Thursday, April 28, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Easter Week



Celia's Smile!


A happy little girl splashing in the mud!


I asked him to smile!


My goofy brood at Easter dinner

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Tips for the Homestead!

This week I have another kitchen tip.   I learned this from Storey's Basic Country Skills. When you drop an egg (or your child, or your husband, or you trip over the cat and the egg(s) lands on the floor, under the kitchen table when your nine months pregnant and everyone else in the house is still sound asleep...)  sprinkle it liberally with salt,  wait a few minutes and sweep it all up with  your whisk broom.  Works like a charm.  Thank you Martha Storey. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beautiful Celia!

A Simple Mama Daybook - Easter Monday!

Outside my window... Rain rain go away come again in mid July when everything is thristy!

I am thinking… About packing - again.  We packed up a big part of our household over a year ago when we planned on renting a house - the same house we are buying now.  Everything was in boxes for months after plans changed and we continued our search for our house and farm.   I was nesting while pregnant with Celia,  I unpacked and made our house look like a home again instead of a college dorm.    We will close on the house sometime in the next few weeks (banks underestimate the patience of a woman in limbo!)  and I believe we will be moving in about seven weeks.  So,  here I go packing - again.  The children finish up their year at the HEP the first week of May.  That will be the perfect time to pack up the school room and this years books.

From the kitchen… I milled flour and made four loaves of bread this morning.  For dinner I prepared two quiches from the leftover Easter ham and asparagus.  There has been lots of nibbling on chocolate today  - as we continue to celebrate the Glorious Rising of Our Lord!  I love that Easter is not a day - rather a season! Alleluia!

I am wearing… I am totally disregarding the cold rain by wearing a springy blue floral skirt,  white t-shirt with blue smocking,  and bare feet!

I am creating…  Abby ended up making a sweater for Molly that looked beautiful with her Easter dress. I just had too much on my plate to make the swing sweaters for Celia and Greta.  I would love to get the sewing machine out and make some pillow case dresses for them for the summer.  My mom gave me the most beautiful vintage pillow cases that beg to grace a sweet little girl on a hot summer day.

I am reading… A lot of gardening blogs and books.  Though we are only moving a tad further north,  I want to make sure I plan the right things in the right spots.  I plan on starting out small this year,  especially since our move will be late in the spring and we will have tons of other things to tend to,  but I am crazy excited to put lots of tomatoes and peppers out so we can  put up salsa and sauces late in the summer. 

I am hearing…The baby nursing.  It amazes me what a loud eater she is. A seriously rowdy Euchre game, and the radio from the kitchen.  We turned off all 'noise' during Holy Week.  It is kind of nice to hear some music again while I cook/clean.  Right now,  Brad Paisley is singing about his love of water. 

One of my favorite things... The the little *gasp* from the young children when we walk into the church on Easter morning.   They look in awe at the uncovered statues,  the white and gold altar cloths,  the fragrant lilies, hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips all around,  and the lighted sanctuary candle that tells us that Jesus is back in the tabernacle again. 

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week… The children are on spring break this week.  We need to play some serious catch up on laundry and math lessons.  I hope to squeeze in a trip to the park later this week.  If the rain keeps up we'll probably end up going to Cabelas for an outing.  On a side note,  I do plan on doing  Tuesday Tips tomorrow - please share some tips with me!

Here is picture thought I am sharing… Two pictures this week: (an odd pair for sure!)
The biggest Butler Garter snake I have ever seen:
And Celia's first bites of homemade sweet potatoes:

Friday, April 15, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Visit Soulemama  for more!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Playing Dress Up!

Tuesday Tips for the Homestead!

   I have a tiny kitchen right now.  Tiny kitchen,  huge family - calls for some serious creativity.  The room itself is not so small,  it's the total lack of counter space that gives me fits.  I have been known to get out the ironing board, throw a table cloth over it and use that to set things on,  but with the little children running around,  it creates a precarious situation.  One small thing that I have learned to do that helps,  especially when serving food,  is to pull a drawer out and set a cookie sheet on top of it.  I wouldn't suggest putting anything heavy on it,  but it works for things like bread,  drinks,  or tator tots!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Simple Mama Daybook

Today, Monday,  April 11, 2011  The Feast of St. Margaret d'Youville,

Outside my window... It's a cool spring day.  Rain cloud are hanging over head.  

I am thinking… About my neighbor.  She is very ill and nearing the end of her life.  Please offer an Ave for a happy death?  We will be praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy for her @ 2:00pm  for her if anyone would like to join us.   It is times like this when the Communion of Saints becomes so evident. 

From the kitchen… Considering the price of gas,  our meals will be pretty basic for awhile.  I have beans soaking right now. 

I am wearing… A khaki skirt, brown, red, blue and green striped quarter length sweater,  and new red open toe Birks that my mother gave me.

I am creating…  I purchased the yarn to make swing cardigans for Molly and Greta.  I hope to have them done for Easter. 

I am reading… Boys Should be Boys by Meg Meeker on the recommendation of some friends.

I am hearing…Dishes being done in the kitchen,  Molly humming,  Nick and Gabe arguing. 
One of my favorite things... My husband.  Okay,  so he's not a 'thing'.  But, he is absolutely my favorite person/place/thing ever. 

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week… We are officially into our ten day inspection period on the farmhouse.  We  have a family friend that is a general contractor,  he will be going through it with Tony sometime this week.  We will also be having the septic pumped and inspected.  I am really looking forward to spending more time over there. 
Here is picture thought I am sharing…Sammy's Slash impression! LOL!

Friday, April 8, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Visit Soulemama  for more!

Tea Party!

    Abigail had a beautiful tea party for her 14th birthday.  It was a formal tea at a lovely local tea house.  She was joined by all four of her younger sisters,  her Grandmother,  a dear new friend  and her mother, and myself.  It was a lovely afternoon!

Seating began promptly at 2 o'clock.  We arrived a bit early and waited on the front porch.

We first visited the quaint gift shop.


We were then seated at our table in the window.

The Girls!

 The Birthday Girl!

And her sisters:



Molly made new friends and joined them for dessert!


Greta loved the food:

Especially Abby's cheesecake!

And mostly the tea!
We arrived home happy,  full, and pleasantly tired!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rendering Lard

Lard is what   you have after cooking down the fat from a pig.   Some dear friends of ours raised a pig for us over the winter.  They live on a small farm about an hour north of us.  When I called my cutting order in when the pig was butchered,  I asked them to bag up the leftover fat.   I got about fifteen pounds of fat.  It takes a little over a pound of fat to make a pint of lard. 

Here is the fat:
I  used half of this fat and stored the other half in the freezer.  

First I cut the fat into roughly one inch cubes:

I then put all of the cut up piggy fat into my biggest cast iron kettle:

I added one cup of water to help prevent scotching,  turned the flame to medium,  and waited and watched.  After about an hour I could see the fat beginning to turn a pale brown and  start to render:

Another hour:

After another hour of watching, waiting, and stirring,  with an adorable baby on my hip:

It looked like this:

When I do this again,  I will stop here and call it done.  Everything I read said to wait until the cracklings (those hunks of brown fat you see there on the top) sink to the bottom.  When they began to sink:

I thought it looked like it was beginning to scorch,  and it smelled vaguely of burnt bacon.  I cooked it down a bit too long.  Live and learn, right?  While I drained the cracklings from the lard:

I prepared my canning jars.  I put the rings and lids in a stainless steel bowl and poured boiling water from the tea kettle over them:

I did the same thing with the jars, then setting them on a rack to cool:

I then poured the rendered lard into the jars and capped them tightly.  The heat from the lard was enough for them to seal on their own.

We wanted to keep the cracklings for cornbread,  but they were just too well done.  I then washed the dishes and had a glass of wine:

And in the morning,  we had eight pints of freshly rendered lard!