Monthly Archives: March 2008

Robin Day! A Family Tradition for Spring

Living in the Midwest allows us to enjoy four distinct seasons. We’ve learned to appreciate each season, but the one we anticipate the most is spring.

We celebrated our first Robin Day years ago when my oldest was just a toddler. It had been a long cold winter with a little one who was anxious to play outside. I told him that we would watch for the first robin to come because that meant that spring was here.

When we finally saw that first robin, we were ready to celebrate! I made little bird nests out of rice krispies and put chocolate chips in them for eggs. It was a hit and a tradition was born.

Now every year we diligently watch for the first robin of spring and celebrate with bird nests for dessert. I’ve used several different recipes over the years and found that almost any no-bake cookie would work. Just put an indent in the middle to make it look like a nest. We’ve filled them with chocolate chips, M & M’s, jelly beans, red hots, whatever I have on hand that would be somewhat in the shape of an egg.

This year I used a no-bake cookie with peanut butter and oatmeal called Mud Cookies, pretty fitting actually!

Mud Cookies:

Boil for one minute: 2 cups sugar, 1/4 c. margarine, 4 Tbsp. cocoa, 1/2 c. milk

Add: 1/2 cup peanut butter, 3 cups oatmeal, 1 tsp. vanilla

Drop on wax paper and push an indent in the middle to make the nest shape. When cool and set, fill with peanut M & M’s or other egg-like treats.

I love having milestones like Robin Day to mark the passage of seasons and create family memories that bind us together!

Making My Own Suet (or How to Really Stink Your House Up and Make Your Children Gag!)

Make it yourself SuetI had read several articles and researched several recipes, so I felt prepared to attempt to make my very own suet.

It looked pretty easy. Melt fat and add lots of ingredients that birds like, such as nuts and seeds. No problem right?

I decided to use the packages of lard that have been at the bottom of my freezer since the last time we butchered a hog, say 3-4 years. (Somehow I never quite got around to using it!)

Do you have any idea what fat does when it sits in the freezer for a long time (say 3-4 years)? It gets rancid and very smelly. We discovered this as soon as I put the lard in a pot on the stove. The entire house was filled with the horrid smell of old fat. My children were running around with the noses plugged making gagging noises. I can’t blame them, I felt like it, too.

Thankfully the fat melted quickly and we could add the peanut butter, old wheat berries, and oatmeal to the pan. We mixed it quickly and poured it into an old cake pan to harden.

Once you got past the smell it actually went pretty well. They birds seemed to enjoy it, the chickens loved the scraps that fell off, and I got rid of some very old (say 3-4 years) lard.

I’d say it was a win-win for everybody (at least once the smell cleared out of the house)!

Chocolate Town Pie and Family Fun

We had an impromptu family get-together on Sunday. You know the kind, where everybody brings what they have then you set it out and enjoy. It had been awhile since we were all together (November, actually), so there was a lot of catching up to be done, lots of stories to tell and laughter to share.

Of course, this was all done around the tables full of food!

One of my sisters is quite a baker. In the summer months she and her daughter sell baked goods and garden produce at two different farmer’s markets. It is amazing to see their kitchen on baking days! Flats of cookies, rows of pies, and many loaves of bread all line up waiting to be loaded and sold. Glorious smells just float out of the house.

This Sunday she brought a new recipe called Chocolate Town Pie. It reminded me of the the more traditional Toll House Pie, but not as heavy or greasy. This was rich, but light and really delicious!

Chocolate Town Pie

In small bowl cream 1/2 c. soft oleo

Add 2 eggs and 2 t. vanilla. Mix well.

Add 1 c. sugar and 1/2 c. flour. Mix well.

Stir in 1 c. chocolate chips and 1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Pour in 9 ” unbaked pie shell. Bake 45 – 50 min. at 350. Cool one hour, serve warm.

This is the perfect pie to eat with a big scoop of ice cream or even cool whip. I wish I had a picture to share with you, but it was so good that the pie was gone before I could snap one!

Garden Seeds and Faith

We actually left “the wilderness” this week-end. Since we heat only with a wood stove, we can’t leave during the cold winter months because then the fire would go out and everything would freeze in the house. But Sunday was finally warm enough for us to venture forth to what my youngest calls “the Big Town.”

We left right after church and drove in 60 degree temperatures. We were able to enjoy wonderful fellowship with my family, and an amazing Mark Schultz concert (I got the tickets for my birthday!) before the temperatures dropped over 30 degrees and the freezing rain, sleet and snow began.

So much for Springtime!

My husband assured me the house would be fine for one night, and it was too dangerous to drive home anyway. So we spent the night.

We woke up to 4 inches of heavy snow but bright sunshine. I guess that’s the good thing about a snowstorm in March, they don’t last as long or pack such a mean punch.

When the streets were cleared we were able to run a few errands, including a stop to buy garden seeds. Yes, garden seeds.

There is 4 inches of snow on the ground, an arctic wind is blowing, and I’m standing in my wool coat choosing between sweet corn varieties! Now that is faith!

I don’t know what the weather will be tomorrow, or the next day. I don’t know what kind of a growing season we’ll have. Yet, every year I faithfully buy garden seeds, till the soil and plant, trusting God with the increase.

That’s how I see our home schooling as well. I don’t know what God has in store for my children; what kind of “growing seasons” they will endure. But every morning I get up and till the soil and plant the seeds of faith in their hearts, trusting God with the increase.

Some days it seems as if spring will never come, as if I’ll never see any fruit in their lives, but God is faithful. “Let us not become weary in well doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Keep the faith today. Spring will come. You will see fruit in your children’s lives!

Yet Another Varmint: The Pesky Squirrel

Here he comes, straight down the roof of the gazebo, heading straight for the feeder, which is conveniently located right outside the patio door for perfect viewing.

Just finished his meal and is heading back…

…when he spots the suet feeder and has a little dessert!

These great shots were sent to me by my sister. They had quite a time with that pesky squirrel!This is one time that even a squirrel baffle wouldn’t have helped. But it did provide some wonderful entertainment for the children!