Fresh Start

It’s been so long since I last posted. There’s no use in trying to catch up.  We’ll just consider this post a fresh start.

Josh got me a pre-loved Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas and I’ve been trying to perfect my recipes and finally found my favorite.

Appalachia Homestead’s Ultimate Bread Recipe

Good, but nothing spectacular.

Julia Child’s Sandwich Bread Recipe

Rose up nice, but bland.

And the winner…Scratch With Sandy’s Amish White Bread Recipe

Ahhhhhmazing!

The first time I made the Amish White bread, I kept exactly true to the recipe and then brushed the tops with honey butter. ::drool emoji::

The second time I attempted it with half the sugar and it’s still REALLY good. I also took the second loaf and stuffed it with a cinnamon raisin butter sugar mixture.  It didn’t hold together well but tastes so, so, so….good!  I will perfect my methods on that one, but I definitely feel like this is a versatile base recipe.

Monty agrees.

I honestly don’t think I will buy store bought bread ever again.

In other food related news…

I started a lettuce mix in the cold frame in October and it is doing amazing! It has made it through snow and temps down into the single digits. All thanks to a little scrap wood and an old window.

It’s now double this size and we’re harvesting for salads.

I’m also already starting seeds indoors for the gardens and prepping new areas to plant.

Onions and celery, neither of which I’ve ever grown but am really excited for.

Tiny onion sprouts that make me so, so happy. In February as I dream about a bountiful garden I just go in the “grow room” and stare at my seedlings. And it’s so exciting when you see noticeable changes. Josh loves it when I make him stare at mostly inanimate objects.

We still have the chickens and are getting more than enough eggs!  At times we’ve had over 7 dozen eggs in the house.

It’s been a terrible flu season so I made my own elderberry syrup.

None of us have gotten the flu, just some congestion and sinus stuff here and there.  Nolan got a cough and I gave him an elderberry and honey cough syrup (not this one, the one by Zarbees) and he got over it way faster than the norm.

Okay, so that it’s not all about food/ingestibles…

Nolan participated in his first Pinewood Derby this past weekend!

He’s a Lion Cub, which is a new Den they added last year and it’s kinda like an intro to Scouting. Below is a little collage of videos and pictures taken of his car during the race.

He ended up winning his Den!

And also, this picture below makes my heart hurt a little. Such a big boy! Conversing and hanging out with the older kids like it’s nothing.

Well, that’s it for this update.  I’ll do my best to keep it more current. Thanks for reading. For your reward, here’s a cute picture loving on his dog.

Little Bites

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and I’ve already told 90% of my friends this story, but I want it recorded for posterity.


Nolan made me a Mother’s Day place mat at school that had his hand print on it. On each finger was a picture of his face.

He was very excited to show it to me and said “Look…in the pictures, I’m wearing glasses, no glasses, glasses, no glasses, glasses…that’s a pattern!”

I said, “Yep! That’s an alternating pattern.”

We then moved on with our conversation and I asked him about his birthday. He said, “Mom, can I have presents this year?” (Last year family got him presents but we asked friends who attended the party to bring donations for the food bank, instead.)

I told him that he would still get presents from family, but he didn’t need a bunch more presents from other people.

He thought for a moment and then said, “But, Mom…I want to do a pattern…presents, no presents, PRESENTS!”

All I could do is laugh. Touché!

Daddy’s Girl

I’ve had a bit of a revelation recently. I’m a little like my Dad. I doubt many of you reading this have any idea what this means or why that’s surprising.

He died 9 years ago and I maybe saw him once every year or two in the 5 years after I left college, which was when I lived closer to him than I had since I was 8 when my parents divorced. Some years before the divorce, maybe 5 or 6, we had moved out to a house on 18 acres and a pond in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. As it turned out, my introverted mother didn’t like being 30+ minutes from “town” (whoda thunk?). It wasn’t the sole cause of their marital demise, of course, but didn’t help.

I have terrible long-term memory but I recall him growing vegetables and such. We had cows, but they weren’t ours as we leased our land to someone else for them to graze.

After the divorce he tried gardening again at a different property (6 acres) and he had blueberry bushes, as well.

Remind you of anyone?

He was a very intelligent man and would get really into various things only to lose interest at some point.  After gardening came fish (tanks everywhere!) and then “collecting” (he even opened up an antiques shop after retiring from teaching).

I may have some tendencies that way (knitting, anyone?),  though I don’t think gardening is going to be one of those things. I just get so much satisfaction from growing a little food and raising our own egg chickens.

But yeah, it’s funny how as you get older you start to see your parents in yourself (I’ve got my mom’s hands and her preference for quiet and solitude). As a parent, we want to see that we’ve made an impact, but I think we always want our kids to do just a little better than we did.

I imagine my dad is rooting on my gardening ventures and my mom is proud that I’ve been able to cultivate a village of friends, something that was always a challenge for her.

I hope and pray that wherever life takes, Nolan, he’ll do even better.

Nolan’s Birthday Party

Nolan requested a construction cake for his 3rd birthday.  I wasn’t planning on following that theme much past the cake and invitation.

(click to enlarge)

NolanThirdBirthdayInviteblurred.fwWe were already renting an inflatable water slide and having the Kona Ice Truck come.  Back when I rented it the slide, it was super hot so I figured August would be even hotter.  It wasn’t. For the third year in a row it was only like 80…85.  I guess I need to face facts that his late August birthday means early fall around here.

Anyway, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of $ on decorations, too, but I managed to do up the theme a little more without spending a lot.  I printed signs for the tables and to direct people to the bathrooms.

DumpGifts.fw(gift table)

Refuel.fw(drinks table)

DigIn.fw(food table)

Tools.fw(utensils)

RestroomRight.fw(obviously)

The only other things I did was pick up a few balloons on Amazon and some Construction Zone tape.

We had just finished the deck the weekend before (that’s another post) so we had all this dirt around the base of it.  At the last minute I gathered up all his construction toys/trucks and put them in the dirt.  It cost me NOTHING and was one of the highlights of the party.  In fact, Nolan preferred this to the slide, only sliding twice the whole day (after the water was turned on).

We had a large invite list so I ended up just ordering pizza.  It was by far the most cost effective approach.  Chips, pizza and drinks. I meant to put out watermelon but forgot.  I found three watermelons in my fridge after the party was over. Whoops. We ended up having a second gathering on his actual birthday to “clean out” our fridge before we left for Vegas.

I know that I go way over the top for his birthday, but I really enjoy planning it and designing the invitations.  I love having people over and since my birthday is just 4 days before his, I figure it’s my birthday party, too.

I was super proud of his cake.  He requested a construction cake and I recreated one off Pinterest.

This is the pic I took right when it was done.

20150821_212357-1-1This is the one the photographer took the day of.  It slid back a little bit as you can see, but nothing major.

nolanis3-129The kids LOVED it! They all gathered around and started playing with the trucks. ha.

nolanis3-144So, all in all it was definitely a success and I can’t wait until next year.  Who knows what we’ll come up with.

Below is a slideshow of the pictures from our photographer, KT Nichols.

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And here is a video of him getting his “big” present.  Thank goodness for Craigslist.