didn't roast. Evie got to ride several rides, and we got to see all the animals. I especially loved the llamas, which I didn't get to see last year. This is only the second year they have been at our fair. They are sooo sweet! If we had land, I would love to have some. They have the softest hair, and the sweetest, most gentle eyes. Love them! Here are some fair pics...

Our garden has been doing great, but is still a bit behind. My pole beans (which are climbing the fence and are going over the fence into the neighbors yard!) have flowered and are ready to start coming on. The zucchini plants were huge this year, but I didn't get as many zucchini as I would have liked. They are in front of the beans.

My green pepper plants are HUGE! They are almost to my shoulders! They are producing beautifully. I used them to make salsa this week :). The smaller pepper plants are ones I planted from seed. They are red, purple and orange, and they are all loaded with little peppers. I can't wait until they turn colors and get bigger. I have been trying to freeze a lot of the peppers for winter.

My tomatoes are also huge, and are loaded. Many are still green, but a lot of them started turning the past few days.

This picture of my pumpkins is about a week old. They are taking over the garden! They are now overlapping my potatoes, carrots and tomato plants! And they are LOADED! I bet I have at least 50 pumpkins growing out there. The variety I got is called Long Island Cheese. They are supposed to be shaped like a wheel of cheese! They are supposed to store well. I wish I could can it. Everything I have read about canning pumpkin sounds dangerous. They said it was the #1 cause of botulism in home canning. Yikes! Freezing is a option. I may do that. I may just store them in the basement where it is cool. That is what the pioneers did! It looks like we are going to be eating a lot of pumpkin!!

I canned green beans today. I got some from my neighbor. I canned 6 pints. I canned salsa yesterday. My neighbor gave me a bunch of tomatoes, so I wanted to make some salsa. I canned 13 pint jars.

Here is the start of my canning shelf. Please excuse the massive mess of a shelf down below! You can see my salsa. I also canned some jellies, and the beans I canned this past winter. There is also grape juice from last year. I hope to make some more of that. I still have a ways to go with canning. I'm hoping to can some tomatoes, and more beans. I would really like to can some chickens too. I love seeing full shelves of homemade canned goods :)