Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An "Appealing" Family Outing

Recently, our family visited Keeny's Apple Orchard near Brooklyn, MI. This is an outing we enjoy making in the Fall. The kids like climbing in the trees, picking, and sampling the apples. The owners said this was the best year they have had for apples in 10 years. They were all juicy, big, and delicious. We ended up with about 2 and a half bushels of Golden Delicious, Jona-gold, Northern Spy, Ida Red, and Macintosh apples. Below are some pictures of the kids at the orchard.

Josiah took a break from picking apples to try one. He said he had to sit down to eat it. He started eating it at the orchard, and didn't stop until we were about home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Lazy," Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Wow! Here it is -- Sept. 20th, and on Monday, Fall will officially begin. The summer is nearly over, and what a busy summer it has been! I know it seems we've fallen off the blogging band wagon, but we're still here in our corner of the globe. We sorta felt like yo-yos this summer as we bounced back and forth from home to other places. In June, we went to visit my Mom and Stepfather for a few days. A couple weeks after we returned, Chris left for Youth Camp. Then it was July, and our vacation plans to WV were unexpectedly postponed. So, Chris' parents came up here instead. We celebrated Independence Day and Chris' birthday together and went to Sauder Village. A few days after they left, it was time to go to family camp. During the last week of July, we went to Indiana to meet up with my sister from Florida. When we got back home, VBS began at our church for the first full week of August. Finally, we were able to take our vacation to WV during the last week of August. We got home after Labor Day in time for the girl's to start school and Chris to begin his new part-time job at the hospital. Whew! What a summer! Somehow, we were able to find time to do some canning and freezing of fresh fruit and vegetables. We'll have some strawberries, peaches, corn, tomatoes and pickles to enjoy this winter, as well as some butternut squash and potatoes from the garden. All in all, we thank God for His blessings this summer, His protection, and the memories made with family and friends. Below are some pictures that highlight some memories from the summer:

Alayna with one of her favorite animals during our visit to Indiana.

How can you enjoy summer without making mud pies??

Taking a rest at Sauder Village

The best dressed chef in town.

All the cousins modeling their newly made t-shirts.

Mamaw giving Josiah a much needed haircut.

The kids and Daddy shucking corn

Part of the two bushels worth of corn neatly stacked in a pyramid, compliments of Melanie.

Sampling of pickles and diced tomatoes.

During our vacation to WV, we went to Smoke Hole Cavern. Below is a beautiful stalactite called the "Queen's Canopy."

Josiah trying out his musical skills on Grampy's mandolin.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Butterflies Flying Free

Our butterflies have come out of their cocoons. Here are a few pictures of them before we released them. In the picture above, you can see the last butterfly right before she emerged. This was the only one we were able to watch as it came out of the cocoon. It happened so fast. After they were all out, we watched them in their habitat. We fed them "nectar" (a sugar- water mixture sprinkled on fresh flowers) and orange slices. They drink the juice.

On the day that we released them, we let the children get one out at a time. The butterfly would crawl up on their finger, and then they would lift it out! It was exciting to watch them fly away!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Miracles of Spring

We have been enjoying an exciting experience recently at the Hilling household. A couple weeks ago, we sent off for live caterpillars. The children received this gift for your own butterfly habitat from Grammy and Grampy. They arrived in a special container with their own food supply included. It was fun to watch them literally grow overnight! They got so fat! The children watched them crawl around and eat. The girls named them all -- there were four.

After about a week, they had what they call their "J" day. This is when they hang from the top in the shape of a "J".
Then they begin to form their chrysalids. They can be in their chrysalids for 7 - 10 days. So, now we are watching them closely for that magical moment when they emerge as beautiful Painted Lady butterflies! What a miracle! They look so lifeless right now. It's hard to imagine anything spectacular going on. We will keep you posted on their progress.
Aside from the butterfly adventure, the children and I enjoyed gathering lilacs for a bouquet today. I love their beauty and fragrance! I like to bring some inside where I can enjoy them more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April Showers

The other day we had a little April shower. It didn't last long and when the sun came out, Alayna wanted to go outside and play. She enjoyed splashing in the puddles.

Melanie had to write a "sound poem" for English class. A sound poem uses alliteration and onomatopoeias (words that sound like their meaning). I thought it was perfect to go along with Alayna's pictures enjoying the spring weather. Here's the result of her efforts:

Warm Wet Weather
by Melanie Hilling

Warm wet weather
A breeze whistles through trees.
A busy bee buzzes by.
I sniff a flower. Achoo! I sneeze.
The birds twitter as they fly.
Twitter, whistle, buzz, achoo,
I love warm wet weather.
How about you?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ladies' Tea Party

Last week I hosted the bimonthly Ladies Day Out for our church. I decided to do an afternoon tea. I served chicken and egg salad sandwiches, dipped shortbread cookies, and orange scones with orange butter (pictured above), and of course, tea. Because I was so occupied with hosting the party, I forgot to take a single picture. Since we loved the scones so much, I made them again yesterday morning. If you'd like to try them, here's the recipe:

Orange Scones
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped mandarin oranges, well drained
Additional sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon orange marmalade

1) In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, orange peel and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk milk and egg. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in oranges.
2) Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Pat into a 6-in. circle. Sprinkle with additional sugar. Cut into eight wedges.
3) Separate wedges and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat butter and marmalade until fluffy. Serve with warm scones.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blowing Bubbles In The Snow

I just had to take a picture of the kids today as they played with bubbles outside in the cold. They received large bubble wands for Easter, and were anxious to play with them. When Josiah asked me the second time, and I replied, "This is something we do outside on a warm day," he decided he wanted to go outside. So I thought, "Oh well, why not?". Here's the result -- winter coats and summer fun -- what a combination!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter

I trust all of you had a blessed Easter. Here are some pictures we took during the day yesterday.The children's Easter baskets.

We were proud of Josiah saying an Easter recitation for the very first time! I didn't know if he would do it, but he did very well. He said, "Jesus lives is what I say on this happy Easter Day!"

Melanie enjoys memorization. She says that she doesn't get stage fright because she's a pastor's daughter. It's neat to see how she improves each year, and is able to have longer parts.

Alayna was a Son-flower in "God's Garden" along with six other flower girls. She really enjoyed this part, because she likes sunflowers. She even has a few little sunflower plants in the windowsill, growing, waiting for warm weather to plant outside.

The kids cheesing in their Easter attire.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lady Locks for Easter

Well, I finally made "lady locks". Josiah calls them "goldilocks". These yummy little cream filled cookies are delicious, but quite an ordeal to make. Melanie wanted me to make them with green tinted filling for St. Patrick's Day, but because I was a day late, I made them with pastel colors for Easter. They turned out well and we enjoyed them -- there's only a few left! Thank you Mom H. for the recipe, and Dad H. for making the foil covered dowel rods for baking the cookies.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

1 Year Anniversary

One year ago we decided to try our hand at blogging. This makes our 162nd post. We have had 9,796 visitors -- including friends, family, strangers, fellow homeschoolers, Huckabee supporters, political allies and enemies. It's interesting to see what brings people to our blog. One common google search that brings people to our blog is "homemade chicken pot pie." Perhaps the most unique google search was "new born wall decorations" -- I guarantee you the poor soul didn't get what they were looking for -- they found a picture of Josiah after he flung spaghetti on the wall!

First, thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on our blog.

Second, We are unveiling a new blog today. At this point, Hilling Highlights will continue, with Esther making most of the posts. She will feature more recipes and family pictures, etc. Chris is going to take the politics and other issues that interest him to a new blog -- Another Perspective. Be sure to check it out!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Melanie

On March 13th we celebrated Melanie's ninth birthday. She requested potato soup for her birthday supper. After the meal, she opened her presents from the family.

On Friday, Melanie celebrated her birthday with some friends from school. The birthday party had a horse theme. Therefore, we did a lot of "horsing around." Some of the activities are pictured below:

Melanie posing with her horse cake that Esther enjoyed making. Thanks, Mom H. for the new grass tip -- it came in handy.

We served hay (edible easter grass), sugar cubes, and apples and dip for all the fillies (and one colt - Josiah). The edible easter grass tasted just like straw - I don't recommend you buy any for your Easter baskets! As they munched on their snacks, they each drew pictures of horses.

These wooden horses were transformed into works of art with a few strokes of paint. It was interesting to see how each horse looked different. The white horse above is Alayna's, and Melanie made the palamino. Josiah even enjoyed painting a "rainbow" horse. He started out painting the entire horse red, then he added blue, then green, then yellow, then some more blue, etc. Somebody said that his horse was colorful, to which Josiah replied, "It's boo-tiful."

Melanie received nice gifts from her friends. It was a nice party, and great to get together with some of the girls from Jackson Christian.

Squaw Alayna

This week, Alayna has been studying about Indians in Heritage Studies. She enjoyed the lessons so much, that she dressed up as an Indian after school. She made moccasins for her lesson, you can see them around her ankles. She put on her Indian dress that Grammy made for her. She also instructed us how the papoose was to be carried on her back.

The Parlour

Chris' parents came up last weekend to celebrate Melanie's Birthday. We decided to make a stop at The Parlour for supper and ice cream. If you are ever in the Jackson area and like ice cream, The Parlour is a must stop! If you "Dare to Be Great" and can eat 21 scoops of ice cream by yourself, you get your dessert for free, and get your name put on the wall. Needless to say, none us were that daring.

Melanie's favorite ice cream is Mint Chocolate Chip.

No, those are not ALL mine!