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Daughter Susan had her 12th birthday Jan. 24. We don't have a birthday gift for her yet, but we told her we would get her a bike once it warms up. She was excited when we told her as she has outgrown her old one. To celebrate the special day, my sister Susan made white cupcakes with chocolate frosting and also a chocolate sheet cake.

Meanwhile, we are busy cleaning and preparing for our upcoming church services, which will be held here in our home next week. There is always a lot of work to be done, but such a relief once the house has been cleaned from top to bottom. As we prepare the house for all of the visitors, Joe is working on building a room for my canning jars in the basement.

Since we heat our home from the basement, it can get warm down there. Since canning jars need to be in a cool place, Joe is building a room that will be insulated, so that no heat gets in there. He's also going to be putting up a lot of shelves there so the canned goods and empty jars can be neatly stored.

Sisters Verena, Susan, Emma and Emma's family were here yesterday helping us clean. Brother-in-law Jacob helped Joe with the canning room while the women were doing the cleaning. The canning room is not quite finished, but hopefully Joe will complete it next week.

On Saturday, three of Joe's and also Jacob's cousins and their husbands stopped in to visit in the afternoon. Joe grew up beside them so it brought back memories of years ago. Brother-in-law Jacob is a first cousin to my husband Joe. Their 94-year-old grandmother has been in the hospital since Jan. 2. She seems to be improving now and they have high hopes that she will be released next week.

Our daughter Verena, age 10, had the misfortune of breaking her foot over the weekend. They were playing tag down in the basement when she tripped. We waited a day and finally decided to get an X-ray. It seemed to keep swelling up and was very painful. Tomorrow I have to take her to a bone specialist for a cast.

I am not sure yet how long she'll have to be on crutches. She is slowly getting used to them, but had a little accident yesterday where she slipped with her crutches and landed lightly on her broken foot. Verena loves to read so hopefully that will help pass her time while she is laid up. She is almost finished with the "Little House on the Prairie" books, which she is enjoying. I am a little worried that Verena's crutches could slip on the snow and ice on her way to school.

This afternoon Joe and I and several us walked over to visit my sisters, Susan and Verena. We took them some fresh eggs since they were out. They put out snacks for us and Joe did some of their chores. It was a nice visit.

A reader in Graham, Wash., requested a homemade "white sauce" recipe. This is a favorite in our home! You can use it on meats, potatoes and vegetables.

White Sauce

2 T. butter

2 T. flour

1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

1 c. milk

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt and pepper and heat until mixture bubbles, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Gradually add the milk. Cook rapidly until sauce comes to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook one to two minutes longer.

Lovina Eicher is Old Order Amish. She hand-writes this column from her home in southern Michigan. Anyone with cultural or cooking questions can send them to: Lovina Eicher, The Amish Cook, P.O. Box 2144, Middletown, OH 45042. Read all of her columns online at www.record-eagle.com/amishcook.

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