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COURTESY PHOTO Heather Voss, Nathan Stinson and Bette Stamper at the K-State Agricultural Economics Awards Banquet in late September.

Singing, making cheese and doing laundry all part of chores

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With September coming to a close, Julia and I are delighted to have reached a goal. This summer, my husband, Daniel, challenged me with the idea of spending 10 to 15 minutes a day singing with Julia. After thinking it over a bit, he said, "I'll pay you $2 a day, plus I'll add a bonus if you don't skip a day until the first of October. You may have a break on Sundays," he said. "It means a lot to me if you spend time with her, especially while singing."

Since I love to spend time singing with Julia and her joy from it is the only "pay" I need, Daniel's offer was way too good to turn down. So we rose to the challenge. Of course, by the end of September, we had many special memories of the times we spent singing together. She especially likes the songs with motions, so we added some spice by clapping, pointing, etc. She remembered some of the motions better than I did, so occasionally she had to correct me when I missed a part. It's such a joy and satisfaction to see her learning new songs. By now, she has learned a nice variety of them. A few of her favorites are "Only a Boy Named David" and "Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man." Her old faithful is "Jesus Loves the Little Children." I've sung it again and again to her in the past few years. It is a standby and security for her when it's time to sleep or when she isn't feeling well. She has heard it hundreds of times already.

Now the tough part: What I'll buy with my money from Daniel? When I asked Julia what she thinks we could do with it, her response was, "We should give it to the poor little children." Bless her heart. We truly have all and much more than we need while others are starving or freezing to death. And really, what choice or option did we have to be born where our basic needs are supplied for? Certainly, we are none better than they. Don't we also have a responsibility to pray for those less fortunate and share with them as God blesses us?

Yes, as Julia, advised, I want to share a portion of my singing money with those in need. The question still remains, "What should I do with the rest of it?" So far, I've just bought a children's song book for Julia. I've debated about perhaps putting some of it towards a little wagon. It would be especially nice to give Julia rides when I walk to the store or go to my parents' house.

As I'm writing, I've had quite a few interruptions with watching the milk temperatures on the stove. I'm working on yogurt, as well as a large batch of cheese. I enjoy kitchen work, but somehow there's an extra satisfaction of turning gallons of rich Jersey milk into cheese. The two main kinds of cheese I make are mozzarella and a soft, orange cheese that is a lot like Velveeta. Today, I'm working on Velveeta. It's easy to make and tastes amazingly like the real Velveeta. Of course, it's almost much healthier than the store-bought cheeses, which is an important factor to me. I'll include my recipe in case it would be of interest to you to try.

As soon as I have wrapped up these tasks, I need to go tackle a stack of laundry. My wringer washer is on our new deck outside the back door. Doing dirty laundry is something I've actually learned to enjoy. As a young girl, I often dreaded it. Now, since I have a family of my own and can go out in the fresh air and sunshine to do the washing, I enjoy it in a new way. At the same time, my favorite part is finishing and watching the clean laundry blow merrily on the line. In several hours, it's dry and time to fold and put away and ready to be used and made dirty again.

Homemade Velveeta cheese

1 gallon of milk

2 tablespoons citric acid

3âÑ4 teaspoon baking soda

1âÑ4 cup butter

11âÑ4 teaspoons salt

21âÑ2 tablespoons cheddar cheese powder

1âÑ3 cup whole milk

Heat a gallon of milk to 140 degrees. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons citric acid. Stir, allowing curds to separate from whey. Drain whey and let set for 10 minutes. Add soda, butter, salt, cheddar cheese powder, and milk to the curds. Heat and stir briskly until the lumps are dissolved. Put into a container and refrigerate. I like lining my container with plastic wrap, then lifting it out after it is set. It makes it easier to slice.

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