Monthly Archives: October 2008

On Planning and Wood Floors

Poppa Sanding

Poppa Sanding

We are in the final stages of a massive home renovation. Eight years ago we moved a large beautiful old farm house to our land and have been slowly fixing it up.

We gutted it, rearranged the rooms slightly, replaced windows, put in a ground source heat pump, replaced the roof, redid the electricity and the plumbing, all before finally dry walling, painting and now refinishing the floors.

Eight years worth of hard work and we’re down to just a few more tasks before we can move in. Yet these few tasks have been very frustrating. Everything is taking longer than it is supposed to and not going according to plan.

We “planned” to spend 2 weeks on the floors. We’re now on week 3 with work still to be done.

We “planned” to just sand the pine floors upstairs, stain them and use them as is. We ended up spending days painfully removing the glue-like gunk from those floors before we could even think about varnish.

We “planned” that the varnish would seal in the stuff between the cracks in those pine floors- but it didn’t. It keeps floating up and coming out. Yuck.

We “planned” to be moved in by November 1st.  Not gonna happen.

Our new plans include carefully removing the gunk from between the cracks and varnishing them again.

We just added it to the to-do list that gets longer every day.

I was telling my woes to my brother the other day and he very wisely said, “Plans are what you make while real life happens.” So true.

He also said, “The best battle plans only last until the enemy army approaches.” Thanks, Tim.

I think it’s time to stop looking at my to-do list that never gets any shorter and start looking to my Heavenly Father who knows all things.

He knows my needs, my desires, my dreams. He knows my frame- He designed it! He knows our schedule, our finances, our strength.

He has great plans for me- He promised.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.”

Tying Shoes & Trusting God

Untied Shoes

My lovely niece Sarah sent me this recently. It touched me and I thought you would appreciate it, too. So I’m letting Sarah be my guest blogger today. Enjoy

I read a verse that made me laugh this morning.

It was in Isaiah 26:12 and said, “Lord, you have established peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us.”

What a way for God to point out the humility I need to have! EVERYTHING I have ever accomplished was really God doing it. And it isn’t even the work through me like I used to like to think —  it actually was God doing it for me.

Like a little kid who needs help tying their shoes. It definitely is still their shoe that gets tied, but it is the adult who does the tying.

What a crazy humble God who lets me think I am doing so much when it is only Him doing anything.

Coke Cake

The case of the disappearing coca cola cake was solved this week when a puzzled home school mom called to ask how she ended up with my cake pan!


Since the cake was such a big hit the first time we made it, Dagmar made another this week while some friends were visiting.

It disappearing again, but this time I watched it go- piece by moist and delicious piece!

Coca Cola Cake

Combine 1/2 cup margarine, 1/2 cup shortening, 3 tablespoons baking cocoa, 1 cup coca cola and 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and pour over 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of flour. Stir well.

Add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon of soda. Mix well.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan.

Frost with Coca Cola frosting.

Coca Cola Frosting

Combine 1/2 cup margarine, 3 tablespoons baking cocoa, and 6 tablespoons of coca cola in saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Add 16 ounces of powdered sugar and beat till smooth.

Spread on cooled cake.

Keep an eye on the finished cake- now you see it- now you don’t!

Apple Song

Camille Pissarro Apple Harvest

Apple Song

The apples are seasoned and ripe and sound

Gently they fall on the yellow ground

The apples are stored in the dusty bin

Where hardly a glimmer of light creeps in

In the firelit winter nights, they’ll be

The clear sweet taste of a summer’s tree!

~Frances Frost

Crab Apple Jelly

Crab Apple Jelly

During a recent phone conversation, my Mom told me about the crab apple jelly she and dad had mixed up. She agreed to write it out and share it with us all. So here is my Mom (otherwise known as Nana) as a guest blogger:

We have tried for years to get a tree started to the west of our house for some cool shade. I’ve lost count of how many trees we’ve planted there!

Finally a crab apple tree lived more than a year! It has grown and produced fruit over the last few years, but never the size not the number that fill the branches this year!

Since the crab apple sits right outside our dining room window, it seemed to challenge us at every meal to do something with it’s fruit. Being the frugal people we are, we just couldn’t let it go to waste!

Papa and I had discussed the possibility of making some jelly with it, but he’s been busy with black walnuts and my list of in-house projects took priority- until this week. We looked at each other and said, “Let’s do it!”

Papa picked 3- 5 quart plastic buckets of crab apples while I surfed the web to find some information and recipes for crab apple jelly.

He suggested that we put some red-hot cinnamon candy in for a boost in flavor! (The grand kids can tell you that Papa likes to put red hot candies in lots of things- like the popcorn popper when making popcorn and adding them to pancakes!)

We decided that there was a reason for the name “crab”- definitely not sweet and almost bitter!

Was it frugal? With the cost of sugar, sure-jell and flats to seal the jars, I’m not sure. But the color is beautiful! And it tastes great! With all the sugar and the candies, it is delicious on bread, toast and crackers.

Prairie Crab Apple Jelly

Wash 3-4 gallons of crab apples. Remove stems (nail clippers work well) and blossom end. Discard any apples with blemishes.

No need to cut or core, just place the apples in a stock pot and barely cover with water.

Bring to a boil and 20-25 minutes until soft. (Too long will make them bitter.)

Pour through a fine strainer. In order to have clear jelly- DO NOT PRESS! Discard the apples.

Measure 7 cups of juice in and put in a deep pot (you will need room for it to boil.)

Add 9 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of red hot cinnamon candies.

Stir constantly until you have a full rolling boil.

Add 1 box of sure-jell and continue to stir. Bring to a full rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim foam from the top. (One recipe said that you could add 1 tablespoon of butter to the juice to eliminate the foaming.)

Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

Yield 13 cups of jelly.


Until next time,

Travels with Papa & Nana