Saturday, December 12, 2015

Around Our House...

...Are the events of ordinary life. Laundry. Cleaning. Schoolwork. Never enough hours in a day to get it all done. 

But we are also smelling the fragrance of Christmas cookies.

And tasting them too.

We are folding soft itsy-bitsy baby clothing.

And anticipating using them in a few weeks.

We are singing our favorite Christmas carols. This week we sang at the rescue mission, a nursing home, and to some elderly neighbors.

We are remembering Jesus, and all He has done for us. Not just coming to earth as a baby, but going to the cross, and now interceding for us to the Father.

It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:34

From our family to yours...wishing you a Christ-centered, joy-filled Christmas.

I'll be taking a blogging break the next few weeks. I'll be back in January.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Three-Cheese Pasta with Sausage and Spinach

I love simple one-pot meals. I usually check out the "one-pan dinner" page of my mother-in-law's Cook's Country magazine for some ideas. This recipe came from a recent issue and my family called it a winner. I further simplified the recipe by using my home-canned pizza sauce for the sauce.

You can let out the spinach if you wish, but even my children didn't complain about the green stuff in this recipe.

Three-Cheese Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
(adapted from Cook's Country)

1-2 lb sausage links, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 pint pizza sauce
2 cups water
16 oz rotini or ziti pasta
5 cups chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese

In a large dutch oven or other oven-proof pot, cook sausage until browned.

Add pizza sauce, water, and pasta. Bring to boil on high heat. Then reduce heat and simmer until pasta is just barely softened.

Remove pot from heat and stir in spinach, 3/4 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Spoon ricotta on top of pasta and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Place in oven under broiler until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, approximately 4-6 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Six Homemade Spice Mixes

I buy spices in bulk and enjoy making my own spice mixes. There are many recipes online, but these six are my present favorite.

In the summer, I keep some of these mixes, especially ones like Ranch dressing powder, in the freezer to keep them from absorbing moisture in my humid kitchen.

I like to write the directions on a label on the jar to make it easy to whip up a dressing or dip.

Seasoning Salt

I keep this by my stove and sprinkle it on about anything I am adding salt to -as long as it isn't dessert.

1/2 cup salt
2 T paprika
1 T parsley
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp celery seed
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin

Mix all together. If you wish, you can blend it in a coffee grinder to make a fine powder.

Taco Seasoning

I like to have plenty of this seasoning on hand in the summer to quickly season ground beef or chicken for taco salad or burritos. This is also perfect for taco soup.

4 T onion powder
2 T salt
2 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T cumin
1 1/2 T oregano
1 tsp red pepper (optional)

Mix well. Two tablespoons equal 1 purchased package.

Ranch Dressing Mix

2 T onion flakes
2 tsp onion powder
2 T parsley
2 tsp paprika
1 T salt
2 tsp pepper
1 T garlic powder
Options: dill weed, tarragon, oregano, or celery seed

Mix all together. Two tablespoons equal 1 purchased package.

For dressing: Mix 2 T dry powder, 1 cup mayo, and 1 cup of buttermilk or kefir.
For vegetable dip: Mix 2 T mix and 2 cups sour cream.

Italian Dressing Mix

This is my newest mix, but I think it will be a favorite.

1/2 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
2 T oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 T parsley
2 T salt

Stir together. Two tablespoons equal 1 purchased package.

To make into Italian dressing: Mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2/3 cup olive oil, 2 T water, 2 T dry mix. Blend well. Serve.

My mom mixes chicken breast chunks, cream soup, cream cheese, and Italian dressing mix in her crockpot. The result is a wonderful rich chicken dish that we love served over mashed potatoes.

Onion Soup Mix

2/3 cup dried, minced onion
3 tsp parsley
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix well. I shake well before each use. Four tablespoons equal 1 packet of purchased onion soup mix.

I like to combine brown rice, water, onion soup mix, and raw chicken in a baking pan or crockpot for a yummy but simple meal.

Everything Season (Mural of Seasoning copy-cat)

1 1/2 T onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill weed

Mural of Seasoning is a spice from Penzey's that I love on just about everything - roasted potatoes, vegetables, meat, etc. My homemade version is not nearly like the real thing, I'm sure. But I like it just the same.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mailing Week - A Christmas Countdown

Today is a drizzly dreary day, perfect for holing up in the house and working on some Christmas projects. I've been at the sewing machine most of the afternoon and think I can finish up two sewing projects today. Such fun to strike projects off the list.

This is why I like to start Christmas preparations early. I enjoy these projects so much more when I have no time pressure.

This is mailing week. But I'm skipping sending Christmas mail this year. I'd rather wait and send out a baby birth announcement in January.

I know that with social media, sending a yearly Christmas update is fast becoming obsolete. I'm one of those strange folks that actually enjoy writing a family Christmas newsletter. It is fun to look back over the year and compile a review. Especially when Ed gives me a crazy idea like last year's Christmas card/letter. I'm still hearing from some who say that their children ask them to reread that Christmas card often - a compliment I never received before and proof that it wasn't your typical card. But the downside is that now I feel pressure to beat last year's creativity.

And I don't like pressure. So a note to all my real-life, snail-mail friends - expect my next Christmas letter to be the most boring you've read. Ever.

But even though I'm not doing Christmas letters this year, I hope some of my friends are. I love getting the mail in December. It is such a treat to find something beyond bills and advertisements in the mailbox. Whether it is a friend I only hear from once a year or see every week at church, I love the smiling family photos and letters (and no, none of them are the least bit boring.)

And this ends the Christmas Countdown. For the month of December you are on your own to complete your projects and enjoy special time with your family and friends.

Prepare - Mailing Week - Inspiration for the final week of the Christmas Countdown

So what about you?  What project is on the top of your list this week? And how are you relieving some of the pressure on yourself this month?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Escape from the Prison of Ungratefulness

Written at Thanksgiving several years ago.

I once said that mothers couldn't get sick. I was blessed with good health and couldn't remember when I was sick for longer than a day. But a bad cold hit me the week before Thanksgiving. And it refused to leave.

Don't pity me. I wasn't deathly ill, just miserable. I continued to care for my children - as much as I could from the couch. Casseroles from the freezer supplied our meals. Cleaning was non-existent. After I lost my voice, homeschooling entered survival mode.

My husband added household tasks on top of all his normal responsibilities. I was grateful for his help but typically I measure the success of my day by what I accomplish. Holding down the couch didn't qualify. I coughed like a chain smoker and could not sleep, but worse, I now felt like a total failure as a wife, homemaker, and mother.

God was working on me. 

He wanted me to discover joy in Him, not in my accomplishments. He longed for me to be thankful for the circumstances He placed me in and to find fulfillment in serving Him with my whole being – coughs and all.

The calendar reminded me that I had promised to visit an inmate. She had attended the Bible study at our local detention center and now had moved to a long-term prison facility in the city. I managed to feel good enough to keep the appointment. 

It was a scary, new experience to visit a large city prison. The high walls ribbed with rolls of barb wire silhouetted in the November darkness echoed the hard, cold eyes of inmates held  in sin's night.

Next time my gratefulness needs a boost, I'll remember to visit a prisoner. 

Or the homeless. 

Or the sick. 

Spending time with those who have far greater problems than mine drove me to sheepishly return to my Father and say "Thank you for my problems – my cough, my hyper children, my dirty house.”

God doesn't reserve His lessons on gratefulness to one day of the year at Thanksgiving. This year, a visit behind prison walls demonstrated the prison of ungratefulness where I resided. Thankfully, His Word holds the key to unlock the gate.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts...and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15) 

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17) 

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Freedom is found when my joy is based – not on my circumstances, but on the One who rules my heart. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Faces Of Syria - New Book!


We all have heard the stories and seen the photos of the Syrian refugees.

And if you are like me, you don't know what to think or what to do. I feel helpless faced with a problem of such magnitude. A problem with no easy answers.

That is why I was eager to read Faces of Syria, a new book just published by TGS International (a subsidiary of Christian Aid Ministries (CAM).

Katrina Hoover traveled to Jordan and Lebanon a couple months ago to listen and record Syrian refugees' stories. I enjoyed following along in her journey through Katrina's blog.

Katrina was joined by Rosetta Byers as photographer. Together the two made a photo book to share a perspective of the Syrian refugees that most of us will never have since we can not meet them personally.

Faces of Syria is a lovely book with full page photos on every spread. The book is brief yet poignant, sharing in a few of their own words the heartbreak and suffering these lovely people have experienced.

I want to share the needs of the world with my children in a safe way. I want them to know that not everyone has as comfortable life as they do. Since we don't have television, my children know very little about the world news. But we've been praying for the refugees and this book was a perfect way for them to get a glimpse into this crisis. With the many photos of children, it appealed instantly with my children and we were able to read about their lives in Syria and why they had to flee their homes.

The goal of Faces of Syria is to prompt us to pray for the people of Syria. To look at these photos and into the eyes of these precious children makes my heart long to bring hope to their hearts. And I know that prayer can reach through miles and borders and bring that hope.

As we near Thanksgiving and enjoy the many blessings we have been given, take time to remember those who have long for the lost days of peaceful homes and warm family times.

You may purchase Faces of Syria from TGS (which will help to support the work with needy around the world).

I was given a review copy of Faces of Syria but all opinions in this review are my own.

Baking Week - A Christmas Countdown

A new week and a new goal - this time baking.

For some of you, this week will be busy with Thanksgiving plans.

I'm not sure what the week will hold for our family. More than likely we won't do anything extra-ordinary, but Ed has a few days off work so just spending time together is always enjoyable.

The children are already talking about baking Christmas cookies, so I'm hoping to spend at least one evening this week with the sprinkles and cookie cutters. Likely the bulk of the baking won't be done until next week. I do like to have most cookie baking done at the beginning of December so that we can pull out Christmas cookies to take to various events throughout the month.

I'd love to hear about your family's baking traditions. What recipe do you look forward to making (or eating) every year?

Prepare - Baking Week - Thoughts on baking and the joy of the Lord

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

I know Home Joys already has lots of coffee cake recipes - thanks to Flo's generosity in sharing her many coffee cake recipes.  But this caramel apple coffee cake is one that I've made several times this fall - always to an appreciative audience.

I adapted this recipe from Southern Living. I use whole wheat flour. I suppose I want to pretend I'm making it better for me, but of course this is still firmly in the dessert category. You are welcome to use white flour if you prefer

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup honey

Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat and cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Store in fridge for up to a week. You will not need all of the caramel for this coffee cake, but it makes a great apple dip or ice cream topping.

Streusel Topping:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat or white flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together until well blended. Set aside.

1/2 cup soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat or white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups peeled and diced apples

Beat butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Mix in flour, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla. Pour batter into 9x13 pan. Top with apples. Drizzle with 1/2 cup caramel sauce. Sprinkle with all of the streusel topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool for at least one hour. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of caramel sauce immediately before serving. Store cake in fridge.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Grocery Shopping Week - A Christmas Countdown

A friend asked me this past week if I was keeping up with this Christmas countdown and had all my Christmas shopping done.

No, not even close. Most days I'm not getting anything done besides the basic cooking/cleaning/childcare. Time for extra projects of any sort is rare these days.

And that is okay. I'm not doing this Christmas countdown to make me or anyone else to feel behind. There is still plenty of time before Christmas. But for me, this countdown means that I have begun. I have made some lists and when I do find a few spare minutes, I'm making tiny steps of progress.

Some days, just beginning is the hardest step. So I'm happy about starting even if I can't brag of completed projects.

This week is grocery shopping week and this is actually one task I have accomplished.

Last week my mom was keeping my children for me while I had an appointment so I took the opportunity to stop at the grocery store and do a major stock-up. It is rare for me to go shopping without my children and I made the trip worthwhile.  My cart was heaped so high I could barely push it. It felt so good to have that project done.

I had more than Christmas on my mind. I bought newborn diapers and other items that I want on hand before the baby is due. As much as I hate shopping, it is a relief to have this checked off my list.

Of course I'll be at the grocery store again in the next weeks, but at least I was able to stockpile many of the non-perishables.

What about you? Will you be hitting some of the grocery sales in the weeks before Thanksgiving to stockpile some grocery basics?

Prepare - Grocery Shopping Week - inspiration from last year

Friday, November 13, 2015

Camping at The Farm

With dairy farmers and busy schedules, my family rarely spends a whole weekend together. This past weekend was the first time in six or so years that we attempted it.

But it was so worthwhile, even though some were coming and going throughout the weekend to take care of the cows back home.

Our camping destination was a little mountain farm about an hour away.

We hung out in the barn for most of the weekend.

A perfect place to enjoy meals, games, and just gabbing.

 I woke in the early morning to hear the sound of the basketball on the barn floor hours before breakfast. After staying up late, I couldn't believe the youngsters' energy level.

Those with endless energy (that wouldn't be me) biked,

took walks in the woods,

and played cornhole (plus soccer and football).

Pipe cleaner glasses are great assets for the cornhole spectators.

Or you could just hang out with cousins in the leaves.

And of course, we ate.

When my family is together, food is always the main event.

Each family took turns planning a meal, so we had a constant stream of good food.

And if the November chill got to you, the barn's coffee and snack bar was always available.

What are you enjoying this November?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Gift Shopping Week - A Christmas Countdown

I hate crowds. And I hate last minute stress. My goal each year is to be finished with Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving. I don't always meet the goal, but at least I can be close to completion.

I get a thrill out of seeing Black Friday sales and knowing that I don't need to worry about fighting crowds to save a few bucks.

We don't do a lot of Christmas gift buying compared to some, but starting early is a way to make sure we make wise choices and not just desperately grabbing anything that will possibly fit the occasion.

Prepare - Gift Shopping Week - Last year's preparation inspiration on making plans and praying for grace in the set-backs.

Gift Worksheet - free printable

I'd love to hear your hints on how to make gift shopping more painless.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Question: Teaching Your Daughter To Sew

My eleven-year-old daughter has been wanting to learn to machine sew.

I've been dragging my feet. I can still remember the trials I put my mom through when she taught me to sew. One skirt in particular had nearly every seam torn out as I sewed the pieces inside out and upside down. I just didn't know if I could be a patient teacher and I didn't want my daughter to have bad memories about sewing because of a frustrated mom.

But I think (or hope) my mom would say that teaching me to sew was worth it. At least it did not discourage her from teaching my younger sisters to sew. And I'm grateful to have the skills now. If my daughter had an interest, maybe I should at least try.

It doesn't seem long ago that I first taught her hand sewing with an embroidery patch. I thought my patience would be worn out on that first day. I had to sit beside her and help with each stitch otherwise she was putting her needle into the wrong side of the fabric and stitching her skirt to her patch. I didn't know that it was possible to get so many knots in one piece of thread.

But since then she has mastered many different stitches  and demonstrated that she has the patience to complete numerous pieces. And she can knots out of thread without my help at all.

Two or three years ago she cut out squares from scrap fabric and sewed the rows together with the sewing machine to make a comforter for her bed. She struggled with making straight seams but I thought she did well for her age.

But I also thought she needed a year or two before we tackled another project. Or maybe it was mom who needed more time.

Now I figured it was time to move onto the next step in teaching her to sew. If I could just move past my reluctance. (Maybe fear?)

So last week we gave it a start. We cut out two dresses. I taught my daughter how to pin the pieces together and she helped to sew all the straight seems. She also learned how to press the seams open. I sewed all the curved seams but it was a great start. She is eager to sew again, and I think I'm eager to try again too.

And we were all pleased with the final result.

But now I'm asking for your help. Do any of you have hints on teaching a young seamstress to sew? What are good projects to attempt? Do you have any books/patterns that have worked well?

And any good ideas on how to keep mom's blood pressure from rising?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Craft Week - A Christmas Countdown

If you acquired your supplies last week, you probably can't wait to get started.

With outdoor work finished, I'm eager to pull out the sewing machine and sew again. Last week I sewed some dresses for my daughters. This week my goal is to make some new coverings for myself. Maybe then I can dream up some Christmas projects.

Sew Mama Sew always has a November series on Handcraft Holiday that inspires me every year with their ideas and free tutorials. I'm sure I'll have several new craft ideas before the month is out!

Prepare - Craft Week - last year's inspirational post

Craft Worksheet - free printable

What craft projects do you hope to do this November?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Late Fall Gardening Goals

I'm always amused at the difference between spring and fall in the garden.

Or at least in my attitude toward the garden.

In the spring I can't wait to get outside and any day that is reasonably nice weather I find some excuse to be outdoors. I count down the days until it is safe to plant the garden and long for fresh picked vegetables.

In the fall, no longer does it seem urgent to enjoy the sunshine. I don't make the most of my garden opportunity; I'm even guilty of letting some of those wonderful veggies go to waste.

I just don't care.

But I have found that if I ignore the garden in the fall,  I pay the price in the spring. It is no fun to find garden hoses and tomato cages still in the garden in March.

 Two weeks ago we had our first frost. And it wasn't a light frost. It was a hard killing frost - the kind that makes the grass crunchy and hangs ice on the clothes line.

I was glad that the week before we had cleaned up most of the garden, pulling out the tomato cages and harvesting the last peppers and eggplant. I had also planted garlic.

Last week the children helped me several afternoons and we cut down all the old perennial plants such as asparagus, red raspberries, and the perennial flower beds.

It felt like a big job, at least for my pregnant body, and I couldn't have done it without the children's help. But now I can say that my outdoor work is completely finished. I have a few cabbage heads in the garden, but now I'm spending my time indoors, enjoying nesting.

As Ed mows the grass this fall (which hasn't been growing fast with the cooler weather and lack of rain) he chops up the fallen leaves and spreads this mixture of leaves and grass on all the perennial beds.

In some of the beds, such as this very weedy asparagus patch, we put down cardboard beside (not over) the asparagus crowns.

This mulch will be a huge time saver next spring and hopefully curtail some of our weed problems.

I have a few greens (lettuce, spinach, and kale) growing in the cold frame by the basement. I wish this was stuffed full, but the dry fall and my late planting means the growth is rather sparse. Still, we'll enjoy a few fresh salads.

Here is my late fall garden goal list.

1. Plant garlic. (October)

2. Trim off perennial plants.

3. Mulch perennial beds with chopped leaves.

4. Drain garden hoses, pull out tomato cages, clean up tools, and tidy the garden shed for the winter.

5. Write down notes from this year's garden to aid in garden planning next year.

6. Mulch strawberries with straw. (December)

Is anything still growing in your garden?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Cream Cheese Apple Bars

I've made this recipe several times this fall. Even though it has several different layers, it isn't difficult to make.

This recipe has been in my files for a while and I don't remember where I first found it. The original recipe was to be made in a spring-form pan. I prefer making it in a 9x13 pan. The bars are then easier to cut, though they are thinner.

Cream Cheese Apple Bars

1/2 cup soft butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Blend in vanilla and flour. Spread in 9x13 pan.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine cream cheese and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Spread over unbaked crust.

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 cups diced apples
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Toss apples in sugar and cinnamon. Arrange over cream cheese. Sprinkle on almonds.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool. Cut into squares. Serve.

I cut the squares into triangles for my mom's tea party.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Supplies Week - A Christmas Countdown

This week is Supplies Week. With the lists you made last week, next we will inventory the non-perishable supplies we need for crafting, baking, wrapping, and decorating.

Last week was crazy busy around our house. It is a relief to look at this next week and see nothing much planned.

But last week was successful in finishing up a number of projects, such as cleaning up the flower beds and making applesauce. I'm excited to do some fall projects now - such as organizing the children's winter clothing and sewing.

Here are some links for this week.

Prepare - Supplies Week  - read last year's post for inspiration

Supplies Worksheet  - free printable

What are your goals for the week? Does fall find you enjoying the last day's outdoors or indoor projects?

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Fall Birthday Tea

This week we had the fun of honoring my mom's 60th birthday with a tea party.

In my family, the females are far outnumbered by the menfolk, so it was special get together with just the girls.

The most popular guest was the newborn son of my sister-in-law - even if though he did break the all-girl attendance. Our girlie got some practice in being a big sister.

I'm not an experienced tea party hostess but I picked the brain of my talented friend, Regina, and drafted help from my sisters. My children had fun setting the table. Fall is such a fun time to decorate.

My mom is on the right with her sisters.

My sister made Michelle's wonderful pomegranate pear salad.

We had roasted red pepper soup and garden chowder.

I didn't get a picture of the sandwiches - croissant and foccacia bread with turkey, provolone, and apple slices.

Dessert was a choice of gingersnaps, apple torte, and chocolate coconut bars.

Thanks, mom, for giving us an excuse to enjoy good company and tea.

Monday, October 19, 2015

List Week - Christmas Countdown

Continuing the Christmas Countdown.

This week is List Week.

In this stage of life, I get very good at making lists, not because of Christmas, but because of the pending birth of our baby in January.

Whether it is nesting or just a good excuse to get some extra projects done, I have been making lists of all the things I wish to accomplish the next two or three months. My Christmas plans look small in comparison.

Ed pulls me back to reality by reminding me that there is only one thing that is necessary to do before this baby is born - go to the store and buy a box of diapers.

While I love my lists - and the fulfillment I get from checking things off the list - I do want to hold my lists with hands open. God might have different plans for the next months. I don't want to become so focused on my lists that I ignore the people God has put in my life, or worse, treat those people like projects to be completed and checked off.

Read last year's post to be inspired on your lists - and gain insights from David on how to hold your lists.

Prepare - List Week - last year's Christmas Countdown

List Worksheet - a free printable

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bookmarks: Children's Books on Famous Landmarks

Do you have a son (or daughter) who is enthralled with building projects? 

Here are some favorite pictures books for elementary-age children that will bring to life some of the amazing construction projects in America still standing today. These books all passed, not only my children's attention test, but also their mother's.

Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up on Mount Rushmore by Tina Nichols Coury, Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Lincoln was only a boy when his father, sculptor Gutzon Borglum, suggested carving four presidents' faces into a South Dakota mountain. But without Lincoln's help, this bold project would have never been completed. The astounding accomplishment of Mt. Rushmore is told, accompanied with great illustrations.

Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting, Illustrated by C.F. Payne

Robert thinks his father has the best job as an iron worker on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. But when an accident occurs, he realizes that each worker is important. A well-illustrated book that includes historical information about the bridge.

Follow four boys, a French metal worker, a sailor, a New York newsboy, and an iron worker—as they contribute to the building of the Statue of Liberty. Children interested in construction will pour over the detailed drawings that add interest and historical accuracy to each boy's story. The writing feels a bit stilted but the book has much to offer.

Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Jim Burke

A parallel story that tells of a young Russian girl on a journey to America and an artist with a bold vision for a statue that celebrates America's freedom. A reminder of the determination and persistence that made the Statue of Liberty, and a new home in America, a reality.

This book (and the others in the “You Wouldn't Want to...” series) take a humorous and sometimes sarcastic look at famous events. The illustrations are comic-style and are a hit with children, especially action-loving boys. But the historical information is solid, and this book gave a good overview of the challenges that faced the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.

Twenty-One Elephants by Phil Bildner, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

The amazing Brooklyn Bridge has been completed, but many are scared to walk on the new bridge. Everyone but Hannah. With the help of Barnum's twenty-one elephants, Hannah proves the Brooklyn Bridge is safe. A well-illustrated story based on a true event.

Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by James E. Ransome

The 1930's was a discouraging time for many Americans but the Empire State Building brought hope. This is the incredible story of one of the world's most famous buildings and the men, called sky boys, who dared the heights. Well-researched book combines with great drawings to make it worth your time.

Do you have any favorite children's book on building projects to add to this list?

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

20 Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Last year my porch was stacked with long-neck pumpkins (otherwise known as butternut squash). This year was a pumpkin growing failure but a friend gave us two huge neck pumpkins. I cooked one of the pumpkins and it made over 30 pint of pureed pumpkin!

But we love all the many ways to enjoy pumpkin, so it is a delight to have such abundance.

I was sorting through my pumpkin recipes and realized there are a lot of pumpkin recipes shared here at Home Joys through the years. I decided to make a index with links for the recipes to make it easier for you and I to find our favorites.

 Pumpkin Pie Squares

Flo's Pumpkin Pecan Braid

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

Flo's Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Ugly Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins - a Sunday evening tradition at our house

Pumpkin Angel Food Cake

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Spiced Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Curry Soup

My Mom's Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Granola Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Pudding

Spiced Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Squares with Cider Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Torte - I saved the best recipe for last. This is our hands-down favorite pumpkin dessert.

What is your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin?


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