Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Creatively Re-purposing Salt Tubs {Week Four}

   You remember my big salt tub collection? The one that I wanted to use up? I figured out how to use up a bunch of them this Sunday. We made baskets in my Sunday School class - using, of course, salt tubs. Yea!
 We have been learning about the Fruit of the Spirit and we were talking about patience this week. I figured it would be good to have some craft or activity that required patience and I thought making a basket might do the trick.

I actually made the basket making very simple but it did indeed still require plenty of patience for 3-5 year olds to turn it into a basket.  To make them we cut the tops off and pulled off the paper. Then a used an exacto knife to cut out slits, big enough to make weaving pretty simple. We cut strips of wallpaper to weave through. Then we made handles by adding on some ribbon.

 They aren't fancy or truly works of art but they worked well for a craft and after we finished we made paper fruit labeled with the Fruits of the Spirit to go inside.

What are other ways that we can use up salt tubs?.....

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Being a Disciple

 Sometimes when we think about life as a christian and possibly often when we tell others about it we only think of the many, many benefits. And those benefits are true and cannot be denied but when we think about being a christian that is not all there is to it. These verses explain a little more.....

   "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26

 When we choose to follow Jesus we have chosen to give up our own desires, or own plans and choose to seek His will instead. This is not easy. It takes work every day to say "no" to me and "yes" to Jesus. It is something I am still very much working on. But it is worth it!!!!

 Have you chosen to become a disciple of Jesus? It may not be easy but the rewards are not only now but also into eternity!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


   At church our theme (which the speakers follow and teaches and song leaders can if they desire) in July and August is the fruit of the Spirit. I am teaching nursery class and so I decided to follow that theme as well. This week's lesson is on peace. I had been thinking a lot about it and then I had the opportunity recently to visit with a friend who is not a Christian and it really jumped out at me the difference in knowing Christ or not. She does not have the same peace that I have and I truly hope to be able to share it with her some day! 

Here are some neat verses on peace that I hope you will enjoy. If you don't have peace in your life please give your cares to Jesus!

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7

The Garage is Taking Shape!

The first truss goes up!
 This week we set to the goal of getting all the walls framed up and the sheathing on. Ken and I worked hard every evening except church nights and Ken also went out on Sunday afternoon (while I was taking kids to camp) and then while I was going to pick up kids this morning Ken headed out then as well. The kids and I headed there immediately on getting back into town after camp. Keren and Benjamin came and helped us lift up some wall sections on Tuesday evening and Peter came and helped us this afternoon. It was a lot of work but we are really pleased to see things truly taking shape!

 We did not get all the sheathing on but we got about 1/2 of the trusses up as well as having the walls all framed and a lot of the sheathing on.
 Ken and I are happy to have our helpers back from camp as some evenings it was pretty challenging trying to do some things with only two people. We are obviously not professionals and sometimes an extra hand comes in very handy.

 Our "monkeys" are loving the trusses. They are super excited as we have decided we probably can make a bit of an attic in there. They have this crazy loves for attic lofts.

 That is what is going on at our place this week.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ways We Have Saved Money Lately

 This week has been a good one for frugal activities. Here is some of what we have been doing lately:
~I made a basket out of "trash". Truly what I previously (not long ago) quickly through into the trash without another thought. I still do sometimes when I have to much but it is much more fun to find a second life for it.
 ~On Thursday I wanted to head out to our land mid day to work on the garden and Ken was planning on meeting me there after work. I needed to have a supper and I didn't really feel like taking the time that day to cook over a fire. Then I remember a method of cooking that I had used before but not done for a while. It is a really simple and fuel efficient method. You simply bring your food to a boil and then put it into some very well insulated spot for a few hours to finish the cooking. I mixed rice, broth with meat, green beans and green onions together and brought it to a boil and then stuck it in our pressure canner with towels wrapped thoroughly around it and the lid on. I simply stuck it in the van after boiling it at about 2:30 pm and there it stayed until we ate at around 6:30 pm. The food was quite well cooked and hot. It works like a charm! I didn't need electricity to keep it cooking.
 The finished product.

~I cut the boys hair

~I packed meals for all the times we were away from home. Sometimes I really start to run out of inspiration for doing that but I did manage even though we had 5 suppers this week away from home (plus some lunches).

~I harvested food which we ate.
 ~I made underwear and boxers from old t-shirts. So nice to be able to make a superior product (in my opinion) for free. I generally re-purpose elastic so usually the only thing that is purchased for making them is thread.

~I made handkerchiefs.

~I gave a handmade gift at the baby shower we went to.

~We ate a lot of leftovers.
 ~I made more menstrual pads.

~I didn't go to the grocery store at all (Ken did stop somewhere quick on his own to get some icecream.) I have been working to use up food that we already have on hand. I am hoping not to move so much.

~I used flowers leftover from recent weddings to dress up our house and to give some to others as well.
 ~We are making our garage ourselves rather than hiring anybody.

~I made "new" cards form old cards.
~We took advantage of Megan going to camp free this year since she is a first time camper. The kids had a wonderful week of camp (I picked them up this morning).

~I made homemade yogurt.

~I did a bunch of mending.

What frugal things have you been doing?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Food Harvesting Report

 Here is what we harvested and ate this past week:
July 11th- Mara made yummy cookies with cattail pollen in them.

 July 12th -The Blueberries are getting ripe!
I picked some violet leaves and wild mint to add to my pita.
 It tasted pretty good!
 We have lots of Dewberries on our property.
July 13th -Pineapple weed made a yummy tea before bed.

July 14th - I totally forgot about harvesting in my goal to get lots done while the kids were off to camp. I didn't do any cooking that day as we ate leftovers.
 July 15th - I found some puffball mushrooms out in our yard.

 I thinned out the little cabbage plants and took some of the plants in to eat. I also gathered purslane.
 I took some old day-lily buds from the plant.

I fried up the mushrooms and day-lily buds along with a little hamburger. Then I mixed that with the other greens chopped up.

It all went into a pita. Yummy!
 I also found quite a few strawberries in our patch which Ken and I had for supper.
 July 16th- I harvested a few onions to use both white and green.
 I mixed that in with steak which made for a good supper.
 July 17th - More blueberries. I need to find time to do some dedicated picking soon!
 July 18th - Tonight we had some pretty yummy Quesadillas if I do say so myself. I harvested purslane, lambs quarter and green onions. I used 1/3 part the greens I mentioned, 1/3 part leftover steak pieces from Wednesday and 1/3 part cheese and put that in the homemade tortillas and fried them in oil.
 With salsa and sour cream it made a very delightful supper! It was a GREAT way to use wild greens. Ken didn't even notice them.

That was some of the yummy things we have been harvested and eating lately. How about you?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fly a Little Higher {Book Review}

   This Spring I read "Fly a Little Higher" a book about a Minnesotan boy, Zach Sobiech. A young man who got sick with Osteosarcoma which is a pediatric bone cancer. This young man's story though filled with plenty of heart ache is very uplifting as you read about (from his Mother's point of view) how he dealt with the pain and struggles with an upbeat attitude, a love for family and friends and seeking a stronger relationship with God.

   One of the neat things that happens as Zach's family was trying to help him deal with the cancer and the possibility of death, his mother suggests that he can make a difference in the lives he leaves behind - maybe right letters to give to them. Letter writing didn't seem right to Zach but he loved music and so he wrote songs instead. One in particular, "Clouds" shared with the world his thoughts on leaving and death and shared his love for those he would leave behind. 

   It was inspiring to read about this courageous young person. The book is well written and interesting. It will make you smile and make you cry. I recommend it.

    Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Creatively Re-purposing Salt Tubs {Week 3}

Are you ready for some more re-purposing?

My project this week uses a salt tub but when you are done you still have the salt tub to use for something else. Because with this project we simply use the salt tub as a form to help us make a basket.

To make this basket I used some plastic strapping that comes around boxes (I get it on all the floral boxes that come to my business) and I also used the seam areas of some jeans that I had cut up. You can use whatever you have on hand. There are lots of different things that will work to make baskets. Once when I was using this method I used newspaper folded up into strips. So be creative!

  I cut some of the straps (I ended up using 10) long enough to go down the side, over the bottom and up the other side. I then used a rubberband to hold them in place like that. Above you see I have 3 lined up and held on.
 I ended up with 5 lined up and held on with the rubberband and then I wove in 5 more going the other way. When they are held with the rubberband I find it is much easier to keep them where they are supposed to be. I would say this method is great for a novice basket maker - somebody already experienced might not need it.

 After I had the 10 strips of strapping in place I then started weaving the jean seams through. I hot glued it in place where I started.
 Just keep on weaving, when you run out you can glue on another section.
 Since there is an even number (10) of spokes going up each time you go around you will need to skip one extra spoke so that you will be able to continue with the basket weave. So photo above to see how that is done.
 When I got near the top and took it off of the salt tub and then hot glued a piece of denim seam to the outside of all the spokes.
 Then I cut the spokes off flush.
 Next I glued a seam across for a handle and then another seam around the inside on top to hold everything together.

This basket is pretty sturdy and makes a cute little basket for collecting mushrooms, picking berries, gathering little treasures or whatever you want!

 Have you ever made a basket? What sort of things do you like to make baskets from? Have you ever used a form to help make your basket?

 There are many other forms you can use to make baskets: Buckets, boxes - whatever is the size of basket that you would like.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Planting a Garden Now - Experimenting with Permaculture and Fall Gardening

Aaron and Mara working on digging holes for planting.
 When we decided to sell our home and build a new one this year I knew that gardening might be complicated. We did buy our new land in January and so I optimistically thought that we could easily plant a garden both places and then we would have plenty no matter when the house sold. Enter reality. :-)

  I did not want to plant a garden out at the new place until I had a fence up to keep deer out as we had seen ample evidence of our land being heavily populated with deer and our new neighbors told us many a story of the deer eating everything at their place. So, I figured we would put up a fence. But that wasn't quite as simple as it sounded either. There were permits to be obtained (which took a while and if I remember right depended on other things being done first),  the ground needed to thaw too, trees and brush needed to be cleared and then just a lot of other things coming up as well. The fencing is still not all done.

   Meanwhile at home I did get a garden in but not as much as normal as we have been very busy working out at the land and then some things got in late and it has also been a fairly chilly summer so plants have been growing quite slowly. We have gotten some stuff from our garden but not a lot and now our closing date is in just over a month and I don't think we will harvest all that much before then. That is all right - we thankfully have many sources of food (including grocery stores :-) ) and things will all work out fine. I just don't like missing out on garden produce so I am working to figure out whatever I can to change this outcome.

Jonathan hauling mulch and Megan gathering up sticks.
 I had been saving Tomato, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi and pepper plants to put over at our new land and even though Ken hadn't had time to help me finish the fence (The kids and I weren't strong enough to get the fencing stretched properly) we decided to go ahead and get some things planted and we would put some fencing up temporarily.

  We hadn't gotten the garden tilled either and Ken wasn't sure how well it would work with all the roots (from the trees and brush that we had to cut down) anyway. Dad has been reading up on permaculture however and he suggested that we simply lay down the black tarps (which we are able to get free from the lumberyard where my brother works) and cut holes and just dig down into the soil without tilling at all and then water then with river water and muck. So that is what we are doing. Sometimes the hole digging is a big challenging as we work around roots but it seems to be working. So far I have planted 77 plants of Broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi (my garden is going in very haphazardly with no records and very little keeping track of what is what- mainly I just want to get some produce to eat). I also planted a couple plants of cutting celery and a marigold. Hopefully I can get the tomatoes (some of them are already blooming) and peppers in this week as well as plant some seeds.

Mara helping with planting.
  Permaculture is something that I want to look into more. Here is a quote that I found that explains it:
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." - Bill Mollison

I find the 12 permaculture design principles (which you can find here) very interesting and for the most part it is my goal to put them to work on our homestead. Here are a couple of my favorites:  "Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.  Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.

  This summer of working out at our land has been a fun time to observe what already does grow out there, how the water flowers after it rains, where we have sunshine and where we have shade and so much more. Taking time to observe is an important part in gardening.

   Producing no waste has always been something that is important to me. We are definitely not down to zero waste yet but more and more we learn to repurpose things that used to be considered trash or we creatively find ways that we don't need to buy those things that produce trash. In the gardening scene compost bins and chickens are great for using up all those kitchen scraps and then the chickens in turn produce manure which we can use to feed our garden.

  When I think about integrating rather than separating I think about how we placed our garden, chickens, bees and garden shed all together. The bees can pollinate my garden and then also produce honey for us (and really we have found they don't tend to bother anybody unless we bother them first). The chicken manure will be handy to add to the garden compost bin and the weeds that we pull can easily be thrown in for the chickens to enjoy. After the frost when it will be garden clean up time we can also easily turn the chickens into the garden fence to enjoy the run of the garden and help clean things up (though with the perennials fenced off so they don't destroy them). Integrating also makes me think of the things I have learned about the helpfulness of planting various types of plants together. It also brings to mind a plan that Mara just suggested which was planting some of our herbs (mint for example) along with the wildflowers that already grow on the embankment along the river.
Our garden in the making.
I have never really done a fall garden before. I tend to keep on planting throughout most of the Spring and some into Summer but never a full fledged fall garden. It has felt like our season is nearly too short for that. But this year I don't have a lot of other options out at the land so we are giving it a try.

   Here are some of the things that I have read work well in Fall gardens:

  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Mustard Greens
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cole crops (when you can put in a already started plant)
  • Carrots
  • Rutabagas
  • Turnips
  • Shallots
  • Multiplying Onions
  • Garlic (to be harvested the following Spring)
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Bush Beans
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers (I wonder if those will really work up here planted this late - this might be for more southern climates)
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini (I think this could be best for Southern climates too when started this late but I think I'll give it a try.)
The bolded ones are plants that I hope to plant this year. I also plan on trying quite a few herbs.

 Do you ever plant things in the middle of Summer for a Fall garden? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas and what has been successful for you!

Goals for This Week

 This afternoon (after church, a fellowship dinner and a baby shower) I took our kids up north to church camp. This year all of them were able to go. So Ken and I are all by ourselves for almost a whole week (we pick them up on Saturday).

  It feels pretty strange not to have any kids around! I will be glad to have them come home when camp is over! But meanwhile....

 I have never been the type of person to want to go places to spend time by myself. If I go someplace (unless maybe shopping - sometimes that is easier alone) I generally would prefer to have my family with me. But every so often I have wished to have a little time home alone by myself to be able to just work on things without any interruptions. So I have a whole week of that. I may get tired of it by the time the week is over but right now I am a little excited about it.  We are getting ready to move, I have oodles of projects that I would love to get done and there is more than enough to fill my time.

  I will need to do a little cooking since Ken is still here but we have several leftovers in the fridge and I rather plan on cooking simply and I can just skip lunch if I feel like it as he will be at work at that time. I also have 3 of my 6 summer music students out of town so I will have that extra time too.

 So here are my goals for this week:

Homesteading Goals

  • Check on Bees
  • Get the garage walls all framed and the sheathing put on. This goal of course requires Ken too and he thinks it might be a little bit of a lofty goal but we are going to try for it. :-)
  • Get my "Fall" garden planted over at our land.
Homemaking Goals
  •  Spend 1/2 hour each day, Monday-Friday, deep cleaning and/or packing.
  • Mend all clothes that need it.
  • Make our menu through moving time in August - using up things that we already have on hand so we don't have so much to move.
Business Goals
  • Order Flowers for next weeks' weddings
  • Work on Website for 3 hours this week.
  • Go through my e-mail inbox, answer the ones that need answering and get it emptied out.
Personal Growth Goals
  • Really focus on talking to God a lot throughout this week when I will have a lot of quiet time.
  • Finish reading "The Repurposed and Upcycled Life".
  • Write a note or call someone to encourage them each day this week.
Blogging Goals
  • Write 3 book reviews and start reading the 4th book that I need to review.
  • Pre-post at least 3 posts to come up during moving time.
  • Link to 10 blog hop parties
Beyond that I am excited about time to do sewing, card making and other arts and crafts. Our fair is coming up in a couple of weeks and I am looking forward to being able to sort through my craft supplies this week and to make things that I can enter at the fair. Hopefully I will be able to share quite a few finished projects.

What are your plans for this week?

"Commit your work to the Lord,
    and your plans will succeed."  Proverbs 16:3

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Humility, Gentleness and Patience

I love to read. I have read thousands of books in my life and I learn a lot from my reading but nothing I read can convict me and make me want to change like the Bible can. The Bible is the inspired word of God and it has in it what we need.

 This morning I was convicted by my reading in Ephesians 4. It starts out with, "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (verses 1-3)

Am I always diligent to walk (live) the way that God wants my too? Is my life one of humility, gentleness and patience? Those are some character traits that I really have been feeling the Spirit prompting me to work on. Am I lovingly tolerant of others? Do I work diligently to have the Spirit's unity in the body of Christ (The church)?

I want to work on these things. To let the Holy Spirit work in my life and control my thoughts and actions. What about you?


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