Monday, June 26, 2017

Kid Jokes-- Gotta Love 'Em

When you have little kids and they hear other people tell jokes, it naturally follows that, although they don't usually understand the jokes, they want to tell their own to make people laugh. We get a lot of that going on around here.

Sometimes I fake a laugh for their benefit. Other times I laugh hysterically for real just because they are so absurd. It's either that or cry. And after about twenty gazillion non-jokes told by several preschoolers at once, crying is an option.

So here is one the 3-year-old told in the van last week:

What did the tomato say to the deer?


And not to be outdone, the 5-year-old followed up with this good one:

What did the triangle say to the dot?

Better stay on the dotted line!


I laughed hysterically. I may have banned all joking from the van after the next 17 jokes were told, but I laughed.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gardens & Pepperoni Rolls

We planted our big garden a little later than we normally do, but we already have a bumper crop. It’s far too early for tomatoes, but at least all the plants are still alive. The pepper plants, too, have adapted nicely to the northeast corner of the garden. The beans are just popping out of the ground along with the popcorn, sunflowers, and a few pumpkin seeds.

Tomato and pepper plants waiting to be planted

So what could we be harvesting so soon? Well, for starters, rocks. We have so many rocks that we can’t pick them all. The children and I have removed buckets and buckets of rocks of all varieties-- big and small and all sizes in between. Sometimes we discover a piece of glass or metal or a fossil. Once my eldest even found an arrowhead. But always there are more and more rocks. 

From the middle. . . See the rocks popping up?

Our rock pile. . . all from the garden

This past week we had rain, and that means our next crop will soon be ready for picking. Tiny weeds are coming up everywhere. I’ve already pulled out wild brambles, milkweed shoots, indian hemp, crabgrass, and prickly horse nettle. I don’t know the names of all the weeds, but I attack them all equally.

Of course, if I could conquer the rocks and weeds, I would still have to contend with the critters. The deer have already nibbled some corn, and the guineas have dusted themselves in a hill of squash. Who knows what the bear will do when the pumpkins and melons get big.

From the zucchini hill corner

Sometimes I wonder, with all the hard work we put into our garden in the hottest weather of the year, why we even bother with it at all. In the end, I find my garden is like childbirth. When all is said and done, and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor by biting into a perfectly ripened tomato or by watching the kids spitting watermelon seeds, all the hard work and rocks and weeds are just a distant memory. The reward is so great that I’ll gladly do it again.


Like my current garden, this week’s recipe has no vegetables. I’ll make no promises that pepperoni rolls are healthy, but unlike gardening, it’s easy, especially if you buy frozen bread dough. It’s a perfect grab-and-go meal or snack.

Best of all, there are so many variations that it’s really hard to mess up. Use whatever type or amount of pepperoni you want in each roll and make each roll the size you want them to be. Because variations in size change baking times, the biggest danger is letting the pepperoni rolls burn, so keep an eye on them.

Pepperoni Rolls

bread dough, store-bought or homemade
pepperoni (slices, sticks, or chunks)
melted butter

If you make your own bread dough, allow dough to rise once before shaping pepperoni rolls. If you buy frozen bread dough, follow package directions for thawing and rising. Tear off the amount of dough you wish to work with and roll it out with a rolling pin (or just smash it into a rough circle with your hands). Lay pepperoni out on bread dough and roll the dough up, jelly-roll style. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal and lay the rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375℉ and bake pepperoni rolls for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. When you remove the rolls from the oven, brush immediately with melted butter.

*This column ran in the Hancock News on June 21, 2017 (without pictures and captions).
**This post was shared at Strangers & Pilgrims at Home for The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Coop Addition

We've had a growing problem with our guinea coop. The original design had water dripping down on the walls, and the walls weren't the best building material. It resulted in rotting walls with holes.

Rotten old holes!

We decided to plan our coop renovation to coincide with a visit from my in-laws because my father-in-law is handy-dandy at building things. So the demolition and building commenced.

Look, Ma, no walls!

Legs and ladders

Framing almost done

Look at that nail!

You might wonder what's so special about that nail. Well, when I went outside once to check on progress, my son had to show it to me because he hammered in THAT nail. That's why it's a special nail.

Just about done

So, after lots of nails and ladders (and boys feeling big on ladders), the coop is bigger and better. It isn't yet complete. It needs to be painted, and my husband wants to fix the roosts on the inside. But now it has a shiny, new roof and more ventilation. 

It can be our retirement home one day!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Purple Profusion Plus

I can't help but love when my clematis blooms. I admire it while I'm washing dishes since it's right outside my kitchen window. I also love the rustic trellis my husband made for me for the clematis.

But that's not all! There's more purple in my front flower bed. The bees are also buzzing around the lavender.

But that's not all!  I also have yellow! I think these butter and eggs might be a wild flower, but I like them. So when they found their way into my flower bed, I let them stay.

But that's not all! I don't even know what this yellow flower is, but it's also growing beautifully. I even took a picture of it to share with you. 

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual stroll through some of the growing things in my rather unkempt and haphazard flower beds.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Five on Friday

I've had so much going on lately that I have way too much for just one post! I'll just have to break things up over several posts.

1.  Outside Tunes. We used our Sam's Club points to buy this outdoor speaker about a month ago, and we are pleased. It made some hard work a little easier and a fire pit cookout a little more relaxing. If you're wondering what we listen to, my current favorite is a CD called Southern Family.

Outdoor speaker + iPod= Good times

2. Guineas. These guineas, delicious as their fresh eggs are, are the source of much work lately-- fixing their coop, attempting to barricade growing things from their attack, chasing them out of the garden. . . 

You talkin' to me?

. . . but they have now also become a source of a small amount of income. All the guinea feathers I had listed on my Etsy shop have sold out. I have more feathers to list, but I haven't had a chance to take pictures yet. Just to make things clear, the small amount of income does not even approach the amount we've put into taking care of them.

All the same, I'd do it again. I really enjoy watching those loud, funny-looking squawkers.

3.  Orange Sticks. What in the world are those kids up to now? Why would I allow them to put sticks in the backyard and spray paint them orange?!

Stick in the ground

Well, it turns out the kids didn't do it. The fellows who will be building a new addition onto the parsonage (if the permit stuff with the county ever works out!) measured and plotted out the limits of what will become some new space in our home. There are bumps right now in the permit process, so plans are going to change a bit. I'm sure there will be plenty of updates here in the next year.

4.  Toilet Paper Tubes. Yes. I did list toilet paper tubes on my Etsy shop. Can you believe people buy them? Well, they do, and it makes sense, especially if you consider classroom teachers (art teachers) needing hundreds of them all at once. 

Do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph a big pile of inviting toilet paper tubes without having a 3-year-old boy in the picture? I finally managed to get a few shots. Barely.

Brown cardboard tubes, tied up with string. . . 

5. Children in Church. I appreciated the article, "Children, Too, are Part of the Church," which can be found at Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife. It underscores what I have learned about children in church since I've had my own children.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Funerals, Friends, & Food

A friend of ours from church passed away recently. In the parking lot at the viewing, we bumped into acquaintances we hadn’t talked to for a month of Sundays. So with the kids whooping and hollering in the van, we took the time to catch up with each other. It was nice.

The next day, after the funeral, I heard other mourners say things to each other like, “It’s so good to see you again. It’s a shame it has to be under these circumstances. We shouldn’t wait for times like this to get together.”

I know I’ve heard sayings like that at about every funeral I’ve ever attended. And it’s true. We really should take more time to maintain our relationships with people we care about.

But each day only has 24 hours. For most of us, that amount of time is not nearly enough to eat, sleep, do the dishes, walk the dog, and keep up with everybody we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Unfortunately that means some friendships take a backseat to the normal demands of daily living.

Even those I call my best friends don’t get the attention they deserve. Birthdays go by without cards or phone calls. I can’t remember their children’s ages without doing some major mental calculations. I have no clue if a beloved pet dies or what kind of cars they drive. It’s been years since I’ve seen them.

That doesn’t mean that our treasured friends aren’t important. For one, what would a funeral be like without them? Most funerals are still, even with our faith and family close by to lean on, downright sad. Now add in the delight of chatting with a long-lost friend or your second cousin from across the country; such meetings are gifts from God that distract us from our sadness and remind us of the joys of this life.

When I was a girl, we sang the song, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold.” I loved that song then because I loved my friends. Now that I’m older, I love it for the simple truth it contains. Old or new, distant or near, neglected or well-maintained, friendships are precious indeed.


When we first moved here, there were several deaths in the congregation with dinners that followed the funeral. During that first year at those dinners, I learned to absolutely love one lady’s pizza potatoes. At the recent funeral, she made them again, and I wasn’t the only person drooling. I’m lucky enough to have the recipe to share with you, but I must warn you: I’m pretty convinced that while the recipe is good, nobody will ever make them quite as good as my friend does!

Pizza Potatoes

1 pkg. scalloped potatoes
1 (16 oz.) can whole tomatoes (Home-canned are even better!)
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. oregano leaves
1 (4 oz.) pkg. sliced pepperoni
1 (4 oz.) pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 400℉. Empty potato slices and package of seasoned sauce mix into ungreased 2 quart casserole. Heat tomatoes, water, and oregano to boiling. Stir into the  potatoes. Arrange pepperoni on top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Serves 4.

Variation: You can make Hamburger Pizza Potatoes-- substitute 1/2 pound ground beef, browned and drained, for pepperoni; stir into potato mixture. Or for Sausage Pizza Potatoes, substitute 1/2 pound pork sausage, browned and drained; stir into potato mixture.

*This column ran in The Hancock News on June 7, 2017.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Five on Friday on Time

1. Summer Reading Program. Our library's summer reading program started yesterday. We all get into this because the special programming at the library is fun, the prizes are fun, and we think reading is fun.

2. Walks With Luther. On Wednesday the kids and I were finally able to join my husband for his Walks With Luther devotions for church. Basically we all meet at a park in town, my husband prepares a few quotations from Martin Luther and reads a Martin Luther devotion. After a final prayer, we all walk for a bit on the rail trail. This time we tasted some honeysuckle.

3. Funeral. Tuesday our family went to the funeral home for a viewing. Wednesday was the funeral and dinner afterwards. It was a busy day, but it felt good to be able to support the family of the deceased because they are so special to us.

4. Crash. My second son crashed his bike yesterday, and it was a gross scrape. I managed to hold it together to clean it out. He did even better; he was calm, cool, and collected. Impressive. Even more impressive is that he wants to get back on the bike.

5. First Sale. Or should I say, "FIRST SALE!"  because that's how I felt on Wednesday night after we got the kids in bed late and I checked my email. I finally sold something on my Etsy shop. A most wonderful person from New Jersey bought some of the guinea feathers. 

The feathers all wrapped up

Late into the night I worked to do the whole Etsy shipping thing and to package up the feathers. It's not that hard, but it was the first time and I had to figure things out. 

After this first sale, I've almost broken even with all the listing fees so far. This $3 sale is not making me a millionaire, but it did feel nice.