Friday, October 31, 2008

Little Stinker(s)!

Westley






Westley is in a borrowed costume (the next door neighbors Jill and Aaron had it for last year!) ... he looks completely precious. So of course, brother and sister had to get in on the cuteness action. Looks like we have an entire family of skunks!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let' s hear it for homeschool!

Chris: "What did you learn today?"

Matthan: " I learned that yankee doodle song."

Chris: "I'm a yankee doodle dandy?"

Matthan: "No, it goes Yankee doodle get it up."

Chris: "Oh, Yankee doodle keep it up."

Matthan: "yeah" ... breaks out into song...

"yankee doodle keep it up, yankee doodle keep it up,
yankee doodle keep it up and let the girls be handy!"

~ It literally took an hour to be serious enough to type this up! ~ Paige

Monday, October 27, 2008

Born to be Loud

Born to be Loud below a drum set!

Really... Tracie bought him this onesie for his baby shower and he is just now fitting into it!

Hilariously enough, right about the same day I caught him drumming. He crawled over to Matthan's hand drum (during music class, but Matthan had stopped drumming for this song)... then he began to drum on it. (yes well, he chews on everything!)

video

GO RAMS!!



Just an adorable Daddy/Baby Son moment!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Farmer In Chief

I found this today... I think it pertains to all Americans... it is worth the read...


The Food Issue
by Michael Pollan

Dear Mr. President Elect:

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

Please click the link to read the rest!


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.html?_r=5&ref=magazine&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Entertaining ourselves...

video
This is what we do for fun on a Saturday afternoon. Really. Chris was playing guitar and the kids were getting a big kick our of the new apple peeler/slicer/corer thingy I picked up yesterday. Plus I was finishing up the canning of the second 19 gallons of apples!

Westley Moving ...

video

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MILESTONE !!!

Bottom Left Front Tooth !!!

Westley has cut his first tooth! It is officially through the gums. No wonder he has not been his perfect self for the last day or two. We are so proud of him... what a trooper he was getting this tooth in! and it looks like the front right tooth is not far behind !!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fruit is an ever beautiful thing...

My artistic photo of one bowl full of fresh fruit


and another bowl

This was the clean bounty after cleaning out all webs, worms, spiders and raisins!

... The following are backward... sorry!
Finished grape juice! ~ 8 Cups

Straining the juice
(after food milling the hot grapes to separate seeds & skins)

Cooking the grapes down

Food Processor - before cooking them down (it helps bring out more juice)


We were GIVEN a cooler full of freshly picked "Norton" grapes yesterday. Our neighbor went out to Elsberry and picked them with her kids at an uncle's vineyard. Apparently the local vineyards had such great crops this year with all the rain that they are not purchasing from this vineyard. My neighbor tells me they have approximately 1 ton of Norton grapes that will be wasted. WHAT?! How can this be? Norton makes a lovely vintage. sigh. Oh bother, I won't be taking on the expense and time consuming pursuit of making homemade wine just yet. (what with a move in the near future!) But boy was I tempted... :)

Instead, I took the whole lot and cooked it down and made fresh Grape Juice for Chris and I... a perfect breakfast companion! AND a lovely way to have communion in the mornings at home!

It is very surprising to spend time cleaning and cooking all those lovely grapes and then hand mill them and strain them and end up with less than 3 quarts of juice for my efforts!! It does taste incredible though... in an organic way it is worth every second of time spent.

Plus our gleaned fruit just keeps multiplying. hmm multiplying fruit... fruitful multiplication.

The kids are all great! Everybody has been eating apples like crazy... they love them... but they really love them peeled and curlyQ'd. The neighbor loaned me her peeler/corer/slicer thingy and it is fabulous. Going to be looking for one at garage sales... or resale shops. I got a great bargain last saturday after we picked all those apples... somebody had a brand new flat bottom Stainless steel 16 quart soup/stockpot that I got for $5! BARGAIN! I had been looking for a nice sturdy one to handle large batches of soup for church functions, but the good ones are all too expensive and the cheap ones are all too thin and poorly made. This one is thicker than some and perfect for what I need! Yes, that is it above holding the cooking grapes!

We still don't have a signed contract for the purchase of this home... we expect to get that from our buyer any day. He has a financial detail holding him up... it affects the letter of the contract, so we patiently (huh, well, Chris is anyway!) wait. We know God safely has the details.


Incredibly God showed up and impressed a few things to me today... I love the sounds of His voice...

"The fruitfulness of the winter season is now apparent in her life."

The Season of Preparation before the Harvest. ... the vines with tender grapes give a good smell. - Song of Songs 2:13

... for our vines have tender grapes. Song of Songs 2:15

"Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick." Song of Songs 2:5

and of course ... the word play...
The fun part about the last scripture is that I don't eat raisins YUK. (um, yeah... I always picked them out of the sweet potatoes and now I just don't put them in!) Yet, I do love grapes any kind of grapes!

anyway.. we have had an abundance of apples around here... I just made applesauce cake Saturday YUM! So I have been sustained with cakes of apples, had raisins delivered attached to fresh sweet grapes, and been refreshed with apples (we just picked our 2nd batch!)

Isn't God fun! He sends us kisses right when our heart needs them the mostest. oh and let me just say again...
I am Lovesick!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fruity Fruit Fruit Fruit

Pears - Baby food style!
From next door into our freezer - this fits the 100 foot challenge!


Another 19 Gallons of Golden Delicious Apples
Compliments of a friendly neighbor!

Ripe Tomatoes (Neighbor with apple trees!)
Ripening tomatoes (same neighbor guy)
Green, but ripening tomatoes (neighbor with apple trees)

Gleaned Fruit! Today Caitlyn and I took the ladder over to that neighbors house and picked some of the tops of his trees (well not exactly the tops, way too high for that, - these are old trees) I wish I knew how and was able to trim the apple trees for him. So many of the branches are splitting from the weight and they are too dense in some spots to reach through well for apples (well, standing on a ladder anyway!) He needs a good tree guy to simply donate a trimming for him so the trees will do better next year. We dropped off some apple butter and were thanking him for more apples when he mentioned we should take a bunch of tomatoes too! YUMMY. I will run by some applesauce and tomato sauce for him next week as a bigger thank you.

The pears I picked off the next door neighbors tree were fully ripe yesterday... so today I pureed them for Westley for baby food. He loved them! I froze the remainder in those containers. I will be bagging and ripening these over the next week or so... until the first frost hits. I can keep pureed baby fruit frozen for a bit.

Anyway... not much around here... a quiet weekend. Football, chili and applesauce making!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Debate

Yes... I know you think I am now going to BORE you with my political beliefs. WRONG ANSWER!
If you know me and are reading my blog... you get my beliefs and it won't be hard to figure out how we will be covering this November election... with much prayer and a dependable turn out at the polls. Now... on to my post...

The debate in this house tonight is all about CHOOKS. Really...

That's Chickens for those of you that don't follow anything I have been talking about with the 100 foot Food challenge. Specifically laying hens as DH dislikes eating chicken in any recognizable chicken form. (I really only get to cook boneless skinless breasts) I have been getting my mind around my upcoming Freedom Garden... by reading books and a lot of blogs about this same gardening phenom that is hitting the US. This is a lifestyle change we are headed toward in the Clausen Haus. I mean it. I love to cook, I love to grow things... I inherited genes that help things grow well ... that all merges nicely in the Garden! I plan to put in raised beds at the new house (nope, not sure yet where that will be, but God knows!) and we will be growing our food next summer and putting that same food up for the following winter. This year we have gleaned our food for canning (and yes, we bought some from local farms, it supports the local economy and most excellent farms we have close to us) But the important point is that we will be eating some of this yummy organic food over this coming winter instead of buying it from the store at a better (yes FRUGAL) cost overall. CAN YOU SMELL THE APPLE BUTTER CURRENTLY COOKING?!

Now back to the chooks. I think I want a laying hen or two... not really any more than that because I cannot possibly use all those eggies... but hey who knows. Anyway... we have had more than one discussion on how yukky taking care of chickens is blah blah blah. But the more I hear about people raising these birds is how wonderful it is to have fresh free eggs all the time... it gets me thinking... LUCY ... oops. anyway... during the debate... I simply wondered out loud (duh, isn't that how you think?) if one of the suburbs we are looking at for our new haus allowed chooks... and darling husband simply said "no". (Come on, what did you expect?... something about farmers from Iowa I know...) But then he followed it with... "there may be room, but no." So that leads to haus debate! :)

No, I don't really want chickens... I like eggs, but I don't relish ever dealing with chicken poop! (After all, I do have three chilrens...and a cat who yaks on the carpet at will.)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

POP POP POP

If you are reading this blog you probably know me well enough to know I enjoy cooking... whether for family or friends... I just enjoy it. Tonight I got the biggest thrill when I took the jars out of the canning bath and the lids popped (creating the seal) It makes the sweetest little POP, POP POP as they each go after you set them on the kitchen counter. Okay... truth be told I dig it every time! What a simple thing... the sound of the jar of food you just prepped, cooked and completed actually sealing.

Okay... so I have had a total blast making applesauce. Tonight Caitlyn and I finished off the barrel of apples. Making 5 more quarts of homemade applesauce... How funny is it that I am wondering if 14 quarts is enough? It really isn't. My kids eat the stuff like crazy. Plus... Caitlyn is wanting more apple butter put up... what a goose. Plus... I want it to last until the end of next summer... so it looks like I may be packing up the ladder and heading back over to the neighbors place to pick the tops of his trees plum clean... okay Apple Clean! We will see how far I get with that desire... considering Tami called today (my friend) and their crabapples are ready... meaning I need to head over and get all the crabby apples I can to bring home and make our very own apple jelly! (this way I don't have to keep paying the grocery for theirs!)

I will be doing a little more research before I head over and put out a bunch of time picking crabapples! They are awful tiny and you need a whole bunch to cook down for 6 cups of juice. There is an apple tree by our local theatre that is just about ready for picking too! I am really enjoying gleaning some of our food.

To date I have:
14 Quarts of Applesauce (Gleaned the fruit!) (yup... 14 QUARTS!)
6 Half pints of Apple Butter (Gleaned the fruit!)
6 Pints of Spaghetti Sauce
3 Pints of Peaches (plus I put up peaches in the freezer!)
4 Quarts of Tomato Soup (homemade mmm) (there is a pint down there too!)
5 Half pints of Peach Butter (picked this with the kids)

There is also some homemade tomato juice in the freezer.

How cool is that! I wish I had done more tomatoes. I would have liked to can diced tomatoes as that is one of my frequent ingredients where I have to depend on canned. We use them all the time in chili, veggie soup, tomato rice and of course spaghetti sauce. I also really wish I had a garden this year and was able to say I put up green beans and other things we eat all the time around here. ... Next year that's my plan. (besides, I found a great "recipe" for dilly beans... makes your mouth water doesn't it!) Let's hear it for the Freedom Garden!

I may actually still have time to do more tomatoes... but I don't know... it wasn't really a money saver or ultra cost effective, just a healthier option for my family.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Aunt Janet Visits St. Louis Clausens !!!

Aunt Janet - Caitlyn - Paige - Frances
Matthan and Hey... Westley look up!

OW where are the tops of our heads?
Still... what a handsome happy family!


Darling Husband Chris

Silly Family!
Aunt Janet with Westley this morning!

Somebody said did something funny! Look at them laughing!

Caitlyn's full! Too funny. See Video Below!

Westley is making faces at Matthan...

Matthan is hamming it up for the camera!

Matthan is also playing with the tortilla chip dough... mmm.

That is some yummy beans Daddy!

Paige and Aunt Janet

Aunt Janet and Frances


So yesterday Aunt Janet called to tell us she was driving in with her friend Frances and she would love to stop by! So we arranged to meet them at Chevy's (YUM) for dinner when they got in. Then they came to the house and stayed with us (let's hear it for air mattresses in the loft!) You know... that leaves my mind to wonder where the cat slept last night? on Caitlyn's head? on one of the air mattresses with Frances or Aunt Janet? or on the purple couch?!
but I digress...
Everyone got a good nights sleep. Except maybe Paige (who got up with Sir Westley like 4 times last night!) and after a lovely breakfast of blueberry muffins and coffee (let's hear a cheer for Java G's!) we visited for a bit and then Aunt Janet and Frances set off for the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Gardens and the splendiferous Gateway Arch! After a day of sightseeing they were headed up highway 79 to Hannibal for the night. We pray they had a wonderful and safe trip.

and because you all love the way we post things on this blog... here is our humor for the day! Caitlyn was actually full last night after dinner... she ate steak fajitas, two baskets of chips... oh, just watch her hilarious video. WE COULD HARDLY BELIEVE SHE WAS FULL (she actually left food on the plate!)... SHE NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER CLAIMS TO BE FULL!


video

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Peek a boo Blocks


This is the blue round block.


This is about how far he had to reach for the block when I took it and stacked it.

I am playing on the floor with Westley. With the peekaboo shape blocks.

He has the round blue one. I take it and put it on the stack and hand him the square red one instead. He gets loud at me and reaches over several other stacked blocks to get that blue round one back. Hilarious.

He is showing preferences and remembering a toy! So cute, so big!