Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Portraits

I finally got around to doing the kids' Christmas portraits. They were all dressed up for our church's Christmas program, so I snapped some shots while I could. I picked the kids' outfits separately, without color coordination in mind, and wow did I luck out! I didn't know electric blue went so well with red hair ;) They are just looking so grown up in these photos. I'm so happy with Hailey's new haircut, too. Josiah is trying to find the right hair style he is comfortable with.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! 

God Bless, Jackie

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Family Christmas Newsletter

Our friend, Carla, took this picture of us when we visited her at her old-fashioned hamburger joint.

2014 Family Christmas Newsletter

Greetings, Friends and Family! We hope 2014 was a wonderful year for you. The year brought many changes for us. The beginning of 2014 found us settling into our homestead. Our first priority was to have a 30x40 shop built for Michael. While he hasn’t quite finished insulating and wiring it, he’s getting closer. We were quite busy this spring and summer with reseeding, planting fruit trees, berry bushes and a huge garden. Michael built me a nice deer fence to go around it, too. We’ve slowly been working at getting fencing repaired. We thought we would have chickens and a few farm animals by now, but we have decided to add to our homestead very slowly so that we don’t get over our heads.
Michael is enjoying his job as a heavy wheeled track mechanic at the Army Depot. He really likes the people he works with and even has a commuting partner some of the time. When he isn’t fixing the latest crisis on our aging vehicles, working on the homestead, or gone for a military training, he keeps plugging away at restoring his 1923 T-Bucket Roadster. I’m amazed at how much he’s been able to get done despite his extremely low budget for it. He also has been working on restoring our 1972 camper that was my Grandpa’s. We had a lot of fun camping in it this summer. Michael also shot his first elk with a bow this fall.

I’m still so blessed to be a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. We are in our 6th year of homeschooling and my children love it (most of the time). While it hasn’t been without struggles and sometimes tears along the way, overall it seems to be a good fit for our family. I started a new homeschool group with the intention of connecting Christian homeschoolers all over Eastern Oregon. It has been very exciting to see it grow so quickly and find that it does fulfill a need. We found a wonderful church family and I’ve been involved in a community bible study, worship team and a gospel singing group called “His Voice”.

The end of September brought a huge change to our lives. After seven years of infertility, we found out that I was expecting a baby May 14th. To say we were surprised is an understatement! We are slowly adjusting to the idea of such a big change and are looking forward to meeting our new blessing. The kids are unbelievably excited about having a new sibling! They never stopped praying for one even though we had long ago released it to God. We are all wondering if it will be another redhead.

Josiah is 11 years old now and getting taller and more mature by the minute. While he’d rather be doing other things than academics, he is getting good grades and is becoming a more independent learner. We enrolled him in a Latin class with other homeschoolers who meet once a week. He is absolutely loving it, and teaching us all Latin. He’s got a “bee in his bonnet” about getting some hives going in the spring. He and Michael have been working together to build their own bee boxes and are slowly accumulating the equipment needed to start beekeeping in the spring. He is becoming a huge help around the homestead, especially when his dad is at trainings.

Hailey is 7 and in 2nd grade and is also doing well academically. She finally got her precious cat, Cuddles, this last spring, and spoils him rotten on a daily basis. She is getting tall, too. She is currently going through a “sweet and sour” stage, keeping us on our toes. We are finding out the differences between raising boys and girls. She is completely “Daddy’s Girl” and loves to do projects with him whenever possible. She’s a little crafter and also loves to sing and make up her own songs about Jesus. She is especially excited about the coming baby and can’t wait to share her room and help change diapers. I’ve always said she was born to be a big sister. I’m so happy that her faithful prayers were answered.

We pray 2015 will be a wonderful year for you all! As we reflect on our Savior’s birth, may we love each other as Christ loves us. May we see the blessings even in the trials of this life.

God Bless,
Michael, Jackie, Josiah, Hailey, and (Mystery Baby) 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Who Will Be the Next "Chopped Champion"?

The kids and I have been hooked on "Chopped Champion" recently as it came out on Netflix. One night after watching an episode, the kids decided to do a dessert round of their own. I made myself sit on the couch while they created, silently cringing at what I knew was going to be a lot of wasted food, but also knowing they needed this time to just create and have fun. I couldn't believe all the details of the show they thought of. 

So what were the four strange mystery ingredients?

- White chocolate chips
-Panda black licorice
-Ancient grain crackers
-Dark chocolate covered almonds

Ready. Set. Go!!! The kids created their desserts in 30 minutes. It was so cute listening to them as they were trying to figure out what to do with those funky ingredients with time constraints. When the time was up they each stood before the judge (me) and explained their creations and how they incorporated each ingredient. 

Josiah came up with a drink of melted white/dark chocolate in milk with the crackers crumbled up on top.

It was unique to say the least. He did do a better job with his dessert entree which consisted of melted white chocolate and chopped up dark chocolate almonds, mixed with finely chopped ancient grain crackers and small slices of black licorice. 

Hailey, on the other hand, took a more aesthetically pleasing approach and made banana milk with alternating watermelon slices sprinkled with sucanat, topped with white chocolate chips and black licorice. She placed the chocolate covered almonds in between the watermelon slices. Her entree plate consisted of more watermelon slices, white chocolate chips, black licorice, chocolate covered almonds and ancient grain crackers with some French onion Laughing Cow and string cheese to go on the crackers.    

The kids went into the other room while I placed the losing plate to be "Chopped" under the silver pan (closest thing we had to a silver platter). We used a past fair ribbon for the "reward". I, the judge, then complimented each contestant on their strengths. Hailey's was aesthetically pleasing and she was brave enough to bring in other ingredients, while Josiah somehow managed to mask the flavor of the black licorice in his entree, a real feat indeed. Then I pointed out where they could improve. Josiah's entree looked like barf and his drink was inedible, while Hailey kept her ingredients too separate and the savory cheeses didn't quite go with the dessert concept. BTW, the barf comment had them both rolling on the floor with laughter.  It was a tough decision, but it all "boiled down" to taste for this judge.

The contestants anxiously look on for the unveiling of the chopped dessert. And it was Hailey's plate under the platter. She was a good sport though.

And Chef Josiah (by the skin of his teeth) became the Homestead Wannabes's next "Chopped Champion"!!!! And the studio goes wild! 

These are the things memories are made of, people. Yes, they stayed up too late to do this and yes, the kitchen was a mess after all that creativity, but it was so worth it. Unlike the TV show, they had to clean up their own mess. Yep, this is REALITY TV! 

Now go make a crazy memory with the kids in your lives. 

God Bless,

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe (Dry Ingredient Version)

A friend of mine, Cherylene at Rare Rubies Homestead, posted this recipe a few months ago and I decided to try it. I'm sure glad I did because I actually like this recipe better than the wet version I've been using for years with Zote soap. We have a very small laundry room and this takes up way less space (no need for that 5 gal bucket anymore). I think my whites are staying whiter, too. Another advantage is that it takes WAY less time to make and it is just as inexpensive. So without further adieu, here is the recipe for a double batch:

All Natural, Dry, Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe;

3 cups baking soda
3 cups washing soda
 1 cup Espsom Salt
1/4 cup Sea Salt (the cheap stuff is fine)

(you can add some essential oils if desired. Personally, I don't mind my laundry being unscented.)

Combine all ingredients and mix well either by hand or food processor. I chose to mix it by hand and it didn't take long at all. This doubled the recipe fit nicely into a 1/2 gallon mason jar, which worked great. I use 2 Tablespoons per load because I always do really big loads. Personally, I think this works best on the warm/hot water cycle for whites, but seems to work fine on cold cycle for other colors. This recipe is safe for HE machines, too. 

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Thank you, Cherylene!

God Bless, Jackie 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

We're Growing More Than Vegetables On This Homestead - We're havin' a Baby!!!!

The burning question is not will our "Better Late Than Never Baby" be a boy or a girl, but will it be another redhead?!!!

12 weeks today! Due date is May 11th. 

Even after Michael and I had given up and accepted that we probably weren't able to have more children, the kids never stopped praying for another sibling. They are over the moon about it! It took 7 years, but here we are, when we least expected it. God has a plan and we know it is good.

To say we were shocked is an understatement, but it was a good kind of shock. Our lives will be drastically changing and we are adjusting to the that fact that we are going to be losing some freedoms we were just now beginning to enjoy again. We know it will all be worth it and the blessings will far outweigh the freedoms we are losing.  We look forward to welcoming this bundle of joy in May!

God Bless,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mission Road Homestead Happenings - Summer through Fall 2014

What a crazy summer and fall on the homestead! Michael was gone quite a bit this summer for different military trainings, so much of the work of the homestead fell to the kids and I. It is so nice that the kids are older and they really proved to be a great help, especially in our huge garden. The above pic is of Hailey's happy face as she saw her day for the first time after one of his absences. She sure is a Daddy's girl! Here are a few projects we worked on this summer/fall.
Under Michael's supervision, the kids helped him make lead bullets for his black powder deer hunt he has coming up in November. Michael got his first elk with a bow this fall. He was very excited! It was a young cow and the meet was the best I've ever tasted.

Got this pillow at yard sale and sewed buttons on it in the shape of a "W" (first letter in our last name). Put it in our vintage/retro the camper.
The previous owner of this place had a friend stop by and give us all the owner manuals for the appliances in this place. Does this manual date our range or what? Crackin' me up! It even matches my table.

This was one of the concepts we really have been working on in our home. Our two fiery redheads can get on each others nerves pretty quickly.  I wrote this out on our scripture board so we could get this phrase memorized.
We got to go camping with my in-laws, and a niece and nephew, at Olive Lake. The kids caught crawdads until their hearts were content. Josiah had a great time teaching his cousin, Jacob, how to hold a crawdad without getting pinched. He got it figured out pretty quickly ;)

Hailey was catching them like crazy, too. Gorgeous place to camp! Hailey even swam in this frigid high mountain lake. Crazy!
My niece, Layla, sharing her watermelon with a very happy Champ.
I made 10 lbs of haggis for the Celtic Festival. Turned out better this year, but I still want to make some adjustments in the flavor.
This is part of our huge garden. Unfortunately, I got it in late and it frosted early, so didn't get quite as much from it as I would have liked, but definitely got enough to get us through the winter. I freeze almost everything. The kids and I would go out and weed about 30 minutes five times a week in the mornings before it got hot. Michael worked fast and furious whenever he was home to put up a deer fence around it. Very necessary for around here.
Champ and Hailey's cat, Cuddles, have come to an easy truce. Champ is patiently waiting for the cat to throw his ring for him. I don't think Cuddles got the memo ;)

Some garden produce. Had good luck with the watermelons and broccoli at our new place. The broccoli and cauliflower were huge! Watermelons were sweet and super juicy. Lots and lots of zucchini as well.
The biggest garden bummer was that the Armenian cucumbers I planted were just coming on when it frosted. I only canned 13 jars of pickles when we normally do somewhere around 50. Oh, well. I just HATE store bought pickles! 

We were blessed with free tickets to see the Pendleton Round Up this year. What a treat for our family!

The kids enjoyed their ride on the mechanical bull.
Josiah's 11th birthday happened in Sept. He insisted on make his own camo cake. It turned out really cute. He made a battle scene on it and then took it to Latin class to share with his classmates. It was a hit!
Michael has been busy with trying to get the deck railings sanded and stained before winter. The difference is astounding! The part closest to the camera is what he has left to do, the rest is done. He took the whole railing apart to do it right. Wow, what a big job! He has also been working on wiring and insulating the shop when we have money for materials.
We thought we'd try to sell some of our pumpkins, gourds and milk soap by putting a sign up on the busy road at the end of our driveway. I guess this must not work very well in this day and age because we've had zero customers so far. Going to have to think of something else next year. Oh well, you don't know until you try, right?

Things are settling down outside and we are starting to look to indoor projects that don't cost a lot. I really want the flooring replaced even though this is an old trailer. It will be awhile before we start building our house and in the meantime I don't like the health risks associated with this 40 year old carpet. 

Hope all is well with everyone and that you are having a wonderful autumn! 

God Bless,

Saturday, October 4, 2014

La Grande Celtic Festival 2014

 I'm about a month and half late with this post, but better late than never. The 2014 La Grande Celtic Festival just keeps getting bigger and better every year. This is the fourth year we've attended (3rd year of participating). Unfortunately Michael had a military training that weekend so only the kids and I were able to go. Thank goodness for my big Celtic family, or I never would have survived the weekend. In the photo above, the kids and I are in the clan parade, representing Clan Lamont.
 There were more activities for the kids this year, which was something I very much appreciated. The kids spent hours mock sword fighting.
Where on earth do boys just get to be boys anymore? They were in heaven playing with these foam swords that looked real. 

 We all enjoyed our dear friend, "Billy the Mick's" sword demonstrations. He drew quite a crowd this year.
The Boise Irish Step Dancers did an amazing job of entertaining us. What a talented group of young ladies who are clearly very committed to what they do.
The Highland Games moved the Sheaf Toss into the Celtic Village, which made for some really nice entertainment for the vendors and clans.  

The Boise Highlanders on parade. Sharp looking group!
The Gothard Sisters entertained us again this year with their beautiful voices, instruments and dancing. They are always a favorite and some of the nicest girls you'll ever meet.
Our friends, Cora and Tony, were a HUGE help to me this year, especially since Michael couldn't stay to help. Cora is our official breakfast maker and Tony is my official tent repair guy. You gotta watch these two, though!
As I was cooking haggis which takes about 3 hours, I found this Jacobite outside my tent, standing there with this sign. I ended up feeding him, but you know what? He disappeared when it was time to do dishes ;) Sneaky Jacobites!

On Saturday night, we fed around 50 people homemade haggis and corned beef and cabbage with all the fixin's.
Here I am serving haggis and corned beef. The smell was tantalizing! It is always fun to see what people think of haggis the first time they try it. They either love it or hate it. Personally, I hate it!
Josiah and our friend, Dennis, playing sword fighting with rubber swords. I don't think Josiah or Hailey wore shoes the whole weekend!
Cora and I in our feminine Celtic attire. It is so fun to dress up and feel perfectly normal because lots of other people are dressed up, too. I love it! It is like informal re-enacting.
Billy giving his "Freedom" speech. The boys were getting into it!

Hailey participated in the Highland Games this year. She is doing the stone toss in this pic.

Loved this little guy doing the hammer toss. His daddy is in Afghanistan, serving our country. I can't imagine how proud his is of his little man wearing an Army shirt and his clan colors. All three of his boys were dressed like this. Too adorable!
Hailey doing the hammer toss. Josiah chose not to participate because he would rather be playing at the sword fighting station.
The bands, "Tiller's Folly" and "Men of Worth" got together and played at the end of the festival. They are both amazing. Great way to wrap up a fantastic weekend.

Hope you enjoyed just a few photos of the many I took during the 2014 La Grande Celtic Festival. We look forward to attending next year and hope to see more old friends as well getting to make new friends.

God Bless,


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