Friday, September 30, 2011

A skirt from a shirt

 I finally got to do a little sewing this week though I had to get up at 6 am in order to fit it in. (I prefer usually to sleep a bit later than that!) The sewing I did was for Mara for her 12th birthday which was yesterday. I made a skirt, a doll dress and I also made a little barrette for her hair.

Sometime or another the shirt below had been given to us. I believe it was with some other fabric and when I saw it I knew that it wouldn't work for us as it was but that I would like to use the fabric in it. So I finally got around to doing that.
 If you look closely at the picture above you can see that I took the picture after I had already cut it. I decided to use the bodice part of the shirt as a skirt. The fabric however was quite thin and also it wasn't long enough so I lined it with another fabric and had a ruffle stick out from the bottom.

I was trying to decided what to do with the sleeves as they were quite pretty too. I decided to make a simple doll dress for Mara's 18" doll with them. I made it like a sundress and then I did make a simple raglan sleeve dress out of the ruffle fabric that I had used on the skirt to go under the sun dress.
Please pretend you didn't notice that I should have ironed too!
After I finished those two projects I still had a couple of tiny scraps of the blue scalloped edges. I glued one into a circle onto a barrette and then glued a light blue button on the middle. It was an easy and fun way to make a coordinating barrette.

Mara was pleased with them and I had fun and it didn't cost me anything. That makes a fun project for me!

I am linking this up with:
and Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Handmade Christmas! {Come join me for the carnival starting next week}

 Have you been thinking about Christmas lately?


Me either, at least not very much. But at our house we like to make handmade gifts for the most part so we do want to start thinking and preparing some soon. It makes it easier to make things gradually overtime rather than try to do everything at the last minute (ask me how I know!).

That is why I am going to again host "A Handmade Christmas" every week for the next couple of months here on this blog. For this series I try to post something that I have made every week, often with instructions for how you could do it too if you want, and then I have you link up projects where you tell about what you are doing too. This blog carnival is geared toward giving all of us more ideas for ways we can make handmade gifts, decorations and yummy homemade food for the holidays and it also helps to keep us all motivated on working on these projects. I hope you will come and join me!

Christmas is a holiday that my family enjoys quite a bit but it isn't because we spend a lot of money and buy big gifts (in fact the opposite is true- in our little family we have made a rule that all gifts must fit in their Christmas stocking and we don't spend very much) but rather we enjoy Christmas because of the time we get to spend together, the fun times we have creating special little gifts for one another (it is often more fun to give than receive!) , the fun decorations, the music and the yummy homemade meal that we share with extended family and friends.  Thinking about it almost makes me feel ready for winter, but I think I will go ahead and enjoy Fall right now. During the Fall however I will have fun preparing for Christmas. I hope you will too.

Please come join me next week, and the next week and then the week after that and so on until the week before Christmas. I hope we can have fun together trying out new projects, encouraging and learning from one another and making things for our family and friends!

If you would be willing to spread the word about this carnival on your blog- I would really appreciate it! Feel free to grab the graphic at the top of this post if you like. I also am going to try (I am not good with techy stuff though) to make a button that I can make it easy for you to grab. One way or another I would love it if you spread the word! The more that participate the merrier!

updated: The Handmade Christmas Carnival is now going!
Please check out these posts:
Week One
Week Two
Week Three

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If My people will pray...

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

This verse was used in the sermon this morning and I saw it displayed at the dinner I went to last night. It is an important verse and one we should think about and act on!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fixing up a Gift Basket (And happy Autumn to you all!)

We had a beautiful day for the first day of Fall up here- how about you? Our day was a busy one filled with cleaning, helping my parents butcher their chickens, laundry, having an appraiser come to see our house in hopes that we can refinance, putting up corn and zucchini and doing lots of sneezing and blowing the nose since most of us seem to have caught a cold.

  Last night I had fun fixing up a gift box that will be sold at a silent auction/fundraiser that Ken and I are attending tomorrow. Quite a few people (from our local republican group) contributed items that represent the area where we live and I had the fun of putting everything together. 

 We were going with a northwoods theme so I went out and picked some evergreen branches to go in the basket and then I nestled all the items as well as some pine cones in amongst the greenery. This basket is filled with a bunch of local food items as well as some other local odds and ends and some vintage memorabilia. 
Gift baskets are quite fun to fix up, you can figure out any sort of theme that you think the recipient would enjoy and then start putting them together. Maybe some homemade bread and jam with some of your own herbal tea and some honey or maybe several craft items that they would have fun using. Gift baskets are an attractive way to present items that you may have picked up second hand but you know that they would still be appreciated. I had fun fixing up this gift basket- have you ever had fun making one?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Harvesting at my parents place

 Last week we had scheduled a day to help my parents butcher chickens but when frost was predicted for that night my parents asked if we wanted to help harvest the produce instead. They have several large gardens and lots and lots of produce. We had fun going out and helping and they shared a bunch with us too. Here are some photos of that day.
The boys and I went to work picking green beans and got close to 5 gallons.
They planted the climbing bean named "Blue Lake". It is a very nice producer and very yummy.
Aaron is a good bean snapper. We canned around 7 quarts and then had quite a bit left to eat fresh. (Mom and Dad sent home that whole picking with us, they had already frozen a bunch and already given us and others a bunch as well.)
 This is one of the many, many tomatoes that Dad picked.
 Mara had fun picking grapes.

The grapes are a northern variety so it is smaller and tarter than normal grapes but it makes a yummy juice!
 Mara took all the stems off and also got rid of all the moldy grapes that were in there. My parents have had troubles with the grapes molding lately. They think maybe they need to have a better support system for the grapes so they aren't so bunched together.
I canned a gallon (I found these fun 1/2 gallon canning jars at Mom and Dad's too) of grape juice. I sweetened it with honey. It was pretty yummy so we drank a bunch too. We also have some juice set aside for making jelly with.

 While we were there Dad picked 5, 5 gallon buckets full of corn which we then husked, cooked and cut off the cob to put in the freezer. That wasn't all their corn, they were really blessed with a good crop this year. They blessed us with a bunch of meals worth to put in our freezer.

Harvest time is working time but it is a time when we feel overwhelmed with God's blessings.

I just thought I would share some of the projects I am working on too:

 My ski hat is close to completion. I think it will be fun to wear this winter.

While we were camping this weekend a bunch of people were having fun carving things (You should see my younger brother carve- he is good at it!) and I remembered that I was wanting more wooden spoons. I decided to give it a try. I am not very good at it and I am not done yet either but I have made progress. I don't think it will look very professional but I think it will be fun to stir up bread with something that I made from an old tree limb.

What sort of homesteading things have you been doing?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

You are there

 "O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
and laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it."
Psalm 139:1-6

This is such a comforting, faith building verse for me. The realization that God knows every single little thing about me (and about you- about everybody!), that He knows when I am incredibly weary, when I am ecstatically happy, whether I am crying for joy or sorrow and He knows the answers to every single jumbled question in my head. Isn't that so wonderful that we have a God who is there and who cares for us completely?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Making presents interesting with stuff we have on hand.

Fall is birthday time in our family both immediate as well as quite a few of our extended family. With birthdays come presents. I think it is fun to wrap presents and make them look interesting and fun for the recipient (though sometimes I run out of time and my presents look pretty blah!) but I don't like using a lot of brand new paper, ribbons and such which will most likely just end up in the trash.

So we have fun being creative!

Last week was my sister Keren's birthday and I was wrapping her present when my girls came in from outside with some little people that they had made from acorns, sticks and wild cucumber. I asked if I could have one for the present and they gladly let me. I thought he looked so cute tucked there on top.
A closeup of the wild man.

Today I had some more presents to wrap (for nieces and a nephew that we will be seeing) and we had fun using some odds and ends to make the packages more interesting. We used: bits and pieces of ribbons that I had left over from my floral work and other projects, feathers, An oak leaf, acorns, raffia and wild cucumber. It is rather fun to fix up some packages to give away!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another post where I talk about food and gardening. Someday there will be more to life. :-)

  We woke up this morning to see a very thick frost outside. We were expecting it but it is still always a little bittersweet. Outside our bedroom window there were icicles hanging from the oak leaves because the sprinkler system was running during the cold of the early morning. I forgot my poor geranium out on the deck. I tried to cover my tomatoes and peppers and Aaron's watermelon and that worked for some of them but some parts of the tarps blew off and so we had some poor frost bitten tomatoes.
 I am attempting making vinegar. The instructions seem pretty simple. I am wondering if it will really work. Obviously I am not making very much this first time. I would like to know how to make it as then that would be one more thing we wouldn't need to buy. Have any of you ever made it?
 Today I made some yummy "Cracker Jack" popcorn. Just mix together 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup honey and pour over 3 to 4 quarts of popcorn. Brown in a 350 degree oven.
We have been enjoying the lovely sunflowers in our garden. We brought some in before the frost but these actually survived fairly well. We will see how they do after tonight's frost.

 We do actually have more to life than food and gardening but once and a while lately it doesn't seem like it. Are you busy with harvest too?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So much to harvest!

 It is the harvest season for sure! Here is some of the harvesting we have been doing this past week:

A friend of my parents has a trout pond which they drain for the winter. She let my parents have the fish. So they invited us over to help with the cleaning of them. So last Thursday morning we cleaned a whole bunch of fish!
 Jonathan was the official person to get them out of the tub of water and cut their heads off. He did a very good and efficient job of it. Mom and I were doing the gutting of the fish and we couldn't keep up with him. Dad was in charge of filleting them and he couldn't begin to keep up.
 I tried to help with filleting one but I butchered it so badly and took forever so I gave up on helping in that department. Dad didn't fillet all of them as they also enjoy eating them baked so for that he leaves the skin on and doesn't cut them up.
 It is such a blessing to have many meals (for both households) of fish in the freezer for this fall and winter.

Our garden has still been producing well- especially cucumbers! We have been enjoying eating a lot fresh as well as canning and freezing quite a lot. I also was able to barter some cucumbers for some apples which I was quite happy about. We are also trying to make sure that we have plenty of our herbs dried so we can have tea and seasonings all winter long.

God really did bless us with an abundant harvest this first year of our keeping bees. Harvesting has been quite a bit of work so we have just been doing a few boxes at a time. So far we have harvested over 200 lbs and still have more to harvest.

I am taking all the honey from the bees and then we will be killing the bees off. I really would have liked to try overwintering the bees but that isn't something that is very easy to do in our cold climate. The man that is mentoring me does not advise trying it at all. I still do want to try it sometime but Ken and I decided that this first year at least it probably made since to follow his directions. When I am more experienced with beekeeping in general then maybe I can try overwintering them.

Last week I did get a little scare when I went out to harvest. I opened up our biggest hive and it smelled funny. I had read that American Foulbrood has a weird odor and so I got scared that they might have it. But I checked online and they said that when bees are harvesting goldenrod and asters that the hive can also smell weird then. Les, my mentor, told me some ways to check for sure whether they had foulbrood or not and they didn't. Praise God! We had done some praying about the situation and I am thankful that it worked out the way it did.

The kids running the extractor.
   Well we need to hurry and harvest a bunch more today as it is supposed to frost tonight. I had better go get busy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering that no matter what, God is there.

Do you remember where you were 10 years ago today?

 We had just moved up to Minnesota from Wichita, KS and we were temporarily staying at my parents. Jonathan was a teeny tiny baby and Mara not quite two. That morning Ken had gone off to his new job at an insurance office and we were doing things at home.

I remembering us hearing the news on the radio and just being shocked and thinking what is going on- what is really happening.

I remember Ken calling from work to make sure we had heard and said that they were all down in the break room watching the TV. I remember the shock in his voice.

I remember for months hearing more of the stories and being shocked by the horror of it and amazed by God's work in the midst of that horror.

God has allowed us on earth the have free will and people often make horrible choices. That however does not change who God is or what He is like. When thinking of things like the horrific events of 9/11/01 here are some verses that I think are very comforting.

"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38 and 39

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

I hope you find those scriptures comforting as well.

It has been a full week!

This week has been very full but a very good week too.

 It was our first week of formal school for the year. Megan was very excited because she is in "Kindergarten" now. We are still staying pretty relaxed with her schooling but she is eager to learn and so I am helping her. She loves writing her letters and numbers and doing math pages.  Aaron is doing well with his work and was even doing math pages at nap time just for fun (and so he would be able to get done really early this year). Jonathan is seeming to enjoy his math this year, so far he finds it easy. I hope it stays that way. He is also eager to take his first spelling test. Mara is finding that as you get older work does tend to get a bit harder but she is doing fine. I am enjoying the routine of school work but at the same time I am having to work to get adjusted to it. Right now I am having to do a couple of math lessons each day too because of some messing up on my part and so I don't have correcting manuals for Mara or Jonathan yet. I hope to change that soon!

 We spent much of Thursday over at my parents helping with some homesteading activities. We did get our math done before we left. On Monday I will tell more about the fun that we had.

  We have harvested honey 3 days this week. I am feeling so blessed by the harvest we have had. It is a lot of work to harvest but the kids help and this evening my inventive children came up with a way to make extracting easier, faster and more fun.
A piece of clothes line around the handle will act rather like a yoyo string and you can make the extractor turn by pulling it. This made them much more eager to help.

 I have been having fun trying out the bartering site. I have done several deals now and am enjoying getting some "Junk" out of our house in trade for things we like or need.

 We have been canning pickles and salsa and doing other garden harvesting. God is so good to us!

  We have been attempting to do some thorough cleaning around here but sometimes it just feels like it's getting worse. Especially when someone forgets to connect the grain grinder to the bin when grinding and flour sprays all over the kitchen.  Putting up food in general is rather messy and for that reason I will be glad when harvest time is over. I am loving the harvest now however!

Over all, life is good and I am grateful for the week that God gave to us!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Who would like to win a giveaway of some yummy Tropical Traditions Coconut Flakes?

You would?
Well you came to the right place.  I have been enjoying getting to try out this yummy coconut thanks to Tropical Traditions and they are going to let one of you try a bucket of it too!

We do like coconut around here. We enjoy No bake cookies, coconut granola, Butterscotch coconut cookies, just eating it plain and much more!

 With this coconut I had a lot of fun trying out making coconut milk. It turned out really well and it wasn't hard to make. Tropical Traditions has a recipe that you can follow and you can even watch a video to show you how. What I really liked about the making of coconut milk is that you don't have to through out the coconut bits after you make the milk you can still use them somewhere else. I threw some in our oatmeal and it was delicious and then the rest went into cookies.

I also enjoyed putting some of the coconut flakes in some blueberry granola bars that I made. They turned out yummy.

  I am very much enjoying our gallon bucket of Tropical Traditions' coconut flakes- Who else wants to try some?

If you want to buy some you can get a 2 lb bucket for $11.69. While you are shopping you should check out all the other different coconut products they have. You may want to sign up for their e-mail newsletter so that you can hear about when they offer free shipping and sales. It just comes once a week.

 If you want to try to win a bucket of Coconut Flakes then simply leave a comment below. Please tell me about something that you like to bake for you family or tell me about one of your favorite ways to eat coconut. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you if I draw your name.
For an additional entry you can sign up for Tropical Traditions e-mail newsletter and then just leave another comment letting me know that you did that.
THE WINNER IS: Sarah Blanshan! Congratulations Sarah!
This giveaway will end on Sept 23rd. It is open to those in the US and Canada.
Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A bike trip for the holiday

This past weekend we had the fun of going on a little biking trip on the Paul Bunyan Trail. A had wedding flowers to do on Saturday and we were having trouble finding campgrounds so we didn't leave until after church on Sunday. My sister Keren took us down South of Walker and dropped us off. At the drop off place their was a pond that the kids had fun exploring around.
I did find a campsite for Sunday night (For $50 a night!!!) so we were all packed up to go hiking. Jonathan is using a bigger bike this year so I had to make him new pannier bags (The brown ones in the photo below) and Aaron got his old ones. This is the first year that he has had a rack and pannier bags.

 We were running late getting started and so we didn't actually get on the trail until around 3:30 pm. We also hadn't researched the trail or the options of starting places very well so we ended up having 21 miles to go to reach the campground. 8 of those miles consisted of big hills as well. It was a very pretty, winding and hilly trail in that area. We enjoyed it but it did wear us out.
Jonathan was needing to rest after some big hills.
 There were a lot of flowers in that area too.

Aaron and Mara on a flatter stretch.
 That evening we didn't get to the campground until it was almost dark. Then it took the camp owner a while to show us our place. We were still needing to make our supper and set up tents and such and so we were pretty tired and hungry! Once we got food in us we felt much better and then we headed to bed. It was pretty cold that night (the forecast had been 36 degrees) but we brought warm stuff and we slept pretty well.
 The next morning I went to check out the bay we were camping on. It was on Leech lake but from their campground it just looks pretty weedy. It was pretty anyway.

Our campsite. We were in the area of a bunch of people that bring their RVs and stay all summer long. I think they found us rather interesting. They were very friendly and offered to loan roasting sticks and give us fire started and water and ice.
Getting packed up on Monday morning.
One of the things I had fun noticing were all the wild edibles along the way. It is always good to know what we could eat if we were needing to survive along the trail. :-)  Here is some of what we found:
Sumac. We collected some of this and are looking forward to making something similar to lemonade with this.

We we surprised to find a bunch of wild grapes. Mara picked quite a few and we plan on making jelly.

Wild plums. These aren't ripe yet but I am hoping maybe we can ride back to get some when they are.
Echinnacia. I collected some leaves to use for tea.

We also saw quite a bit of Wild Asparagus which off course is not in season right now but we are hoping to go find it next spring. We also saw other herbs and greens, wild chokecherries that could be picked right now, a few hazelnuts, and strawberry and raspberry plants. I am sure there was a lot we missed as well.
Here is Megan out of the trailer to stretch her legs on Monday. We rode 37 miles on Monday.
Once we got back to our town we had fun eating supper at a yummy Mexican restaurant. We had packed all our other food and we could have made it home to eat but we enjoyed filling up on food with out doing any more work that night.

 It was another fun bike trip and now we are thinking about our next one.


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