Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Blog Site @ www.thisfamilytree.org

Have you made it over to our new blog? If not, go and check it out at www.thisfamilytree.org! We have some neat articles and recipes over there. Please subscribe to our new site if you haven't already done so.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Our Exciting News!

A big thank you to all who have been thinking and praying for us over the last few days. We didn't get this out by March 1st (sorry), but we wanted everything in place just as we felt it should be before announcing.

Some of you may already know, some of you have been suspicious for quite some time, and some of you wish I would get on with it! Well, you can read all about it at our new website: http://www.thisfamilytree.org.

We will be blogging over there from now on. It has a different look to it, but we feel like it incorporates more of what we are and will be doing. If you subscribe, then every time we post it will send you an email. We would love for you to join us, so if you didn't subscribe here, please do over there! If you just check in every now and then, then you will have to go the Blog button to get to our latest and most recent posts.

We will be writing and sharing fresh new things, along with bringing out some of our favorite posts from this blog. We have been blogging for about 2 years now and pray that we will be able to continue to share all that our family life entails. The ups and downs, the ins and outs, and some great recipes.

This new website was a part of our exciting news, but it doesn't near state it all.  You will find a heartfelt explanation of what is going on over there.

Thank you for being faithful readers and great supporters.

Thankful for the path God has lead and is leading us down,

Keith and Nichole, Madison, Morgan, Mallory, Meghan, Joshua, Stephen, Maleah, and Mercy

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Warm, safe, and secure in daddy's arms


Last night we took the kids to a big field behind part of the neighborhood that we live in now. You realize how little our yard is when you try to organize a game of kickball for a family of 10! When we found out about this field, we could have slapped ourselves for not going out there earlier. It has become a meeting place for a couple of other families as well. The kids can run free. They have played kickball, soccer, cops and robbers, and freeze tag to name a few.

I am very thankful for it and feel like it is a blessing from the Lord. The fact that we don't have to use gas to get there makes it even better!

Mercy had been fussing while I was trying to get my exercise in and so Keith stood and gently swayed her. We began to have conversation with some friends of ours and she got a picture just as Mercy fell asleep. She was warm, safe, and secure in her daddy's arms. No better place to be.

Thankful for a husband who loves his children loud and gentle,

Nichole

Monday, February 27, 2012

My New Drying Rack!


We had a good week last week. We had very little appointments and reasons to get out of the house, so we were able to really concentrate on school with no interruptions. Keith was able to work from home. A new friend brought supper to us and it was enough for two meals! Keith and I went on two dates last week! They were short, but we had a great time. One was at a coffee shop and I enjoyed my first cup of chai. The other was at a Thai restaurant and I had my first cashew-crusted chicken. It was great! While we were eating I told Keith that it might not have been the best idea with the nut allergies that some of our kids have, and the fact that I am nursing Mercy. Well, I should have paid attention to that intuition, because the next morning Mercy was red and splotchy and trying to scratch her neck where she was the most broke out! That was a lesson learned.

The couple who kept our children also surprised me with a birthday party when we got home. She brought the decorations and let the kids do the decorating. It is still up today. We thought we might keep it up and use it for Stephen and Keith's bday, which is right around the corner. It was very sweet and we will never forget it.

Earlier that day we all had a family meeting and laid out the plan for the day. Housecleaning!! Everyone was excited, as you can imagine. Keith and boys tackled the bathrooms and mopping. The girls and I did all the other rooms, including dusting and vacuuming, along with preparing lunch. It took us a few hours, but the final product was so refreshing. I think that is the first time we have all done it together. It was fun and rewarding.

What does this possibly have to do with my new drying rack?? Nothing really....except I was able to wash little Mercy's diapers and hang them on our new rack last week as well. I have done several loads on it already. Mostly they have had to dry inside. The picture of them outside with the sun looks a little deceiving. We haven't gotten many of those kind of days here lately. When we did,  I loaded that rack down the steps and out the door. It is light weight and very portable. 





I am excited about the rack for two reasons. One, I love the family that is now selling them. We have their homesteading videos. Though we have never met in person, we feel like we know them. They have five children. Several years ago they bought land out in the country and began to learn homesteading skills to become more self-sufficient. This intrigues me, so we bought the videos when they were on sale and have been following their website ever since.

They have gone through some health trials in the last few years, but always remained faithful to their Savior.

Two, I wanted to let the diapers air-dry. Particularly, outside. The sun acts as a disinfectant and bleaches out a lot of stains that most people put chemicals on to get out.

I was able to use money that friends or family had given to Mercy to buy this rack for her diapers. It is really reasonable. It is handcrafted and they use wood that doesn't rot.  You will see their button on the ride side of the blog. Take a look over there and check out all their racks. They have 3 different sizes. I hope to one day purchase the large one for our larger loads of laundry!

Thankful for my new drying rack and the ability to become more self-sufficient in baby steps,

Nichole

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pan-Grilled Chicken with Plum Salsa



We are trying out some new dishes at our house. I was ready for something new and different. I didn't want anything super complicated, and honestly I didn't want another casserole dish.

Thanks to my Southern Living magazine, I have tried two dishes with two more to go that calls for chicken cutlets. You could also use pork or turkey cutlets for a change of meat. I like the idea of the cutlet because the breasts are cut thinly, so they cook up quickly. I think if you properly prep for these meals, then they are very doable and cook quickly.

I will be posting them as we try them, but only if they are a success.

So far I have loved cooking these dishes, because they call for ingredients that I either don't use a lot or combinations of ingredients that I would have never thought to put together. Don't be afraid or intimidated by that and give these dishes a try. It was a lot of fun. As a matter of fact, if you have children in the house that you trust can safely use a chopping knife, then get them busy helping you prep and it will be special memories for all of you as you make this meal together. They may even decide to like it because they helped to fix it :)

Pan-Grilled Chicken with Plum Salsa
1 cup of chopped ripe plums (about 2 plums)
1 small jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and diced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp. chopped red onion
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp. of salt, divided
2 tbsp. of brown sugar (I used sucanat)
1/2 tsp. of ground cumin
4 (4oz.) chicken breast cutlets
2 tsp. olive oil

Stir together plum, next 4 ingredients, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Stir together brown sugar, cumin, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Rub chicken with brown sugar mixture. Cook chicken in hot oil in a grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat 3 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with plum mixture.

Some cooking tips: Pat chicken dry before rubbing with brown sugar mixture and make sure pan is hot enough to give that nice brown caramelization on both sides of the chicken, but not so hot to burn it.
I also steamed some broccoli as our side vegetable, but the you could add anything you liked as a side.

It was very good and we will be doing it again.

Thankful for new meal ideas that are a success,


Nichole

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I am not a calorie counter

But,  I used to be.

To the point of obsession. It caused me to have a few very difficult years in my past. Although I am thankful for deliverance, I am very sad for the time wasted on being so self-absorbed that I missed out on serving and loving others.

Since that time  I have been able to lean upon the learning of calorie intake from those difficult years to my advantage without ever really thinking too much about it.  It has helped me to keep food in proper perspective. Enjoying it, but not too much of it. I don't ever want to be bound to it again. It is misery and bondage. I have been able to exercise and eat pretty much what I want in moderation and be able to stay the size that I am comfortable with.

Because of my past, I try to be very careful with my own children in how we talk about food and exercise. I have caught myself talking negatively about my own body in front of them. I was immediately convicted. That is not what they need to hear coming from my mouth. Sometimes we say things so flippantly and take no regard for those that are listening and how it might influence them toward a negative mindset and behavior.  So, I try to help them see that they are all different physically, but very beautiful. I want the girls to embrace their femininity and the boys their masculinity.  I want them to have a healthy perspective when it comes to viewing themselves and also their eating habits. I want them to know that their mother is very thankful for how God made me and that I want to take care of myself to the best of my ability. I also pray for them. There is great comfort when I place them in the hands of the Father.   Who could love them more?

I have been pregnant 10 times over the last 14 years. I have nursed 8 children. I have had an increased appetite for quite some time now! I think, though, that I am at a stage in my life that it is going to take a little more concentrated effort to drop a few pounds and keep it off. I want to be very careful. I want to honor the Lord in everything I do....even exercise and weight loss. Just as food consumes some to the point of gluttony, food can also consume some to the point of starvation. The devil loves it when we go in either direction, because something else becomes our god and takes the one true God out of His rightful place. Let me tell you, I do NOT want to go back there.

So, here is my plan (so far). I plan to increase physical activity by walking/running 3-4 times a week and also some strength training with hand weights a couple of times a week. This can only make me feel better. As a matter of fact, I am already feeling better. And, instead of counting calories, I am going to try to cut back on snacking in between meals. My goal is to give this a try for 8 weeks and see if it makes a difference before making any other changes.  I am just hoping to get back into my clothes :) I am on week 3 now.

I believe that setting healthy goals is a good thing. I think what I am doing is setting a healthy goal. It may seem more of a physical goal, but I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing in the life of a Christian that can be separated from being spiritual as well. He wants me to honor Him even in this.

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him," Colossians 3:17

Nichole

Monday, February 20, 2012

He's Up to Something and We Want to Tell You!



A lot has been going on these past weeks and months. Our life has at times seemed to be spinning at an alarmingly fast rate and thoughts have been circulating at an all time high. With that comes a sense of desperation and lack of control. God is definitely speaking to us in so many ways. We want to inform you as He continues to gives liberty and clarity. We plan on sharing what the Lord is saying and doing very soon (by March 1st, or before). We appreciate your prayers and hope that you will stay tuned...

Grateful,
Keith, Nichole, and Family

Friday, February 17, 2012

Eating Pancakes King Style


This is a recipe that I have been wanting to try for a few years now. I have had it and looked at it several times, but never ventured away from our regular pancake recipe.

So, the other day I finally decided to give it a try. The great thing about this recipe is when you make it up, you can have it on hand for a couple of days worth of cooking pancakes or you can bag or jar it up to give away as a gift to a neighbor or friend.

I will admit that I played around with the recipe a little. It seemed to call for a lot of oil, so I tried to decrease the amount. I did this not so much for fear of fat content, but because of cost. Oil can be expensive. Especially if you try to use healthy oils, like extra virgin coconut oil or organic butter. The final outcome was edible, but not near as good as the original recipe with all the oil. You are using a nonfat dry milk, so you cut the fat with that. I wouldn't worry one second about it to tell you the truth. It is worth every drop of oil and you don't even need syrup. You can eat on them all day. Makes a great breakfast and a great snack too!

King's Flapjack Mix from BreadBeckers holiday recipe book 2007

4 cups oats - I gently pulse mine in a coffee grinder
3 cups freshly milled flour (hard red, hard white, and even Kamut works well)
1 cup sucanat
1 cup organic dry milk
3 tbsp. baking powder
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl; place in airtight container until ready to use. I would refrigerate this to try and preserve as much nutrients as possible, but not neccessary.

To make the flapjacks:

3 cups mix
3 beaten eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup water
Yields about 16-20 medium sized pancakes

Blend together eggs and oil. Stir in mix and water alternately until you get the consistency that you like (thicker batter for thicker pancakes, thinner batter for thinner pancakes). Pour batter onto lightly oiled hot griddle. Cook until bubbles form on top of pancake. Turn and cook until golden.

Like I said earlier, you do not need any syrup on these. You can make extra and freeze them or make up a nice hostess gift along with the recipe.

Thankful for a hearty breakfas,

Nichole 



Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unless...



"Unless we make it a habit to give thanks, we habitually give our family grief." *



"Unless we consistently speak praise, we consistently speak poison." *



"Unless we are intentional about giving God glory throughout the day, our days unintentionally give way to grumbling." *

Thankful, but not thankful enough,

Nichole

*all quotes by Ann Voskamp, from her blog, http://www.aholyexperience.com/

Monday, February 13, 2012

Did you know?

Perfectly boiled ~fresh~ eggs

Did you know that it is virtually impossible to have fresh from the farm boiled eggs that peel beautifully and have that fantastic yellow instead of what some call the "green halo"? Until you have tried to boil and peel a fresh egg, you probably don't. 

As many of you already know, we had eighteen hens before we moved up here from south Ga. My mom and dad took 10 of them and every time we have a visit together, they makes sure that they bring me as many as they can. Well, we were blessed with a visit this weekend as Keith had gone out of town. They were great company and helped so much. We probably would not have made it to church had they not been here. And, with them came several dozens of eggs.

Sometime last week my great friend, Brandy, had sent me a link to a blog explaining how to cook a perfectly boiled egg using fresh eggs. You see,  I have tried to do this. And, I have tried many ways. I end up losing half of the egg whites when I am peeling them and they are always ugly, although very edible, and I would be embarrassed to serve them to anyone whole. Until now.

Eggs from the grocery store are old. Sorry :( . They have sat long enough for the air to collect under those invisible holes in the shell and so when you boil them, it is the air that allows for any easier peel. The way you create that for a fresh egg is to gently prick a hole into each end of the shell. Don't penetrate all the way through. I used a thumbtack.


Then you gently place the eggs into water that has come to a soft boil. Simmer them for approx. 15 minutes. This will NOT be a hard boil. In the meantime, prepare a bowl of ice water. Once the eggs have finished softly "boiling" place them into the ice water for 5-10 minutes. The other recommendation was for 15. I experimented with 5, 10, and 15. I felt like 5-10 minutes would suffice. 15 minutes made them too cold for my liking. The ice bath is to stop the egg from continuing to cook so that it retains the beautiful yellow and not the "green halo".  Instead of gapped up, cratered, half-missing eggs, we have smooth and clean whole boiled eggs!


To me, this was a great find. Because, I will ~prayerfully~ search high and low for farm fresh (preferably organic) eggs to feed to my family. One day, maybe they will be from our own chickens again. We probably go through ~are you ready for this?~ 4 to 6 dozen eggs a week.....easy. We use a lot in baking, but we also have them for breakfast and as a snack. 

So, go out and find you some fresh eggs and give this a try. It is like magic. :)

Thankful that everyone but Mallory (one day maybe she will) loves eggs,

Nichole


Friday, February 10, 2012

Over 7 weeks have passed



Our little Mercy is a little over 7 weeks old now. She is growing so much and starting to interact with us by smiling and cooing. It is a sweet age.

At about week 5 she began to sleep for about 8 hours straight at night. I thought it was too good to be true and she would surely go back to waking every 3 hrs to eat, but she hasn't! She sleeps from 8 to 10 hours straight for over 2 weeks now. I am amazed and shocked. We have never experienced this at such a young age with our babies. Keith and I are resting well!

We are still working with her on the infant potty training. For several weeks she hardly had a stinky diaper because we caught them all in the potty. However, over the last week we have missed them about as much as we have caught them. One particular day we didn't get her to go pee or poo in the potty, so I knew she was boycotting the whole thing :) We could always tell with Maleah, because she was a grunter. Mercy is not. She becomes very relaxed and concentrated at the same time.

She may also be working herself into eating about every 3 hours instead of 2.

Speaking of eating, the other day we were at the dinner table and I had to nurse Mercy. When she had finished I put her up near my shoulder and began to gently pat her on the back. A few minutes and out came a good burp. I immediately told her that she was a good girl and expressed my praise to her for burping so well. I look over at my other little ones who were looking at me with a questioning expression on their faces and I quickly realized that we had been scolding them for burping at the table and here I am telling the baby "Great Job!" They couldn't understand. Funny how age changes things! I can just see myself telling Joshua, after a great big burp, "Good job, buddy! See if you can give mommy another one." He would love it :)

It is also time for me to start getting back into shape. I have committed to walking for now and hope to add other elements of exercise as I build up my strength. I would like to lose about 10-12 pounds. It will be harder than it used to be. I am not as young and spry as I was with Madison (I dropped all my weight by the time she was a couple of months old) and so I know that I will have to work hard at it.

I have just about all of my energy back. I am looking forward to building my strength back. It is time. Mercy was worth every pound, though.

Thankful that some things are getting back to normal,

Nichole

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who's Horsin' Around?









Our girls are!



Monday was Morgan's 11th birthday. Happy Birthday, Morgan!! She wanted to take one of her lessons and use it on that day. So, we spent almost 3 hours at the horse riding stables with each girl taking their turn with the trainer. It was cloudy and cold, but everyone had a great time. They love the horses and the trainer is excellent.  They are learning so much about riding and horses in general. They would like to offer some riding tips and horse facts for all those out there who are interested!

Morgan's riding tip: When you are trotting on a horse, don't forget to breathe! If you hold your breath, which I did, you will get a sharp pain in your side.

Morgan's horse fact: There is a certain spot on a horse, particularly with the female horses, that if you press too hard while grooming them, they will kick. It is located between their behind and rib cage. This is where the female carries her baby and then where she feeds the foal once it is born.


Meghan's horse riding tip: To properly balance while riding a horse, you need to sit up straight and relax. And, don't lean to one side!

Meghan's horse fact: Horses don't eat meat.


Mallory's horse riding tip: Don't ever walk under a horse. It will startle them and you will get hurt badly!

Mallory's horse fact: Grooming a horse is when you remove the dirt from their hair with a spiky-looking thing :), brush them, and clean their hooves.


Madison's horse riding tip: When riding a horse, don't panic! The horse can feel your energy.

Madison's horse fact: Horses lose more energy laying down then standing up.


Maleah's tip: Don't go in the corral when the girls are riding horses, because "the horse is donna eat me"!

Thankful for the beauty and strength of horses, and girls and boys who love them, and a God who created them,

Nichole

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Boggs Family gets to model


Or atleast part of the Boggs Family :) Yesterday we headed to downtown Woodstock and had a little fun modeling these great baby wraps and carriers for my friend Andrea.

It was windy and a little chilly, but Mercy and Maleah were kept warm by being so close to mama and daddy. Meghan, on the other hand, was cold. I think she had fun anyway.

Downtown Woodstock is a really neat place. It had sort of a mix of country/Atlanta feel to it with the big Ace Hardware store close to a row of more updated and contemporary stores that ranged from clothing, yoga, coffee shop, yogurt shop, business, etc...

When we came home I teased Keith about how many other almost 39 year olds get a chance to model carrying their little toddler or newborn. Most men that age have been way past having any more children and yet here we are just like it was when we first started and were much younger. The faces look older and the bodies (mine) look older, but yet we are still blessed with the joy of little ones. Hard work? Yes. But worth it.

Thankful for little hands and little feet and little voices and little messes and little laughs and little hugs and little people,

Nichole

Friday, February 3, 2012

Maleah LOVES this song....


May this bring a little sunshine to you today. Just like it does for her....and us.





Thankful for songs that lighten the load,

Nichole

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy February!


We have concluded the first month of the 2012 year and now we head into February. This year will no doubt go by as fast or faster than all the years we have said goodbye to already. May we give each day our full attention with purpose in mind and God's presence with us.

We all know that February also has the special holiday of Valentine's Day. It is a time that we give special gifts to those we love. For some it may be stuffed animals, flowers, jewelry, or a box of chocolates.

Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like chocolate! Would you consider buying our chocolate package or any individual item to send to a loved one this Valentine's Day?

The package includes:

a rich chocolate syrup that is made with organic cocoa and sucanat (a natural sweetener made from molasses). It is great for making chocolate milk as it pours and mixes easily, and also great as a topping for ice cream. We also offer a chocolate syrup made with organic cocoa and organic agave nectar. This is also a delicious syrup and those who may deal with blood sugar issues might find this syrup to work well for them as agave nectar has a low glycemic index. Please be sure to specify which you would like.

organic hot cocoa that is made with honey granules (a natural sweetener), organic cocoa, and organic dry milk. It is great made with hot water and topped with whipped cream or for a richer and creamier beverage you could use hot milk.

all-natural chocolate wafers made with organic cocoa, sucanat, and organic butter. It has a deep chocolate flavor and goes great with a cup of coffee or cold glass of milk.

"Love Them With Chocolate" package- $20.00
Standard Shipping is $6.95

Take a look over at our store for more detailed pricing on all the items that we offer.

Thanks!

Nichole


Monday, January 30, 2012

Toothless grin


It seems to me, compared to other children their age, that our children lose their baby teeth later than most. Meghan is 7 and 1/2 and is just now losing her third tooth.  I am perfectly okay with this, unless one of them has a rotten tooth that I wish would fall out so we can get a second chance at taking better care of these pearly whites!

Meghan has been wiggling this thing for quite some time and finally it became loose enough that she pulled it out herself.

Thankful for this cute toothless grin,

 Nichole

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making Butter


When we lived in Waycross I was fortunate to be a part of a food co-op where I ordered everything online (from dairy to produce to dry goods to meat) and drove an hour and 20 minutes to go and pick it up. I did this once a month. It was quite an undertaking, but well worth it to me. I saved significantly on groceries and it was almost all organic. It would be crazy when we got home to unload and figure out a place to store 16 gallons of milk! Along with this milk, I would occasionally splurge and buy a pint or so of cream.

We looked up how to make your own butter. For some reason I thought it was some sort of complicated ordeal when in reality it is the easiest thing ever. Especially if you have a mixer. Maybe not so easy on the arms if you decide to churn it yourself. Cream can be expensive, unless you have your own cow :)  I wish. So, this may be something you decide to do when you can sacrifice in another area to provide the couple extra bucks to purchase some cream and give it a shot for yourself. The results are very tasty, sweet butter and some great buttermilk for baking.

This is great to do with the kiddos. We have split the cream up and poured into little tiny jars and let each kid shake away. They will think that nothing is ever going to happen, but after a few minutes the cream will thicken. A few more minutes and all of a sudden the cream will separate and wahlah....they will be excited that they actually made their own butter!



I have opted out of the sore arm from shaking butter all day and used my electric mixer. It takes about 10 minutes on a medium high speed before the magic of separation begins. You will have to rinse the butter carefully with very cold water and squeeze all buttermilk out until it is clear. This will keep the butter from going bad too quickly. Make sure you reserve the other liquid, which is your buttermilk, and save it for any recipe that calls for milk.

It is great on freshly baked bread or whole wheat toast!



Thankful for simple homesteading techniques like making your own butter...something that those who have gone before us did all the time,

Nichole

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Bad Hair Day?!


A couple of weeks ago little Mercy began to break out with little red bumps on her face. Over the course of a few days they multiplied and went down her neck and some on her arms. They also covered her scalp. I didn't know if this was hormonal or an allergy. I cautiously used our lotion bar and a green salve made from herbs to treat her face. These bumps began to clear but her skin was soooo dry and her scalp had gotten scaly looking as well. Since the lotion bar ( made from organic coconut oil and shea butter) and the salve did not cause any irritation I began to put it on her with every feeding. Every few hours. I used the lotion bar mostly and the salve once or twice a day.

The skin began to look great and is almost clear. But, what about that scalp? Hence, the bad hair. We gave Mercy her first hair conditioning treatment. I took the lotion bar and rubbed plenty on the tips of my fingers and then I began to work it into her hair. The dry skin on her scalp almost immediately began to soften and became easy to remove. This morning we will rinse it out and do it again later if we need to.

I was so thankful to be able to use something natural and nonirritating on her precious little head.

At times she wasn't so sure about it, though. Her big sister came to the rescue as her mean mommy made her pose for the camera. Morgan consoled her with a kiss and I quit taking pictures :)



Our lotion bars are still available for purchase. I believe you will enjoy them! Take a look over at the store for pricing.


Thankful that Mercy's skin is clearing,

Nichole

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Finally!



When we lived in Augusta, Ga our girls were able to take horse riding lessons. The horses were only a couple of miles down the road. It was perfect. The girls have always loved horses. Ever since they were toddlers they have asked for toy horses for Christmas. They have played with those for hours. When the opportunity to take lessons came up, they were thrilled. At the time it was only Madison, Morgan, and Mallory. The trainer would ride Joshua and Meghan for a few minutes after every lesson, so no one felt left out. That was over 3 years ago.

Until now...our Sunday School class gave each of our four oldest girls four lessons! It was such a blessing and they have been very excited. Finally, yesterday they were able to take the first lesson. Since it was their first lesson, it lasted for almost 2 hours. The trainer taught them how to brush the horse, check the hooves, facts about the horse, scooping up the poop :( , etc. After that, they walked the horses out to the corral and went over some safety issues and finally got to ride. Exactly what they had been waiting for.






In the meantime, with Mercy cuddled up in a wrap on me, I made sure these 3 little munchkins didn't fall in the creek!


The area was absolutely gorgeous and we all can't wait to go back.  I hope to get better pictures next time.

Thankful for a very giving Sunday School class,

Nichole

Monday, January 23, 2012

Eggnog...a winter drink?


A week or so ago a good friend of mine gave me some of her nutmeg that she had bought from the Breadbeckers. It smelled up the kitchen and the pantry and made me think of eggnog.

I have never been a big eggnog drinker, but for some reason the smell of that nutmeg had me craving it. Fortunately for me I had seen a recipe some time earlier on deliciously organics website.

I sort of felt silly for making it. It was a Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's drink, right? Well, who said you had to drink it only during those times. As a matter of fact, the stores will keep it in stock during the winter season. That says to me that it is good year round...I mean, at least for 3 months :)

Since making it (yum, yum) the kids have begged for it. I was surprised since it was thick and frothy. But, they loved it and wanted more. You could definitely make this lower in fat by using skim or a lower percent of milk. For us, we went for all the fat. We are blessed to be able to use raw milk, although you will notice the recipe calls for heating it slowly until 160 degrees.  We are also blessed to be able to use organic eggs produced by our beloved hens that we gave to my parents when we moved. They try to supply us with many of them every time we get to see each other.

I remembered a story out of Laura Ingall's "Farmer Boy" that confirmed my notion that eggnog is good year round. This book is dedicated to the life of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, as a young boy growing up on a farm. It is a great read and your kids would love it. During the early harvest when the sun was hot and the days were long they worked nonstop to make sure every thing was harvested and not wasted. Long, tiring days kept them in need of nourishing food to keep up their energy. On one particular day Almanzo's mother called him in to take all the workers a special treat made up by herself. Eggnog. Full of rich milk and cream, eggs and sugar. To that she added some wonderful spices. As they drank it down, it was ice-cold and delicious. Back to work they went with full bellies and renewed strength. Yum. Well, here is an healthier version using maple syrup. Give it a try. You will love it.

Eggnog


6 large eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup maple syrup
5 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon nutmeg (this is a little heavy, which we liked, but you may want to start with lesser amt.)
1/2 cup heavy cream whipped into soft peaks (optional)

Whisk eggs, yolks, and maple syrup in large saucepan until well combined. Whisk in milk, one cup at a time, mixing well. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches 160 degrees or mixture coats the back of the spoon (about 20 -25 minutes). (This is where the kids would come in handy, give 5 minute turns of stirring the custard). Pour through a sieve into large bowl or glass pitcher. Whisk in vanilla and nutmeg. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

When serving you can add some whipped cream to the top and sprinkle a little extra nutmeg.

Thankful that we don't always have to follow the "rules",

Nichole



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bless her heart




Barely a month old and little Mercy is getting her hair styled already. I don't know if the purpose behind it is to actually make her look cute or to get a few laughs.  Either way, when you are born with as much hair as she has and you have five older sisters, you better get used to it :)

She didn't even cry. She must not be tender-headed.

Bless her heart......

Thankful for my precious hair dressers,

Nichole


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Dentist...friend or foe??

Periodontal Probe Close Up

Scaler


Dentist Holding Dental Drill

Do these look scary or what? Dental instruments. I know I have had every dental instrument invented in my mouth at some point.

A couple of days ago our family made a 45 minute trip to go see the dentist.....again. It has been my life story since being married. I tease and say that Keith has spent more money on my teeth than all of our babies combined. The sad part of that, is its true!

As I was laying there getting a broken molar prepared for a crown I decided to actually look at the instruments going into my mouth. After going cross-eyed (It is hard to focus in on something that close to your face) by looking at them I decided it wasn't worth the effort. Oh, and that drilling noise....surely someone can invent a silent drill. It is terrible. I can see how people have a fear of going to the dentist.  And, those shots in your gum....those have hurt very badly in the past. BUT, there was a new numbing medicine applied to my gums first and it worked amazingly. I wouldn't mind having some of that stuff on hand for digging out splinters, pulling children's loose teeth, etc....

You know, come to think of it, I have had fillings, root canals, crowns, a bridge, and even pulled teeth. The last pulled tooth felt like half my face was coming off with it.

I hope none of you have any of these scheduled in the near future. This is not an encouraging post.  Just a simple reflection :)

I do have to say that we have been blessed with some fantastic dentists. In Augusta my dentist was a high school graduate of Keith's. He was good to us. We had no dental insurance and I had so many problems. Thousands of dollars worth of work. He worked with us and we finally paid for all of it.

My dentist here is super nice and efficient.  I do hate going, but if I have to go, may it be to a good one, right?!

As my mouth was numb and I was probably biting my tongue and not realizing it, I said in a distorted voice, "Kids take care of your teeth. Learn this lesson from your Mama!" I don't know if they understood what I said or not :)

Thankful for great dentists....I mean it,

Nichole