Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

To everybody who finds a way to this tiny corner of the blogosphere, may you all have a delightfully merry Christmas. And should you be in a decidedly un-merry situation, may the One Whose birth we celebrate grant you His peace and comfort.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Breakfast Talk

Overheard at the breakfast table today:

"When in doubt, eat scrapple."

Enough said.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Saturday Morning

We are having a slow Saturday, and it feels good!  What does it look like?

For my husband it looks like this:

For me, it looks like making muffins, folding laundry, washing dishes, and putting up a new shower curtain.

For my children it looks like an Advent project, playing house, reading stories, making yogurt, and listening to 8-tracks.

I hope your Saturday is just as cozy.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Fashion Commentary

Today my daughter and I were going through a closet full of my mother's clothing. While some of the items brought memories, others provoked comments from my daughter which made me chuckle because I am a child of the 80s/90s.

First garment to receive her scrutiny was one of my mother's dresses: "Are these shoulder pads?" Yes, oh, yes, my daughter. Shoulder pads. Did anybody actually like shoulder pads? (I hated them and usually cut them out.)

The second item was a t-shirt. Daughter said, "What color is that?" It was neon green. Or neon yellow. Is there a difference?

I know fashion seems to repeat itself, but I will not cry one single tear if shoulder pads and bright neons escape the fashion cycle.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Gratitude List 2019

I need an attitude adjustment. The holiday season begins this week, and instead of facing it with a pumpkin spice latte in one hand and a frosted sugar cookie in the other, I’m dreading the whole thing. You see, my mother passed away in September.

Those of you who have lost a mother will likely understand the difficulty of putting into words how I’ve felt since then. It’s an actual physical ache somewhere near my heart that only goes away fully with sleep. Who would have guessed that every last thing in the world reminds me of my mother and my loss and my sorrow?

But that’s not what Thanksgiving is about. Enter my old and neglected friend, my yearly gratitude list. Maybe a little gratitude can change my attitude. I’ll give it a try for 2019.

I’m grateful that my daughter thinks it is disgusting when people bite their toenails. That my son thinks technology is interesting and fun; you should see the the digital doohickeys he creates for my online shop. That another son attempts to keep me on track at the Friday night auctions so I don’t do something stupid like accidentally bid on rusty old c-clamps. 

I’m grateful for little boys who whisper big dreams of playing in the NFL before drifting off to sleep. I think I’m thankful that diaper days are over. And for my “baby” who at the age of four can do so many big-girl things on her own but who still wants me to help her sometimes. Being needed feels good.

I’m thankful when people apologize to those they hurt, even when the hurt was accidental. Sincere apologies do make a difference.

I’m grateful for Jane Austen’s novels that I binge-read this summer; if I had read them in junior high, I would’ve ditched New Kids on the Block for Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley. Also I’m grateful for my lovely oldest daughter who encourages me to watch movies based on Austen’s novels.

I’m grateful for my mother-in-law’s homemade tomato soup which she continues to make for others despite the fact that eating tomato products puts blisters in her mouth. For dark chocolate, for Earl Grey tea, for freshly ground coffee, and for any friend (or stranger) who supplies me with these indulgences.

I am thankful for emu oil and arch supports because arthritic feet are no fun.

The organist at our church has considerable skills; you should hear her play on Reformation Sunday! I’m thankful God gifted our congregation with her talents. And I’m thankful for my son’s beautiful singing voice; his strength of both voice and spirit lifted me up in some of my darkest hours.  Also for my youngest children who flock to me when I cry; how can concerned, loving little faces attached to hugging arms not bring joy?

For my sisters, I give thanks. Without them I’d feel so alone because only they understand my sadness completely. For Daddy who cared for my mother’s needs so well as her health failed. And for my mother because she taught us all how to love each other.

I’m thankful for the man who organizes all my messes, who entertains the children by playing video games when I need a nap, and who doesn’t flinch when I wipe my tears and my nose on his shirt. And babies! My niece is having one tomorrow, and I’m ecstatically thankful; every mourning family should have a new baby.

Mostly I’m thankful for a loving Father from whom all of these blessings flow. I sincerely wish for you all a happy Thanksgiving.


My Thanksgiving rolls are rising!

That gratitude list was long overdue. This recipe is years overdue; it’s been hanging on my kitchen cupboard since the last time I wrote a newspaper column. My friend from church shared it with me, and it is a versatile one—suitable for any holiday get-together. 

Quick Fruit Dessert

1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 can fruit filling

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the almond extract. Next mix in the flour and baking powder.

Butter a 9 x 13 inch cake pan and pour or turn mixture into pan. Spoon in the pie filling in 6 to 16 spots on top of mixture. 

Bake at 350℉ for 30 to 35 minutes or when none of the flour mixture comes out when you insert a toothpick. You may top this dessert with powdered sugar.

Recipe note: You may use only 2 eggs if that’s all you have, and either homemade or store-bought fruit filling will work. You may also add more flour if the consistency seems off.

**This column was printed in the November 27, 2019, issue of the Hancock News.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Puzzle Sale

We are back from vacation, and that means I need to put my nose to the grindstone with school and with my Etsy shop.

Something happened around August with Etsy that has caused me to have fewer sales. I also closed my shop in September because of my mother's illness and death, and that's never good for an online business.

So in an effort to jumpstart some business, I kicked off a sale on all of my puzzles-- 20% off until November 29th.

Who wouldn't want to piece this cute puzzle?

Aren't they adorable?

I'm also considering taking the plunge into social media to promote Sideling View Crafts. I've held off for quite some time because it isn't my "thing," but I think I'd like to try to step things up a bit in my shop. If that means stepping out of my comfort zone, then I might just need to do it.

What do you think? Any tips or ideas?

P. S. I updated some of my links because some shops have closed and some have changed names. Check them out because my friends might just have something you need to buy for a Christmas gift.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Official Heat Day 2019

Today-- Monday, November 4, 2019-- is the day you've all been waiting for-- Heat Day 2019! 

Yesterday it was a bit chilly in our house, but we didn't have to deal with the cold at night since we left for a quick overnight visit to my dad. When we returned this evening, it was too cold for me. If I hadn't felt like I might be coming down with something, I might have toughed it out for another day or so. 

But I'm not too disappointed since we made it into November. Is it November 23rd (our record)? No. And while I will forever harbor the dream of lasting until December, I think we all know that's unrealistic. 

Here's to waking up with toasty toes in the morning!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Quotation of the Day

In case you were wondering, my eldest daughter takes after me. This morning she said, "Ketchup is enough meat for me."

My sentiments exactly. Aren't french fries, after all, just edible spoons?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Four Birthday Cakes

We have finally wrapped up the fall birthday season. While I realize we still technically have 3 more birthdays this fall, they are more spaced out and only one is a kid's birthday. So that means it's time for a birthday cake post.

I have two disclaimers for those who haven't ever read my birthday cake posts. 1.) I am not a cake decorator, nor do I play one on television. I am a busy mom who strives to make cakes her kids like. This means my cakes look homemade and unprofessional.  2.) One of these cakes is not a cake because I let my children pick their birthday dessert. Usually it is cake, but sometimes we have different.

First up is the "not a cake." My new 12-year-old wanted ice cream sundaes for his birthday (which was on a Sunday!). We stuck candles in a bucket of ice cream, and began the melting process.

First "cake" was easy-peasy.

Re-lighting sparkler candles + ice cream = melting ice cream

The second birthday was just one day after the ice cream sundae one. We drove from home after the birthday party to my parents' house where I promptly went to the hospital and spent the evening there with my mother. Then I went back to my parents' house and baked cake. The decorating came the next morning because the new 4-year-old wanted to help.

Can you tell a 4-year-old decorated this?

My dear little daughter wanted "chocolate cake with sprinkles and chocolate chips," and I think we totally nailed it! 

Stunning side view
I did have to inform all the eaters of the cake about my little one's cake decorating method; after placing each chocolate chip on the side of the cake, she carefully licked the frosting off of her fingers. Such a hygienic child.

The third child was my new 14-year-old who ordered, "a chocolate cake." When asked to elaborate, he clarified that he wanted neither chocolate cake nor chocolate frosting. He further clarified that he wanted vanilla cake with green frosting and cherry, blueberry, and strawberry filling.

He was happy with homemade cherry filling. We also added a shimmering pool of homemade cherry filling on the top of the cake. The pictures don't do this "chocolate cake" justice. 

Do you see the shimmer?

A blurry picture showing the many layers with cherry filling

And finally, the new 6-year-old wanted a cake like his brother's from the previous year except with a "P" instead of an "N".  And blue instead of green.

One book cake coming right up!

Lovely antiqued pages

A spine which will make it easy to find on the shelf

And that wraps up our busy birthday season and its cakes. It was a bittersweet season since it surrounded my mother's death, and I was so thankful for the distraction of parties and the happiness of celebrations.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

In Case You Were Wondering. . .

We haven't turned our heat on yet. Last week we had one cold day and night when the wind was blowing. I got all worked up and actually wrote a game plan on our whiteboard because I did NOT want to capitulate earlier than last year (which happened to be today, October 22nd).

Yes. A game plan.

What is a game plan for the heat game? Well, I listed all the things we could do to warm up inside the house instead of turning on the heat. Baking squash, putting on more blankets and socks, and lighting candles all made the list. I won't even embarrass myself by listing out (for the whole world to read) all of my great ideas. Let it suffice to say that the entire whiteboard was covered.

So what did the kids do? They ran outside to play and left the door open. Seriously. Some of them didn't even wear a jacket. They did, however, like the baking cookies idea.

Since then, it hasn't felt too cold in here. I'm hopeful because we will have close to a gazillion guests at our house this weekend, and that means lots more body heat and lots of cooking heat.

I am soooooo prepared this year for my heat game. Anybody else playing along?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Five on Friday

1.  Things Kids Say, Part 1. After reading a fairytale ending picture book (at the got married and lived happily ever after part), my 4-year-old said, "I would punch him in the stomach!"

Surprised, I asked, "Why? Don't you want to get married when you're older?"

Her reply was, "When I get married, it will be to somebody who is nice and kind and drinks coffee with me!"

I can't say I don't agree with her.*

2.  Things Kids Say, Part 2. Let's go to the other end of the age spectrum. Overheard recently, "Great! My least favorite-- negative cosines!"

I can't say I don't agree with him, too.*

3.  Misheard Lyrics. I found out Sunday night, thanks to the display on our van's dash, that The Marshall Tucker Band sings the song "Heard It in a Love Song"-- which I always thought was "Purdy Little Love Song."

I was inexplicably so let down, disappointed, etc.

4. Black Beauty.  Although I used to watch the old tv series on Nickelodeon early in the morning when I was a kid, I'd never read the book. Since we own it, I thought several years ago I might use it as a read aloud, but somewhere on the great internet I read how snooze-worthy it was. It remained untouched by me until we chose it as a homeschool book club pick.

This week I picked up the book and enjoyed it. Was it my favorite book? No. Was it a little bit preachy? Yes. But still, it was enjoyable.

5. Random Picture. Because I think I'll never catch up on what I want to post on this blog, I'll throw in a random picture that's been waiting on the desktop.

Amazing lightning storm in summer

*Yes, these are things I wanted to share with my mother. I am so used to grabbing the phone when the kids say or do cute things. I don't think I'll be saying this with every blog post because 1) you'll think I'm depressed, 2) I want to focus on a few things that aren't tinged with sadness, and 3) it will get old real quick-- BUT there's a whole lot of sadness blanketed over everything for me right now. If I'm not missing my mother, I'm missing our dog Calvin. 

Sheesh. I can't stand it when life throws the bad things at you so fast. It was about 17 years ago that both of my grandmothers passed away on two consecutive days. Throw in a couple more deaths that year, and it was just no fun. 

So why am I telling you all this? Well, I guess I know life goes on. Somehow God will carry me through it all and fill me up with joy. Eventually. If you're in a similar situation in your life, hang in there; He won't fail us.

Monday, September 30, 2019

She Was the Best Mom

Last week my mother died. I'm not certain I really feel like writing much about it yet. September has been a blur of hospital, hospice, and loss.

And birthdays. September is always birthdays for us.

Birthday craziness

In the midst of death, life keeps marching on. I am trying to find my footing without this lovely lady.

I am thankful for many things during this time. My faith. Her faith. Family by birth. Family by baptism. Sleep. Kind words and cards. Silly children. Steadfast husband. Distracting birthdays. Pictures on the computer so I don't have to dig through shoeboxes.

I am thankful that I have no doubt whatsoever about what my mother felt about me. We were on good terms, and I have no "mommy issues."

My sweet little mommy loved me!

It is an understatement to say that I loved her and that my heart is breaking for missing her. 

If you can, give your own mother a hug or card or chocolate; you won't regret it ever.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Neglected Summer-- Reading

This was a summer of reading for me. I read more this summer than I have read (I'm guessing) for the past 10 summers combined. I guess that's what happens when your baby no longer wears diapers? I have had no time to take tons of pictures of my reading, but I do have a couple of pictures to share.

First, you should know that this was "The Summer of Jane Austen" for me. I read all the complete novels and thoroughly enjoyed each one for its own reasons. My favorite? I really don't know. I will have to read them all again, I guess.

Second, I read something completely out of my comfort zone. It was a book my husband was reading, and it was a mystery/detective novel. I also read another one by the same author. As I felt I was steeping myself in British literature this summer, this fit right in.

I think my favorite picture book of the summer involved the flower which is one of my favorites and, unarguably, my husband's very least favorite-- the dandelion. If you have a dandelion hater in your family, this is the picture book for you.

And I read other stuff (see the word "neglected" in the title of this post).

But let's get back to Jane Austen. First I gobbled up the books I had in my house. In one of them I found this delightful bookmark. 

Have you ever seen a more delightful bookmark? I thought not. By the way, if you know anything about the history of the booksellers this advertises, I'd love to know, too. When did The Book Store in Hagerstown close?

I would like to add that I actually was not the last in my family to finish the library's summer reading club program. There have been many summers which I have not even completed it. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Things Kids Say

This morning my 3-year-old (who has not enjoyed bug bites this summer) said, "Mommy, when winter comes the bugs turn into snowflakes."

Friday, August 30, 2019

Good Morning, Sunshine!

I tried to capture the beauty of the sunflowers as they saluted the golden morning sunshine, but I failed. I hope you enjoy the picture anyway.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Neglected Summer-- Spider Webs

When I was younger, I walked back and forth on our dirt road to the school bus stop almost every day. I didn't live in town, and I was constantly surrounded by the beauties of nature, but I can't remember ever noticing them.

Now, however, it's as if I've awakened to the wonders in this world. My children often point them out to me, but just as often I notice things first.

I don't always make the time to run inside for the camera, and I certainly don't know enough about photography to capture the wonders wonderfully, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Back in June it was my turn one morning to take our dog Calvin outside for his first walk of the day. I tried not to hurry him inside so I could capture the beauty of the spider webs which covered everything. There were hundreds all over the field, in the grasses and weeds, on our fences. I wonder why this morning?

I learned something about photography that day; spiderwebs are tough to bring into focus! If I ever think about it when I have a moment, I'll do an internet search about taking pictures of these delicate works of art.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Neglected Summer-- Growing Things

The title of this post might be a bit misleading because I feel like I've truly enjoyed my summer so far. However, I've neglected to post about it. I found a few snapshots of my summer that I wanted to share.

1. Snow peas.  We had an overabundance of them. My children may never want to see them again.

2.  Garden with new electric fence. Everything newly planted and few weeds. I definitely need to update this picture!

See the not-quite-completed yet bike shed in the background?  It's still not completed, but it does house a little bird's nest complete with eggs.

3. Clematis in full bloom. I love this every year and must always take a picture of it.

4. Butterfly weed. This one has such pretty blooms. It will be featured in a less glorious state in an upcoming post.

 5. Rose. This is a less glorious state of a rose if I ever saw one. I need to read up about taking care of them. I'll bet the library has a book for that.

 6.  More from the flower bed. Why, yes, that is my mum peeking out from between the lavender blossoms. It over-wintered quite well. Perhaps I'll be smart and take a picture of it now that it's flowering.

 7. Blueberries. Almost ripe. This little miniature blueberry bush is not the only berry-bearing plant for us this year. The blackberries outdid themselves. We were able to get a few pies out of them plus plenty for eating. There's still not enough for putting up without robbing us of the joy of eating them fresh. No complaints.

After writing this post, I realize I need to get outside with my camera for a few before-and-after pictures because these were taken in June-ish, and it is most certainly July-ish. What a difference a month makes!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Belated Birthday Cake and Pie

I thought summer was supposed to be slow and lazy. Not so around here. My mother was in the hospital for over two weeks, and she continues to need extra care. The garden needs weeding-- always. We've had a few small building projects (fence and shed). We've started visiting the pool for some swim time. So I've missed posting several pictures I would normally would post.

First up, a birthday cake. An easy birthday cake-- yay! My daughter (whose age is now in the double digits) wanted an artist's palette cake. Voila!

A few weeks later, my eldest turned 15. Fifteen?! What happened? Anyway, it seems 15-year-olds have more mature tastes. He's interested in making cheese and trying new cheeses-- even the ones I consider gross. You know, the ones with fungi. We allowed him to pick out some "fancy" cheeses for a meal with just our family sometime around his birthday, and he prepared our cheese tray. 

For his actual party, he picked vinegar pie for a dessert. However, I considered that our guests might be more likely to eat pumpkin pie, so I made some of that, too. However, they tried the vinegar pie and liked it. If you've never had vinegar pie, you should try it; it tastes much better than its name sounds.

My son didn't want wax on his vinegar pie, so the candles went on the pumpkin pie.

Now that our internet is working again, perhaps I can post a little more often. Have a lovely week!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

And Then There Were None

A little over a week ago, it was my turn to take our dog out first thing in the morning. This is the sight that greeted me.

In case you can't tell what that is, here's a closer look:

Yep, those are feathers. Lots of feathers. Guinea feathers, to be exact. I knew something was very wrong in guinea paradise. 

Upon further inspection, my son and I confirmed my suspicions-- the remaining two guineas had been brutally murdered by some nocturnal beast. I guess, technically, we could be wrong as we never found the bodies (only a few small chunks attached to feathers), but really, what nocturnal beast that drags guineas through a smallish hole in chicken wire would leave the bodies around as evidence?

As violent as this was, it wasn't heartbreaking to our family because these only two who were left were male and driving us crazy by fighting with each other. 

I guess that's the end of our first fowl experiment. We liked the eggs. We did see a decrease in ticks on our bodies; no Lyme disease while we had the guineas. My favorite thing about the guineas was just watching them; they are so funny!

The downsides to guineas? Well, when we wanted to vacation or visit family for a few days, we had to find somebody who was willing to take care of them. Also, they were not good for our garden; they either dusted and killed plants or ate my greens. We also didn't care for the meanness; they weren't mean to us, they were mean to each other.

In the end, we do plan on getting more fowl-- but not until spring probably. We all want different birds-- guineas, chickens, and ducks. I guess you'll have to tune in next spring to see what we settle on.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Good-bye, Emu

On Saturday morning we met the emu's owner who brought the trailer that would (we hoped) return our emu to its friends.

So how would this emu be caught? Well, not easily, that's for sure. It was lured with food, but it did take a few go-arounds and some corralling. And struggling. And coordination. And strength. And patience.


Predictably, the emu was not thrilled to be in the trailer. It tried to poke its head out the back to escape. It failed. My littlest one told me later that the emu was "saying goodbye with him head."

Then, ever-so-quickly, it was all over, and the emu farmer was saying goodbye with his hand.

And that brings us to the end of our little emu drama. There are no more installments. This story will not be continued.

Unless. . . 
 (I did tell you there were more emu sightings the next valley over, right?)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Emu- Up Closer and More Personal

My five-year-old woke me up on Friday morning with, "Mommy, the emu is still here!"

At a decent hour, I called the farmer and let him know the emu was back. I left a message, but he was in business meetings all day and couldn't get back to us until the afternoon. He was going to pick up a  friend's trailer to retrieve the emu, but he wouldn't be able to get to our house until Saturday morning.

Most of Friday the emu amused us with his antics. Once again, he disappeared in the later afternoon and came back in the evening. Once again, he was there in the morning. On Saturday morning early, Mr. Emu decided to hang out even closer to the house and even on our front walkway. He even strayed down near the cemetery again.

One thing we learned about emus when all was said and done was that emu feathers have one central quill (?) that has two floppy feathers attached. 

Tune in tomorrow for the final installment of our riveting emu drama!

To Be Continued. . .