Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Over the weekend I did a lot of baking and cooking. We had Homecoming at church and I always try to prepare a lot of delicious food to share with my church family and guests as well. We want to make sure everyone has plenty to eat and enjoys their time together as we have a meal and fellowship after our worship service. 

But on Saturday afternoon, I had to take a break from cooking for the church and turn my attention towards another project. My Dad is turning 60 this year and they were having a surprise birthday party for him. I couldn't think of anything he might like better than a black walnut cake. His Aunt Lucille used to make them for family reunions and he loved them. I don't have her recipe, but I tried my best to come close. After having a piece, my Dad said that this recipe was better than hers. My Aunt Lucille was a precious lady and a wonderful cook... so I take that as a very high compliment! 

This cake is wonderfully moist and rich. Have a nice hot pot of coffee brewing to help cut some of the sweet. ;)

Black Walnut Cake 

Cake ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp black walnut extract
1 cup chopped black walnuts
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Frosting ingredients:

3/4 cup butter softened
12 oz cream cheese softened
7 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp black walnut extract

Cake Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening; gradually add sugar, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In another bowl, combine buttermilk and soda; stir until soda is dissolved.
Add flour to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
Mix after each addition.
Stir in vanilla and black walnut extract.
Add in 1 cup black walnuts; stir well.
In another bowl, beat egg whites (at room temperature) and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form; fold egg white mixture into batter.
Pour batter into 3 greased/floured 9-inch round cake pans.
Bake in a 350° oven for 22-25 minutes or until pick comes out clean.
Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Frosting Directions:

Beat cream cheese and butter together; begin adding powdered sugar a little at a time. Once incorporated add vanilla and black walnut flavorings. Beat til light and fluffy
Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.
Press additional chopped walnuts onto sides of cake.

Monday, June 26, 2017


The week before family camp, the kids wanted to take some of their money they earned and buy themselves a fishing pole. None of them had much knowledge on the subject... but Eli had been several times before. We visited Bass Pro Shop and the kids found poles that fit their needs and their budgets. 

They used them on our camping trip, but because the water was so cold, there wasn't much biting. Eli and his cousin Logan did catch some catfish though! 

Last week a sweet man from our church allowed them to come over and fish in his pond. Carlie and Abe caught their first fish and they were so excited! 
They ended up catching several each and that just thrilled them to pieces. 
I'm so thankful for those who invest in my children's lives. To help give them opportunities to learn and grow and experience new things. 
Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Family Camp '17

Something my children and I have looked forward to all year was our next family camp in TN. We planned it LAST year for this year, that's how much fun we had and were eager to do it again! I remember when we would camp with our cousins when I was a kid and it is very fond memories for me, so it makes me happy that my kids are enjoying that same thing. They love waking up with their cousins and planning out adventures for the day. All. Day. Long!
This year was no different. It was definitely an adventure, and even through what we might could consider problems or challenges, I told myself and the kids that we would look back on this time and say... "Remember that time when we went camping and this happened???" It will make things more memorable. 
During the trip up to Kingston, we were delayed a good bit because of wrecks. Come to find out the wreck was a motorcycle that was in line right before me at the gas station just a half hour before. It was startling to see... I pray that the driver is ok. 

Then as we eased up a bit further, my sister and her family had a flat on their trailer and no spare. We finally made it up to them after waiting so long in traffic and were able to pick them up and get off the road to a weigh station that was out of service. We were able to wait there while the men went to get a new tire and get it on. 

So many ways we could have looked at this as big problems, but as I think about it and I said it that day... If we had been traveling at a normal 70 mph... if that tire blew, it could very likely have been a different story. Thankfully we were all just moving along slowly. 

And when the men went to get the tire repaired, they pulled into a tire store and there was a guy we went to church with! The Lord was gracious to us for sure. Darryl helped them fix the tire and get everything up and going again to get back on the road. 
We got to camp and set everything up and had a nice evening. 

The next morning we had a big breakfast planned of breakfast burritos! 
Some cooked, some tended fire, some watched the littles as they played, some made coffee, some washed dishes... everyone had a hand in making it such a great time.

Then that night as the evening progressed, we had a few warnings about some bad weather coming in. There had been a chance all day, but nothing ever came about, so we were hoping that the weather would not be a big deal for the evening... but that wasn't the case. 

As we sat around talking and drinking coffee, we started getting a bit more serious warnings about the weather... not just rain, but storms... heavy storms. 
As the storms grew closer, we realized that we were directly in the path. 
Then a confirmed tornado only 20 min away. 
We knew we had to do something. 
Thankfully Paige grew up in Kingston and had plenty of connections. She found us an empty house that was in her family and we were able to go and take shelter in its basement for the evening. As we were driving over the storm started coming through. It was a very scary experience. The wind and rain wasn't coming down but coming in from the side! Debris, rain, wind, fog... it was frightening to drive through. 
Praise the Lord, we all made it ok and were able to take refuge in the basement of her Aunt's old house. 
Some of us slept very well. ;) Lil cutie!
The next morning was spent packing up all our soaked camping gear and heading back home because the next day was supposed to be more of the same... our trip was cut two days short, but we enjoyed what time we were able to have. And it doesn't deter me in the least to want to go again. That's just part of it. You deal with it and move on. 

So family camp this year was a little different... but it was still great and we will have fun memories to think back on. 
"Hey... remember that time we went camping and the tornado was coming through and we slept all night in an empty houses basement???" 
Good times.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Yesterday we had a fun day planned with some of our most favorite friends coming over for a going-away party, play-day. We had a lot to do to get ready and got started very early yesterday morning, but woke up to quite a bit of rain that we thought was supposed to end through the night. 
When Eli went out to check on the animals, he came in to report that one little chick had died. I was very sad because all of them seemed to have been doing so well. I assumed it had just gotten wet and cold. After he told me about the chick, he came back to me a minute or so later and said, "Mom... it's not all the way dead yet." It reminded me of that scene on "The Princess Bride" where Miracle Max tells them that Westley is only MOSTLY dead, but not all the way dead. So I donned my best Miracle Max attitude and started to work. 

I told Eli to bring me the chick and a towel into my bathroom. I really felt like Max because when I saw this little gal, I was thinking that it would definitely take a miracle for this one to live. I started rubbing the chick with a towel and warming it with the hairdryer. Then we got a small syringe and fed it water in little drops. After about 20 minutes of warming and feeding water, we had a bit of movement. I told the kids, if it would just open it's eyes, I would begin to feel better. Not too long after, eyes would pop open for a brief second or two. I felt hopeful.

After I got that amount of hope, I had Eli go and grab a box with some shavings from the garage. Not two minutes after he walked outside... I heard "MOM!!!!" 
Oh boy... what now?
"Mom, there is a opossum in the shavings!"

When I heard that I just had to shake my head... What a day and it was only about 8 in the morning!!!! I said, "well, we are going to have to get rid of it, it will kill the chickens!" So out the boys went again, and not a few minutes later I find this in my house! 

I will admit to you, that it was cute. Surprisingly cute. 

A friend took it home with them, but what a funny morning it all turned out to be... We had a grand day with our friends and are so very thankful for their presence in our lives.
And I'm happy to report that little chick is alive and well this morning! 

Have a lovely day, friends!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekend happenings

Over the weekend we worked on the chicken yard some more. Preparing for Eli's new hens to be on the pasture. We secured fencing, made sure there were no obvious holes in the hen house and got things ready for the big move. We put babies in the portable pen for keeps and put the older ladies on pasture. Being that they were out there now, we wanted to get a rooster to help protect them, and we would love to hopefully hatch off our own chicks one day. So, welcome Big Red #2. 

He's a Copper Maran rooster, and boy is he pretty. His coloring is incredible. Too many colors to even name. The colors of his tail feathers are so unusual... after all the reds and greens on his chest, his tail feathers are black and white. We were immediately taken with his beauty. Plus, he's good with the hens, so we were happy to take him home. 
Fresh eggs again! What a blessing!