Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Have you said "Hey, Good looking" lately?

Not long ago I said something complementary (concerning his appearance) to my husband and I was a little startled to realize how pleased that seemed to make him. It made me wonder if I might not be saying things like that often enough.

  Do I tell him I think he is handsome, or hot or whatever as much as I should? Do you tell your husband that? I have never wanted it to become just something that I say rather than a sincere compliment but neither do I ever want him to wonder whether I truly think that or not either!

   So that is something I have been thinking about and intend to work on in my marriage. Do you need to pay your husband a compliment too?

p.s. I did plan on reporting on projects this week too and maybe it will still happen but I have ended up doing a lot more food preservation this week than I had thought and then the projects we have been working on we haven't really finished yet except for the serious weeding out of poison ivy which I didn't take a picture of and which I am paying the price for right now. :-)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Our Homemakers Group

Cheese making at one of our meetings this summer.
 Tomorrow will be our last homemakers group for the year. Both last summer and this a friend and I have led a homemakers group (we meet at our church building) to encourage and equip homemakers. It has been a pretty fun experience.

  I thought I would tell you all a little more about it in case you also might find this sort of thing useful and want to start something of this sort in your community.

   To begin with to get a group together we simply announced it at church, invited friends and then I also told about it in our local homeschool newsletter. The first year we did also announce it in the newspaper but that never brought anybody to it.

  We decided to meet weekly throughout the summer. I think this would also work nicely doing it monthly year round.

Slicing up the cheese so that everyone can take a sample home.
  Each week when we get together we start with prayer and a devotion time then we go into either a discussion or a hands on homemaking activity. Some of the things that we have had discussions on have been: Organizing, Simplifying/Living Purposefully, Bringing God's Word into our Home, Laundry Tips, Menu Making, Home Remedies, Healthy Eating, Clothing your Family Frugally, Cleaning and more.

  Some of the things we have done demonstrations/hands one activities have been Canning, Cheese making, Yogurt and Kefir making, Bread Making, Flower Arranging, Making Laundry Detergent, Making Lip Balm and a Lotion Bar, Sauerkraut making and more.

Yogurt making and Healthy Snacks
 We have a lot of time for open discussion and so we learn a lot from everybody - not just the person who came prepared to share.

Canning both green beans and dry beans.
   Our discussions will often lead to further learning and time together beyond the group as well. After something was brought up in homemakers group one from our group ended up coming over to my house to learn about beekeeping. Then in our discussion on natural and homemade personal care products I learned that a couple people made soap. I had been wanting to watch somebody do it before I did it on my own so one lady gave me her recipe and another one had me over to help with soap making (They didn't think soap making would be good to do at the group with lots of little kids around).

The sauerkraut ready to sit on the shelf and ferment.
 This group has been both a learning experience and a blessing to me and I know to others as well. If you like the idea of moral support in your homemaking ventures I really do recommend starting something like this.

Have you ever been involved with a homemakers group? Do you have any ideas for making it even better?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great and Marvelous are Thy works.

 "Great and marvelous are Thy works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Thy ways,
Thou King of the nations.
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify Thy name?
For Thou along art holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before Thee,
For Thy righteous acts have been revealed."
Revelation 15:3 & 4

When you start noticing all the God has made and what He can do the only sensible reaction is to worship! How neat it will be when one day that is the reaction of everyone!

One of the things that I had fun noticing this past week was the action of all the pollinators with my honey bees among them. I got a few pictures of them at work. It is so cool how God made them and plants to work together so perfectly!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A busy Saturday

Jonathan at work on getting the siding off the "tree" house so we could put a door in.
 On Saturdays Ken and I tend to sleep in a bit more than normal but that didn't last long this morning as a while before 8 am I started to hear the sounds of chairs being moved and the vacuum being run. When I got up and dressed and went out to see what all was going on in our house I found the boys hard at work. They were getting the house cleaned up and all the extra chairs put away that had been used when we had company last night. Those actions aren't completely unusual for them as Jonathan hates to have things out of place but I did find out they did have a motive. They were hoping the I could help them with a certain project and so they wanted obstacles out of the way.

  I did help them on their project some and then we ended up spending much of the day working on getting the old tree house made usable again. We were needing Ken's help and expertise and since he was home it was a good time.
Aaron removing nails from boards.
 We worked on getting the door in and then we also found that it needed to be straightened and some other repairs following it's fall from the tree.
 It also needed to have the floor jacked up a bit.
 We are planning on using this for a play area, a honey extracting shack, a place to move the bee hives in the winter as I try to overwinter the bees and a place to store various things. I am excited about the uses for it.
 We also took some time this afternoon to ride into town to go to our local museum. We have a years membership with the MN historical society which is about to expire so we wanted to get our full use out of it.
 Ken and Mara in front of the very pretty building.
 Megan dreams of having a real typewriter of her own.
The boys were fascinated with the train and are dream of making one themselves.

It was a fun little outing.

But now I am very tired (I missed my nap!) so Goodnight!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Today's activities

  Today was a little different from normal as we had my sister-in-laws little sisters staying with us for the day and then we had company for supper this evening. It is fun to change things up every once and a while. Because of the company we didn't do any big family projects for our goal of fixing things up around here but I did work on a few things.
First I spend some time in the kitchen, making noodles (do you like my new drying method?) to go in soup for lunch and then to be used for super and then I also made cheese, mixed up some apple and zucchini pie filling and froze some containers of that, I processed more beef tallow and I mixed up a seasoning salt.

 We really like a seasoning salt called "Spike" but it costs around $12- $15 a pound and I am quite sure I can make my own for significantly less. I looked at the ingredient list and from what I have on it I started mixing things together.

It was well received at supper tonight and even Ken thought it was okay but that I don't quite have it yet. I will try to get some of the missing ingredients (one being dried and powdered rose hips - which I can get in our yard) and then try again.

On to "home improvement projects"....
 I tackled a couple of easy things today. We had this tile (vinyl- I think) that had come loose in our entry way. It wasn't coming out, it just had gaps.  I was able to put some glue in and push it back in place. I couldn't get it quite perfect but it is better.

 By the girls doorway they had a piece of the laminate wood flooring that had slid out of place. I was able to slide it back and glue it as well. Hopefully it will stay put now.

I also went through and cleaned up a couple of drawers in my kitchen. It really doesn't take to long to do that but for some reason it still doesn't get done very often here. I was able to find a few things to get rid of besides all the dirt! :-) I love having clean drawers!

 This evening when my family came over to celebrate Jonathan's birthday my parents also brought a bunch of green beans that Mom had just picked. She put everybody to work at snapping them and I have been able to can them this evening. My second batch is in the canner now. What a blessing!

   Tomorrow I am hoping that Ken may have time to help with a project or two but I haven't really discussed it with him yet so I am not sure what his plans our. We will just wait and see what happens! :-)

What was your day like?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some projects, a birthday and making soap

 I didn't get a chance to blog about what we worked on yesterday. Our project of the day was to get started with insulating the chicken coop. With the cold winters we get we thought it very wise to have as well insulated of coop as possible
Our original plan was to simply use layers of political signs to do the trick. It would have helped but probably not been all that great. However one day when we were visiting with Ken's secretary at work (a really sweet lady who has basically "adopted" Mara as a granddaughter - Mara goes in to clean the office) we were talking about chickens and the coop and she wondered about insulation. We explained our plan but then she said "My husband (who works for a garage door company) can get a lot of squares of Styrofoam insulation that are scraps and he could get some for us if we wanted. We said "Sure!"
 They worked great. We simply cut them to size and stuck them in between the studs.
 Then we nailed up the political signs over top.
 I think it will work lovely! We did have enough insulation yet to do the whole shed but we have a wall done. It will keep it pretty air tight and also easy to clean.
 The boys were in the building mood so they branched off into making very cute little ranches with sticks. I am afraid I didn't get a picture of the finished product - they turned out adorable.
 While they were quietly playing at that, Megan was nearby setting up a cute little "store" with all sorts of natural treasures and Mara was making cute little people out of wild cucumbers, hollyhock buds and other natural things. I just loved watching them all at their creative play. While meanwhile I loudly took apart some pallets.
 I did also move the stuff back on deck and I think it does look better that way. Not perfect but I think fine. I am not sure if Ken quite agrees. He may end up buying a pint or so more of the proper stain. That will be fine if he does - we will put it on.
 Today I didn't end up working on any home improvements. Instead we were busy with:
Celebrating a sweet twelve year old boy's birthday. Above he is "blowing out the candles" on a mud cake that Megan made for him. We will have the real cake tomorrow when it worked to have family over.

 Mara and I harvested a bunch of herbs to hang up to dry.

I made bread and cake.
We made soap. This was our first time (I did help a friend a couple of times but this was on my own using a different recipe) and it did work out and it was very exciting! I will hopefully post full details after 3 weeks when I am able to try it out.

We had homeschool baseball this evening.

It was a good day. How was yours?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thinking about Femininity

Yesterday at our homemakers group the topic of Femininity came up (it wasn't part of our devotion just a topic that came up as we canned beans and made sauerkraut). That got me thinking more about being feminine and how that can affect a marriage.

  What does feminine mean? According to Webster's it means: 1. Pertaining to or characteristic of women of girls: feminine attire. 2. Having qualities or characteristics traditionally ascribed to women, as sensitivity, delicacy or prettiness.

  I think there are some general things that most people find feminine but then their are a whole range of various ideas that people have that women should do to be feminine - an opinion that I heard recently was that women should always wear skirts or dresses and they should not be made from denim or from a "masculine color". Obviously I don't agree with that one and I actually don't care for people coming up with "rules" like that unless they simply have them for themselves not to try to get everybody else to do that too.

  Being feminine is something that I much of the time really enjoy. I like wearing girly clothes, I like having long hair, I like caring for my family in the traditional feminine role. Sometimes though I find myself having very unfeminine ideas/thoughts. I like to work hard (which is well and good) but sometimes I have felt this urge to compete with men (my husband, a brother, etc.) concerning endurance or stamina or even strength. I think those thoughts are rather unfeminine. I also think that thoughts or actions like that can be harmful for a marriage.

   God made us Male and Female - he made each of us to be able to work together and he gave us special roles to play. We are a team and many times we do work at the same activity (even if it is something "male" like stacking wood or something "female" like cooking) and we can both work hard at it but when I ever get the feeling of competing with my husband (unless it is something totally in fun- and done with the right spirit) then there is a problem. Not only are we a team but also my husband is the leader of our home - God has given him to me to love and care for me - I need to appreciate and accept that.

   I believe that God has made men to desire femininity in their wives. That doesn't mean that it will be the same thing to every man (mine doesn't want me to wear skirts/dresses all the time) but I think it is important for us to be aware of what our husband does like and want and respond positively to that. For instance my husband does like me to have long hair, he like me to dress nicely, he enjoys it when I make a good meal and he admires (but doesn't have any interest in joining me in) my creative pursuits such as flower arranging, card making, sewing and such.

   Anyway, that are some thoughts that I have been having lately. I would love to hear your thoughts on femininity and possibly how it affects marriages.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Doing some painting/staining/sealing

 Well this afternoon we did get our and work even though the temperature was around 95 degrees and it was very sunny where we were working. We tackled the porch first because it was little and we were able to just get it done quickly. Though I don't care to much for the color, it did match what was already on there, we had it on hand (from last time when Ken did it - I think he had got the orange kind of on accident) and so we decided to go ahead and use it up. Hopefully next time we can change the color - maybe a brown? I just am not really into the orange red color.
 After getting the porch done we headed up to the deck. Though the deck is large it looked like the paint/stain was really going a long ways and we were thinking we had plenty. That is until we got all of us busily working on it and it was going down much faster than we expected.

 The kids had meanwhile put it on in all sorts of different patterns (they didn't really get my instructions of starting on one side and systematically working our way towards the stairs). It was looking quite interesting. Thankfully we only need to cover the horizontal sections as the vertical ones were still in pretty good shape.

 Mara cleaned the spot in the carpet and washed some dishes first and then she came out to help in the heat too.
Well, we got partly done with the deck and ran out of stain. What to do now - I didn't want to go buy more of that color, I had just wanted to use that up so that it would protect the wood and so the various parts of the deck would match. And obviously I didn't want to go buy some other color as that would look really bad.

  I decided to see if we had anything else on hand that might work. I found a kind of orangey sealer/stain so I decided to give it a try. Mara and I put it on but it really didn't match. I thought it might look better as it dried but not so. And then we ran out of that too.

 So, we have a rather ugly looking deck right now. Before it looked in desperate need of some tender-loving-care, now it looks weird. Oh well! At least it didn't take that long. My thought is that before to long it will be snow covered anyway - at least the stain we put on will help to protect the wood through the winter, then maybe next summer we can buy a new nicer color (maybe brown?) and stain the whole thing. Meanwhile (tomorrow) I am going to see if I can do a little strategic placing of deck furniture and plants to help make this look better. We can hope so.

This end doesn't look to bad:
 The front porch does look much better anyway.  It doesn't look all worn out anymore.
After helping with the deck the kids thought it would be fun to cool off a little. The slip and slide that recently came from Granddad and Nana was enjoyed.
They made a platform of pallets and had it go into the wading pool. Now if we just had a little more of a hill someplace they could really have fun.

  I did also pull almost 2 pallets apart as well. My goal was 2 but the biting mosquitoes drove me in before I could get the last 2 boards off.

 Tomorrow we are hoping to do some insulating in the chicken coop. I also have a goal of pulling 3 pallets apart and I hope to find a way to get rid of the poison ivy that we have all over.

What have you been doing lately?

Getting things done around our place {Our two week challange}

  We have two weeks (this and next) left before we officially start school for the year and we also have quite a few various home/homestead improvement projects that we would like to get done. An extra good house cleaning would be rather nice too. So since we have two weeks before we buckle down to getting schoolwork done, and since our garden isn't really overflowing with produce right now (we are getting stuff but not enough to do a lot of canning), and since we don't have to much extra scheduled we decided to see just how much we could get done around the place in these two weeks.

   I thought it might be fun to blog about my goals and what we get done on here to help me be a little more motivated and to possibly encourage some of you to do some fixing up around your place as well. If you do join us in using this next couple of weeks to concentrate on fixing things up around your place I love if you would tell about it or leave a link to a blog post about it - in the comment section.

 Yesterday was our first day of working on this. Monday is always a busy cleaning and laundry day for us but we also found time to paint some doors - two of them needed touching up and one we had never done before at all- and sand down and varnish an outside bench.
In the picture above Jonathan is sanding down the bench and Aaron is washing off the front door and frame to be ready for painting. Jonathan did the bench project all by himself other than me finding him things and giving some instructions.

 Aaron and I did the door painting while the girls worked on cleaning inside. It was pretty fun finally getting those projects crossed off of my to-do list. They really didn't take that long.
 I did also spend some time in the garden picking produce and weeding. At our homemakers group this morning we were doing some canning so I had hoped to have enough stuff to pressure can beans and also to make salsa. Because of gophers we aren't having as good of bean crop as I hoped but we do still have quite a few and I was able to can but I didn't have a whole canner full of green beans so I didn't a couple of jars of cooked pinto beans instead. I think it worked well (I had never done that before). I also didn't have enough salsa stuff for a whole batch and so I ended up making fresh salsa instead. We might not have quite as much produce as I hoped but I am very thankful to God for what we do have!

  This afternoon we are hoping to get the deck and front porch stained as it isn't looking very good. We have some stuff leftover from last time we did it. We are trying to do all our projects using things that we already have on hand.

  Other projects that I am hoping we can possibly tackle in the next two weeks are:
  • Replace some trim in our bathroom that was taken out when other things had to be fixed.
  • Fix the light fixture in the laundry room.
  • Insulate the chicken coop.
  • Make nest boxes and better put up roosts in the chicken coop.
  • Fix up the walls on our former tree fort.
  • Put a door in our former tree fort.
  • See if I can fix the seal on our oven door.
  • Weed the flower beds.
  • Get mulch (I am hoping to find a free source - I have heard of that) to put around trees and bushes.
  • Clean and organize laundry room.
  • Clean garage and move freezer.
  • Do a pallet board project(s) that I think I will keep a secret until the grand finale - just for fun.
  • Fix a loose tile in entryway.
  • Fix a loose flooring piece in hallway.
  • Scrub spots out of carpet in living room.
  • Make a new wreath for our door.
I am sure I will come up with many more as well but I am guessing that might keep us busy! :-)

What have you been working on lately?


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