Friday, December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all

Running just a bit behind, but that is what seems to happen around the holidays with family in for visits and final finish ups on gifts. But regardless of the time we'd like to wish you and yours a (belated) Merry Christmas and a very Healthy and Happy New Year. May you all be safe and the year 2012 be a blessing to you.

Now a few quick New Year's ideas. This year we are doing something a little different - we are joining my husband's family for First Night in Oil City. So instead of being here at home and lacking excitement we will be out and about. But even though we are going to be out, I have a few things that I'm taking with me to add to the fun evening, esp for the kids. First in my bag goes the glowsticks. What a perfect night for bright colors and safe fun. We might wear glowstick necklaces, or ankle bracelets, or hair decorations or just regular bracelets, but they will light up the night just a bit. Next into my bag is going the balloon blower and twisty balloons - these are great for making party hats that are unusual and a lot of fun. And finally there are the confetti poppers for each person to pull the string and pop confetti all over each other.

I was thinking about the plastic stemware, but I'm not sure how that will work out on the town. In the past years we have sometimes made it Game night to help keep us all awake until the ball falls. When we have the game night New Year's Eve we usually have snacks and music and all sorts of board games. But I also make a balloon bouquet that the boys can raise to the ceiling rather than drop to the ground.

Regardless of how or where you will be spending New Year's Eve I pray that it will be a safe night and a great year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas on Sunday?!?

Has anyone else noticed that Christmas lands on a Sunday this year? Has this caused problems with the traditional Christmas Morning events? Have you heard these words in your home..."Do we really have to go to church on Christmas morning?"  I have heard of several houses having this very conversation to which I answered, "take a minute and think about what you are saying...."

When it comes to our birthdays, here, we try to have it on the birthday or after the birthday (Mainly because before the birthday doesn't really make sense - the first time around the baby wasn't here, yet) But to celebrate a birthday you usually have the honored guest present, there are guests to help celebrate, there are decorations and gifts and sometimes something to eat (maybe cake & ice cream) and a song. So on Christmas morning will all of those things be there?

 In church- the chosen place for the celebration.
The Honored Guest - I think Jesus will be there.
Those to celebrate with - will you be there?
Decorations - I think they might already be up
Gifts - Have you given something to Jesus this year? Time? Your Heart? Your money to help the kingdom?
Something to eat - in some churches there might be a coffee area, but this isn't required
A Song - Will you be singing his praises this year and be part of the Jesus Christmas/Birthday Party?

If not you are missing out on the most important Birthday party of the ages!!!
Think about it... Christmas on Sunday - seems right to me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas gifts that kids can make

Well it is that time around here. We have begun the process of making Christmas gifts. I try to challenge the boys to make something for our families. I try to have them do different projects so they aren't giving the same thing.

Here are some ideas that have been hits:
Bracelets - they are so simple and depending on the age and resources can have a wide variety. Last year we found charms that told the Christmas Story in Oriental Trading. So Robert made "Christmas Story" Bracelets.

Christmas Ornaments -  There are so many different types of Christmas Ornaments to choose from. Several Years ago, Robert found some string art patterns online and we then cut light weight wood and made little string art ornaments. Garrett has some plastic ornaments (also found in Oriental trading) and we used multiply colors of paint and then the paint swirled together and made some beautiful ornaments.

Soups in a jar - Garrett made "Love Soup" in a Jar a few years ago. We went to the store and bought supplies according to the recipe that we found online.  We then spent part of a day with measuring cups, ingredients and jars and in a little bit of time had all of his gifts done. He also got to practice simple measuring.

Elementary Band Christmas Concert

Tonight was the Elementary Christmas Band Concert, Robert has been playing the trumpet for just a little over a year. The elementary band is 5& 6th grade students. I am still amazed at how quickly students can learn an instrument and how our director guides the kids into making beautiful music. This is the same director that I learned from, so I have been through the lessons and the practicing, but I'm still amazed.  Here is a little video of the trumpet line as they played"Hark the Herald Trumpets Swing"

Robert did a good job and he switched for the last some and played percussion too!

This is great time of year to take in a free concert to help get into the Christmas Spirit. Keystone's Sr high concert is next week.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Easy Baby Gifts

Hooded towel

Recently in our neighborhood there have been a few additions, new babies. I am always looking for gifts that are practical and used a little longer than the first few months. So I have started making large hooded towels. These aren't very difficult as you only need a washcloth, a bath towel and some binding material. I cut off the edges of the washcloth and get it square. Then fold it in half. The folded edge becomes the edge of the hood, while the other 2 sides meet with the sides of the towel when put on an angle. I then zigzag the washcloth to the towel. Then I use a binding strip that starts at 2 1/2" which is folded and pressed in have and then I fold in the edges to the center and press. I open the 1/2 fold and wrap that around the edge of the towel and zigzag all the way around the towel, for a finished look. These are great gifts as there is not much worse than a wet squirmy baby and not enough towel to help get the baby dry and help keep you dry too. These towels can be used for years to come as I still have boys using their hooded towels now and then. These would make great Christmas gifts too!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Go Fish Christmas CD

I just wanted to share one of the boys' FAVORITE Christmas CD's - It's from the Go Fish Guys and the CD is "Snow"  The boys enjoy all of the music from GO Fish, but the Snow CD is their favorite. If you are interested in this check their website but if you would like to hear a sample check out this you tube video of Christmas Lights put to the music, (let the introduction play before Go Fish start)

Live Nativity

This weekend was once again the begin of the Advent Season which at our house means helping at my mom's church with their Live Nativity. This year it was in question as to if we would be doing it this year because of the weather, but there wasn't lightening, just a continually rain. We didn't get to share the scene with as many people as normal, but kick off the Advent season - we did!
And the King decreed that all the world should be taxed

The Shepherds

The Angels announced his arrival

And Mary , Joseph and Babe were found in a stable

And the wisemen brought the young child gifts...

May you all have a very Blessed Advent Season and remember the Real Reason for the Season. The birth of a small child who would save the world!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gettysburg on 148 Anniversary of Dedication Day

Last weekend we took a little road trip to Gettysburg, PA. The date was November 19, 2011 exactly 148 years since Lincoln was there with his Gettysburg Address to dedicate the cemetery. Robert has found an interest in Lincoln and the Civil War and this was something that I thought would bring history to life for him. Because on Dedication Day there are re-enactors everywhere which helps make the battlefield and the war more real. We left on Friday night and stayed over. The boys were both up and ready to head into Gettysburg by 8:30 (which was perfect). When we got to Gettysburg, we went to the National Cemetery as they were getting ready for the annual Dedication Day Service. As we walked through the cemetery, each Civil War grave had an American Flag on it and on some a state flag from where they called home.
 We were able to listen to the Dedication Day service, where Lincoln (James Getty) once again gave the Gettysburg Address while the crowd listened.

National Park Service welcoming all to the service

The Gettysburg Address

Following the service, we walked to the Pennsylvania Monument and walked past the High Water Mark and the location of Pickett's Charge. The we went and took a audio tour of the enter battlefield. This took us a little bit of time (all afternoon) because we wanted to climb the towers and see the monuments, plus it was a beautiful day!

At the top of Little Round Top

At Devil's Den towards Little Round Top

With the re-enactors present, we saw scenes like this that might have been what it looked like 148 years ago.

That evening, we returned to the cemetery to view the luminaries that are placed on each of the Civil War graves for Dedication Day. This was eerie, but also breathtaking to see but also very humbling to remember that each person had died for us and for our freedom to keep our nation together.

We had a great weekend, with great weather and the boys what to know when we can go back.

Operation Christmas Child Packing Party

The last week and a half have been busy so I'll play a little catch up. The Kids Klub youth group had a shoebox packing party on the 13th. Then we totaled up the number of boxes for this year. The packing party is always a fun time with both the elementary youth group and the Jr/Sr high youth groups. This year they worked in teams of an older youth with a younger youth. This worked great!

One packing team

hmmm... which stuffed animal should we add to this box?

Prayer time - each youth had a box or 2 to pray over

Finding the right box to pray for

All the youth with 96 boxes!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Hands

I love using the kids' hands for different projects. At this time of year, their hands make great turkeys.  Here are a couple of fun turkey projects that use their hands.

1. Trace their hand, Use the thumb as the head, add 1 eye and a little waddle then let the rest of the fingers be the feathers of the body of the turkey. Add feet out of the bottom of the hand. These are cute as decorations for the table for Thanksgiving.

2. I have traced the hand and then we wrote 5 prayer reminders, 1 per finger. Those reminders are to pray for (thumb) those that are close to me. (Pointer) those who have pointed me towards God. (Middle) Those in charge. (Ring finger) Those who are weak or sick and then the little finger - Me.
I took their hand and we cut it out. The fingers became the feathers. We then cut a circle for the body and a Neck and head shape. We added feet and then we glued it all together. I then covered it with clear contact paper. These became our Thanksgiving place mats and prayer reminders.

These are just a couple of fun turkey activities that can take just a few minutes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The things we are thankful for...Thanksgiving Picture

Well this month started off very busy here between young Americans and the 4-H benefit auction, things here are running a bit behind. But this week we got the opportunity to catch up a little bit, we had a 4 day week at school and little homework in the evenings. We also didn't have multiply meetings or events. (ah) So we got to move from Halloween to Thanksgiving here.  For the past couple of years we have started a thankful picture. We find a picture that represents Thanksgiving and then we use the overhead projector, (that hides out in my basement thanks to a school auction) to enlarge the picture. Once drawn, we bring it upstairs and the boys color the picture except where we are going to list the many things we are thankful for. This picture is hung on my kitchen wall, where each night at dinner, we each get to add something to our Thanksgiving picture. On Thanksgiving we take time to re-read our Thanksgiving picture.  This has become something that the boys look forward to in November because we hadn't got it accomplished until the 8th of November and when I asked if we were doing the picture they answered "Of Course." So I guess a tradition has begun here at our house.
Coloring our "Garrett sized" Pilgrim

The Pilgrim's hat is where it was decided that we would write our "thankfulness"
Here the Pilgrim is standing guard in my kitchen

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Young American's con't.

Sorry having problems uploading videos, but here is the whole group of kids
performing the last song. There were 3 types of sign language going on in the auditorium at the same time to just one song. There was American, Japanese and German. Robert is in the group performing the Japanese sign language and he is in the bottom center. Behind him are the Sr. high students performing the American sign version. The Jr high were doing the German sign, but couldn't get them in the video clip!

Young Americans Concert at Keystone

The 47 Young Americans that conducted the workshop
The beginning of this Robert had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a workshop called "Young Americans." This is a 3 day music/dance/express yourself workshop. They startedon Sunday afternoon, spent all day Monday and then Tuesday for a few hours after school. They then performed 2 concerts on Tuesday and Wedsnesday nights. Keystone had 300 students participate and this is the 7th time that Young Americans have presented their workshop at Keystone.
Below are some video clips of Robert during the 2nd concert.

Part of the one song was "watching a game" Robert is right in the middle.

This workshop was for students from 4th-12th grades.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fun with Halloween Food!

I was asked to help with a Halloween Party for our 4-H club youth.  I was to prepare a fun dinner for them to enjoy after they helped with the Community Halloween Party. After looking through a couple Halloween cookbooks, and a few websites, I found some fun ideas, to which I adapted some of them. The evening turned out great and everyone had a good time.

Appetizer  - this was basically a veggie tray, but with a few alterations. The broccoli was called "witches warts". The celery, I cut into wide sticks and then cut out an oval in the middle so it looked like 2 bones connected at the top and bottom. These were "moldy bones". And then the carrots, with the help of a paring knife, I notched 2 or 3 times at one end of a baby carrot and then sliced back into the other end of the carrot and inserted an almond sliver. This made "monster toes". This was all on the veggie try with a cauldron of "pus" as the veggie dip.

Then the Boogers on a stick or chip.
recipe: 1 jar cheese dip, 1# hamburger, 1 tsp oregano,  tsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce green food coloring.
Brown burger and drain. Then combine all ingredients and melt together. (I used a small crook pot and it worked great) Once everything is melted together into a nice chip dip, add the green food coloring until the shade you would like. Serve with pretzel rods or nacho chips.

Just a few boogers in my crook pot
This was fun, people truly turned green just looking at this item.

Then there was the Stromboli, that I made look like a mummy by putting cuts into the dough and then added fake flies and spiders crawling out of it.

And finally the eyeballs. These were simple and easy, but a lot of fun. Take mini powdered donuts, lay flat. Using red icing, added the red streaks for the blood shot eyes. Then simply place a pretzel M&M (with the m down) in the center on some icing to hold in place. These were well liked and looked cool too.
You never know how is watching you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

It is that time again and our church 's elementary youth group, Kids Klub, is collecting filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Kids Klub's goal is 200 boxes this year. This is a great way for kids to get involved in missions and sharing God's love. All it takes is a little bit of time, a shoebox and fun stuff for kids as small Christmas gifts. We have packed shoe boxes for several years now and the boys love every minute of it. From doing the shopping to packing the boxes, kids helping kids - they really get into it. But the kids aren't the only ones who can pack a shoebox, just adopt 1 shoebox and see how much you can get into a shoebox for a child somewhere less fortunate than us. Join us!!

Knox United Methodist Church deadline is November 6, with them being delivered to the drop off location in Clarion the week of November 13-19

For more information on Operation Christmas Child click here

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Salem Halloween Party

For those who are local, there is a Halloween Party for the Salem Community on Saturday night at the Community Building from 7-8 pm. There will be a judging of costumes, and games and light refreshments! Please plan to bring your kids and have a great time together in a safe way!

Northern Lights

The night before last, I had a phone call around 9:15- "Go outside and look at the sky!" When I went out of the porch, I saw the most beautiful red in the night sky that I had ever seen. I ran back inside and got Gary and Robert up to come see this awesome display of the Northern Lights that I had ever seen!! EVER!!!!! It lasted about 15 minutes and then faded away, but what a way to remember that God is in control and he is still doing amazing things everyday, if we only take time to look for it! Boy am I glad for that phone call, or I would have missed it! We have an awesome God!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Luscious 4 Layer Pumpkin Cake

This is a recipe I saw in the Kraft Foods magazine. I thought it sounded delicious, so we had to find out. not only was it delicious but it was also easy to make. We tried it and then Robert decided that I needed to make it for a fundraiser auction at the church. Several people have asked for the recipe, so here it is if you were one of the ones that wanted this recipe!

1 package yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 -8oz. package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8oz tub whipped cream, thawed
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Beat cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, oil, eggs and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch round pans.
Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely.
Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar, remaining pumpkin and spic; mix well; gently stir in whipped cream. Cut each cake layer horizontally in half with serrated knife; stack on serving plate, spread cream cheese filling between layers. Do not frost top layer. Drizzle caramel topping just before serving and top with nuts. Refrigerate leftovers.

*Found at

We found that this was a great tasting cake, but it will be reserved for special occasions as it is a big cake.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn wreath

As I pulled out our Autumn decorations, I found a really cute wreath that Garrett and I made a few years ago and it was so simple that I thought I would share how to make them.

For the base, I took an ice cream bucket lid and cut the center out of the lid so that I had a circle wreath base of about 2 inches.  We then went for a walk and Garrett and I found a large handful of small sticks in all different lengths and a few pine cones. When we came back from our walk, I plugged in the glue gun. With Garrett laying each stick on top of the line of hot glue, we put the sticks all the way around the bucket lid wreath form. We added a piece of ribbon for the hanger and then found some leftover silk flowers to cover up our form. We worked on patterns with this part as we put a flower and then a small light weight pine cone and then repeated this pattern.  Once the glue dried, we were all set and I have a new wreath for fall at my house, that we have used for at least 2 years now. But what a neat way to bring the outdoors in and a simple and cheap decoration.

2 Halloween Wallhangings done!

I finally finished my 2 wallhangings for Halloween. I don't like to eat candy corn, but these guys turned out really cute! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cleaning out the extras!!!

It is the time of year, when things are somewhat slowing down and I have time to clean my house, or maybe clean out my house, Every fall, I have started going through different places in my house and eliminating things that I haven't used in a WHILE.  But what I have found that helps, so that it isn't just me eliminating things, is the garbage can that I have placed in our upstairs hallway. This is the place for things that are too small or don't fit. IT is for toys that the boys have decided that they have outgrown playing with. It is our Goodwill can. Now the things in it don't always end up at Goodwill. It has been emptied to our church's rummage sale and this month it will be going to the Venango County 4-H Trash to Treasure Sale (October 28 & 29 and Nov 4&5)  I have also started a box downstairs that I am filling up with things like the bulletin board that is too small anymore. Or the cup dispenser that we never use. Any time I find something that we haven't used, I just simply drop it into the box or can and then I know when I am making a trip to donate stuff that they are all but ready. Just pack up and go.

So to help with the fall cleaning before the holidays. start a drop it in box or can or bag and let the whole family know what it is for!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recycled Jar Pumpkins

I am always looking for fun things to do and this is one that I did when Robert was a baby, but I stumbled on a whole box of these. Take an empty, clean baby food jar, spray paint the outside with orange spray paint and let dry. Once dry, take a fine black paint brush and black acrylic paint and add the faces for a jack o latern. Add some green raffia and a tea candle or a LED candle and you have a cute little pumpkin. These are great for each person coming to dinner sometime or for just on the mantel at this time of year.

The recycled baby food jars are on the ends and the stained glass pumpkin in the middle
Now the reason I stumbled on the box of recycled baby food jars, because I am working on table decorations for a fundraising dinner at our church for the Kids Klub this coming Sunday, Oct 23 at 12:30. For the dinner I took this idea and changed it a little bit, but not much. I took ivy bowls and used orange stain glass paint. I painted the inside of the ivy bowl and let it dry. Then once dry, I added the green raffia tied near the top and I will put in the LED tea candles. This was really an easy way to make centerpieces. With a few leaves scattered on the tables, it should look nice and not be too full for the table.

But either way this is a great way to use or reuse unwanted glass jars and containers.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fire Safety Month!!

This is fire safety week at our school, but Fire Safety is the focus of the whole month. This is a great time to revisit some of those very important life saving lessons and drills.

Maybe if you can find 30 minutes with your family take time to do the following

- make an escape plan for each person from different rooms
- Select a family meeting place outside of the home in a safe place to meet
- PRACTICE the escape plan and meeting place
- TRY to practice a night time drill! See if your children will get up to the fire alarm
- Replace the batteries in the fire alarms regards less if they still have charge
- Have a list of emergency numbers by your home phone and programed into your cell phone
- Practice with the kids dialing 911 (on a play phone) and what they need to be able to tell the dispatcher

Remember to discuss Stop, drop & roll

Discuss get out and stay out when there is a fire.

Please take just a little bit of time to practice and discuss with your family to protect them!

If you live in the area,
the Fire Safety Night at Cranberry Mall is tonight Oct 14 from 6-8 Go and let your kids enjoy the fire trucks and bright lights, but let them be reminded of safety rules!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Robert's 4-H successes

Robert receiving one of his awards
Robert with his awards
 Last week at the 4-H Leadership dinner, there were project book awards awarded. Robert had done really well on his books this year, but I guess I didn't know how well. He received the award for his Goat project, and his Swine Project and then he was overall winner from the animal science areas. He also received the Family Living award, which was for his genealogy project year 2. So he was thrilled with 4 awards for just filling in his project books well and completely. Once again he has done well and I'm proud of his accomplishments!
Kay and Gary

Gary also received the Outstanding Leader award this year along with a friend, Kay. Congrats!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tomato Picking!

Okay this is one of those things that I kind of skipped over in the craziness of the summer. But the week before school started, Robert & Garrett and I made a quick trip to Lancaster County, PA My best friend's parents plant and harvest tomatoes commercially for a PA tomato packing/processing company. Well the tomatoes were ready and I loaded up the boys and took off so they could see the large equipment that is used for picking tomatoes. Robert was just tall enough that he was actually allowed to ride the tomato picker and try picking himself.
Robert sorting good tomatoes from bad tomatoes on the tomatoe picker

Garrett and Abby played on the back of the pick-up with ME!

Robert with the tomato picker

The tractor on the left is pulling the tomato picker while the tractor on the right is catching the tomatoes as the fall into the dump wagon that it is pulling.
 After the 1st tractor trailer was filled, he was looking a little green. There are many moving parts on the picker itself plus there are extra wagons and tracotrs moving around. Well, needless to say all of the stuff moving gave him a taste of motion sickness. But I just wanted to share what the tomatoe picker looked like and how it moved through the fields. Unfortunaely, with the flooding rains that followed a ew weeks later, I don't know if the farmers were able to get all of the tomaotes harvested or not this year, but it certainly wasn't looking real good.

For those that are curious how this works, there is a large cutting head to the far side of the tomato picker that cuts off the plant and a conveyor belt carries the plant and all up into the picker. At the back of the picker the plants are shook and the tomatoes move to a different conveyor belt moving to the other side of the picker and the plants are dropped out the back. The tomatoes are then moved to yet another wide belt, where they move in front of the sorters. These are the people riding the tomato picker and they are sorting out the good and the bad tomatoes. The bad ones get dropped back into the field while the good ones continue to ride the conveyor belt and are dropped onto the conveyor belt that goes up the shot to the dump wagon that is being pulled thruogh the field beside the picker. Here is a short video clip that you can see some of the action, but there really wasn't a good safe place to be able to see everything that was happening.
Thanks for letting us come visit!!!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chance for a years subscription to Highlights or High Five!!!

If you get a chance stop over to and read her post for "Magazine Hunt". She has great ideas on how to better use resources and in this post how to stretch the learning possibilities of a magazine, but at the bottom, she has if you leave a comment you could win 1 of 5 - 1 year magazine subscriptions!!! So take a few minutes and maybe you could win a great magazine for your home!!!

Fun Spelling Words

As a parent, I know that the words "Spelling Words" can be like nails on the chalkboard to some. But here are a few things that we have done to make spelling words fun, interactive and maybe different each day Here are some ways and things we have done!
Monday - We have wrote our words on paper (I know boring, but at least then I had a copy at home to use)
Tuesday - We wrote on the windows with Crayola Window crayons or markers (fun things!) or used refrigerator letters for each word
Wednesday - we would take a test on the computer (I would say the word and then wait forever for Robert to find all the letters on the keyboard any of the ones he missed he would type them a few more times)
Thursday (big day before test night) depending on how he was doing we might write them in shaving cream on a tray; write them on a dry erase lap board; use letter tiles and arrange them like in Scrabble or go outside and spell them out loud but maybe walk up a step for each letter.

I have also seen spelling words in sand (just use your finger or it might be mud around here right now) or use sidewalk chalk and write them outside as big as possible.

But my creative spelling words have been sidelined for now as Robert is learning to study on his own and Garrett doesn't have spelling words just yet. So I hope these ideas help someone who is tired of spelling words the same way for the past 5 weeks and is looking for a new twist on spelling words - if nothing else for Mom's sanity!!!

Apple Cider making Night

Nothing tastes better at this time of year than a hot mug of apple cider, fresh from the press. On Friday night we had the chance! My parents have the cider press and both my parents and us had apples. We only had about 5 or 6, 5 gallon buckets of apples but ended up with over 9 gallons of cider.
Our starting bucket of apples

An Apple in the grinder part of the press.
Chop, chop

Garrett cranking the grinder

Andrew cranking the grinder

Now it was Robert's turn

After sliding the tub forward, the boys start cranking down the press

Fresh Cider -YUM!!!
Once the cider is made, we strain it to make sure there aren't any particles from the stems or cores, but each batch of apples taste different. The first batch was very tart the other night and the second batch was really mild, but not super sweet. So we mixed them together for a nice mixture of flavors! Thanks Nanny & Papa for letting us use the cider press again this year!!!