Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Proverbs of Solomon

The river by our place - photo by Mara
I have been reading through the book of Proverbs lately and have really been enjoying them. Proverbs has long been a favorite book of mine and that does not seem to have changed since the last reading. :-)

  Here are some that stood out to me right now as we have been working hard on our new land and are dreaming about the homestead that we will have there. I feel inspired when I read verses like these and I hope they will be inspiring to you too.

 "She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong." Proverbs 31:17

"The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer;" Proverbs 30:25

"He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished." Proverbs 28:19 & 20

"Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds;
for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.
When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen,
and the herbs of the mountains are gather in,
the lambs will be for your clothing, and the goats will bring the price of a field,
and their will be goats' milk enough for your food, for the food of your household,
and the sustenance for your maidens."  Proverbs 27:23-27

"My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
Know that wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off." Proverbs 24:13-14

These verses make me think about homesteading and the need to work hard and find that God will bless that labor. There is something really fun about working and then enjoying the results of your labor.

On the topic of the Proverbs of Solomon - I have been reading aloud to the kids lately in 1 Kings and we have been reading of Solomon's life. Recently we read the 4th chapter and at the end of it, it says:

 "Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. So Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. ..... He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,006. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish. Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom." 1 Kings 4:29-30 &32-34

How neat would it have been to be able to go and listen to the teaching of Solomon!?!? You don't think of Kings spending time teaching about the natural world but evidently he did. That would have been so interesting. Solomon's wisdom of course came from God who knows all things.

The Making of an Outhouse

Since we don't have indoor plumbing just now - an outhouse is a quite necessary building. It was also our first building to get up here on our property because of how important it is.

Here is a photographic record of the process that we went through...

You would think that we might begin with the digging of the hole - but no. In our county and I think especially since our land is on the river we needed to get a building permit for the outhouse and the plan needed to be approved by a septic inspector. So the septic guy had to come out and check out our planned spot. The place that we had picked he decided had to much clay but thankfully he found another spot that he said would work fine without the need to put a tank in. Ken found it a little interesting dealing with the septic guy as he couldn't figure out why in the world we would want to have any outhouse- Ken didn't really think that was any of his business but whatever.

After those steps we did get to dig the hole. The kids and I did that one day when Ken was busy with some other project. Going down in the hole was thought to be a lot of fun.
Then we put down some framing for the floor.

 The floor goes on. It is even more fun to go in the hole now - with a roof overhead. :-)
 I decided I needed a picture of Mara in the hole to go along with some photos I have of her as a toddler when she decided to get into the toilet in our house. Thank-fully as a general rule she doesn't do that sort of thing anymore. :-)
 The wall frames go up!
Ken built the seat. My dad told us to make it with this design as he thinks it is the nicest. It does work pretty nicely. The pipe that is behind is for the venting of smells.
 This picture shows the roof on and the pipe in place. We painted it black on top as dad says that would help the pipe heat up which would draw the smell up and out.
 I had fun making a rustic toilet paper holder from some birch branches. I also have another branch with a "Y" hanging up higher which a little lantern hangs on.

 The outhouse is on the trail between our garage and garden.
 All finished except for the siding.

  Now that we are living here we do also have a little table outside with soap, water (in old laundry soap containers that my mom got that have spigots on them) and a towel. I also put up a shelf inside to hold toilet paper and anything else that might be used in there.

 Not only is the outhouse very needed for life right now but in the future I will be glad to have one on hand. It would be very handy if we had a power outage, it also could come in handy if we have a lot of guests or when people are up working in the garden and don't want to go all the way inside.

   Would you ever put an outhouse on your property? I would love to hear your outhouse memories (keeping it clean of course!).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bees and Their Yummy Honey

 Last week while we were working on moving I also extracted all the honey from my bee hives. It made for a busy week. But a very sweet week too with all the honey eating. :-) The middle of August is a little earlier than prime extracting time which is early September but I did not want to move hives that we stacked high and full of thousands of bees.

  Above I was showing off on of the frames that was just beautifully loaded with capped honey. Not all of them look so nice but a lot of them did.
 A close up picture of the capped honey comb.
 The kids did all get to help again and we all ended up nice and sticky. The extractor is run with a very powerful drill and so for the kids it works best to have a helped or so to hold things still. Mara is really not as plump as it looks in the picture above - she simply has her shirt being puffed up with the air blowing up from the extractor.

The picture of the frame about shows some of the brood including some queen cells. I pulled everything out of the hives and either brushed away or vacuumed up the bees this year. I had not ever wanted to do that again after vacuuming them up my first year but my attempts to overwinter them the last 2 years were unsuccessful and it didn't seem like this year was a good year to try again with all that we have going on with moving and building. So I killed them off but next year I want to study up on things and try overwintering again. I have been getting Italian bees which are one of the most gentle and good producers but I was visiting with another beekeeper up here and he said that Carnelian bees overwinter much better and aren't that aggressive either and also produce really well. I will be looking into those. If I change I will have to get packages rather than NUCs which would be something new for me.
Jonathan straining the honey. (I think he did some taste testing too.) This will be our last time of extracting just right out in the garage Lord willing. Next year we will have a special room set aside just for extracting and other bee stuff. That will be very nice! Currently it is our bedroom though so that bees have to wait until we move into our house.

  This was our lowest honey year yet but we still were incredibly blessed - getting more than many people ever get from their hives.

  I would love to hear any thoughts or advice you might have on bee keeping.

Meanwhile I am looking forward to an apple crisp that is sweetened with honey that I have cooking in the crockpot just now - getting ready for breakfast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

8 Ways to Re-purpose Bed Sheets

 One of the easiest ways to re-purpose bed sheets is to leave them just as they are but then use them for table clothes or curtains or whatever you might need. Not long ago we had a garage sale and since I think it looks much nicer to cover up the tables that you set things on (especially since some of the tables were rather make-shift) many sheets went into action as I don't have oodles of tablecloths laying around.

In one area I used them as backdrops too.

 Next week when I give you the tour of our new home (the garage) you will see that I have put old sheets to work here as well to make room dividers and such.

  Here is a list of other ways that you can re-purpose old bed sheets:

  • Turn the flannel ones into handkerchiefs
  • Make menstrual pads
  • Rag Rugs.
  • For making quilts
  • Making clothes - You should have seen the cute skirt that my sister-in-law wore to church a couple of weeks ago. She had made it from two top sheets and had cut out two squares and cut circles in them and layered them so that the points were in different places on the two layers and then I believe she put elastic in the middle circle to go around her waist. I wish I would have thought to take a picture. You can make many other clothes from sheets as well. A blog reader mentioned making pajamas out of old sheets.
  • Cloth diapers
  • A really cute bedspread.
How would you re-purpose bed sheets?

Monday, August 25, 2014

We Have Moved to Our New Garage

Well our house sold as of 12:30 pm, last Friday. Yeah! On to the new chapter in our lives! Ken jokes that we are homeless - but we aren't really. We don't have a house right now (though the work has begun) but we do have a home - it just happens to be in our garage. We also have an address so homeless we are not!

   Above is our temporary home - and a cozy one it is turning out to be -though a little chilly on nights like this one where the temps are going down into the 40's. That's all right - we have lots of blankets!

  Here are a few photos from the last few days - a little peak of life at our new place. Lord willing I will give you a full tour (showing how exactly we are living in the garage) next week.
 The outdoor kitchen- right outside the door. We are working to figure out ways to keep the mud and dirt (which there is plenty of with all the house digging going on) out. Mulch, stepping "stones" (really tree slices) and mats have helped.
 An outdoor shower was one of our recent projects. I still have a few minor adjustments but it is functional and I am pleased with it. (The photo above is not the finished product!)
 Jonathan put up a rope ladder today which they seem to think has turned them all into circus performers. Much fun has been had.
 My big rag rug has found a new home and made our "living room" much cozier.
 Aaron loves to keep the fire going. Supper of stew (made up of whatever could be found in the fridge) and fried biscuits was very, very yummy on this chilly evening!

The outside door into Megan's attic room (our garage is in a hillside so the back of it is largely buried in dirt). Jonathan installed the door and made the new ladder today. He is such a handy guy to have around!

  Oh we are so glad to have the moving over. Life feels so much more relaxed with the whole camping feel to it and the stress of getting things packed up and the house cleaned up all over. We are so thankful for all the help that we had moving. My parents were (are) amazing and I am so very thankful for them! (Hauling loads, cleaning, unpacking, doing our laundry, feeding us, taking care of our birds and the list goes on and on.) We also continue to be so thankful for our great new neighbors who are so interested in us and let us get water from their place, offer us firewood, storage space, etc. We are beyond blessed! God is SO good!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Paul's Prayer - My Prayer

Picture taken by Mara
I would like to share with you today a beautiful prayer that Paul prayed for the Gentile Ephesians.....

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,that He would grant you,according to the riches of His glory,to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is thebreadthand lengthand heightand depth,and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantlybeyond all that we ask or think,according to the power that works within us,to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesusto all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Ephesians 3:14-21

This is my prayer too, for my family, for the church,for all of you and for me too. Oh for everyone to have Christ dwelling in their hearts and to be filled up to all the fullness of God! We often feel so week but that doesn't matter because we have a wonderful, powerful God!

A Garage Becomes a Home

  1. Photo: Look at this pretty garage door Gaslin installed for us this week
 Next week (this week in 8 minutes) we close on the sale or our house. So it is moving time! The garage is not truly done but there is a roof to go over our heads, 2 windows in (2 more small ones should arrive for the attic on Monday and then we can put them in too), and the main doors are in. It seems like we could use days that are twice as long as normal in order to get everything done but I think it will work out just fine.

We are not waiting until the day before closing to actually move stuff but rather have been working on it gradually over a period of time and now have been doing it much more heavily. Our house is beginning to look rather empty. Above is one of the rooms at Ken's office that we are using for storage.
 Here is one of our pretty windows. Do you know how much I love windows???
 Last night Ken and My Dad got the Sheetrock put up in my future honey room/ Bedroom for now. That was after the kids and I tried to put it up on our own on Tuesday. Holding Sheetrock up on 10 foot ceilings and screwing it in proved to be a little to much for the kids and I to handle. We did manage to mangle a piece of Sheetrock pretty badly and bang ourselves up a little bit before we gave up. Ken and Dad did it so quickly and smoothly - it was lovely to watch! The kids and I did manage to do much of the framing of that room so that at least was something.
 Jonathan put up a bunch of shelves today to store a bunch of stuff.
 I cooked our first meal in our new home - with all the doors open since I was using the camp stove. We are going to make a counter top outside for the use of the camp-stove in the future and indoor cooking will be on electric griddle, etc.
 We had stashed our deck furniture off in the woods to be out of the way of the excavators who will be working soon. Megan thought we should use it there. It went fine for some of us but others (the two oldest males) ended up falling over in their chairs because the chair legs sunk into the ground. It caused for some amusement and chaos at the lunch table. :-)
 BLTs were enjoyed by all. Meals have had to be simpler and not always quite so homemade with the busyness of this summer. Hopefully that can change soon.
 The 3 youngest kids are having attic bedrooms and they have been having a blast fixing them up. It feels rather like working on a fort but one that you get to really live in. We have been letting them do nearly whatever they want (they can pound nails, improve and decorate to their hearts content) and they love it. Above is Jonathan's closet that he fixed up with dowel rods. Later Aaron made a closet using a stick he had whittled and Jonathan thought that looked better (we like our homemade, rustic things) and so he switched it out so he didn't have boughten rods for his clothes either.
 Part of the boys room.
 Megan especially loves the decorating. She requested a plant to add to her area.
She pounded many a nail and has things hanging up all over.

I will plan on giving a full tour after we move in but this is a little taste of the adventure we are beginning.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Re-purposed and Upcycled Life {A Book Review}

 Don't you think it is fun to take something that is old and seems rather worn out and then figure out a new purpose for it - to make it new? I love doing that with stuff but there is one far greater than I, Jesus Christ, who loves to do that with people. How cool is that?

  When I heard about "The Re-purposed and Upcycled Life - When God Turns Trash to Treasure" by Michelle Rayburn I was pretty excited about getting to read and review it. This was a concept that I had thought about many times and I was looking forward to reading someone else's take on the subject. The book did not disappoint my expectations.

  Michelle has a very fun and interesting writing style but she is able to also write in a way that encourages you and makes you think. Besides getting to read her thoughts in chapters with titles like "Junk in the Trunk", "Silver Hairs, Chin Fuzz and Fringe Benefits" and "Only You Can Prevent Frustration Fires" she also has a section at the end off each chapter called "Getting Personal" where she might share some scripture references that she encourages you to read, she may ask some pointed questions for you to think on and answer and she might propose an activity to go along with the lesson that she was trying to share.

  It was really good for me to think more on how God can use us - not just in spite of the problems we have but he can also use the bad things, the struggles, the trials in our life and make something beautiful out of them. As Michelle shares: "One of the most precious things to come out of a difficult experience is a beautiful testimony."

  Have you let God work in your life to Re-purpose and Upcycle it? Have you come through your trials stronger and more like what God wants you to be? Wherever you are at I think you would enjoy "The Re-purposed and Upcycled Life."

"Disclaimer - I did receive this book free for purposes of reviewing but the thoughts expressed are my own and I received no other compensation."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Re-purposing Bed Sheets Week 2 (Menstrual Pads)

 Menstrual pads. What an exciting topic, don't you think?!?

It may not be exciting but it is part of life and I have found that cloth pads (which I use as well as a Diva cup) are more comfortable, cost less and produce much less waste than a regular throwaway pad. I have also heard that they are better for your health.

 After planning to make them for several years I finally got it done this year and was disgusted with myself for putting off such an easy project for so long.

I choose to use all re-purposed stuff in my pads which made them free. Flannel (which is where the old sheet comes in!) is a very nice top layer. Absorbent terry cloth is good for the middle - old wash clothes and towels were put to work there and then I read that fleece would work good to work as a barrier cloth on the bottom - I used old pajamas for this. I works good to have Velcro or a snap or something to hold it in place. I used some old Velcro from some pants we had made into rugs.

  Cut your terry cloth into the size you like your pads to be. Layer it up as thick as you think you want. Zig-zag the layers together. Then sandwich the terry cloth in between the flannel and fleece that was cut a little bigger and with wings on it. Zig-zag around the edges to hold all that together and then sew again around to hold the terry cloth in place. The last step is to add the Velcro and then you are all done. It is truly very simple and you can make a bunch of them in an afternoon. After use just wash well in hot water.
Here is a link to another person's method of making them. You can find many instructions online.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The County Fair ~ A Neat Thing for Homesteaders

 We recently had our county fair. Like normal, the kids and I entered various things in the open class. We love taking things to the fair but I started asking myself why I am so committed to the fair even during a super busy Summer. Well there are quite a few reasons......

  •  We enjoy making things and making things is something that I like encouraging my children to do and so this is a fun way to showcase some of the things we have made. 
  • The fair motivates us to complete projects. I sometimes have the tendency to start a lot of things and forget about finishing them and the fair helps me to get things in order and get them finished (so that I can enter them of course!)
  • Entering things in the fair has prompted us to try different kinds of crafts. For instance my girls are right now enjoying using knitting looms because I bought them when I noticed there was a category for things made on knitting looms at the fair. That is just one example.
  • The fair is a neat place to be inspired by what others in our community are making. This year I saw some beautiful knitted projects that made me want to get out my knitting needles and give Fair Isle knitting a try. We also have some opportunities to connect with others that love to create too. I remember one memorable time at the grocery store when Mara complimented a lady on her handmade coat and then we got to visiting and we said who we were and she so sweetly said that she had wanted to meet us after seeing our name on things at the fair. 
  •  We earn money. For the kids this is a big motivator. I also find it pretty fun. It isn't like you get tons of money per ribbon a first usually only wins from $3 to $8 per item and seconds and thirds are even less but when you enter quite a few things and get ribbons of some color on most of them you will end up with a nice check. This year I received $88, Mara $45, Jonathan $5, Aaron $9 and Megan $17. This year was a kind of disappointing one for the boys (that happens sometimes) but they have had other years when they have gotten quite a bit more.

 The kids enjoy getting the premiums so that they can have more spending money or sometimes they have given it away to missions. For me it is my little personal fundraiser for South Sudan African Mission.

    I have thought though if you were struggling to make ends meet how helpful the fair premiums could be. For instance in the horticulture department I entered very little this year - only a few herbs and some hollyhocks which were perennials that I could quickly and easily pick. They still won $14. That would have been enough to pay for 1/2 of my seeds that I bought this year. With a little more effort I think I could easily win enough money to pay for my seeds each year. Also the money could go to help pay for things that you want to make. This summer the kids and I made some pottery projects (we had been given the clay). We took them in town to a little shop to fire them and glaze them so that we could use them for eating on. I paid $15 to have that done. We entered several of them at the fair and the winnings from our pottery was just barely short of paying for what we had done - and of course we still have the things that we made for using.

 Anyway - those are a few thoughts on why we like entering things in the fair. I would love to hear your fair experiences!

A boat that Jonathan made and entered this year.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Are we Listening to Jesus?

Having visited with different friends in the last few months who had either divorced or were heading that way made these verses really jump out at me when I read them.

  "Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?" So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." Matthew 19:3-6 (After this he does go on to say that they would have a right to divorce in the case of sexual immorality- but this is not the problem in so many divorces today.)

Are we still listening to Jesus?

Do we treasure the special, God designed relationship that we have with our spouse? Are we committed? Even when it is hard?

It is my hope and prayer that you and I and everybody else would start putting God's word and His will ahead of our own feelings and desires- in this and every other area of our lives.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

School is in Session {Though not in the Traditional Way}

Plenty of kids to change one tire.
   We have been doing a lot of learning around here. But not from textbooks.

There are so many other ways that kids can learn and often they learn even better by the hands-on, being there in first person, approach.

Here is some of the learning that has been going on around here:

 ~ One day last week when the kids and I were out at the land our tire went flat. The boys were quite excited. At last the would get to try jacking up the van and changing a tire. So they got the van jacked up by themselves (Megan helped too) and learned how to take the tire off and replace it (I did end up doing most of that work but they watched). That was a bit of practical learning that could definitely come in useful later in life.
 ~ The kids had a garage sale. As we have been preparing to move we have been going through things and we had a accumulated quite a few things (though nothing terribly exciting -most of our stuff is second hand so be the time it is sold it is 3rd hand) so I told the kids that if they wanted to run the garage sale (including set up, pricing, manning it and cleaning up) that they could have a large portion of the profits. The younger 3 took me up on the offer. Garage sales are a great learning tool. They can practice simple spelling and art in the making of signs. It is also a good time to practice good manners with greeting people as they come and working together.
 Being the cashier is a great time to practice adding skills (if we would have had more variety in our prices we could have upped the need to practice adding even more.  The kids also practiced using percentages as they figure out how much money they had taken in and then the percentage that would go to each party. Jonathan who says he doesn't like Math - had fun using it over and over again (he kept adding, dividing and announcing the current earnings of everybody).
 ~ Dominoes have been played which is a great method for practicing counting by fives and lots of adding.
   Mara helped me do flowers for a wedding which is great training should she ever want to be a florist in the future.
The kids have done a lot of work out at our property. They are now experienced roofers, can run power tools and swing a hammer when needed. These sort of skills they will likely find useful the rest of their lives.

  We will wait until after the move and Labor day before we actually pull out the school books but still I say- School is in Session.

   Do you try to really encourage your children learning throughout all of life?


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