Monday, July 31, 2017

Five on Friday (on Monday)

I've missed these posts, so here goes:

1.  Blog for Boys by Boys. My older boys have started a blog called Basically 4 Boys. They anticipate when their little brother can help them out (the 4 part). They want to post book reviews and Legos and whatever their hearts desire. If you have a boy who might like reading, here it is!

2.  Lovely Poem. A blog I read had a lovely poem about reading books. If you're a book lover, check it out.

3.  Funny Book Review. If you have children and have read the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? about a gazillion times, you will appreciate this review on Amazon.

4.  Those Stinking' Deer. My beans can't catch a break. Nor the pumpkins/squash. This culprit was caught in the act by my husband's game cam Saturday night. Today I plan to coat every plant in the garden with spray the deer supposedly don't like. This is on top of the most hillbilly-looking fence ever and noise traps. It seems like at least half of our garden work this year is trying to keep the deer out!

Time stamp is wrong; we figured it was closer to midnight.

5.  Beautiful Creation. My Etsy shop has been selling more supplies than finished projects, and it's neat to see what some people are making. For example, the talented lady at Thy Beautiful Self made a beautiful wedding bouquet with some of our guinea feathers:

Guinea feathers are the black ones with white spots

She also makes handmade beauty products including a natural insect repellent I'm interested in (the gnats have been so bad in the garden this year!).

And if you're wondering about the toilet paper tubes I told you about earlier, I have sold two batches already. I know the first batch was earmarked to make toys for rescue birds. I love it when buyers show me the cool things they're making.

It's time for breakfast, and the workers outside are already at work. That's my cue to stop typing!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Building Project-- Day 24, 25, & 26

And the rain came.

But first the floor joists were finished (I think).  Unfortunately, you can't see them because everything was quickly covered up as the rain began.

And we had inches of rain on top of that! Later that night, we heard two little frogs croaking to each other right outside the living room window. I turned the outside lights on and saw one of them sitting there on the tarp, throat bulging as he sang his song. 

Saturday and Sunday (Day 25 & 26) are days off (even if folks came by to make sure we didn't have a swimming pool).

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Need to Connect & Peachy German Pancakes

I have a problem; I love talking too much. I go on and on, and when I wear out the ears of those who know and put up with me, I move on to strangers.

Yes, I’m one of those people who can’t seem to keep her mouth shut in a doctor’s office or in the line at the bank. I have no idea why I feel compelled to open my mouth and start rambling on. I know some people consider it rude, but I just can’t stop myself. I guess I have a need to connect with people.

Recently my talking-to-strangers problem has taken a turn for the worse. Now I’m feeling the urge to write letters to strangers. I have a mental list of unsolicited letters I want to write, and the list keeps growing.

Some of the people are actually companies. For example, quite a while ago we bought a giant-sized jar of Nutella at one of those club stores. It was a treat for sure, but the design of the jar made it nearly impossible to get all the chocolate-hazelnut goodness scraped out.  For years I’ve wanted to write a letter and suggest redesigning the shape of the jar, but I’ve managed to keep silent.

Sometimes I want to write thank you letters to strangers, but most of those would be undeliverable:  “Dear sympathetic-looking lady behind me in the grocery check-out line-- Thank you for smiling in what I took to be an encouraging way when my children were fighting over who got to put the frozen peas on the conveyor belt. It made life a little easier.”

And while I’m not normally hung up on celebrities, I might actually write a letter to Ree Drummond, a blogger and television cooking show host better known as Pioneer Woman. You see, I watch her show on Saturday mornings, and occasionally some of the children stick around after cartoons to watch with me. But my little Molly always watches with me; she loves Pioneer Woman.

Last fall on vacation, we happened to be driving through Pioneer Woman’s part of Oklahoma when her new store was opening, so we planned a quick stop. However, when we drove into town, the line for the store was blocks long. With road-weary, tired, and hungry kids in the van, I settled for taking pictures out the window as we drove past. But my normally jolly and easy-going Molly cried tears of bitter disappointment for a long time, and my heart broke.

Long line

Another long line

I’m hoping that if I write a letter and ask, Pioneer Woman might send Molly a birthday card this year, thus assuaging my guilt over causing my little girl to shed so many tears.

The other kind of letter I write looks more like a column in a newspaper. I don’t start it out with, “Dear Reader,” but those of you who take the time to read my ramblings are dear to me. Thank you for reading the words I feel the need, for some inexplicable reason, to write to strangers.


It’s been peachy around our house since we took a trip to an orchard last week. We didn’t buy enough peaches to can or dry, but I did freeze a few. Mostly we’ve just been eating them fresh; they were especially nice atop this German pancake at breakfast. If you don’t have peaches, top the pie-like slices of pancake with other fresh fruit, cooked apples, or syrup.

This recipe doubles (or, for my family, quadruples) easily. Just increase the size of the skillet you use; you may also need to adjust the baking times accordingly.

German Pancake

1/2 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 425℉ and warm the iron skillet in the oven while making the pancake batter.

Beat together flour, eggs, milk, salt, and sugar either by hand or with a mixer. A few lumps are okay. 

Remove the skillet from the oven and add the butter to the hot skillet. When the butter is melted, pour the pancake batter into the skillet. Bake for 12-18 minutes or until the pancake is set in the middle. Cut into slices and serve with your favorite topping.

*This column ran in the Hancock News on July 26, 2017 (without pictures and captions).
**This post has been shared at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth for The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

Building Project- Day 23

With The Inspector's approval of the foundation, work on building could commence.

First, we need some materials to build. And what is that coming up the driveway? Is that a new piece of machinery that we haven't seen yet?

Hmmm. . . 

Could that be. . . ?  Yes, I think it is a. . . 


The forklift delivered all sorts of wood and wood product which, at the end of the day, needed to be covered by large tarps since we keep hearing about inches and inches of rain about to fall on us. (Please, rain, please don't split my tomatoes!)

Once the materials were delivered, much work was done. Many kids were thrilled to help carry wood and other small tasks. The nail gun was introduced to the project. And, in the end, we had some floor joists!

The rain isn't here yet, so the work has begun this morning. I can't wait to see the progress today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Building Project-- Day 22

Yesterday was some work in the morning and then hours of just waiting on The Inspector to arrive. He finally arrived while the kids and I were out at the library and park, and he left his special approval sticker.

After that, a flurry of backhoe and shovel activity ensued, and the rest of the moat around the house was filled in. I wasn't watching it all, but in the end, there are no more big piles of dirt and gravel in the backyard. 

My son was kind enough to take pictures of the end product. Since he took about another bazillion pictures of the backhoe (again), I feel obliged to include at least one.

See that white PVC pipe in there? That's required to remove radon gas-- something new since the parsonage was built back in 2000.

Now for me, it's early, and I need to get out to the garden to get some work done before it rains today!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Building Project-- Day 21

Day 21 saw dump truck and backhoe action.

Dumping some larger gravel

Some gravel with the drainage tile

Some drainage away from the foundation (already covered with dirt)

What it looks like down in the ditch

And today? Today is The Inspector!

I should note that a lot of the work isn't captured in pictures. I mean, who wants to see somebody frustrated on the phone trying to get the right person to answer?  I wasn't really there when paperwork had to be filled out for purchasing things for the church. And all this building means more bills, bills, bills to pay. Thank you to all the behind-the-scenes workers!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Building Project- Day 19 & 20

Sunday was a day of rest around here. For me, that meant a nap. For the carpenters, that meant no work!

Yesterday (Monday) was a messy-ish day. There was some more mortar mixed (and the kids helped), and some blocks were cut and others built up just-so in order to hold the big support beams (I'm guessing).

Then came the messiest part of the day-- tar! That was sprayed on the outside of the blocks.

Next-- The Inspector! He might be coming today. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Building Project-- Day 17 & 18

On Friday, the block work was finished, and doesn't it look nice?

On Saturday, our carpenters came and checked out all the work. I didn't ask what was next, but I think The Inspector will be coming this week-- yikes!

Also, I'm pretty sure this coiled up black stuff will be the star of the building show for at least part of a day.

We've had a lot of heavy rain over the weekend, so I'm not sure if that will mess up the work that needs done. At least our garden is liking the moisture!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Building Project- Day 16

Yesterday was a hot, hot day. I have no idea how these men moved so many blocks in such a hot day. Did I mention it was hot?

Anyway, the masons began their work early, and it didn't take long for them to get an impressive amount of work done. My family was also impressed by how skillfully they worked. Especially noted was how quickly and perfectly and neatly they slopped on the mortar. It wasn't long until our pit in the backyard looked like this:

After lots of lifting, moving, mortaring(?), breaking rocks, and so on, the foundation for our new addition looked like this.

It isn't finished yet, but wow! It went fast!

This last picture I took because those orderly rows of bricks looked so nice and clean and just right; I liked the pattern.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Building Project- Day 14 & 15

I expected Day 14 to be quiet, but we had a visitor-- the guy from the brick supply company. I didn't get a picture, but let me tell you, this guys knows his stuff. In less than 5 minutes, his work was done. He told me that we had Continental-something-something brick with something-something mortar. I couldn't take it all in and commit it to memory, but he said that our brick was made in Martinsburg, WV. He knew this all just from looking. He has some serious skills.

Moving on to Day 15. Mr. Powell, the mason, came by early to meet the delivery of blocks. He waited and waited and waited. After waiting for more than an hour, the lost delivery man finally found his way here. I was weeding in the garden at the time, so I didn't see the blocks being unloaded. When I did make it inside, I asked if my son was taking pictures for me. He wasn't, but he ran and got the camera.

Truck with a crane/forklift thing to unload blocks

It must take some serious skills to operate that piece of machinery, right?

Check out that remote control!

My daughter has those skills!  I couldn't believe it when I saw who was moving the forklift-crane around. After unloading the blocks, the truck driver asked the kids if they wanted to maneuver the fork back on the truck. My daughter did a great job as you can see in the picture below.

By the end of the day, a load of sand was dumped, and this mortar mixer (?) was dropped off. It's all ready for foundation work to begin today. (In fact, as I type this before 6:15 a. m., workers are already here.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Personal Building Projects

Now that school is done for the summer (basically), I am getting to some projects that I've wanted to do and some things that are just fun for me.

Last week I saw a recipe for Phillie Cheesesteak sloppy joes that I wanted to try. The recipe suggested serving them up on brioche buns. So while the sloppy joes were okay, I really got a kick out of making brioche buns. The dough had such a different texture; it took lots of butter and egg yolks. I loved it, and I'll definitely be experimenting with it in the future.

Brioche dough

And that's the end of any cooking triumph for the week.

See these blackberries and raspberries? 

I cooked them down for some puree for blackberry ice cream which we churned and churned and churned to no avail. We were all sorely disappointed when we had to pour the still-liquid ice cream into a container and then into the freezer. The next day, we did enjoy the ice cream, but it wasn't as amazing as I wanted it to be. 

But the recipe did call for a lot of egg yolks. So there were lots of egg whites leftover from the ice cream and brioche dough. And you know what? I've been wanting to try to make an angel food cake for my entire adult life, so it seemed the logical choice.

And you know what? It flopped.

Literal flop

Once again, another disappointment. It wasn't horrible tasting, but it was a little eggy tasting and maybe undercooked slightly? I'm not sure because it was so cooked that I couldn't tell if it was undercooked or not. 

Now, moving on from food creations. How about repurposed food container creations?

Ain't this feller cute? The kids and I made him to be noisy in our garden; we want to keep away the deer who munched on some squash a few nights ago. Each and every child contributed in some way, and I think, whether or not he keeps the deer away, he's a success. He's so cute in the garden!

In the garden with Sideling Hill as a backdrop

And speaking of the garden, we've been working hard out there to rescue the veggies from weeds and deer. And by hard, I mean stained hands and sweat-dripping-from-my-nose hard. And there's still more work to do. And that means I need to get off this computer and get to it!

View of the garden's crooked center path

*This post has been shared at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth for The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Building Project- Day 13

As expected, the weekend was quiet on the building front, so we skip Day 11 & 12.

Bright and early on Monday, we heard workers. This is what they were up to.

Removing fill and spreading "dust"(looks like teeny-tiny gravel to me)

For those of you who love picture books, you can see that our Jimmy is way smarter than Mike Mulligan; he has a ramp to get in and out of the hole.

They finished with this spreading quite early, but the fellows came back later with the mason and painted up all kinds of markings. Bricks come on Wednesday with foundation work to begin on Thursday.

End of the day picture

And my son thought we needed another backhoe picture. 😃

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Building Project- Day 10

For the record, I was expecting Friday to be a quiet day on the building front because I knew they were letting the footers set for a few days. I knew the workers would be back on Monday to remove the extra fill from the hole and to spread some gravel or something around in there.

But if you know Jimmy, you know that Jimmy gets the job done. So Jimmy brought two loads of the tiny gravel/dust stuff that they'll be spreading.

And that was the end of the work day.

Or was it?

Actually, during supper clean-up we were visited by the mason who will be laying the foundation. He and his wife were driving around, and he decided he wanted to see what he was getting himself into. He was only here for a short time, but he seemed like a nice fellow to have in charge. (He was also the man who did the work on this parsonage when it was built back in 2000.)

And that really was the end of the "work" for day 10.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Building Project- Day 9

Well, The Inspector came while I was in the shower and left this little treat.

A sticker!

We got his seal of approval, and I didn't even get to see if he was evil or menacing. Humph. But I can see by the little boxes on the sticker that I can get myself worked up in a tizzy plenty more times during this project.

So we figured that was the end of the day since the concrete wasn't supposed to come until Friday. But, lo! Is that a pink concrete mixer truck coming up the drive?

I think it's pink.

Much excitement bubbled up among the kids (and grown-ups!). We were able to confirm that this was indeed a pink concrete mixer truck. Fancy. 

I'll bet this is the pinkest concrete mixer you've ever seen.

Then the work began. To me, it looked like back-breaking work with all the bending over. The good news was that it was soon done.

Footers poured? Check.

And that was the end of Day 9 (Thursday).