Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Meanderings

September has been a crazy month for us. Trying to sneak in some last minute summer fun amidst processing our food for the winter. This first picture is of Hailey on a "bull" at the Pendleton Round-up. The kids decided they wanted to ride the mechanical bull instead of go to the carnival. They loved it! 

Besides processing veggies from our own garden, we've been blessed with lots of fruits and veggies from other's gardens. My parents gave us a bunch of potatoes, so I decided to make a whole bunch of Twice-Baked Potato Casseroles. Here is the mess of mashed potatoes with cheese, carrots and spinach all mixed together for the topping of this delicious casserole. 
This picture creeps me out, but Josiah is showing off his VERY loose tooth on his birthday. He lost it that night.
Josiah blowing out his seven birthday candles without his two front teeth. 
Amidst making 2 1/2 gallons of sauerkraut, freezing massive amounts of zucchini, green beans, diced tomatoes, green peppers, beets and making gallons of peach jam, I took the time to learn how to make my own laundry soap that I use in my homemade laundry detergent. 10 gallons of laundry soap will now only cost me around .75 cents. How awesome is that? My sweet friend, Laurie, taught me how and I'm going to do a blog post on it soon. 
Last week was the first week of AWANAS. Hailey and Josiah are both members now. They were both very excited that Hailey gets to go now. A friend of ours blessed us with paying for both children this year. Thank you, Lord! I love that they are memorizing scripture every week through this program.
We got a bunch of peaches from my mom and we made two gallons of no-cook freezer jam. This stuff is good enough to eat with a spoon!

This weekend, Michael and I were finally able to use the free gift certificate for a local bed and breakfast that I won at Curves almost a year ago. We had a wonderful romantic getaway for one night while Grandma Kricket came over the mountain to watch the kidlets. It was a real blessing as we've had an extremely challenging week with our son. Praying for wisdom to parent him.  Today is a new week and I'm praying some lessons will be learned so I can successfully parent him. Never has parenting been such a challenge for us. I guess this is a period of testing. I would covet your prayers for us on this issue.

Thank you and God Bless! Hope you all have a great week.

God Bless,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Local Deployment Ceremony

The battalion (3-116th Cavalry) that Michael was part of for 14 years just deployed. This last year he moved to a different battalion for promotional purposes. It was strange to watch this ceremony knowing I was going to have my husband home this time (his new battalion is slated to go in a couple of years). We both have been feeling guilty yet relieved that we get to stay together as a family a little longer, unlike so many of our friends. We felt so bad for the soldiers and their families who are making this tremendous sacrifice for the next year. We are so proud of each of them and stand by ready to serve the families left behind.Many motorcycle groups joined forces with the Patriot Guard to line the perimeter of the parade field with American flags and then escort them out of town. Michael is third motorcyclists from the left. The kids and I were so proud of him for taking time off work to do this.One unit out of four, marching onto the field.The battalion was too spread out, so this was the best shot I could get of most of them. The presentation of colors to the Oregon Governor (black suit).Josiah was so cute. He was copying whatever the soldiers were doing. If they were saluting, he'd salute. If they were at attention, he was at attention. If they were at ease, he was at ease. So precious! Hailey was dressed in her patriotic shirt and impatiently watched the ceremony.She wanted to wear the necklace I made during the time Michael was last deployed. It is very special to me and she seemed to sense that. 

I wish I would have had my camera handy when we went downtown for the final farewell as the buses drove through town on their way to the freeway. My friend sent me this picture of the kids. It was a sight to see. I was thrilled to see how many people were lining the streets and how many motorcyclists were escorting the buses full of soldiers. 

God, please keep these precious servants and their families safe. Take care of their every need.  Hold them in the shadow of your wing.  For those who don't know the hope that is found in You, please show them that Truth through this deployment. Increase their faith. May their lives glorify You. 

In Jesus Name, Amen!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Revolutionary War Birthday Party

Josiah turns 7 years old today. He lost his 4 tooth yesterday, so now he really looks like a redneck, LOL. We didn't do much for his birthday today because we were at the Pendleton Round-up, but we did have a big combined birthday party for Josiah and his two oldest male cousins last week at my sis' house. My nephew, Josh (12), picked the party theme this time, and chose the American Revolution. In the past we've done Civil War and WWII themes. My sis and I weren't sure how we were going to pull off this one, but we put our heads together (with the help of the boys) and came up with a fun format. My sis and I literally spent less than $15 on items that we didn't already have on hand to put this party together.

Thanks to their Nana, all the boys (and my niece, Jessica) got Revolutionary War era costumes for Christmas last year. They've had a lot of fun with these throughout the year, but they really put them to use for this party. This pic above is of Josh, Josiah, me and Jessica all decked out in our 18th century costumes. Stacie's older boys had been busy throughout the week making flags (British and American) for decorations. You can see them in the background. We also had bunting all around the deck and the dining room.
I had bought this feather, ink well and parchment paper with a copy of the Declaration of Independence about a year ago, was going to give it to Josiah for his Christmas present, but forgot. Good thing I did! We had all guests sign the Declaration of Independence as they came in the door. What a fun experience for everyone. It is not as easy to write with a feather as you think it would be! They also had fun looking at all the signatures of our founding fathers.Instead of traditional cake and ice cream, we decided to do a tea instead. We had all the guests bring their own tea cup and saucer, then we served cucumber sandwiches and decaf tea (so we could still be patriotic) and scones from our "scone cake" shaped in the form an American Flag with 13 blueberries representing the colonies. We used raspberries for the red stripes. Underneath the Devonshire cream is homemade peach and raspberry jam. This was all my sis' doing, I just helped decorate. They were a hit! We stuck candles in the for the boys, sang happy birthday and let them blow them out.
My niece, Jessica, was tired of wearing her hat, so I wore it for awhile. I felt like Martha Washington or Abigail Adams.The kids were so excited, and not one broken tea cup! There were some real antique cups there, too.Next we opened gifts. They boys made out like bandits. We got Josiah a beginner chess set and a kid's digital camera. Josh (12) and Marcus (10) found this old recruiter poster while they were researching the Revolution, copied it, and put it on the front door. It is of a snake, cut up into all the different colonies. So cool! Love his bandage.Then we all went outside for the reenactment portion of the party. The boys had researched all the major battles and acted out 4 of them for us to watch. Josh made his own Hessian hat out of paper. I thought that was very creative. They all refused to wear white wigs. Even though the boys' guests weren't really dressed up, they had no problem getting into the act. It was awesome to see them so readily jump in to the fray. This picture cracks me up, Josiah is flashing a "V for Victory" sign (WWII). Oh well, wrong war, but you get the idea, LOL.Yes, the girls all got into the act, too. They were regular "Molly Pitchers" and were the vital nurse corps. These girls got into the role, let me tell you. Before the party, Stacie got the idea of ripping up an old bed sheet and putting some red ink on it. We rolled them up and gave them to the nurses to help "clean up" on the battlefield. The kids went crazy over these! Hailey (3) was very seriously nursing her cousin, Andrew (5). After one of the battles, the soldiers wall went back to the "camp" where the nurses patched them up again. I couldn't resist throwing this picture in of my step-dad, Larry, sittin' with his two youngest granddaughters, Hailey and Lily, as they watched the battle of "Bunker Hill". So cute!

I love these themed parties, not only are they fun, they are also a wonderful way to learn. It'll be interesting to see what theme is picked for next year. We're running out of major American Wars, LOL. Maybe it'll be Vietnam, War of 1812 or the Spanish American War next year? We'll see...

God Bless,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Favorite Dutch Oven Camping Recipes

I promised you in my last post that I would post some of my favorite Dutch oven recipes. I love this picture of Hailey warming her toes by the low fire you need when Dutch oven cooking. We like using a tripod because you can adjust it up or down depending on how much heat you need. You don't have to have this, it is just a little more convenient. I corn my beef ahead of time. You can use a pre-prepared corned beef, but it is way healthier if you corn your own. You can use whatever cut of meat you would like. I used a sirloin tip roast for this. 

Homemade Corned Beef Recipe:

4-8 lbs of beef (any cut)
1 cup kosher salt
1 Tbl pickling spices
1 tsp peppercorns (doesn't matter what kind)
2 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 c sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 gallon of water

Combine everything in a pan and bring to a boil. Stir until dissolved. Put meat in a glass pan and pour brine over. Weigh meat down if necessary to keep it under brine. Turn every now and then. Leave in brine for at least 24 hours, 3 to 5 days is better.

To cook: Discard brine and place meat in a Dutch oven (We use 12 to 14 inch). Pour in enough water to cover meat. Cover and boil at a low, study boil for 3 to 4 hours. Check periodically to make sure water is covering meat. Add carrots, onion, potatoes, cabbage and another Tbl of pickling spices (optional) and cook for another 30 minutes or until veggies are tender. We love this recipe. It is a really easy camping recipe. I make the rice ahead of time so it doesn't take so long to cook. 

Dutch Oven Beef Stroganoff Recipe:

1/2 lb bacon bite sized pieces
3 lbs steak bite-sized pieces (stew meat works well, too)
1 onion (wedged)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 lbs sliced mushrooms
1 to 2 cups sour cream
2 cups cooked rice (I like a mixture of whole grain jasmine and wild rice)
salt, pepper and parsley (optional) to taste

Brown bacon and steak in bottom of 12 inch Dutch oven. Brown until bacon is well rendered. Add onion and garlic until sautéed. Add enough water to cover meat and simmer (covered of course) for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Be sure to check periodically to see that meat is covered with water. Add mushrooms, rice, salt, pepper and parsley. Cook another 30 minutes. Stir in sour cream and serve. Sure to be a hit, even for picky eaters! 

This is the easiest Dutch Oven Recipe I own. Another wonderful camping meal.

Dutch Oven Smoked Sausage and Cabbage Recipe:

1 head of cabbage (wedged)
1/4 cup butter
1 lb smoked sausage, cut up
salt and pepper to taste
onion wedges and garlic (optional)

In a 12 in. Dutch oven, place cabbage in Dutch oven. Salt and pepper. Put butter on top along with sausage. Add a little water to help steam the cabbage. The flavors of the smoked sausage and butter dripping over the cabbage is indescribable! Cook until cabbage is at desired tenderness. 

You can do any of these recipes in a regular oven as well, if you want to try it out before you go camping.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Camping at Olive Lake

We had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend camping at Olive Lake, a little known lake in the heart of the Blue Mountains near Sumpter, OR. It is one of our favorite places to camp. The last time we were there, Josiah was 3 years old, this time Hailey was three. What a fun age! It was very cold in the mornings and at night, but we had a great time despite that. Some friends of our joined us, which made it even more fun.The first thing we did was go cut some firewood. Hailey enjoyed getting it to the truck, while Josiah complained the whole time. I told him that if I had a $1 for every piece of firewood I stacked as a kid, I'd be a very rich woman. He found that intriguing.When we got back to camp the first day, Michael took us on a "mile long" hike that we now affectionately call a "Michael Mile". Meaning it was at least three miles around the lake. He had to pack Hailey at least 2/3 of the way around and Josiah complained that his feet hurt because his shoes were too tight. Despite that, it was beautiful and a perfect day for a hike.This is the kids and Michael rowing out to check the crawdad traps. The fishing stunk for the first three days we were there, but we caught a lot of crawdads.Josiah was a crawdad huntin' fool!Hailey is warming her toes by the fire where we also cooked our meal every night in a Dutch oven. Eventually, I really want to do some Dutch oven cooking posts with some of the recipes we used that weekend. We did homemade corned beef and cabbage, beef stroganoff and easy smoked sausage and cabbage that weekend. All very good, easy Dutch oven meals. To us, Dutch oven cooking is half the fun of camping!Here are our friends, fishing for crawdads. They caught a slug of them! Here are all of us going on another "Michael Mile" hike to see the wooden water pipe leading to the Fremont Power Station. It was actually about 6 miles all together. I'm not much of a hiker, so luckily Josiah and I headed back early because he forgot to wear socks in his cowboy boots. He walked barefooted the whole way back.After freezing our bums off that night, we all decided to go down in elevation to the Sumpter Flea Market to warm up. While we were there, we stopped off at the Sumpter Valley Dredge and learned how to mine gold by hand. Josiah was in heaven! He got 4 pieces of gold that he showed to everyone he walked past that day. Our friend (she's from the Philipines) gave it a whirl as well. It was great fun!Here is our friend, standing in front of the gold dredge. Fascinating history of this valley. I'm thinking a homeschool field trip to Sumpter might be really fun!We went home that night and made Dutch oven sausage and cabbage while our friends made crawdad curry. It was delicious!  They just couldn't believe how many crawdads it took to produce one cup of meat, LOL. These lake crawdads are little.The last day we were there, we finally started catching fish and then we didn't want to leave. I had literally been praying, "God please help us catch some fish". He totally blessed us! We got a fish just a few minutes after that prayer, and then he blessed us with two others right after that. We cooked them over the fire for lunch. Hailey and Josiah both caught a fish but weren't able to get it all the way into the boat. Darn! Oh well, next time.

Was glad to get home and get warm and CLEAN that night, but we sure did have fun. Can't wait to do it again!

God Bless,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fun Yard Sale Finds

Sorry if some of you have already seen this post. I accidently scheduled my post for the wrong day. Oops! If you haven't seen it, read on.  What a blessing that we were able to go yard saling the last three weekends in a row! Not only did I freshen up all of our wardrobes and get some practical things like canning jars, we got a lot of fun things that we normally wouldn't be able to afford to buy. One of my favorite things is this great deal on a vintage apron. I got it for $1. Doesn't even look like it has been worn. Isn't it too cute?!!! Yes, I wear it. Josiah has been wanting a microscope, but I didn't think he was old enough. Well, I couldn't pass this nice microscope up for just $3, including all the accessories. Looks like one you would use in college. My little scientist was in heaven. My only regret is that I got so excited I gave it to him right away. I should have saved it for Christmas. Oh well.We also found some gently used Lincoln Logs. The kids are having a ball with these.I got this large basket for $2 to replace my overflowing homeschool material basket. I keep everything I'm using right now in that basket on the buffet. Love it!Hailey is holding up this gorgeous skirt I got for a $1. Maybe I shouldn't have let her hold it, it looks huge, LOL. Anyway, super cute.We got this nearly new plastic kitchen set with accessories for $7. The kids both play with it. We've been wanting one for awhile that wasn't too big. This was the perfect size and the perfect price.We also got a brand new slip and slide and barely used kid's pool. They threw this butterfly float in for free. I'm also stoked that we were able to replace our carpet cleaning machine with an identical one that is in better condition. Yeah! I got the suitcase for $2 and the bread machine for free at a "Free Market" one of the local churches put on. I was able to get some classy Christmas and fall decorations there, too, all for free. The kids have come away with so many toys, we've had to do a bedroom purge to make room for all the new things. 

Thank you, God, for yard sales! What blessings You've given us. Just had to share!

God Bless,


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