Saturday, February 9, 2019

Hello! Just Checking In


So, Ken and I just got back from a week long trip to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It was a very fun time and we made a lot of memories. The picture above was one I took from the deck of the AirBnB that we were staying at. It was fun to be able to look down and the harbor each day and check out what was going on. This picture was taken on our last day and there ended up being 6 cruise ships in port that day which made the area quite busy! But we were getting pretty adept at getting around and finding some less busy areas so it was fine. 

We did enjoy the beach a lot but explored a lot of other places too. I hope to share our whole itinerary soon. It was interesting going and trying to be zero waste - I didn't accomplish the zero part but I did find ways to avoid trash (especially plastic) a lot so I was happy about that. I will have a better report on that later. 
We were working to do this trip somewhat on the cheap and it was going fairly well for a bit but a canceled flight threw economical all out the window. Oh well, life happens and temperatures that are way below zero are not the airlines fault. We were trying to leave on the coldest week of the year. We had -41 (and that is not windchill - windschill was around -65) in our town just after we left.

I have so many things that I want to tell about so hopefully I can write some good long posts soon.

We are still exploring ideas to figure out Mara's health problems. We seem to have made some progress but we are still working on things. Most recently she is going on an elimination diet where we go off Dairy, Gluten, Corn, Soy, Sugar, Peanuts, Eggs, Beef, Pork, Shell Fish and processed grains (and probably some other things that I am forgetting at the moment) for 3 weeks and then we slowly and methodically add them back in again. We started Thursday. Megan and I are joining her. We have been doing tons of cooking experimenting since then including some yummy coconut milk Popsicles that Megan made. I will try to share some more about that as well.

God Bless!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bear Paw Mittens

 I have a sweet 3 year old nephew (who happily lives just down the road from us) who loves to be a bear and growl very fiercely. He has a bear hat and had bear paw mittens but they were getting too small. So for his recent birthday I decided to make him a new, bigger pair of mittens.

I had mentioned that this year in my desire to not overload our lives (mine or others) with more stuff I am going to give gifts that are either handmade from items I already have, are money, are gifts of experiences or are second hand and I was able to barter for them (or already had them). It is part of my goal not to promote the excess of stuff and not bringing more things into our world by buying new.

 This gift filled the requirements quite nicely. I was able to make them from some fake fur that my mom had cut out of an old coat and given to me because she thought I might use it. The lining is from a scrap piece of fleece that I had on hand - I was able to use pretty nearly all of it up with this project. I also used some pre-used elastic and then some thread that I had on hand. I used this online pattern for my starting point but then changed it up to make them look like paws and also to make them a little longer.

 It was a fun project. Have you been working on any projects lately? I did a little mending today but no big sewing projects are on my schedule just now. I am actually thinking that I should get working at trying my hand at mudding the drywall that we put up in the basement. I need to watch some Youtube videos on it first though. :-)


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Foraged Bouquet Challenge

 So I had mentioned in my goals I was wanting to make a bouquet every week from things that I picked. I missed the first couple of weeks of this year but here is one for this week. The items for this bouquet were gathered in a walk back from our mailbox.

 It is very cold (it has been below -30 today) and snowy so not a lot is growing but it is still amazing the beauty that can be seen. This bouquet was made with pinecones and greenery from a white pine tree.
The cones had a lot of sticky sap on them which I got all over my fingers but I recently figured out a trick for getting it off very nicely. I wash my hands with soap (which cuts a little bit of the stickiness but not much) then I rubbed vasoline all over my hands and then washed them again with soap. It cleaned it all up.

  What do you have around your place that is making your place pretty? Can you create a bouquet from what you have?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Goals and Dreams for 2019


Life certainly is a journey. Ken and I have been visiting and lately it rather seems like we have left the walking/backpacking part of life and are on to riding in a jet - things go by so fast! Loosing Ken's dad a couple of weeks ago was a reminder of how life moves on and doesn't stay the same. We need to really enjoy each moment as it comes and use all of our life in a way that matters - to glorify God! In April we face the momentous day when all of our children are teenagers! In May there is a wedding planned (or getting planned anyway)! Mara got engaged to Thomas on New Year's Day. Teenagers, weddings, new experiences and growth is all good - just takes a little getting used too. I am so thankful to have Jesus by my side as we go through the changes ahead.

   I like to think about the year ahead and what we will be doing, areas that I would like to challenge myself and ways I/we could grow. I like goals, I really think they help me to grow and accomplish more. It can be so easy to just drift through life but I don't want that to be my story. I really want to live to my full potential for Jesus Christ.

  So here are some of the things I want to work on in 2019.....


  Focusing on Growing closer in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years I have been convicted of my need to have regular prayer time each day - that is such a blessing to me as I start out each day to give things over to God in prayer. Memorizing scripture has also been important to me through the years and something we have gotten better at as we have raised our children - I want to continue to press on in this. Pretty much as long as I can remember I have spent time in the Word each day and several years back I was encouraged to do that even more. I feel so blessed that we have been able to make it a habit to dive in to God's Word several times each day. It has helped us a lot in our knowledge of the scripture. Here are the things that I really would like to improve at this year:

  • Each time I read God's word to think about how I can grow in my love for and closeness to Jesus Christ by what I am reading. Making sure that all the knowledge I learn and share is based on my love for Jesus.
  • Spend time each week digging in deeper to some area of Scripture. Spend some time looking up more verses on the topic, using my cross references, checking out a commentary or a dictionary- in general just observing more than I would just casually reading.
  • At least once a week sharing from God's word with others - whether it is through having a Bible study with a friend or neighbor, teaching a class at church or writing about God's work on this blog or elsewhere. Hopefully I can do it both in person and in writing each week.
  • Overflowing with Joy, Thankfulness and Praise! God is so good to us and we need to respond to His goodness in a way that points others to Him as well. I want to do better at that.
  • Growing in unity with the body of Christ. Truly building others up and working together as a team. I want to serve them more and listen better. This is an area that I have a lot of room for improvement in.
In Physical Health. I feel like I am pretty well blessed with physical health but as we have worked on trying to help Mara get better and as I observe the health of others It has made me want to be more intentional about taking care of our bodies. Here are some things I would like to work on:
  • I am trying to do 25 jumping jacks each day out in the fresh air no matter what the weather. I have been already working on this for a month now and I have missed some days but I do it more often than not so I am making progress. I like the idea of doing something that makes me use my lungs ( I really want to keep them strong and my family seems to have struggles with that) and strengthens my bones. 
  • I want to source even more of our food locally and organically. We have done well at that but I want to get better. I hope to grow and forage a higher percentage of our food. I am going to set a goal for growing/raising 50 percent of what we consume and then with local sourcing of other food going up to 90 % that is locally raised.
  • Drastically cut the sugar consumption in our home. We have never been as heavy as your average family but I think we still eat more than we should. Especially after our not so great honey harvest of last year we used more sugar instead. I need to get out of that habit.
I would like to grow my business creatively using online advertising and stuff like that. I am also trying to figure out how I can create less waste with my business.
  • I am setting the goal of creating a bouquet each week using items I foraged from our yard, woods or roadsides. 
  • I want to work on notebook where I can log what local things I could use in bouquets and start sourcing as much of the cut flowers/ greenery as I can from things around here.

There are many other important areas of my life: Family, homeschooling, friends, crafting, music, etc. and I could come up with a lot of goals in those areas but I don't have time for that right now so I am going to simply share with you some other goals that I have been considering and thinking about for a couple of months now.....


Enjoying the wonder of God's creation in Glacier National Park
The last couple of years as I have worked at going through the stuff we own and getting rid of things we didn't need I have been amazed once again at the over abundance of stuff in our lives. I also get amazed by the wastefulness that happens so often in our culture - and not only by others but by me as well. We have so, so much stuff yet we think we still need more. I found this year (as I tried to get rid of excess in our life) that often second hand stores were overflowing with stuff - they had to often say "Don't bring more right now, we have no space. " So many people saying they have to much stuff and then I would often hear of them buying more anyway. And sometimes that was me. Why????

  I truly believe that God provided all things for us to enjoy and that what He made was good! God does bless us abundantly. God also provided us with the ability to discern and make wise decisions and he will give us the wisdom that we need. We do need to ask and to seek His leading. 

   I also believe that we need to be very good stewards of the world that God gave us to live in. It is our responsibility to do our best to hand it over to the next generation in a way that honors God. Leaving it piled high with toxic trash or with trash floating through the oceans doesn't fit in my mind. Half of the plastic that is produced each year is for single use plastic items (plastic bottles, plastic cups, plasticware, take out containers, plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic packaging and much, much more!) many of which cannot even be recycled.
 90.5 % of plastic waste is NOT recycled. 

   So that is some of the background to why I have the goals below:

  • Creating as little waste as possible.
  • Not spending money. Exceptions would be giving, traveling, paying for experiences, paying our mortgage, insurance, utilities and anything else of that nature, buying gas (though I hope to drive less and bike more) and purchasing necessary food and consumables like toilet paper and soap. I can barter for other items or use money earned at a consignment shop to get other items there. I will try to grow or forage just as much of our food as possible and we will work as hard to use up food that we have rather than buying. Also - things will come up -such as a wedding. I will be doing my best on this one (in trying not to make a lot of needless purchases or create trash) but will try to use common sense and not be overly fanatical when it comes to this event.
  • Eating local low or unpackaged food just as much as possible.
  • Continue to get rid of 25 items each week and sort through 5 spaces each week. I am happy to report that I did accomplish getting rid of 25 items a week last year plus way more. I almost cleaned our 5 spaces a week but was 7 spaces shy for the year.
I like to use my blog as a way to be accountable on the goals I set. Sometimes I have done a good job on that and sometimes I don't but here are the things I hope to post on here to hold myself accountable:

  • I am encouraging all of my family to create less trash but I am going to focus on my trash creation. I am putting anything that I throw away into a 4.5 quart ice cream bucket. Once I fill that (my goal would be for that not to happen for the whole year) I will report that and start again. Once I make it the year I will show you my total amount of trash for the year. I emptied all the trash cans in the house last night and so today we start afresh. I had thought I might keep track of all the trash produced in our household but I am kind of thinking that might place strain on my relationship with other family members who really would rather not participate in a zero waste challenge. I will still encourage and try to help train them to do things like compost their coffee grounds, use handkerchiefs, compost the sweeping scraps and not buy heavily packaged items but I am not going to stress over it and I will not be reporting their trash creation.
  • I will try to report every month the amount of money that I have spent. This report will not include any gifts (monetary) as I don't think that is something to report broadly also it will not include our normal bills (mortgage, insurance, utilities, etc) that Ken takes care of anyway. It will show any purchases made including food, animal food, recreation and gas and anything else if I have to cave on my plan in some area.
  • I hope to share a lot concerning zero-waste, from scratch eating and ideas for sourcing local unpackaged or low packaged food.
Some exceptions: 
  -Ken and I have a trip planned to the Virgin Islands soon (We are pretty excited - it is to celebrate our 20th anniversary and I am excited about the deal I found on flights and an Air B and B to stay at) and when we travel like that we like to find a piece of blue pottery to add to our dish collection and a magnet for our fridge. We will most likely continue that trend. We also will most likely eat some meals out though I hope not to do that much this year otherwise. Also, we may manage to take a trip this summer out East and if so those same purchases will quite likely happen.
  -I plan on buying bees (to make us honey) and chicks (to turn into meat) this spring.

   I have all sorts of ideas of things I want to blog about to go along with these goals and just all that has been going on in our life. Hopefully I can find time to blog regularly this year! :-)

   But I  had better let you go for now. Do you have any goals for this year? I would love to hear them. Also, just for the record, just because I have goals like living "zero" waste or "zero" spend does not mean that I think everyone should. Those sort of goals inspire me and help me to think more creatively and reach goals that I want to reach. That is not for everybody. I do encourage everybody to live within their means and to evaluate their priorities when it comes to spending and make sure that their money is truly going to what is important to them. Also, if I can inspire others to be a little more conscientious of the trash that they are creating and reuse things a little more and buy a little less of single use items then I would be happy about that as well.

 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Trusting God With This New Year and Remembering my Father-in-law

 Happy New Year to you! I have thought a lot about different goals for this new year and I am excited to share them with you and I hope to blog about them but that is going to wait just a little bit, our family is focused a little more on remembering the past just now and we will focus on the future shortly.

    Our reason for thinking a lot about the past just now is because my father-in-law, Terry, went home to be with Jesus on December 24th. He died in his sleep. It was unexpected and a bit of a shock to us.

That Saturday and Sunday (after church, lunch and watching the football game with Ken) he had been helping us work on our project of finishing up the basement. He planned to come back on Monday morning. As he headed out the door on Sunday night it was with the words "See you in the morning". As we know and Terry knew, our paths are directed by the Lord and it wasn't to be that we would see him the next morning coming in our door to help again. But Lord willing we will be seeing him again some great and marvelous morning when all the dead in Christ will rise. That will be one exciting day.

   Ken and I have been married now for 20 years (that milestone anniversary was a couple of weeks ago) and so I have known Terry for just a little longer than that. I have always been blessed to have a good relationship with my in-laws but they lived far away in Reno, Nevada and so I never really got to know them in a day by day basis where you work together and depend on one another. That changed when Terry and Sharyl moved out here a year and a half ago. That last year and a half has been pretty fun. It has been so neat to get to have both sets of parents living nearby, to see them all every time we go to church, to work together on projects and to just enjoy life together.  We were able to see Terry in action at living his life for Jesus Christ.

 I had always known that Terry was passionate about living for Jesus Christ and he had been ever since he got converted around the time he graduated from Highschool and then shortly thereafter went to Bible college with my parents, but it was such an encouragement to me to get to see his faith in action here in our town and in our church and community. He enjoyed preaching, teaching and leading Bible studies. He was devoted to prayer and regularly encouraged others to have a stronger prayer life. He was constantly trying to figure out ways to have openings to tell others about all that Jesus had done for his life and to share the reason for his hope in heaven. I think this is what I will miss most about him and I will be very honest that it has been hard for me to understand why God choose to take him just now when it seemed like he was so useful for His kingdom here . But I am fully confident of this - God knows the future and I don't. God knows what is best for all of us and may His will be done!

 Terry loved his Grandkids. Our Children were pretty blessed. He tried to fit in as much fun as possible when they would visit or we would meet up with them in the past. The picture above shows a game of choo-choo train going on. Just recently Terry got a Bible study going with Jonathan to work at encouraging him and he just bought a ping-pong table so that he could play with the kids - especially Aaron. They had enjoy playing many a time at the church building.
 Terry was an avid mountain climber/backpacker.  We were blessed to explore many beautiful places with him and Sharyl. We appreciate his sacrifice in moving away from his loved mountains to be able to live near us.
 Terry grew up on Water (Lake Tahoe in Nevada) and loved spending time out there. Here in MN he enjoyed kayaking in the Mississippi by our place.
   Terry was also pretty big into taking pictures. It is fun now to look through a bunch of the pictures that he took.

  Terry was also a very devoted husband and father and a very good encourager. I was very blessed to be his daughter-in-law.

   So family started arriving today - Ken is at the airport just now picking up his younger brother and his two sisters are here (but in bed already) - more extended family are coming tomorrow, Lord Willing. We will have a full house and it will be fun and we will remember many things about Terry. And we will miss him - he would have enjoyed being here with us but then again not near as much as he will enjoy singing praises around God's Throne (and he will be singing on key! 😊).

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Creative Pursuits

 The girls and I really enjoy making things and being creative. Since the cold weather has come (at least for the most part - today was not cold it was in the high 40's!!) we have been using our creative juices inside a little more. I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we have made in the last 2 months.
A new rug for my kitchen! This is done in my favorite rag rug style - many strand braids that you tuck in as you go. It goes together so nicely and I use all old clothes or small fabric scraps to make it.
 Megan made a dollhouse for the paper dolls that she has also been making. She had so much fun working on this and it turned out very cute.
 Some more views of the dollhouse.
 I always love seeing Megan at work on projects as she is so very creative and talented a making things.
 I had one wedding in November to do flowers for (mostly I work on that job in the Spring, Summer and early Fall) and this was the Bridal Bouquet. I love the creative work of floral arranging.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving all of my family on my side was able to be here (over 30 for lunch!) and Megan wanted to make a cookie/candy house for dessert. She spent many hours working on it and also got Mara and cousins Margaret and Lars to help as well.


I crocheted a new sweater for my sweat little nephew.



This picture turned out fuzzy but this shows a little outfit I had fun sewing up for my little niece. It went with a sweater that I had made some years ago for someone else.


We had fun filling some shoe-boxes for Operation Christmas Child and this, a few of the handmade things we put into them. A cloth zippered bag, beaded jewelry and notebooks.


Megan made a bunch of paper dolls to go in one of the boxes. This was a very fun project for me to watch her work on as she decided to make girls from many different countries. She had fun researching what they might look like and what both their modern dress and traditional outfits might look like.


I also figured out how to crochet Hacky Sacks to put in the shoe box. I was excited about his as I was able to use thread that we had a whole lot of and they turned out rather cute, I thought.

  After making the hacky sack I decided to use that same type of thread (which was had been given oodles of) and crochet a dishrag to see if that would work. I think it works pretty decently.
For our SEEDS co-op I made this to decorate a place for Sweden.

These are some of the fun crafts Megan made while at co-op.
She really loved making the origami boxes and wanted to show me how when we got home. Shortly afterward I was fixing up a gift for my niece and I thought it would be fun to use a box for the wrapping. I need a rectangle not a square and figured it could be done - Megan was the one who got it done for me - I was her helped.

A new rug for our downstairs bathroom. I had fun making it to match the pictures Mara had embroidered.

Megan made a set of paper dolls for herself as well.

Mara has been trying out dyeing yarn with some natural dyes.

I finally finished this skirt for me. It is fun to get some sewing done.

  These were mostly November projects. We have been working on some others lately but they are kind of secret until next week.

  Do you do a lot of creating at this time of year?






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