Wednesday, May 25, 2016

|| applesauce ||

A while back, I asked on a mommy Facebook group some ideas for snacks and lunches.  Because there's not many convenience foods, I really struggle with snacks and lunch ideas.  I had a very few suggestions, but it was mostly *crickets*.  :) 

But soon after that, I remembered one convenience food in the States - applesauce!!  Most of the recipes I found online were for crockpots and I don't have one.  I tried making applesauce on the stovetop and it didn't come out that nicely.

This week, I told my maid to buy a specific type of apple in the market.  But unbeknownst to me, they were yucky and mealy.  So I thought I'd try my hand again at applesauce.

I nailed it!  It tastes just like my Mom's except she would put Red Hot's in hers for a bit of kick.

So here goes the recipe if you're interested.

You need:

8 apples
2 cups of water (too much; you can use less but I'll tell you how I made it work)
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Peel and core apples.  Chop into chunks.  Put in a 2 quart saucepan with water, sugar, and cinnamon.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 2 hours.  Leave the lid off so the excess water cooks off.  Once cool, quickly whizz in the blender.  

We are going into winter here and I struggle like anything this time of year.  You all are posting pictures of county fairs and berry pies and flip flops.  And I'm over here like -- give me another scarf and a pair of boots in my frigid house.  But I am determining to make the most of this season and eventually, I will come to enjoy it.  

Homemade applesauce is a baby step in the right direction for me to enjoy winter.  It truly is a comforting, beautiful, winter smell in the house plus the taste is great.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

|| pay day ||

I forget how normal events of my life are "Interesting" to you all, my friends and readers.

So...since pay day is tomorrow, I thought I'd share more about that process.

Once a month, we have a payment to the government for each permanently employed worker.  We pay 5% and the employee pays 5%.  It is similar to Social Security.  They can receive their contribution once they turn 55.  Because of this, the farm's salary cycle is from the 10th of the month to the 9th of the next month.  

I do all of the wages on Excel spreadsheets.  There are several different categories of workers and different levels of daily wages.  It was very confusing to me when I first began!!  One spreadsheet is for our employees that live on the farm; we provide their housing.  One spreadsheet is for employees who live off the farm; we are required to give them an additional 15% of their salary towards rent.  One spreadsheet is for those who are over 55 but don't have to pay into the gov't contribution scheme.  One spreadsheet is for casual workers (not permanently employed and seasonal workers).  Within each of these spreadsheets there are general workers, dairy workers (skilled labor), a builder who receives a higher wage because he is "skilled", workers who receive a fixed salary, watchmen, and casuals.  Oh....and also, we have two farms which is two different Excel files with wages.  Whew.  

Lucky me, I like Excel.  Each month, I have to count up the days worked and enter in for each employee plus the amount of overtime.  There's also bonus' that some workers receive (dairy related).  Once a year, we pay leave pay which is the same as paid vacation.  They receive 2 days per month of the year.  So that would be 24 days paid vacation per year.  And also, if they decide to leave employement, we pay them a little over 2 days per month that they were employed by us.  

Another aspect of wages is congory (local word for -- I owe you money!!)  Sometimes, a worker is given an advance in their wages or a loan that is paid back over a series of months.  I also run a shop with the basics for them to buy on credit (which is another post).  They also can buy loaves of bread and eggs from my chickens in the morning at register.  If we slaughter a cow here, the meat is sold to them on credit and also a friend will sometimes sell his sour milk (don't cringe -- they like sour milk).  All of this is complicated by a severe case of "preggy brain".  Last month, I completely messed up the congory list by charging February twice instead of February then March.  This shorted me well over k1,000!!!  And I didn't catch the mistake until it was far too late.  

I am a numbers nerd (inherited from my dad!) and quite enjoy doing the farm books and wages.  I just require a bit of quiet time to concentrate.  Alone.  And quietly.....! (without my 19 month running around wreaking havoc! haha!)  This month, I was able to get most of it done Sunday night after church and it has been so nice to have one of my monthly duties finished so early.

In preparation for tomorrow's pay day, I will fill out a pay slip and staple to an envelope, then fill with the appropriate amount of cash.  The workers sign their name or stamp their fingerprint on the (Excel) spreadsheet and it is filed away.

I love the exhilaration of a job finished.  And this little aspect of the farm helps me to feel a part of everything.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

|| three years ||

Ahhh, yes.  The obligatory "Anniversary Post".  :)  

How in the world has it been three years since I've married this man?  One year seemed right.  Two years seemed....yep....still plausible.  Three years.  I just can't believe it.  And some of my friends have been married 10 (or more) years.  They're rolling their eyes at the infancy of our marriage.  Ha!

I told Leon we don't have to DO anything for our anniversary.  (Anyways...what is there to DO in this town but go to Pizza Hut!)  But please, don't invite anyone over for dinner.  Let's just BE together.  Great!  And that man went and organized the cutest little anniversary dinner outside in the garden.

I have been dying to do a dinner in this specific spot.  His sister and nieces helped him.  It was soooo lovely and magical (a littttttttle bit of a dramatic description but still...).  

Menus -- starters -- candlelight -- baby monitor (lol!)

Leon and I look back on the past three years as an absolute miracle of a loving God that has orchestrated our marriage.  

Here are our pre-marriage stats:  
-we talked once a week, maybe an hour
-a bit of texting each day
-seeing each other 10 weeks total before marriage
-and our marriage counseling session consisted basically of "Yep, it will be very hard because you two are so different.  Good bye and good luck."  Pretty much.  So yah-----suuuuuuper helpful.

I moved to the other side of the world with him and had no idea what it was like to live in another culture.  I had traveled but still came back to the good 'ole USA and it's customs and thinking.  Running the farm has been a struggle for various reasons since we set foot here after our honeymoon.

Nothing has been easy about our life.  And I mean, absolutely NOTHING.  But God has taken two different people, similar, but different, and helped them to learn what it means to truly love and sacrifice for one another.  

This man is the best dad.  Even last night, he was the one walking the house with our little sicky baby, insisted I get out of bed at 2 am and bathe her to reduce the fever, is the one who brings her her milk bottle in the middle of the night, plays and prays with her, takes her with him on errands every chance he gets, works endlessly and tirelessly, and has helped me become a better me.

I'm so grateful for the struggles we've been through....the spiritual struggles as well as the physical struggles of running the farm.  One day when the light breaks through and our milk production is higher than it is now, we will look back on these tough days as an absolute blessing.  They have shaped us and molded us into better people.  Struggle has only made us better.

And there's not one other single person in this whole wide world that I'd chose to walk down that road with other than my husband.  He is amazing and I love him very, very much.