Friday, October 08, 2010

The BIG update (In Pictures)

Here in Sparta we've had a full and beautiful summer and early fall! Here's the update that I've been meaning to write for some time but due to a lack of...well, time....I haven't been able to do so until now.Here goes...Jared turned 26 this year and my dad turned the big 50! We celebrated my dad's birthday in style by taking him to a Detroit Tigers game. He's a big baseball guy so we surprised him with the tickets on his birthday and went to the game the following weekend. It was a lot of fun and the game even ended with fireworks. :D Then there was the harvest and our Chickens to get back to! This year we had two gardens. One at our house and the second at Jared's parent's house. The chickens are at their house too. So we had a big harvest with an abundance of tomatoes and peppers. Early in the season we froze our sweet corn and green beans and then we got to work canning and I think we canned all of August! :D So in the canned aisle we have stewed tomatoes, pickled banana peppers, apple sauce, and Nana Dolph's peaches! As far as the Chickens go we've been getting 10 a day which means they are all laying eggs finally!

Needless to say, I think we'll make it through the long winter... Now praying for Jared to get a deer so we can have some venison too! :D Here are some pictures of the boys target shooting with their bows. Getting geared up for the hunt! Trevor wanted in on the action but he's not quite ready yet...

Well, that's all for now....Happy fall!
God Bless, Sleep Well!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Short post

This is a shortie but a goodie....

We are doing well over here. The harvest has been GOOD this year and I'm learning all sorts of new things about canning and perserving. The season isn't done yet though so I'm going to give you a full report in a few days!

On another note...I got an ESL job yesterday! This will be my first official teaching job outside of my internship and volunteer work. So I need lots of prayer that it will go well. It is a temporary substitue position for the Sparta Migrant Program. It will only be 4 weeks long so I have a lot to learn and a lot to teach in 4 weeks! Pray that Jared and I would keep good schedules during this time since i will be working in the day and teaching at night.

More updates to come!
God bless, Sleep well!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Its officially been over a week since we came back from camping in Mesick, MI....BIG sigh.... Let's have a moment of silence please.... OK I'm better now.
Moving on; These are just a few snapshots of camping 2010. From top, L-R: 1st picture-Me soaking in the sun reading one of my favorite authors, Erynn Mangum's, second series "The Maya Davis Series". It's a standard on our Mesick trip for the girls to go out on the "Green belt" and sun bathe for at least an hour each day as long as the weather permits! I enjoy sun bathing but I enjoy reading more so I like to combine the two. Usually I'm a SLOW reader but this week I was able to finish my book in one week rather than in one month. Hats off to having a week to do nothing but read!
2nd picture is of our group at dinner. We always eat as a group for dinner. This was burger night with corn on the cob and a lot of other really yummy stuff. The ladies up here know how to put on a feast so feast we do EVERY night! It's not necessarily a trip you loose weight on. :D
3rd picture is Kasey and Trevor. Trev was a blast all week long and he loves to camp because he got to see a lot of "Trucks" and "boots" AKA: boats. What a joy! Trevor will be 2 in August.
4th picture is just Trevor soaking in the sun while watching the "boots" go by on "the pond" Aka: the Manistee river where it gets wide near the Hodenpyl Dam. (Not sure I'm spelling that right...)
5th picture is Uncle Jared teaching Trevor how to flash people! He's not a very good influence that Jared guy.... Its their little game they like to play together. :D
SO now that Mesick is over and my relaxing vacation for the summer is gone Jared and I are gearing head into the wilds of the Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada! We're going with the Sr. high youth group at our church for a week. We'll be canoing and portaging (carrying our canoes and packs) from campsite to campsite all week through the wilderness. This is no small park though this is a wild, bears and all, wilderness trip! Yikes! We're really excited but I will admit that I'm a little scared. I'm not a "tough" person so the carrying your canoe and pack thing will be interesting to say the least. We've gotten all our gear and we're ready to go. I'm bringing my camera so I'll be sure to give you all an update when we get back!
Until then...Sleep well and God Bless!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Mocha Mocha....Mmmm

Here are two new recipes that I've used and/or will be using in the near future. :D The first one is my mom's recipe...yum...! Enjoy!
Layered Mocha Brownie Dessert:
1 box of fudge brownie mix; cooked and cubed
16 oz cool whip-divided
1 3/4 cup milk
4 teaspoons instant coffee
1/4 cup warm water
2 small boxes white chocolate instant pudding
3-4 heath bars crushed
*Mix milk and pudding together
*In a separate bowl mix warm water and instant coffee together
*Slowly mix coffee mixture in with the pudding mixture
*Add 8 oz cool whip to pudding mixture
*In a clear serving bowl create your layers with a layer of brownies on the bottom then a layer of pudding mix then heath bars. Continue this layering effect until your bowl is full ending with a layer of pudding and heath bars. Top everything with 8 oz cool whip and more crushed heath bars then drizzle with caramel topping. Refrigerate for at least an hour and enjoy! This can be made up to one night before your event.
Chocolate Raspberry Mocha Layer Cake (Diary Free)
Serves 10-12
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cocoa
2 cups soy milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/4-1/2 cup raspberry jam
Easy Chocolate Icing:
1/2 cup soy margarine
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
soy milk
Cake Directions:
*Blend granulated sugar with vegetable oil. Add water and vanilla and stir well.
*In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa.
* Measure out soy milk and stir in instant coffee.
*Add flour mixture gradually to oil and sugar mixture, alternating with soy milk (don't over mix).
*Pour into 2 oiled 9 inch cake pans and bake 40 min. at 350 degrees F.
*When cake is done remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.
*When cake is cool to the touch, spread raspberry jam over one of the layers. top with the second cake and ice with Easy Chocolate Icing. (See Below for directions on how to make the icing.)
Icing Directions:
*Blend margarine and shortening together.
*Gradually add icing sugar and cocoa.
*Thin with soy milk (if needed).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fritters, Flowers, and Fiction

So this will be my spring update post since I've decided that, even though spring doesn't officially end until June 21, summer is definitely here! This has been a most beautiful spring and I have enjoyed many new things that I have not done before. For starters, I had never encountered real live chickens before this spring let alone raise them! Some other firsts for me this spring include reading the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke, helping to put together a craft show for the youth group, spending so much time in my gardens and my backyard and enjoying every minute of watching my plants grow, and most recently today I made apple fritters for the first time! This was a very exciting experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Of course, because I had never done this before I was fully expecting to fail at it but to my surprise and my tastebuds' delight they were delicious! I have never made any kind of doughnut before but I've always wanted to try and today was my day... I had a whole bunch of left over apples from the craft show because I was planning on making some apple pies but I ran out of time so today I looked up the recipe for apple fritters since they are my favorite kind of doughnut! I already had everything I needed to make them so this was a no-brainer that I should try it! I hope that you will try them out too. I think you will be pleased.
On another note, hasn't it been delightful outside this week? Sure, it's been HOT and even a little uncomfortable at times, but this has been a wonderful week for getting outside and enjoying the world around us! I have been so pleased with how my flowers are doing in the heat and they have been blooming for a week now and I'm loving it! I wish they could stay in bloom forever but I know that they need their "resting" time in the winter too.... ugh.

What I've been reading in May is the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke. This is a series about the Davis family's journey through life in the Midwest and Western territories of the United States in the late 1800's. This is a series that will pull at your heart strings, challenge your faith to grow, keep you reading every day, and keep you wondering "how did they ever live like that?". It's a beautiful series of books that include love stories, family stories, stories of courage and death, mourning and rejoicing, challenges and victories and the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow who holds this family together through it all. If you've seen the movies and you enjoyed them, you HAVE TO read the books! They are so different from the movies and so much better!
Sleep well, God Bless,
Apple Fritters:
1 quart vegetable oil for deep frying
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
dash nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs-beaten
2 tablespoons apple sauce
3-5 cups apples-peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup cinnamon and sugar mixture
1. Heat oil in a deep fryer or electric skillet to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3. In a separate bowl wisk together milk, eggs, and apple sauce.
4. Slowly add milk mixture to the flour mixture until well blended. Add apples until they are well coated and evenly distributed.
5. Drop spoonfuls of batter into hot oil and fry, turning once, until brown on both sides (about 5 min. depending on how large your spoonfuls are. I used a serving spoon.) Fry in small batches so they are not crowded. Using a slotted spoon, remove and let cool on paper towel briefly. Toss with cinnamon and sugar while they are still warm.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweet Joys

Today I was struck with the realization that life is not always what you are given but it's mostly how you respond.
I have known this and I have even talked about it with others before. But today it became clearer. I have been struggling big time with allergies this spring...making my spring not so springy... So today was a relatively normal day. I went to work, came home and baked all night. Sounds normal right? Well, the entire time I've had a massive sinus headache that won't go away no matter how much medicine I take or how much Vicks I put on. (Yes Jared you can remind me later that I said that.) But through it all I have had a great day.
God has been walking me through this day one step at a time, one loaf of bread at a time, one customer at a time... He's been there through it all.
Every time I felt like giving up He was right there to pick up my head and say "it's OK, keep going, keep your eyes on me and I'll help you." He was right. As I look back, I can see clearly that the times that I "looked away" from Him I fell on my face with discouragement, pain, and feeling sorry for myself; but when I was looking at Him I almost forgot about the pain and I could focus on what needed to be done and what I could do to make this day better. Yes, I got through work and I got through my baking (for now...15 mini loafs of pistachio down, 5 more to go.)After my last batch of bread came out of the oven I read through my friend Chaille's blog She is currently in Romania doing her fieldwork at an organization called "Veritas." Chaille spoke tonight about the greatness of God's plan and how every little detail was put in place before he could bring her to Romania so that once she got there the "soil" would be ready to plow and plant. In a way, that's how I feel about my day today. I feel like God is still preparing the "soil" in my heart for other things....tasks, time, talents, treasures, etc. and who am I to stand in the way of the Almighty's plan to not only better my life, but to use my life to better others' lives as well. By using my time today to complain and groan and wine about my headache or all of the "things" I had to do today I was only pushing God away and saying... "your plan isn't good enough." Many times we want the big exciting things to happen every minute of every day; but you know, those things that are big and exciting wouldn't be big and exciting if they happened all the time. So I'm learning, along with you, to take life one step at a time and rejoice in my sufferings as well as in my blessings so that God can use them both for His glory.
God bless, Sleep well,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flour Power

Today is a day full of baking... On the list is Pistachio Bread, Apple Pies, Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies and regular Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies! :D I don't usually bake this much but today is an exception. We have the Kent City Baptist Church Vendor and Craft Sale this Saturday (May 22) from 10am-4pm at our south campus (400 West Muskegon St. [17 mile rd.] Kent City MI 49330). All of the proceeds of our bake sale are going to benefit the Rhiza Student Ministries youth missions trips this summer. This is a great way to get involved if you are not already involved! We need people who are willing to donate baked goods for individual sale so if you are making cookies maybe bunch 2-4 together and wrap them in clear plastic wrap so they can be sold to our shoppers. Everything will be sold individually so try to make something that can be easily separated and sold. If you are willing to bake something we would appreciate it if you would wrap your goods individually and label them for us. We will put prices on everything. You can drop your donation off at the south campus either Friday night between 5:30 and 8:00pm or Saturday morning between 8:00am and 10am. Thanks for being willing to help us out with this huge task every little bit helps so even if you can only make 1 doz. cookies that will be helpful too!

Come out for the sale too! We have about 35 vendors of all different crafts, home show products, and abilities! :D

Sleep Well, God Bless,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chicken Ranchers

One of the beautiful parts of life is that you get to try new things and experiment with your hobbies, sometimes this experimenting turns into something you never expected it would and sometimes it just flat out fails... We're hoping that our new hobby, raising chickens, doesn't fail because so far we're having a blast being chicken ranchers! And yes, Jared wants to be called a Chicken Rancher, not a farmer... :D it sounds more professional and like we're from some small town in Montana rather than rancher wanna-be's from the city of Sparta, MI!
So as we journey through this super fun new hobby I'll keep you updated on new developments!
Where we've been so far:
  • We got 8 Buff Orpington chicks about 2 months ago

  • They lived in a box in my living room under a heating lamp for about a month! :D
  • My sister in-law, Abby, added 3 chicks to the bunch so Jared and I are foster parents to "Ruby, Clementine, and Dandilion" until they go to the coop. So make that 11 chicks in our house.
  • The chicks moved out into the garage as soon as the frost was done into a larger "home," an old rusted feed trough, still using the heating lamp in one corner but they're getting to the point where they don't really need it too much anymore.
  • We started building their coop at Jared's parents house where they will live as soon as they're big enough. We're about a week away from moving them. There is still some work left to do on the coop before that can happen.
  • The chicks grow inches by day it seems and they have been treated to daily "trips" outside in the back yard to get aquainted with running around in the grass and being out from under the heating lamp, it's also good for their social skills with us as they tend to take better to those who bring them out and play with them!

So we await the day that they will be able to make the move to their coop and get settled there where we will visit with them daily and will hopefully produce yummy eggs for us, Abby and Dan, and our parents!

God Bless, Sleep Well!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Spring... Spring Spring... Hello?

Well, it's almost here! I can hardly contain my excitement. Spring is my favorite time of year because everything is new and fresh. It's like God is tapping every tree and flower and blade of grass and saying..."wake up! wake up! It's time to greet the day!"

I'm reminded of something Anne of Green Gables taught me.... "Tomorrow is always fresh.... with no mistakes in it!" Spring is kind of like that for me. It reminds me that I'll never be angelically good but in Christ I know that i'm free from the burden of sin in my life and it can never have a hold on me as it did before I allowed Christ's redemption to cover me. Thank God for his unfailing gift of redemption!

Well, I finished Mansfield park a few weeks ago and I was very happy with it. Fanny Price is a delightful character who I enjoyed reading about very much. The downfall of the book is that there are a lot of unneccessary converstaions that sort of just take up space. It's almost like Jane thought the book needed to be longer so she just added a lot of extra "stuff" to bulk it up. Of course I'm a fan of the language of the Austen novels so even though there were extra conversations I still somehow enjoyed everything.

I'm not sure which Austen novel I'll tackle next because i'm in the midst of finishing Anne of Green Gables and then i've got "Cool Beans: a Maya Davis Novel" by Erynn Mangum on order. Coming in April. My B-day is coming and I'm hoping for Persuasion. We'll see.

Hope you all are enjoying your spring!

Sleep Well & God Bless,