Our work has still been centered around the recent house fire that we experienced. My husband Joe doesn’t have to work the next two days so we are moving the furniture from our bedrooms upstairs to the downstairs and basement. We will set the beds up in the basement for the girls to sleep in. The boys are sleeping on a bed in the living room now. The carpenters that are working on the rebuilding said that a sealant will have to be applied to the walls and the floors to block out the smoke smell. They discovered that there was more heat and water damage than realized when I wrote about this a week ago. Elizabeth’s bedroom has to all be redone as well. Her bedroom seems to be the worst after the boys bedroom. We are living a little crowded now with all of their belongings and bedroom furniture down here. I can’t believe all the things the girls have accumulated through the years. I told the girls they are fortunate to be able to clean the smoke from their things since the boys don’t have anything left to clean. They lost everything that was in their bedroom.

The damage wasn’t just upstairs either. Part of the ceiling had to be redone in the kitchen and dining room. It needs another layer of drywall mudding and then it is ready to sand and paint.

We will have to repaint the whole ceiling since our living room, dining room and kitchen ceiling are all combined. I have decided to paint the walls too since we will be painting anyway. We have been living in this house for five years now so it will freshen everything up especially now since it was all smoked up.

We cancelled our plans to hold church services in June. I could not see us getting all the painting, cleaning and so forth done with only four weeks left. We will instead take our turn twice next year. I feel so much more relaxed now to clean without that deadline looming. Our plans are just to work on finishing all the upstairs bedrooms before moving all the children’s things back upstairs. It looks like a long, busy summer ahead. And along with everything else going on we are trying to fill our gardens up. We put out 84 tomato plants this week. We are out of tomato juice so I need to fill those jars again with homemade juice. Lovina had her eighth birthday on Friday the 18th. We were so busy putting in our first cutting of hay and cleaning up from the fire that we didn’t take time to celebrate her birthday. I also had to take Loretta to physical therapy and pick up some groceries. By the time I was done with all that it was time to make supper.

It was a hot day to put up hay but we got 212 bales from the hay field. Joe was glad for the hay as he had just run out. I asked Lovina if we should have cake and ice cream tonight for her birthday. She suggested having chocolate cupcakes instead so we will do that. Tomorrow, the 22nd, we celebrate another birthday for my 41st. I survived a year of the 40s and it has not been quite as bad as I thought. When Joe turned 40 I had given him a coffee cup that said "40 isn’t old if you are a tree." Last year on my birthday, Joe gave the cup to me. I think I will pass it along to my brother-in-law Jacob who will be 40 in November.

We have been very thankful for the items donated to us since the fire. I also want to thank all the readers for their help. It is used to help to replace shoes, clothes, and so forth for the boys. May God bless everyone for their kindness.

In a mixing bowl, sift toegther flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in margarine until crumbly. Combine egg and milk and then add all once stirring until moistened. May be rolled out and cut into six individual biscuits. Spread into a 9 X 13 cake pan. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes. Serve warm with crushed berries and whipped cream.

(Editor’s Note: If anyone wants to pitch in to help the Eicher’s recover from their fire, we don’t have a formal fire fund set up, but we are routing relief through The Amish Cook Friend Club. To sign-up visit www.oasisnewsfeatures.com/friendclub or send contributions made out to Oasis Newsfeatures, P.O. Box 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042. Be sure to include your address in so Lovina can thank readers individually later.)