The kids and I discovered a new favorite spot: Beilke Family Farm. They had a blast pulling each other in the wagons and even helped pick a few apples. They were superb taste testers too! I have to admit though that the apples were a bit too beautiful and too tasty… and way too easy to pick… I over did it in a heart beat.
The result: three days of washing, peeling, coring, slicing, cooking, smashing and canning. Each time I open a can I will remember the hard work and be extra grateful. Each time the kids eat delicious, no sugar added applesauce or I bake our family favorite Apple Pancakes I will rejoice knowing it was so worth it!
On the third day, I was a bit sleep deprived (hindsight: when you have a teething 9 month old who isn’t sleeping – and you aren’t sleeping, let the apples sit, hide them if you need to). Determined to finish, and determined to infuse fun and let the kids enjoy working alongside me… I came up with a wild and crazy idea. Let the kids clean the apples in the BATHTUB! Their eyes lit up! Then they disappeared. I should have known I was in for it when they came back wearing swimsuits and goggles! I am trying harder these days to enjoy each age and stage, lighten up, share in their exuberance for life, grab teaching moments, say “yes” as much as possible and realize that it’s okay if lunch is served a bit later or there are a couple extra messes to clean up… and some days, that means swimming with the apples.
We picked Ruby Jon and Melrose for our apple sauce and apple butter. They were so sweet that I didn’t need to add any sugar to the apple sauce. My mode of madness that I think worked really well: get the crock pot of apple butter going first (fill large crock pot with peeled, cored and sliced apples, 2 cups of sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and a dash of salt) so that it can cook on low all day or about 9 hours. That way I dumped the peels (why not get as many nutrients as I can?!) and cores (there is still plenty of flesh on those cores!) into the apple sauce pots. I use apple sauce as an oil substitute for almost all of my baking, so we will put our 62 quarts of applesauce to good use! We use the apple butter weekly for apple pancakes (I put up 51 pints of apple butter) and I cut up 5 gallons worth of apples for muffins, pies and crisps. I might go back for a different variety of apples and freeze more for pies? (That is, once my aversion to apples dissipates!). I love to can as much as possible because it saves my freezer space, however, I did discover that at the end of a long day of canning it is nice to simply put the apple butter in the fridge and then get up in the morning and simply use my FoodSaver to package it up in pint size bags and be done. (sidenote: this did not work with my sliced apples… for some reason the juice of the apples wouldn’t let it get a good seal… had to use plain ziplock freezer bags)
I love to save time, eat healthy and save money… so each week I have a morning of prep. I get out my grain (ordered through Azure), Blendtec grain mill, ziplock baggies and get busy. I have ziplock bags that I reuse each week that I have written the dry ingredients and wet ingredients of a couple of our favorite breakfast recipes. I grind my grain and fill my bags with the dry ingredients and then in the morning I simply add the wet ingredients. Bisquick can’t come close to homemade and now I feel like it is just as fast – sweet!
Our Apple Pancake recipe is a modified version of Cooks.com’s “Apple Cinnamon Waffles”… Matt says that I “healthify” everything (which is probably true, I have a hard time leaving any recipe alone – and why not? experimenting is oh, so fun!), but this one he says is “restaurant quality”… I love that man!
2 c wheat flour (I use soft white winter wheat berries)
4 tsp baking powder
2-3 Tbsp sugar (more or less to your taste – we don’t put syrup on these so I don’t mind putting a bit of sugar in)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 c milk (or almond milk)
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/3 c homemade apple butter
1 tsp vanilla
Another Smith family favorite that I bag each week in my ziplock baggies… “French Pancakes” from the Taste of Oregon cookbook (I haven’t found a recipe in that cookbook that we don’t love!) Our kids call them “roll up pancakes” because they are huge and they like to roll them up and eat them like a tortilla. 🙂
Right now, I am feeling the need for a prayer team. I spent the day wading through piles of paperwork, underlining important requirements, putting question marks next to the parts I need clarification on… trying to match up home study documents and dossier documents… finding similarities and differences. Trying to navigate my way through it all correctly the first time. Praying I might understand the complex process. Trying to map out what needs to be done in what order to most efficiently expedite the process. Trying to make headway. The song from Nemo keeps popping into my head “just keep swimming”… I know it is one step at a time.
We are meeting with our home study social worker on the 12th for our first visit! I am excited to meet her, turn in the paperwork we have completed and to hopefully build rapport with her and receive clarification on some issues. Please pray for our meeting with her. Please pray for wisdom in completing the paperwork. Please pray that the Lord would guide us and open doors so that it will go smoothly. Also, please pray for the fundraisers that are in the works… that the Lord would supply the money we need by the time our dossier is ready to be sent. Praising the Author of life and trusting Him to walk with us in this journey. He is good and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Brooke Halgren and Carol Adams have concocted a fun girls night! Brooke is opening her home (2390 Gibsonwoods Ct. NW, SALEM, OR 97304) on Tuesday, October 9th at 6:30 pm. We will get to hang out, I can answer any adoption questions and Carol will be our DeMarle connection. Carol is eager to help support our adoption, so 20% of the proceeds will go toward our adoption costs. If you were hoping to give DeMarle as Christmas presents or would like to add to your own kitchen collection, now is your chance! This is Brooke and Carol’s way to bless our family, so please feel free to RSVP, shop online, or ask them questions. Thanks girls for dreaming up this fun night!
We weren’t sure when we were going to be able to get our finger prints taken since Matt’s schedule isn’t flexible with teaching and coaching, so we were thrilled when our good friend Adam Stutzman called his good friends at the Silverton Police Department (not that he is frequently in trouble! he volunteers there :)) and got us in on a Sunday (always great to have connections and supportive friends!).
I think we had a bit too much fun with this new experience. We had never been to a police department! When I needed to feed Elijah, the officer offered to let me use the conference room for privacy. Matt suggested the “room with the bars”… I opted not! Feels great to have one more item checked off of the list! Please pray for the rest to go smoothly too.
Matt and I want to send a HUGE shout out to all of the people who helped make the garage sale a success! THANK YOU! We are reminded over and over again that this journey is so not about us. The Lord brought generous people to give, the Lord brought generous people to come buy and the Lord is graciously moving us along toward our child(ren)! I lost track when we hit 30… but let’s just say there were MANY families who openhandedly and whole heartedly gave. With each phone call, text or email telling us someone wanted to give or come help, I felt like it was a little love note from above saying “I am with you.” I know they won’t want their names mentioned, but I just have to say thank you to the entire Edelblute family who opened their home to us as the gsale location and worked tirelessly all week. The kids woke up this morning and danced around the kitchen singing “Tim & Leslie’s” because they heard each morning last week that we were going to their house! Also, a huge thank you to my parents, the Cheney’s, Evelyn, Jayne, and the Stutzman’s for your hours and hours of help! I could keep going on and on with my heartfelt thank you to so many people. May the Lord bless you all!
Drum roll please… the gsale total: $2,500! Wowzers! It is exciting to have a chunk toward our next big payment. When you look at our adoption notebook and see all of the paperwork and hear that we have to pay $8,500 in four to six months before our dossier can be sent… it feels overwhelming. And then we are reminded that we serve a BIG God, good thing, huh! Thank you Father!
Now, I am off to do the chores that got put off last week (laundry is really overrated, until that is, you need a clean pair of socks… and what is that smell in the kitchen? oh, the pile o’ dishes that signify that the suds fairy didn’t come last week!), work on adoption paperwork, post Craigslist items, practice Awana verses, kiss boo-boos, change diapers and snuggle all my little ones… can you guess which ones I will savor?