Wednesday, December 31, 2014

~Today: December 31, 2014~

On this last day of 2014...

The tree still looks so nice, and makes the living room feel so cozy. For some reason, I'm not ready to take it down yet!

Snow! We did not have a white Christmas. But it's snowing today! And if you're an almost 6-year old, and there's snow on the ground then there is no reason to 1) walk on the shoveled path or 2) walk in a straight line. I love this picture, it depicts my daughter's personality so well:

Dishes! Lots of dishes to do today for some reason...

Half-day for Kevin so lots of family time today and tomorrow!

And finally, a thought for the coming year from the December 31st devotional in My Utmost for His Highest:

As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. 
Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.
Find the rest here.

May your last day of 2014 be blessed as you ring in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Christmas is past. It seemed to come and go so quickly this year!  I snapped a few pictures a few days before Christmas, and thought I'd share them.

The living room:

The gingerbread house we made as a family: 

The nativity, set up by my daughter. O come let us adore Him!

A counted cross stitch, stitched by Kevin's grandma:

We really don't have a lot of Christmas decorations. I'm good with's less to put away after the Christmas season is gone. This year we've enjoyed a real tree (so much better than our *very cheap* fake tree!), and listened to Christmas songs and carols as often as possible.

It was a good Christmas! I've come to embrace the very relaxing Christmas season that December brings. With most of our friends immersed into parties and events and activities and mandatory extended family gatherings, it can get lonely when you realize that you have practically none of that - and if you try to invite others over it has to be squeezed into their schedule (which can be depressing too!). I think this year I had the best attitude toward our less-busy-than-friends schedule and we watched movies as a family, did things like decorate a gingerbread house, and had company when we could (because there are others too that aren't as busy as everyone else, you just have to look a little). It was all lovely! And for the first time we had company on Christmas Day, which was so very nice. 

The company table: 

I forgot to take a close-up of the napkins, but I followed this pin for folding them. 

In all, a very good month! I'm ready now for the New Year. I am looking forward to this next year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

~Refashioning a Barbie Dress~

My daughter got a Barbie for Christmas, and she was concerned that the dress wasn't modest enough. 

I pulled out a top I had that didn't work for me, and a bit of lace.

A little time and voila! a modified Barbie dress! I trimmed the ruffle off the tank, sewed it onto the dress (seamed down the back), and sewed the white lace along the top. Nothing fancy, but it works!

My daughter is happy but wanting a whole new wardrobe for Barbie...

Friday, December 19, 2014


My dad's family is German Mennonite, and I grew up eating many German dishes. One of my absolute favorites at Christmastime were my grandma's peppernuts. The way my grandma made them, they were crunchy, spicy little cookies. I tried a recipe out of More With Less (a Mennonite cookbook) but alas, they tasted like nothing I'd ever had. Awhile back my aunt sent me some recipes from my grandma and I didn't realize the peppernuts were included, until my sister called me to ask if I had Grandma's recipe.

So then, of course I had to make them!

Growing up, these appeared at my grandparents house in early December and were around till the New Year. (Grandma must have made several batches in order for them to last a month!) My parents didn't let us eat sugar but these somehow flew under the radar. Maybe because they were so small? Maybe because they were easy to sneak??? I remember being at my grandparents to play and going inside to use the bathroom and coming out with a pocketful of peppernuts to eat as I played! If I was lucky, no one would see me eating them and then I wouldn't have to share. ;)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

~Winter Canning~

I held off as long as I could and then I just could't stand it any more. I had to get out my pots and pans, funnel, jar lifter, and jars.

To go along with our Thanksgiving dinner, I made cranberry sauce. I wasn't inclined to put it in a can so it would look commercial, so I just poured it into a serving dish and chilled it. It was very good and not only got compliments but was eaten all up (that's the proof your company is telling the truth ;-) ). The next week when I went to the store, cranberries were still a good price so I got two more bags and made up a recipe and a half to can.

And now I have four lovely jars of cranberry sauce. It's a bit of a novelty item to me, we never really eat a lot of cranberry sauce anyhow so I wouldn't want any more than this. Just the perfect amount to eat over this winter.

But even though it's the perfect amount, this is my thought on small batch canning: if I'm going to totally trash my kitchen for four jars of sauce (or jam, or whatever), I might as well go all out and get a whole canner load. Not that I wanted a whole canner load of cranberry sauce, but...look at all those dishes! I somehow managed to get many utensils, two pans, the Champion juicer parts (necessary for this project - to remove seeds and skins), and many other things covered in sauce! Ah, if only I were a neater cook!

So, that brings my jar count for this year to 344. I'm thinking of canning a few more things before the year's end, we'll see! 

Friday, December 05, 2014

~Play Dough~

I made some play dough today! A quick and easy project for me, and an afternoon of enjoyment for my daughter.

There are any number of play dough recipes online, just look on Pinterest and you'll come up with no less than 1000 variations on the humble play dough. I don't go fancy,  I just use a cooked recipe that has cream of tartar and oil in it. It seems to last for a reasonable length of time.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

~Fermented Goodness~

I love fermented vegetables! Not only are they tasty, but I feel so much better on the inside when I eat them. I wanted to ferment much more of the garden produce from last summer, but only got one quart of dilly green beans fermented (they were amazing, I'm sorry I didn't do more!).

My latest fermenting experiment was garlicky kraut (I used 1 head cabbage and 2 cloves of garlic). It is so good! The garlic mellows out and gives it a nice flavor, but doesn't overpower the kraut. My daughter requested to have a bowl of kraut with her lunch, and has proclaimed that it is the "best you've ever made". I'll gladly take that compliment. ;-)

Also fermenting: a batch of kraut with caraway seeds, and the olives. Consumed recently: kimchi. I have ingredients for: ginger carrots, kraut, and kimchi. Better get chopping!