Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tired and sore but enjoying life!

My body is a bit tired and sore lately (though better this morning than it was yesterday). Ken and I got back Tuesday afternoon from 3 days of canoeing on the Mississippi river. It was the first time we had gone on a canoe trip for 10 years and we had a lot of fun but my body has been complaining a bit. :-) I took lots of pictures on the trip but I just got a new camera and I don't know how to upload them yet so I will be posting about our trip later.

 While we went on our canoe trip the kids went over to my parents (and took the old camera along- they are happy the have their own now!) and I thought I would share some of the pictures that they took.
They love staying with Grandma and Grandpa (my parents)!
They love getting to spend time with Auntie Keren too!

Keren got Mara all fixed up and did a photo shoot of her. They got some fun pictures.
Obviously some of the normal wrestling went on.
Aaron (and the others) enjoyed the baby goats.
Megan took quite a few self portraits.
She discovered that you could use a mirror to do self portraits too.

I would kind of love to sit around and relax following our canoe trip but that isn't happening because yet this week we still have scheduled:

  • A homeschool program on Friday night and dress rehearsal this morning.
  • Costumes to be made (they are turning out cute!) and stuff to be practiced.
  • Homeschool baseball games tonight.
  • Final planning and prayer for our homemakers group that starts next week.
  • Garden to be planted. ( I was feeling pressured to get this done but not so much after we almost had frost the last two nights.)
  • A Republican banquet to help out with and make things for the silent auction.

  • I had better go get busy! Have a great day!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Great are God's works!

 Here is a verse that I read recently and really liked:

"Great are the works of the Lord;
They are studied by all who delight in them."
Psalm 111:2

 God is simply amazing and when ever I study His creation I am even more in awe! The next few days we plan on spending a lot of time out in His creation and I am looking forward to being compelled to worship our great Creator!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I don't buy..... Granola Bars

I think granola bars are yummy. I used to buy them every so often too because they seemed fairly healthy and were an easy snack and I liked them. Another reason for buying them was because when I would try to make them they would either crumble apart or not taste anything like granola bars. I have now found a couple of recipes however that I really like and I don't need to buy granola bars anymore.

This recipe I have had and enjoyed using for several years now. I have fun making all sorts of variations with it.
Yummy homemade granola bars
  • 4 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup (or a little less) brown sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup orange marmalade or Apple butter (I have also experimented with using some plain apple sauce or cooked squash)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together well . Press into a 10" x 15" greased pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-17 minutes. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

My recent favorite is a no bake granola bar that I found (via pinterest) on Marathon Mom Blog (Follow the link to the recipe). I have taken this granola bar many places and many people have really liked it and wanted the recipe. I do change up this recipe regularly according to what ingredients I have handy- like in the case of the picture above I didn't use any chocolate and I used sesame seeds instead of coconut. Granola bars are fun because you can make them many different ways.

 Do you make your own granola bars?

Weeding and more.....

 Recently we have had fun reading about Edna St. Vincent Millay and we enjoyed reading some of her poems. This little short one I had heard years ago quoted in a book (The Keeper of the Bees) and I have been feeling like it applies to our life lately:

"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light!"

We have been generally getting enough sleep but when we are awake it feels a bit like life is going at a faster pace than I can keep up with. I am working on just taking each hour as it comes and figuring out what things can wait until later.

 We have still been working on our project of helping to make our world beautiful in the ways that we can. I have not however been doing a very good job of taking pictures every day and most of our beautifying projects have not been specially planned things put rather picking up trash, pulling up weeds and doing stuff like that wherever we may be- either home or away.

  Here are some pictures of the last week or so that I did happen to take....
Aaron mowing our lawn. This was his first time and he worked very hard at it and thought it was quite fun.

 Jonathan on the lake shore. This picture doesn't really show our beautifying - but we did pick up some trash while we were out on a family bike ride.
 On Sunday evening we had a fun casual evening of playing things like volleyball, basketball and other games at the church building. I was feeling rather tired so I didn't play any games but I had fun spending time with 2 sweet little one year olds. While they played in the sand box (and ate sand) I worked at pulling up the persistent crab grass that gets into our play area at the church building.
 Mara pulling weeds in one of our perennial gardens. Below I am standing by the now weeded flowerbed. I need to figure out how to improve this flower bed - we do have a lot of plants in it but the soil is so sandy that many of them don't thrive the way I would like them too- I am trying to figure out if there is a way I can fix this problem without pulling them all out and exchanging the soil.

 Jonathan helped me weed one of the landscaped areas at the church building.
Megan with some bags of trash that we picked up while walking on our road.

 This project is a good reminder to me that while we might not always be able to do something big to make our world look nicer- we can even when busy doing something small like pick up a piece of trash when we see it or pull a weed that is choking our some flowers.

 Are you busy this time of year too? What is going on in your life?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Rag Rug for May

 I had fun trying out yet another rag rug method for my rug this month. I found my inspiration at the blog "The House that Lars Built" (which I don't follow normally but was happy to find their post when I was searching the Internet for rug ideas). They used the method for making string friendship bracelets and used that idea as a way to make a rug.

 They made a two section rug but since my rag strips were thinner than theirs I decided to make a 3 section rug. I made two sections and then since I really didn't feel like sewing my sections together I laid the two done sections on each side of where I was making the third section and I just looped the strips through as I went so that I didn't have to sew the sections together.

I did still have to hand sew the end strips down after I was done with the main rug making. I tried just knotting them first but I didn't like how that looked so I hand sewed them. That was the most time consuming part of making the whole rug.

 Generally this rug was pretty fun to make and I think it has a kind of neat look with the zig zag stripes but I didn't get the shape to look quite how I wanted and I am not sure if I will repeat this style or not - though if I did try it again it might look a lot better next time.

  This rug currently is enjoying it's new spot in front of our kitchen sink.

I would love to hear about any rag rugs that you might have made!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Busy days and I'm tired...

There has been a lot going on lately. It the time for end of year stuff like music recitals, finishing school, homeschool programs and such. We also love spending time outside and working in the garden and other stuff around the house. Politics is the other thing keeping us busy. Spring is a very busy time as we have conventions and such to go to but I think things will stay pretty busy until November now.

Last week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were very busy. Ken and I headed down to central MN to attend the state Republican convention. At the convention we were a bit busier than normal as I decided it would be fun to volunteer to help register people (Friday morning was crazy busy doing that!) and Ken was running for national delegate so he had extra duties and meetings and such to attend.

   This convention was one of the most fun ones I have ever attended as I have been able to get to know people over the last few years and so we saw people we knew and were able to visit with them, as well as spend time with the friends that went with us from our area and also we got to meet new people too. It is fun to get to visit about issues together as well as gain ideas for how to spread the conservative message in our area and also getting to know our elected officials and those running a little bit better.

  Going to the convention I was reminded once again of the importance of being involved. I know that not everybody wants to be involved at the level we are and that is okay but it is very important that people that want our country to be founded on Biblical foundations and that want to stick to the Constitution are involved. Our country and the political parties are continually changing and it is those that are involved that get to make the decisions. If you aren't involved then you can't really complain when things don't go the way you want.

   Our country is going the wrong direction currently. We are deeply in debt, we are seeing more and more attacks against Christianity's foundations in places like the public school, government mandated health care and much more. We do need people that will stand up against those things.

  I am reminded of this verses from 2 Chronicles 7:14. God was speaking to the Israelites at that time but I think we need to follow His words today as well.

 "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. " 2 Chronicles 7:14

Ken did not make it on as National Delegate. He has chosen to get unified behind Romney as the presumptive nominee and Romney was not all that popular at our convention we found out. Ron Paul delegates won the day.

  I try not to talk about politics here that often and don't plan on starting now but I just thought I would share what has been keeping me busy lately and I do want to encourage you to get involved if you think our country needs to get back to it's foundations. Unless those that feel strongly about that will sit up and help out it is unlikely that our country will get back on track- it seems more likely that our country will collapse which I am hoping doesn't happen.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I don't buy...... Starter Plants for the Garden

 Okay, so this one isn't a 100%  "I don't buy". I do still enjoy going to a greenhouse once a year or so and picking up a new perennial or so and then I will often buy a few pansies and maybe a couple of peppers if mine didn't do well. For most of my plants however, I start my own. When you want around 50 tomato plants and bunches of peppers and various herbs it just makes a lot of financial sense to start your own plants!

 When you start your own you can also have more variety and have fun growing all sorts of heirloom tomatoes and things like that.

The first step in starting plants is having seed. I buy most of my seeds from Fedco Seeds but I am also gradually saving more and more of them too.
 Next you need some pots (you can recycle all sorts of things for this- like milk jugs) and some dirt. Usually I buy potting soil but this year I actually sterilized soil from my compost bin to start my seeds in. One more way to save a little money and not buy anything. You will also want to have either a nice sunny window or a grow light and a good place to set your plants.
 Plant them according to directions (usually 4-8 weeks before garden planting time) on the packet and then water them regularly. You will also probably have to turn them now and then if you are growing them with the light from a window and they grow toward the light.
A week or so before planting time it is good to start hardening them off by moving them outside for a while and then back in overnight. Increase there time out each day. I am usually horrible about doing this scientifically but I try to do it some anyway.

Plant them carefully in your garden and wait for them to grow and produce!

It is always fun to get started planting inside before we can do it outside.
Do any of you all start your own plants? Do you have any tips to share?

Let me know if any of you have any questions.

I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I think I may be a pack rat....

 ...but if I am- I learned it from my Mom.

A recent project I made can demonstrate what I am talking about.

I have been working on making envelopes and cards lately and while going through my stash of calendars I came across one that I brought home from Mom and Dad's sometime last year. The year of the Calendar? 1975. Before I was ever born. It had been sitting in Mom's trunk for a good many years along with other paper mementos.

 I decided to use it to make a set of envelopes and cards. While using them I had fun looking at all the things written on it (mostly names of people on their Birthdays) and thinking about how Mom and Dad used this when there was just one little boy, my brother Peter, before we other 5 ever arrived. The calendar came from a sporting goods store in Iowa where my Dad had worked. If I remember right during the year 1975 my parents lived in Florida, Jamaica and Iowa and then after that year the calendar would have moved with them to Nebraska (where I was born) and then up to MN. That calendar has done some traveling. :-)
   When making the cards I wanted to add a little more to some of them so in my stash of paper stuff to use for cards I pulled out a booklet with a bunch of animal pictures in it that fit with the cards I was making. I was adding them to the cards when I happened to think about where that came from - it was from my gun training course that I took around 20 years ago. I guess I am pretty "guilty" of hanging on to things too! Since that time I have lived at 2 places in Iowa, in Kansas and 2 places here in MN. I don't know for sure that I took it to all those places as it may have been in stuff of mine still at my parents but it may have done some traveling too.
 Anyway... I do think we may kind of qualify for the title of pack rats. It isn't that our homes are piled high everywhere with stuff - they aren't, our homes are very livable and we also both have company regularly but we do like to keep things on hand that might be useful later. The stuff does often come in handy too. If any group I am with needs to do a craft project, do some decorating, make some costumes or something like that then I am often the one that comes up with the needed supplies and my Mom is the same way.

  I do think there is value in saving things but I am also coming to realize that stuff can cause stress as well so this year I have been working hard to go through the things I have stashed away and use up a lot of it. My stashes had grown too large and it was time to do some purging. That is why I had "Denim Days" and now I have been focusing on Paper projects and why we have been making all sorts of fun rag rugs.

  They only drawback though to going through everything is that I may not have the fun of creating while thinking about the memories associated with something 20 years ago or even from before I was born. :-)

  Do you have stashes of stuff at your place? Are you a "pack rat" or somebody that cleans things out quickly?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Health on the Homestead

    Sometimes at our house life will seem to take on a theme. Between the books we are reading, the things we think and talk about and work on. Lately it seems like one of our themes has been health. That has not been the only thing on our minds by any means but it has played a major part.

  A few things that have caused us to think on those lines have been:
  1.  Finding "Exploring the History of Medicine" by John Hudson Tiner on my shelf (My parents have been very generous to give us many of the books from their years of homeschooling and this was one of those- one that I don't remember however- I think they got it after I left home) and deciding to read it to the kids. It has been a very fun and interesting book!
  2. Getting the book "Be your own Doctor" by Rachel Weaver from the library through inter library loan after readers of my blog and other bloggers had recommended it. I was thoroughly enjoying it but was unable to finish it before it had to got back. I have now ordered my own book and am looking forward to its arrival.
  3. The weather. With warm weather here we have started getting more physical exercise which has caused me to think about the health benefits of that.
  4. Getting a deer tick bite which reacted and working on dealing with that in the best way.
My tendency when it comes to all things health related is to try to live in a way that is natural as possible. That means I don't want to take medicine if I can find some herb or lifestyle change that would work instead, I prefer eating good food over taking lots of supplements (I don't take any), I prefer good hard work or doing things like biking to go places over using any sort of gym equipment, I like to avoid going to doctors if I can and instead study up on things and care for my own health. I am not saying that the other things are wrong but simply it is not the method that I prefer. I may at times decide they are the right thing to do for a certain situation but for the most part I stick to my natural living.

  Reading about the history of medicine has been quite interesting lately as we read about the discovery of pasteurization. I am very grateful for that discovery as we use that knowledge all the time when we do things like canning food. I do also find it interesting that we have to struggle with the over use of it (in my opinion) in instances like the issue with milk - where many of us believe that raw milk is better for us but the government has butted in in so many places and made it illegal (or restrictive) to sell unpasteurized milk. I also found it interesting to read about the discovery of vaccinations and it does seem like at that time that was a very good and helpful discovery but at this point in time I have chosen not hardly vaccinate my children at all. I have found reading about these things enlightening and fun.

Here is some of what we have been doing lately to encourage good health:
  • Collecting herbs to dry and use. Currently above my kitchen sink we have lots of wild red raspberry leaf drying as well as some mullein leaves. All of these were growing wild in our garden and would have been tilled up if I didn't collect them first. I have read that it is very important that red raspberry leaf dries thoroughly and doesn't get any mildew on it so I tried to put them in fairly small bunches to encourage good airflow. I am planning to start using a lot of RRL as I read that it is very helpful for some issues that I have been dealing with. I may report more on it later after I see if it really helps or not. The Mullein leaf I read is good for coughs and since Megan has had one off and on all winter I decided I would have her use that. It is supposed to help loosen up phlegm and help clear up the lungs. Here is an informative article on Mullein. We have also been enjoying and using mint and chives from our garden.
  • We have been doing a lot of biking- both as fun family outings and for going to church and running errands. I am finding that I am losing weight and getting more in shape which is nice.
  • When I got my deer tick bite as soon as I noticed it was a yucky looking red then I looked through "Be your own Doctor" for ideas on treating it. Deer tick's are known for transmitting Lymes disease as well as a couple of other serious illnesses. I read that Activated Charcoal will help to remove toxins from the body both by drinking it and also by applying a poultice to the problem spot. I did both of those things for nearly a week and have thus far not experienced and problems from the bite and it has basically disappeared on my skin.
    My tick bite before I started to treat it.
    It did not have the bulls eye (but I wonder if it would have developed into one) but it was definitely looking "angry".
    I will be keeping a watch out for any other symptoms of problems but I am quite hopeful that the issue is over. Here is a site with a lot more information on using activated charcoal. I hadn't realized before that you could even use activated charcoal - much less how many ways you could use it.
  • We are working to make sure to stay well hydrated with water.
  • We are trying to work to remember to breath deeply often. Our body works better when we get enough oxygen.
  • I have been doing more reading on natural ways to deal with tooth problems. I am trying some things out but am still in the learning and experimenting stage. I hope to blog more about this soon. The more I read the less I like the idea of using regular toothpaste and some other things that most dentists suggest.
  • The kids and I have been doing stretches every morning (it only takes around 3 minutes and we have been doing while either listening to classical music by composers we are learning about or while reciting the books of the Bible) to help us maintain a healthy spine. I have had neck problems in the past and have often used a chiropractor but over the course of this school year we have done these stretches and I have also concentrated on sitting and sleeping in ways that my neck is in its proper banana shape (not curved down) and my neck has felt so much better! I haven't gone to the chiropractor for months.

It is fun exploring new ways to care for our bodies. I am just in awe of how God made our bodies so that they can often repair themselves and also all the plants and minerals that he made to help with healing too. Do you enjoy learning and practicing caring for your own health? Not only can it be fun but it is also smart and can save you a lot of money!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and and not attempting to give you medical advice for any specific ailments that you have. I am simply telling you about what I am trying and doing in our household. I will not be held responsible for any treatments that you try out. I just recommend paying attention too and caring for your own health.

I am linking this to Homestead Barn Hop at Homestead Revival.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A week of spreading beauty

 We are still working on our monthly project of helping our world (outside the walls of our home) to be more beautiful. Here is our journal for this past week.

May 6th (no picture)
We cleaned the basement at the church building. With all of us working together it really didn't take very long. It was fun to make that play area look better.

May 7th
Yard clean-up time. Jonathan did trash duty (finding broken sand toys and other odds and ends on our 1 1/2 acre), Aaron put away all bikes, yard toys and such, Mara trimmed dead branches off of the bushes, Megan picked up sticks and I did all sorts of odds and ends and helped the others as needed.
 May 8th  (we actually didn't do any projects this day - to much other business - but we did two things on Wednesday to make up for it. )

May 9th
 We had a very weedy strawberry bed but it isn't anymore!
 So much better! We are looking forward to strawberries!
 On our way home from church Megan and I picked up trash on the side of the road.

May 10th
  We were sending a package in the mail and I used a recycled padded envelope that had some writing on both sides that needed to be covered up. I decided to use on of our Fairy creations to cover it up and make a pretty package. We hope that the recipients and all of the mail carriers enjoy it.

May 11th
I held a recital for all of my music students to play in. All of our kids played so we shared beautiful music with others that day. We also shared treats (which we tried to make beautiful) and flowers at the recital too. We didn't get any good pictures of our kids playing but there is a picture of my very cute little violin students who kept playing and playing and playing. It was quite funny as his song had repeats in it and I guess he forgot how many times he had repeated. His parents finally started clapping.

May 12th
This Saturday was a wonderful time of working outside. It was fun to get quite a lot accomplished.

 Mara mowed the lawn and it looks pretty lovely now!
Ken and the boys tilled the garden. I am eager to start planting soon!

We also weeded and other various odds and ends.

It was a fun week. Having you been getting things done outside lately?

Happy Mother's Day!

The kids next to some pretty rocks that they painted to add to the rock retaining wall I am working to build.

What a sweet wake up I had this morning. Little handmade wooden vases filled with wildflowers each with a note beside it leading me to the next one. Sounds of breakfast being made in the kitchen. Sweet children eager to help my have a wonderful day.

I had planned on sharing a verse that I found yesterday that I really liked but when I was reading (I had plenty of time for my quiet time because the children were getting everything done) the Bible this morning and the chapter for this morning contained this verse:

"He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.
Praise the Lord!"
Psalm 113:9

That verse certainly fits me and it fits that day so I wanted to share it. Though I have never dealt with infertility I do remember the time when I didn't have any children and I would never want to go back to that. What a joy it is to have children!

May your day be blessed!

Friday, May 11, 2012

I don't buy.... Cake Mixes

I was struggling to think of some things for this series that I used to buy but don't any more (though after some memory jogs I have thought of some more but I will use them later) so I decided to move onto some things that I don't buy but I never have bought.

  I don't buy cake mixes. I don't think I ever have bought one. My mom never bought them either. We only made cake mixes growing up when my Grandma sent them in our birthday box. At that point in my life I thought it was pretty fun and exciting to be able to make and eat a cake made from a mix but I now understand why my Mom didn't quite share our excitement. I think homemade cakes taste ever so much better!

 Cakes from a recipe do not need to take along time to make either. Once you get used to stirring them up they can go together nearly as fast as if you would use a mix. You can also adjust the ingredients to suite your tastes or desire to make it more healthy.
 Decorating the cake is optional. These cakes pictures are a couple I pulled out of the archives from past birthdays. I am certainly no professional but we had fun making these and then eating them.
 A stand by around here is chocolate cake. I will give you the recipe as I first found it and used it but I will also let you know that when I make it these days I use all whole wheat flour, I either cut the sugar down dramatically or use honey instead, I reduce the amount of oil and I am known to put in things like squash puree instead. I also generally don't have buttermilk so I just use plain milk, some soured milk, milk plus a bit of vinegar or even just water.

Here is the original recipe for: One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup hot water

Mix first seven ingredients together in the bowl. Then add the oil, buttermilk and eggs and mix together. Then stir in the hot water. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and place in a oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake for 35-38 minutes.

Other cakes that we enjoy are:
Zucchini Chocolate Cake
Banana upside down Cake

Do you make cakes from scratch?


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