There's Always Something New!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I forget each year how much work spring is around here... but I also love it! This certainly is not the time of year to kick back in the swing and put our feet up! We spent last weekend getting the garden prepped and ready for the next round of nature's goodness.
We re-carpeted (I know that sounds a bit bizarre) our pits. We have 4 total: one dedicated to greens and herbs and the other three for the usual stuff.
I've already planted our spinach and lettuce in it and you can see they're coming in nicely... along with some weeds!
This year we added two half round planters at the front of the garden: one for raspberry bushes Courtney bought at Lowe's and one for a bucket load of strawberry transplants a co-worker gave to him this year.
Courtney has an affinity for using natural rock to build planters. We have natural rock edgings, walls, and planters all over our place! If you know Courtney, you know the boy loves rocks!!
We added blueberry bushes last year - four of them. Two different varieties, and they seem to be thriving quite nicely. We'll continue to pinch blooms most of this year and let the bushes pour their energy into building a strong root system... the harvest will begin next year. I can't wait!!
Our thornless blackberry bush has multiplied many times over since we bought this place 5 years ago. Boy do I love this bush! The blackberries are huge! We choose not to spray any of our plants around here, so there's nothing like going out and picking a big fat ripe juicy blackberry right off the bush. Grace usually walks around with blackberry stains on her shirts in the summer... thank goodness for play clothes!
And, of course, no weekend here is complete without a round of chicken chasing by my little Gracie. That girl is like the chicken whisperer... she can catch the most skiddish of them!
Courtney got to borrow our neighbor's tractor this weekend and move a little (more like a LOT) of dirt around. But of course, he couldn't resist getting a picture taken on it with his favorite girl!


Old-Fashioned Whole Wheat Oatmeal Flax Bread

I mentioned a home-made bread I was making on FB the other day and have had a few messages and emails asking for the recipe, so here goes... it originally came from a breadmaker recipe from back when I owned one of those evil things... I swear I think I gained a pound a week when I had one!

Old-Fashioned Whole Wheat Oatmeal Flax Bread

1 2/3 C warm water
1/4 C molasses (although I usually substitute: 1/4 C pancake syrup and 2 tsp maple extract)
*one of these days I'm gonna make it with the molasses though!!
2 Tb margarine or softened butter
4 C Whole Wheat Flour
2/3 C Oats
1/2 C Flax seed (you can skip this if you don't have it)
2 Tb dry milk (although you could use a whole milk or canned milk and just use a touch less water if you needed to I believe)
1 1/4 tsp salt (I usually skip this)
2 tsp yeast

I prefer to mix the yeast, syrup or molasses, and warm water first. Then add the other ingredients. I use my dough hook on my stand mixer to do the beastly act of kneading ;-), but if you knead by hand, I would recommend kneading a good 10 minutes to let the gluten set up.. making for a much better loaf of bread.

This is a large 2 lb loaf and will require an afternoon of rising, so be prepared to mix, form a loaf, set in a loaf pan, cover with a damp cloth, set in a warm spot, and WALK AWAY! For something like 2 or 3 hours... Then, when it's risen quite a bit, bake in a 350 degree oven for around 30 min.


Who says playing in the mud is just for boys!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One minute she's chasing chickens, the next minute she's stripped down playing in the mud. Sure glad the neighbors aren't anywhere nearby.
Don't worry, the pics are G-rated!


Is looking good your god?

Friday, April 16, 2010

"When did looking good become your god?"

When I first read this I thought to myslef, "That's not me. I'm not obsessed with fashion. I don't spend hours on manicures, pedicures, and hair. I'm just a simple girl."

Maybe so, but, if I'll be honest with myself, I do put quite a bit of thought into my appearance. And not that some thought is bad, but let's face it, a lot of thought can be consuming. And really, even a little thought can be wrong if it's for all the wrong reasons. I really appreciated my daily email from Proverbs 31 ministries today. It hit home... even when I didn't think it was really meant for me. But as usual, a little thought and meditation on it showed me much more than I could show myself!

In her write-up, Rachel says: "...a mind that is not set on Christ derives too much pleasure from being admired. But here I sit today, a bit disheveled, in need of a haircut, with my feet in my lap like a child. And what's equally honest is I want to enjoy sitting here like this without regret. Without worry that I'm not a shiny, suit person right now. I wish I looked my best at all times, and at the same time, I don't want to be driven by that wish. I see that for what it would truly be: slavery to image. I want to look nice when it's fun for me to, or necessary for me to look professional. But I don't want looking good to become my god. Thank You God, that You look at my heart and not my appearance."

What would happen if many of us put the time into our hearts that we put into our hair!!

I Samuel 16:7, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'" (ESV)


I've been workin' on the railroad...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Well, I've been workin' on our first lapbook that is... on trains. Grace has a true adoration of all things train which is perfect since my dad worked on the railroad for many many years. I grew up in the train yards of Frisco and later Burlington Northern, and I too have quite an affinity for all things train. So, NATURALLY, a train lapbook for our first lapbook experience was a given!

I would like to thank my friends Heather (we're hoping to convince Heather to blog again - she has FABULOUS ideas for preschooling!) and Kara (Kara's blog is active and full of info for Christian mothers!) for introducing me to the lapbook idea and for inspiring me to make one (at least one - it's frighteningly close to scrapbooking you know!).

Our Train lapbook elements came from this link at the site Preschool Homeshare. This has been a really great site in helping us with our preschooling this year. Although I have chosen not to homeschool, I do plan to supplement our children's schooling with activities at home, and this resource I believe will be quite valuable!

We also used a couple of other resources for our Train theme this week... we found a video of a scale train and a video with the Peanut Butter train song as well as a cute video of a child-sized train with kids singing Little Red Caboose. Grace has LOVED singing these songs!

Below is my video of our first EVER lapbook!!!!


I finally made my own laundry detergent and fabric softener!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

From my previous post , I had posted recipes on how to make your own laundry detergent and fabric softener. Well, I finally made it here and tried it, and I have to say, it works GREAT! See the previous post for exact steps, but here was the gist of how I did it.

*I made a double batch and used a 5 gallon bucket with lid to store it. I plan to use my existing store-bought laundry detergent spout container as a refill bottle.

I ended up using a whole bar of ivory soap for the double batch (instead of 2/3). I grated it into my large pot. Then I took the pot and added the water as listed in the recipe and heated it until the soap disintegrated and melted down. Once there, I added the powders and stirred until dissolved on the stovetop. Once I was to this point, I then transferred the liquid mixture to the 5 gallon bucket to add the amounts of water to further mix in (again, all were doubled). Final outcome was a well dissolved liquid (soon to be more like a liquid-gel) that worked well with our hard water out here. My first load of laundry with it did quite well.

I also made up a single batch of the fabric softener and stored it in a well-rinsed old bleach bottle that was labeled with "Fabric Softener" and also had the recipe written ON the bottle to make it easier to fix up a batch later when I run out.

All in all, it was incredibly easy and for $0.72 to make a 64 load amount of detergent (mine was actually a double so it's more like $1.44 to make 128 loads), that is some SERIOUS savings!


Hopping down the bunny trail.

Easter weekend here was filled with quite a variety of things. We decided to do Easter bunny baskets and egg hunts on Saturday so that Sunday could focus on Resurrection day! Well, we did a pretty could job, and I think Grace managed to sugar herself up pretty well Saturday. There sure was a lot of excitement over those baskets and all the goodies inside them

We also sat down to a nice brunch of whole wheat flax pancakes with Courtney's own blackberry sauce for the top... made from our own balckberries from last season. It was divine... ambrosia. Really.

Resurrection Sunday ushered in the opportunity to torture the children by dressing them alike... well, at least in coordinating colors. Someday Garrett will hate that, so I'd better take advantage of his inability to protest while I still can. We had a very nice morning at church starting with a nice fundraiser breakfast then on to regular Sunday services including an Easter cantata.
After church, a bunch of us hit our homes for a quick lunch and costume change and headed down to Roaring River for a day fishing and playing. Courtney even caught his first trout!
Hope your Easter weekend was as blessed as ours!!


An 80 Degree April Day Outside

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Days like this remind me why we moved out here. The kids and I have been hanging laundry on the line this morning. I love the smell of line-dried laundry. It has a clean smell and a fresh crisp that cannot be attained in a dryer! But one of my favorite things about line-drying the laundry is looking out and seeing tiny little clothes flapping in the breeze... tiny little pajamas... tiny little socks... and even tiny little gloves!

Awhile back I posted that we lost our flock leader, Ginger. Well, I believe another hen has stepped up to take her place. It's amazing. Nature just fills the void. This hen, and I am not exaggerating, naturally - in the void of a leader, took on a different appearance. Her comb grew larger, her feathers deepened in their red color, she got bigger, and her voice even deepened. I've not named her yet, but she really is the little red hen around here!


Homemade Baby Wipes for $0.60 a Roll!
I've had friends tell me about this homemade tip before, but I'd never done it. And now, I don't know why I hadn't! Making homemade baby wipes really was easy.

What you need:
Quality paper towel roll (Bounty, etc.)
Baby Wash
Round appropriate size container with lid
*I chose to invest in the well-designed 2.9 qt Michael Graves container from Target. Well worth the $12, and the cost will be recuped in just a few batches!!

Cut paper towel roll in half with a sharp knife... or, next time, I'll cut it in half with the miter saw... it would've been easier, quicker, and a cleaner cut!

Place half of paper towel roll in round storage container.

In separate bowl or container, mix 2 C water and 2 Tbsp baby wash. (Since you pick your own baby wash, you could use an organic or all natural substitution here to suit your needs.)

Pour liquid mixture over paper towel roll in round container and let soak about 5 minutes.

Return and pull the cardboard core out after soaked. This should also pull up the middle towel as you pull it out. This is your pull point for pulling out baby wipes! Done!

*There are some tips that recommend using a container with a soft lid allowing you to cut an 'X' slit in the top to pull the towels through, but this can also cause your wipes to dry out quicker inside, so I went with a quality, well-designed, easy-to-use lid!

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I Wanna Read!

  • The Way They Learn - Tobias
  • Teaching the Trivium - Bluedorn
  • The Well-Trained Mind
  • Get Wisdom! - Ruth Younts
  • Little House on the Prairie series - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Pursuit of Holiness - Jerry Bridges
  • Primal - Mark Batterson
  • Hipster Christianity - Brett McCracken
  • Gospel Powered Parenting - William P. Farley
  • Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow - RC Sproul
  • When People are Big and God is Small - Edward T. Welch
  • Chosen by God - RC Sproul
  • The Discipline of Grace - Jerry Bridges
  • Radical - David Platt

Reading it Now!

  • The New Read-Aloud Handbook - Trelease
  • Honey for a Child's Heart - Gladys Hunt
  • Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Bringing up Boys - Dr James Dobson

Past Reads

  • The Three R's - Ruth Beechick
  • Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Homeschooling
  • What is a Healthy Church? - Mark Dever
  • What is a Healthy Church Member? - Thabiti M. Anyabwile
  • Feminine Appeal - Carolyn Mahaney
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart - Ted Tripp
  • Crazy Love - Francis Chan
  • When Life is Hard - James MacDonald
  • Food and Love - Dr. Gary Smalley
  • For Women Only - Shaunti Feldhahn
  • For Men Only - Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn
  • The Gospel for Real Life - Jerry Bridges
  • Living the Cross Centered Life - CJ Mahaney
  • Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
  • Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul - John Eldredge
  • Dare to Discipline - Dr. James Dobson
  • The No-Cry Sleep Solution - Elizabeth Pantley
  • Parenting is Not for Cowards by Dr. James Dobson
  • The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  • The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson

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