Faith Family and Feathers

Fun on the farm with faith and family

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My Mulberry Jam

We are lucky enough to be able to lease property each summer to keep our lake cabin (trailer) on.  We spend almost every weekend there enjoying the beach, the water and all of our wonderful friends and neighbors there.  In the back yard of the lot which we rent is a huge mulberry tree.  Every other year this tree produces a massive and beautiful crop of mulberries.  Last weekend my daughter and I spent some quality time picking the mulberries and this week we processed them into a very yummy jam. Here is the process we used.   

I find jam turns out best if made in small batches.  So we used 4 cups of berries, 4 ½ cups of sugar and one package of Sure jell. 

Be sure to prep the berries.  Mulberries come of the tree with a little bit of a stem still intact.  We sat down with a scissors and simply trimmed off the little “tails”.  Then put the berries in a heavy bottom sauce pan and mush them up (a hand potato masher works great).  I added ½ cup of sugar to liquefy the berry juice a little.  Once the berries are mashed follow directions on your pectin.  I used Sure jell so I added the pectin to the existing mixture and brought it to a rolling boil then added the other 4 more cups of sugar.


Now bring to a rolling boil again and keep boiling for 1 minute.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove jars and place on heat resistant serface.

Let them cool and store or better yet enjoy now!


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Lord, help me to trust you when I don’t understand.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.  Deuteronomy 29:29

Junker car

My 18 yr old son has 2 vehicles.  One is a pick up that is currently torn apart because he has a plan of fixing it up and painting it really fancy.  The other one is a real “junker” just an old Honda that he bought cheap for the low gas mileage.  Yesterday his  “junker” decided it didn’t have another trip in it.  It died on his way to work and he needed to call for a ride the rest of the way.  His pickup is in pieces and undriveable until he has some time and money to put it back together.  So he asked if we’d cosign a loan for him to get a different vehicle.  Since he moved out as soon as he turned 18 and his taking care of himself, he really doesn’t have room for another payment, (he’s still paying on the pickup he already has, the one that’s not driveable) so we refused.  He looked defeated. We could so easily have said yes and made his problems go away.  We could have said “don’t worry son, here’s the money, go get what you need”  And don’t kid yourself, I WANTED TO!  It’s just so hard to watch your kids struggle.  But what will they learn if you fix their problems for them?  Will they ever be able to manage their own finances if we’re always “kicking” in? Ever so reluctantly, he agreed that the best course of action was to get his current pick up put back together (maybe not fancy) so that he can at least have some wheels.  Then once he gets his tools paid off (he’s a mechanic and has gotten in deep to the Snap-on tool guy) or his current pick up paid off then he can look into something else.  I know he doesn’t understand why we don’t fix this for him.  I know he thinks we’re being mean and thinks we’re trying to punish him for something.  But someday he will see that this was the best decision.

Don’t we sometimes feel this way when God doesn’t answer our requests with a resounding “YES”.  Do we feel that he is punishing us for something? That He is being “mean”? God tells us “no” or “not yet” because there is something greater going on that we can’t see.  In the same way, when we tell our children “no” or “not yet”, there is a greater reason than they can understand right now.

LORD, help me to trust you more and to understand that when you tell me “no” or “not yet” it is because there is a bigger better plan in action.

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The Weekly Menu

Well I survived the last weeks busy VBS schedule in fine shape.  I just sat down and planned this next weeks menu.  This should be a fairly normal week for us. I do have alot of canning I want to get started on so most of the meals are fairly simpls. The only activity I’ve got going is a Bible study gathering on Thursday night so that’s night menu is the easiest.  There are a few more new recipes I’m trying along with a few we just haven’t had for a while.

Monday – Southwest Skillet (New)

Tuesday – Biscuits & gravy with corn (New – requested by my 13 yr old son)

Wednesday – Chicken Wraps (using leftover chicken from last week that I froze for later use)

Thursday  – Veg All casserole (an easy one my mom used to make)

Friday – Pizza Pockets and salads

Saturday – Hobo meals (an old favorite from my day camp days)

Sunday – Grilled burgers and hot dogs. (standard summer food!)

I’ll post recipes for some as time goes on.  If there is one you are particularly interested leave me a comment to let me know and I’ll be sure to list it.  Have a great week.

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The Duck Pond – They do love the water.

I just love to watch the ducks enjoy their “pond”.  It’s a pretty snazy “pond” too.  No really it’s just a kiddy pool we picked up at the Dollar General earlier this year.  Even though we live only about 200 yrds from the creek they still love to swim round and round in their pool.  Just in case you like to watch them as much as I do, I included the following clip.

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Canning dried beans – easier than I thought!

I’ve been trying to gradually transfer my pantry to more foods that are preservative free.  One way I’ve discovered I can do that is to buy dried beans and can them myself.  Dried beans are a great way to get your legumes and still save some money, but they are a bit inconvenient because they take so long to process.  By canning them I can shorten the time to prepare meals by having them already canned  in my pantry  I love black beans, chic peas, and pinto beans  and always have them in my pantry.  I also use a lot of navy beans in my calico beans recipe.  So I went to our local supermarket and bought up a bag of each of these beans.  That night I put each bag of beans in its own bowl to soak.

I left them soak for about 12 hours.  This step really is important because the beans take on a lot of water.  The bean on the left is the soaked bean and the bean on the right is the dried bean.

After soaking for at least 12 hours, drain the beans and put them in a large pot (each type of bean in its own pot) and add fresh water.  Heat pot to a boil for about 30 minutes.  Add water as necessary.  Now fill your quart canning jar with beans and the hot water you boiled them in,  Be sure to leave 1″ head space for any expansion, add 1 tsp of canning salt to each quart jar.  Now place the canning lid on top of jar and secure it in place with the ring.  Process in pressure canner at 10 lbs of pressure for 90 minutes.

Not only are they healthier they’re pretty too!

I ended up with 6 pints of pinto beans, 3 pints of navy beans, 3 pints of black beans and 3 1/2 pints of chic peas.

Now that I know how to do this I hope to have some of these beans available in my garden next year.

Have you canned dried beans before? If not give it a try.  It’s way easier than you think.

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Lord, more of you and less of me.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10: 35-36 (NIV)

I love this verse!  I think it’s because I get discouraged very easily and need constant reminding to keep “my chin up”.  We’re not going to succeed in everything we try and we may even mess up on things we’ve succeeded in before.  We’re not perfect and need to allow that reality to soak into our brains.  We are to do our best for God and when we fall we need to get back up and keep trying without mentally beating ourselves up for falling in the first place.  I like to read the In Touch magazine with  Charles Stanley and this month there was a quote in it that I want to always remember.  I hope you find it as enlightening as I do.

“Living in discouragement will divide the mind, making it hard to focus on anything besides our pain.”

No wonder I can’t focus!  My mind is divided.  Lord, help me to focus more on you and less on me. Amen.

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Healthy, Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

My family just loves spaghetti and I’ve tried almost every brand of spaghetti sauce on the market.  I wanted to find one that was as healthy and preservative free but any of the healthier version I tried left my family with sour faces.  Until I found this recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce.  They love it!  When my mother was visiting I made it for her and she loved it too!  Now it’s the only spaghetti sauce we use.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.  The recipe below is for a single batch.  I always make at least a double batch (which is what the pictures show) and freeze the extra for a future meal.

Homemade spaghetti sauce

2 TBS olive oil

1 med chopped onion

4 garlic cloves (pressed)

1 can (28 oz) tomato sauce

2 tsp parsley (or 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley)

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 C chopped green pepper (optional)

1/2 C spinach (optional) I like to throw this in because it’s good for them and they never even know it’s in there 🙂

1/2 c chopped fresh mushrooms (or small can)

Heat oil in pan and add onion and garlic to cook.

Add green peppers, mushrooms, and spinach (and anything else you want to sneak into it, my MIL adds carrots to hers)

We usually like a little meat in our spaghetti sauce so while the onions and such are cooking I have another pan on the stove browning the ground beef, pork, or turkey.

Once your vegies are cooked, pour in your tomato sauce.

Now add your parsley, basil and oregano and simmer for at least 30 minutes and serve over your favorite noodles.

Serve over your favorite pasta noodles. In an attempt to make this dish a little more figure friendly I like to use cabbage “noodles” rather than pasta.