Friday, December 19, 2014

A Little Crafting, A Lot of Work on the House and Rejoicing over Hot Running Water!

 At this time of year our home is generally busy with all sorts of little projects destined to be a gift for someone. This year not a lot of that has been going on as we are so occupied with finishing our house. Holidays have rather taken a back seat.

   On the house end of things it was an extremely exciting week for us - We now have a hot water heater and it is hooked up to a shower and a (temporary - as we wait for the counter-top and our final one) kitchen sink!!! We didn't realize how much we appreciate those things until we went without them in our home for nearly 4 months. I know that through time and even many people now - live without those luxuries and do just fine but I sure am thankful for them! We also are pretty excited to have are cabinets installed and I am over halfway done with the tiling. Things are going well.

   We did do a little crafting at our homeschool group gathering earlier this month and I thought I would share some of the pictures that I took from that time.

One of the Mom's taught some different fun paper folding at one table.
 Snowmen (which we think will work good to put homemade dry hot chocolate mix into for a gift) were made at another table. This was a fun recycling project as a lot of cream for coffee is used at church and all these bottles were saved from that and this was a great way to use them up.

Another mom and I had a table for birch projects. She helped them make bookmarks and I had other birchbark art available to make. I had fun making samples for that with Megan's help.

One mom brought sugar cookies to decorate - always one of the most popular stations in the eyes of the children.

 One mom was asked by the Salvation Army if we could help assemble some gifts to hand out to people at nursing homes. The kids (and moms) had fun decorating these little boxes and putting candy inside. They put together 300 of them.

  Yesterday we then went to the nursing homes and an apartment building for the elderly and we handed them out. It was a lot of fun. My kids and I also did our singing at the nursing home and we had fun singing carols and they seemed to really enjoy listening. It is a blessing to be able to spend some time with the elderly among us.

    Have you been making things lately? I would love to hear about any projects that you have going on or have already completed!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sing of God's Strength!

 Psalms 59:16 "But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your  lovingkindness in the morning."

There are days when I just don't think I have the strength I need to get done the things that need to get done. How grateful I am to have a Loving Father who has strength to spare. We sure have found that singing about our Wonderful God leaves us remembering who He is, what He can do and how we can trust Him and count on Him for strength. Each day He provides!

  I hope you find time to sing of about Our wonderful God as you go through this week! 

Putting the Flooring in the House

 When we were deciding what things we would do ourselves when building this house, one of the things that we chose to do was flooring. I am not sure why for sure that one was decided on but I think it is because we had done wood flooring before and thought it was kind of fun and also I had briefly helped a friend with some tiling and then also watched others tile a few times. We figured it would help save quite a bit of money and so we could get nicer flooring as a result.

  I didn't want any carpeting in this house (I don't like all the dirt and allergens that carpet has and collects) and so we are doing only solid wood and ceramic tile. In the basement we have the cement which I want to look into sealing in some way someday.

   This week has been a very busy one of working on flooring. We needed to push to get it done as the cabinets were arriving and the cabinet guy wanted the floors in first and we certainly didn't want to hold up the cabinet guy as the plumber said we would finally be able to get the rest of our plumbing after the sink cabinets and the flooring by the toilet was done. Currently we have one toilet -which is fine- and then we can get water either from the pressure tank or the outside faucets. A shower with hot water in our own house and a sink in my kitchen- with hot water- are treats we are greatly looking forward to- also a washing machine will be pretty nice. So we pushed hard to get our flooring done.
My brother Peter has this really cool air nailer especially for wood flooring that he loaned to us. The boys loved using it.
The girls were busy helping too but when I went to take a picture they were goofing of so they decided to do this pose for the picture. :-)
Wood flooring can go fast. It was so fun to see it in place. It really seemed to finish off the room. An additional benefit to putting down flooring other than getting things finished is that now we don't have some much dirt filtering down to the basement. Before when people moved and worked and especially when anybody swept tons of dirt would come down through various cracks. One of the main cracks was over my cooking area which made life interesting at times and another was over our bed. We are very thankful for less grit in our food and our bed!

  Another benefit to doing all this flooring is strengthening our muscles. It has been a while since they had been so tired. :-)
Doing a lot of sweeping was necessary before we laid any flooring. It is amazing how much dirt can build up during the course of building a house. On Friday my parents came over for the morning (and brought lunch to eat with us) and helped us with the flooring. Mom did a lot of cleaning up and Dad helped my get started with tiling.
Our first step to tiling (after the sweeping) is laying done backerboard since none of the rooms that we were tiling were on cement. The backerboard that I got had fiberglass in it which left the kids and I all itchy after handling it. We tried to be careful but still this wasn't our favorite job. We had to cut it to fit and then we put mortar down and put the backerboard on top and then we screwed it down, used fiberglass tape to tape the edges together and spread mortar over that. It was quite the process. The reason to do all of that is so that you have a very solid surface for the tile so that they won't break so easily. Hopefully it really is helpful because it was a lot of work and a fair amount of money. I was so glad to have my kids to help though they weren't always so glad to be helping. :-)

The tiling came next. Mara went to work to figure out how they would be laid. Then Dad helped us to fine tune that plan when he came and we got started.

 We have now tried all kinds of methods for cutting tile and none of them are very easy. Oh well - hard work is good for us! Dad put a diamond wheel on the skill saw and used that some. Ken and I found it very challenging to use. It sure was nice to have Dad do the cutting for a day!
Friday we got this upstairs bathroom done. I was happy with how well the paint and tile went together as neither were the color that I had thought they were. I think Ken accidentally ordered the wrong color of tile and the paint was different than I thought from what I saw on the little swatch.

 Yesterday (Saturday) we thought it would be a good time to get the tiled laid in front of our busiest door (the one that goes into the garage) while there weren't any workers here. That section of tile included our main floor bathroom, a small hall, a coat closet and the laundry room. Mom offered to send over lunch, pick up Aaron and Megan and have us spend the night at their house because we would be blocking off our access to the basement. So we went to work.
 This is my cutting crew. We decided to lay the tile diagonally as we think that looks neater and my brother assured me it wasn't hard and gave me some instructions and told me that he didn't think there were really any more cuts. Well - I still do think it looks neater, it wasn't very hard following Peter's instructions but I am pretty positive there are quite a few more cuts and harder ones to boot. But that is all right. Dad had loaned us a tile snapper but his ended up being to small for any of our tiles so Ken got a new one. Once and a while we could get it to work pretty nicely for us but mostly it didn't. There seemed to be a problem with how the scoring part had been constructed. Meanwhile Ken needed to work at his office for the day and so Mara, Jonathan and I carried on working on the tile and hoping to get done by supper time.

  We used the snapper and then the nibblers to get the cuts we needed but it was a very long and tedious process. We got the bathroom done but were just starting on the hall when supper time came. I called mom to let her know we wouldn't make it for supper and called Ken to tell him that we needed his help and some pizza. He came and brought the pizza and went to work trying to help us and promptly decided that our cutting methods just weren't going to work and that we needed a wet saw. So off he and Jonathan went (Jonathan was pretty happy for a break) and they found a fairly inexpensive one at Home Depot.
 Tiling started going faster with the saw to cut things and Ken to help do the measuring. It was still a pretty late night but we did get everything but the laundry room done. That will be a job for sometime this week. I do still need to put the grout in (and did some prepping for that this afternoon) but it is good enough to walk on.

  By the way- our walls really aren't that bright yellow - they are a really creamy yellow but photos in the evening can really do funny things to colors.

  This week looks to be another busy week of flooring but tomorrow I first plan to take a drive to the stone place to pick out my counter-top slab. That should be rather fun and probably one of the most expensive shopping trips I'll ever go on.

  I hope you have a great week! If you have any flooring tips I would be happy to hear them. If you want to come help me tile - that would be okay too. :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Birch Bark Decorations Giveaway

 This week I thought it would be fun to join in on the Sew Mama Sew Blog's giveaway day. I planned to get the post up on Monday but then we ended up needing to push really hard to get some flooring done at our house as the cabinets were coming (they are going in this morning!) and so we have put in some late nights and hard working days and blogging really took a back burner. I will post about flooring soon but meanwhile I decided to still go ahead and join in the giveaway at this late date.

  Last week at our homeschool group I had fun teaching how to make some Birch Bark art made in an Ojibwe (native american tribe from our state) style. They also remind me of Scandinavian decorations. Whatever the origin- I had fun making them in my own particular style. I hope to share some other creations later but just now I am offering for somebody to win some birch heart hangers. Two are pictured here but I will be sending the winner 5 of them. These are around 4 inches wide and could be used as ornaments on a Christmas tree or you can hang them in your window or whatever you want to do with them.

   We are blessed with a lot of birch trees on our property and we had to cut a few down when getting ready to build our house and so I have a good supply of birchbark to work with and I thought it would be fun to make something to share with you.

  To enter to win this giveaway please:

  • Leave a comment telling me about a nature craft you have had fun making or any other thoughts or ideas about creating things from nature.
  • If you would like a second chance to win please become a follower of my blog and leave me a comment telling me that you have done so.
  • Please leave your e-mail so that I will be able to contact you should you be the winner of our random drawing.
This giveaway will be open through Sunday (midnight) and I will contact you right away and get your gift out to you right away next week.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Do We Really Believe?

We enjoyed the pink sky and grey frosty trees when driving to town yesterday morning.
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may adequate, equipped for every good work."
 2 Timothy 3: 16 & 17

Do we truly believe this verse - that ALL scripture is inspired by God with many uses?

 This evening at church it was brought up how many young adults are leaving the church (Statistically- world wide) even though they were raised there. When asked "why?" many of them said that it was because the leaders or other in the church were hypocrites.

   This evening the discussion went on to say that a large way that hypocrisy is happening in the church is when people will say that they believe the Bible and that it is the inspired word of God BUT.... The earth may really be millions/billions of years old and creation took a long time OR God may have used the evolutionary process to begin life OR We don't need to worry about certain instructions in the Bible because that is only for that culture OR That word doesn't really mean what it sounds like it means.

 When people don't take the whole Bible as the inspired and accurate word of God that should be followed completely it is going to cause people to say: "Why should we follow any of it?" And truly, I think that makes sense - Either believe it - or don't. It isn't really going to help you to just believe parts of it. We are told in Revelation to either be hot or cold - don't bother with the Lukewarm stuff - God doesn't want that at all!

  I really feel pretty passionately about this subject. If you believe the Bible is what this verse says it is then I challenge you to read it and study it and try to follow it as it is with no twisting to go along with whatever you may have already thought. We don't want the world to be telling us what to think nor do we want any wrong doctrine from our past - Only the Bible!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Natural Stone Fireplace

 We now have a working fireplace at our place. It is so fun to use to make a fire to both warm us up and to watch as it flickers so merrily. What a pleasure it is!

The fireplace is thanks mostly to my brother-in-law Travis. He is married to my older sister Anna and they live in the Twin Cities. Travis now works for the railroad but he used to work in Masonry and when we said that we wanted to put a fireplace in our house he volunteered to do it. That was a pretty wonderful gift.

  We wanted a natural stone fireplace and we decided to do one with an insert (it doesn't take the months/years to make that a true masonry fireplace can). Ken ordered the insert and the kids and I were in charge of collecting rocks. We went through all the piles of dirt that were dug out of our basement and found many rocks. We also went and looked for rocks over in my parents pasture area. We also made many a trip to a farmer friend's rock piles and hauled a bunch of trailer loads from there. This summer/fall rock hauling helped to build up our muscles. :-) Even though we didn't use all the rocks Travis needed to have plenty of selection as some don't work as well as others.

Mara and Margaret
Back in September Travis and Anna and family came for around a week and laid the foundation for the fireplace and also got the fireplace itself started. Travis did pretty nearly all the laying of rock. My nephew Harrison mixed up the mortar, Our Contractor, Ken, Travis and my brother Peter and me a little built the frame and we ladies (Anna, my niece Margaret, Mara and I) hauled rocks, cleaned rocks, brushed the mortar and did what we could to be of assistance. Others including my brother Luke also came one Saturday that I was gone and helped with the work on it. Many hands helped in some way on this project.
Peter working on the frame

Anna and Travis
 It was so fun to watch the fireplace go up. It was kind of hard for me to be able to envision just what it would look like ahead of time and so it was a fun surprise to see it basically completed.
 Cleaning up the mortar.
 The hearth was the last step.
 The last day that Anna and Travis were here we ran out of mortar. There was just this small spot that didn't have enough. I was actually glad of it though as Ken's parents were coming later that week and I thought that it would be fun to have them bring a small rock to put into our fireplace. I already had a rock from my parents land (can you find the heart shaped one near the middle) and thought one from Nevada would be neat as well. Ken's parents brought a really unique and pretty crystal one that they had found on one of their hikes (they like to collect rocks when hiking) in Nevada. The picture above shows me putting that rock in and finishing putting the mortar in.

 We sure have enjoyed being able to have a fire!
 We do still need to add the mantelpiece but it is already cut - it just is drying more. My Dad has a sawmill and so He, Travis and Peter worked to make some lumber and mantelpieces (more than one just in case) from a really big tree that we had to cut down in order to build our house.  I also need to clean the fireplace and am planning to using an acid that will help to even out the color of the mortar (because it was laid in various conditions - including rain- it has variations of color) and it will clean the rock too. I am also thinking about sealing it to give it more of a "wet" look but am not sure if I really want to do that or not. If you have an opinion on that I would love to hear it.

This project took a lot of time (Thanks again so very much to all those that worked on it!!!) but I think it was worth it. It will be enjoyed for many years to come!


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