Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Family Night: Azaleas!

We live in an area where the azaleas are prolific this time of year! We have a couple of small bushes in our yard and Emily has been especially aware of their beauty this year. She has learned what kind of flower they are and we've had fun pointing them out all over town.

I knew there was a spot nearby that had really gorgeous azaleas and, while we went about one week past their prime, they were still beautiful and the evening was fun for all of us!

I think the highlight of the evening for Emily was a bride and groom getting their pictures taken in the area we were walking and looking at the flowers. It began to sprinkle as we arrived, but the ladies had fun sporting their umbrellas!

Monday, March 30, 2009

David's Favorite Pancakes

I made pancakes for dinner recently modifying a recipe we already loved and David said they were some of the best pancakes he's had! Because I need to remember what I did and just in case you want to try them too - here is the recipe. I think they were so yummy because of the fresh ingredients I had available - farm fresh eggs, freshly milled flour and honey.

2 c. freshly milled flour (I used hard white)
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. honey
4 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. baking powder

Mix with wire whisk and cook by 1/4 c. on hot griddle. Serve with homemade syrup. Mmmmmm! My batch made about 20 pancakes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Packing for Vacation

After we went to the cabin for Christmas, Angie asked for a post on ideas for packing for this kind of trip. We all know that packing for any kind of trip takes lots of planning and organization! But, to go somewhere like this and join up with other family members or friends - takes an additional element of prep because you don't want to spend all your time running out to get things you find you'll need!

My Mom did most of the work in preparing for our Christmas at the cabin. We needed Christmas gifts, decorations, activities, food and more. And, we had three families arriving from all over and then going up to the cabin together. Lots to coordinate!

Here are a few observations from either what I took/prepared or what I saw my Mom do!

* Call ahead: if you're going to a place that has its own website, make sure to read it thoroughly so you know what to expect when you get there. If you have questions on specific items being available, make sure to call. We wondered if there would be a high chair available or even a Christmas tree - a quick call answered our questions.

* Ask around: if you happen to know someone who has stayed the same place before - ask what things they wish they would have taken or which things were provided. A co-worker of my mom's had been to that cabin before and she was a good source of information on what we could expect to find.

* Make an idea list: Are there certain activities you want to do while you are away? We wanted to decorate cookies, play games and go sledding. These all involved certain supplies - so simply add these things to a list or have a space in your home set aside to "gather" items before you go. If you need to ask other travelers to bring certain items, you can make a note next to the item about who you asked to bring which item. My Mom had created an activity basket for the littles which had craft supplies, coloring books, crayons, etc...

* Make a menu: My Mom did an amazing job at this one! She had a paper with each day and then all the meals that day including snacks. Then, as we were packing - we just checked the items off and put them in a box or the cooler so we knew we had it all. I've also done this when we've gone to the family condo in Florida. I don't want to be running out to buy ingredients as it takes away from our vacation and is harder to stay on a budget that way.

* Plan to be resourceful: The chances are that you will forget something! We found that we were without salt and pepper and just learned to do without! We also discovered there was no ice - the ice maker wasn't working and there were no trays. A quick call to the park ranger sent someone our way who wasn't able to fix the ice maker but went and got us some trays and we had ice! Sometimes, it pays to ask! When I wanted to come up with some kind of table decoration - we had two taper candles but no candle holders. A quick search and we found two mugs and some sugar - it served the purpose! Just be willing to look outside the box!

The more thought you can put into your time away and what your expectations and hopes are for the time, the more organized you can be in taking the things you'll need to make your time go more smoothly! We wanted to enjoy being together, make memories and relax!

Please chime in! Have you taken a family trip to a destination away from someone's home? How did you prepare for your trip?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Very random - but here are a couple of things I wanted to share/ask:

* I am very concerned about our Presidential Administration seeking to write legislation which would prevent health care workers from exemptions for conscience. I want those who are caring for me and for my family to have the opportunity to choose based on their conscience and most importantly in relation to abortion to choose NOT to perform abortions. It will only take a few seconds to respond - click here for more information. (Thanks, Angie for sending this to me!)

* Completely different note: I am helping a friend plan a dinner for her family following her wedding in a couple of months and one thing I need to find is several of the vintage blue Ball canning jars. They can be either quart or pint and do not need to have lids. I'm either willing to reimburse you the shipping and just borrow the jars or I'd be willing to purchase them at a reasonable price. I will need probably five more jars. Please let me know if you are willing to loan/sell any of these jars. You can e-mail me through the link on my left side bar or send to thehomespunheart (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Update: oops, one more thing: I received a nice e-mail from Lexie Barnes the author of Sew What! Bags ~ reminding me that if you make any of the projects, please add your photos over at the Flickr pool! I've added my clothespin apron there and it will be fun to see what everyone makes!

It's Here!

It's been a process coming to this - but I am so excited that my grain mill arrived over the weekend! (Thank you, Mehgan!) I opened it out of the box, had it put together and was milling flour in no time! We had fresh French Bread for dinner!!! Yummy!

I also found a source for local honey and am excited since we love honey around here! With my friend's farm-fresh eggs and our own garden going strong, I'm so excited about the ways we are finding to eat locally. We also have a lead on getting our beef locally and I'm excited about pursuing that in the future.

How about you? Do you produce any of your own food? Or eat from local sources?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our Passover Meal: The Food

This time I will just share the food list and recipes, next time I'll share more of the meaning and some ideas on how we will do this as a family.

* Unleavened Bread or Matzo Bread ~ I'll be making this recipe that Angie shared with me last year.

2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. lukewarm water

Cut shortening into flour-salt mixture until size of peas. Add water. Knead. Let rest ten minutes. Form into two-inch balls and roll to 1/4" thick. Use heavy skillet or griddle, ungreased and very hot. Turn tortilla three times and it should be done when small dark brown spots speckle the bread.

* Charoses or Charoset (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

3 apples, coarsely chopped or grated
1/3 c. chopped almonds or walnuts
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. honey or 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp. red wine (we'll be using grape juice)

Mix all together except wine or juice until desired consistency. Add juice and chill.

* Salt water

* Bitter herb: horseradish

* Sweet herb: parsley

* Hard-boiled Egg

* Roasted Lamb (This recipe is from A Return to Sunday Dinner)

Succulent Butterflied Leg of Spring Lamb with Roasted Red-Skinned Potatoes
(**He suggests having the butcher remove the bone from the meat, but leaving the shank attached and trimming away any excess fat, and butterflying for easy prep.)

**Note: I've halved the recipe to be for four servings instead of the eight listed in the cookbook.

1 3-pound leg of lamb butterflied
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 c. packed fresh basil
1/8 c. packed fresh mint
1 Tbsp. cracked peppercorns
1 lemon, halved with seeds removed
1/8 c. olive oil
coarse salt to season

Place the lamb cut side up on work surface. Sprinkle garlic with a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl and use a fork to mash the garlic into paste; spread the mashed garlic evenly over the inside of the lamb and sprinkle with half of the rosemary. Lay the basil and mint over that and roll the lamb leg back to its natural shape.

Tie the lamb with kitchen twine, knotting every two inches; then tie lengthwise. Rub the remaining rosemary and peppercorns into the exterior surface of the lamb. Squeeze the lemons over the lamb and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Adjust the lower rack near the bottom of the over. Remove lamb from refrigerator and sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow it to rest for 45 minutes at room temperature.

Place the lamb in a shallow roasting pan and transfer to a 450 oven. Roast for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 325 and continue to roast for one hour.


1 lb. small red-skinned potatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Cut potatoes in half and toss them with olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a mixing bowl. After the lamb has roasted for one hour, scatter the potatoes around the roasting pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper until a meat thermometer reads 140 about 20-25 minutes. Remove lamb from the pan and place it on a clean cutting board; allow it to rest for 15 min. before slicing.

Increase the oven temp to 400 and spread the potatoes evenly in the bottom of the roasting pan. Allow them to cook and brown another 15-20 minutes.

Carefully cut away kitchen twine. Slice the meat with a sharp carving knife. Transfer to a platter and arrange potatoes around the meat; garnish with fresh herbs if desired. Pour all juices from pan and cutting board over the meat and potatoes.

Passover Meal Shopping List:
* 3 apples
* grape juice
* horseradish
* parsley
* mint
* rosemary
* garlic
* basil
* eggs
* leg of lamb
* lemon
* 1 lb. red-skinned potatoes

From the pantry:
* flour
* salt
* shortening
* almonds or walnuts
* cinnamon
* honey
* sugar
* olive oil

Am I forgetting something? If any of you have done this before and have suggestions - I'm listening!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Clothesline Q & A

There were a couple of questions asked after I shared my clothespin apron! Here are my thoughts:

How do you store your apron when not in use - to keep the clothespins from falling out?

I have these hooks on the wall in our laundry room where I hang clothes that are waiting to be ironed. I tied a loose knot in the apron ties and hung it on one hook. It also happens to be right by the back door - so it is super convenient for tying on and heading out to hang clothes also!

What kind of clothesline do you have? There are mixed reviews on the retractable lines...

I could not find a brand name on my original one - I bought it at Lowe's and I think it was the only one they had. David bought me a second one the other day:

It was $15 and is 49 feet long which provides me with two extra lines since I run it to a tree and then back to the house. I have been very satisfied with these retractable lines - I love that they can be put away when not in use! I can pull out one line only or run both if I need more space.

Is it just me or is it one of those simple pleasures to see clothes fluttering on the line? I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing the clothes hanging out there. It feels good to know I am drying them for *free* and there is something so wholesome, homey and pure about the whole thing. Plus, they smell so good when you bring them in!

I remember as a child enjoying running between the "lines" of clothes, blankets, towels and sheets hanging out! My little ladies are discovering this fun when I hang things that are long enough for them to play between!

Do you hang clothes on the line? What makes this a simple pleasure for you?

Monday, March 23, 2009

First Day of Spring Party

How did you celebrate the First Day of Spring? We had a great morning together enjoying these fun activities!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


...of the Sew What! book is Heidi! Thanks, everyone for playing along!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Going on a Bear Hunt & Prayer for a Child

Here's what we've been up to in the BFIAR department!

Going on a Bear Hunt:
* Made these little books.
* Watched the author tell the story!
* I think everything else we did was mentioned in the book.

Prayer for a Child:
* Talked about how bread is made. Watched these videos on milking a cow by hand and by machine. The girls loved this and have asked a couple of times to watch it again!

* Drew pictures for our sponsor child and looked at the globe to understand where we live and where she lives:

* We had fun taking some pictures to sort of recreate the book in Emily and Rachel's own world. I'm planning to put these together for a "book" but haven't finished yet:

* We spent two weeks on this book and the little ladies can just about "read" the whole prayer to me! I love that! We also talked about several things mentioned in the BFIAR book. I loved this sweet book!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sew What! Bags Book Review & Giveaway!

I recently received a copy of Sew What! Bags in the mail to review here - and am always excited for peeks into new books! You can see lots of pictures from the book here.

This one is fun because all the projects are pattern-free and you customize the project to fit your own needs/style. The directions are very clear and there are projects for everything from brand new to sewing all the way to very experienced.

I've been wanting to hang more clothes on the line lately - but have such a problem with how to manage my clothespins! I have a retractable line, so I could not really use a bag or container that stays outside.

So, the tool caddy apron caught my eye because I knew I could tie this on and have the clothespins very handy! Even better - I did not have to purchase anything to complete this project. I had bought two valances at a thrift store for my kitchen but did not really like how they looked so I stashed them away for a future project.

This worked out great for the apron! And, now I'm all set to hang more clothes on the line!

Now, I'd love to pass this book on to one of you to enjoy as well! So, please leave a comment here (with a way to contact you!) if you're interested in being placed in the drawing to win! Comments will be accepted until Friday night at 10pm (EST) and a winner will be announced Saturday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome to the family!

I'm an Auntie again today! Carrie and Eric welcomed Natalie Dell into their family this morning - details here. No pictures to share yet, but stop by and leave an encouraging word for Carrie if you have a minute!

We can't wait to meet you, Natalie!

Family Night: Garden Blessing

As we are preparing for the biggest couple of weeks of planting this season, I thought it would be meaningful to spend the evening out in the yard/garden as a family and ask God's blessing on our little space.

I can't tell you how many times I've been laying stones or preparing soil and feeling like my efforts were so feeble and small. I keep saying, "Lord, take my feeble efforts and use them to produce a beautiful and productive garden!"

I've been longing to get back into regular Family Nights, but have learned something about myself. When I'm planning lots of activities to do with our book of the week (via Before Five in a Row) I just don't have much left to give to Family Night. I'm going to *try* to make this more regular around here. Lord, please keep the inspiration and ideas coming!

Isaiah 61:11,
"For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations."

Since this week is the beginning of our biggest part of the garden planting, it has been on my heart to really be in prayer for our garden. My goal is of course to have wonderful fresh veggies for my family. But, I am really hoping for more than what we can eat to be able to share with others.

We began our evening with a picnic outside near the garden - I had envisioned making a big salad and some fresh bread but the cool weather prompted me to make something warmer! We still enjoyed our picnic near the garden! I taught the Johnny Appleseed Prayer that we used to sing in Girl Scouts.

Oh, the Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord!
For giving me the things I need
The sun, the rain and the apple seed
The Lord is good to me!

Next, we made stones for the entrance to our garden. I spent a total of $3 on this project! There are some great directions here - but it was a bit harder than this made it appear. Regardless of how they dry (I'm writing this Friday night) it was fun and the little ladies thought it was so neat to make their handprints in cement! I recycled pizza boxes into the "molds" and just pulled embellishments that I had already around the house.

We prayed for our garden and for a successful harvest that we could enjoy and share with others. We'll also be adding this to our Prayer Journal. I finally got this put together this week and am so excited to begin implementing this into our home.

We also enjoyed some fabulous "Dirt" Dessert - I'll share my improvised recipe as the original did not look dirt-y enough!

Cream together:
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. softened butter

Prepare 1 pkg. vanilla pudding according to package directions. Stir into above mixture. Fold in 1/2 carton whipped topping.

Stir in 2/3 package of crushed Oreo cookies (or store brand as I did) and then about 2 Tbsp. chocolate pudding mix to make it look darker!

Spoon into small cups and top with crushed cookies. Insert flowers if desired!