Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BBQ Grill Light {Product Review}

 Each fall we buy a portion of a grass fed (and finished) beef to provide much of our meat for the year. Because we buy our beef in bulk like that we are also able to get steak and such for basically the same price as hamburger. Which is really nice because I have noticed that buying steak at the store is incredibly expensive.

  Anyway, we like to grill steaks or hamburgers from time to time. For most of the summer we have long days and we have plenty of light for our grilling but as fall draws near the days get shorter and if we have a late supper we can be left grilling in the dark.

  Cave Tools offered to let me have their BBQ grill light so that we could try it out and do a review for them. We like lights so that sounded like a nice offer to us.

  The grill light came in a nice padded box along with a little screwdriver that you could use to open the area where you change the batteries. The light seems to be quite sturdy and well made.
 The light it also quite bright. It is easy to turn on and off which is both a positive and negative about this light. It is positive because who really wants things that are hard to turn on a off? Also, if you hands are full all you need to do it just tap the little icon on the top with the back of your hand or whatever and the light will turn on or off. Really simple. The downside to that is that if you wanted to leave it on the grill with a cover over it the cover could quite likely hit it and turn it on and you wouldn't know and it would wear out the battery.
 The light also has a nice clamping device so  you can hook it to something to hold it in place. That is handy but it is a little bit challenging to direct just the way you want it as it wiggles to easily. Also how our grill worked it seemed like the only place available for clamping was on the handle of the lid and then it was in the way when you opened and closed the grill. It was doable but just not real easy.

  But over all it worked fine for grilling and it is a nice light. I did also take it camping this past weekend and it came in handy there. I also think that it would make a nice bike light.

  If you would like to buy one you can find it on Amazon  or at Cave Tools. If you buy it at Cave Tools you can use this coupon code to get it 15% off: BBQLIGHT15 .

 Does your family like to grill? What is your favorite thing to cook on the grill? Also - who runs the grill in your household? I do the strong majority of cooking in this family but when it is time to grill - Ken is in charge.

Disclaimer: I did receive this product free for purposes of reviewing but all opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Changes at Our Place

 Last month brought some changes with it. Jonathan turned 16 years old and shortly thereafter got his drivers' license. Shortly before that he had bought a car from my brother. So, now we have another licensed driver with his own set of wheels.
I knew that it would bring some changes but I didn't realize quite how much. Obviously Ken and I can choose to say "no" to his driving but so far everything he has wanted to do makes sense or is perfectly fine but it is a change.

   So far....

  • He has been driving himself to work most of the time rather than riding in with Ken when he goes to work and then hanging out at Ken's office for the extra time. I like this because that means Jonathan is home more. Jonathan thought it was really important because then he could do his school work here at home where I could be around to help when needed. He is able to give Mara rides some too when their schedules work out.
  • He has driven to baseball and church some just because it is fun or because he was already in town for work or he thinks he needs to go to the store afterwards. That is really kind of weird to me to be bringing multiple cars and not have my family all together but I think this will tone down a little and it isn't a big deal.
  • When the rest of the family went to a 4-H shooting event in southern MN last weekend Jonathan opted to stay home and do chores and was able to drive over to Grandpa and Grandmas to help out, go to church and go over to my sisters' for supper all in his own car.
  • He was able to take his siblings on errands.
  • He was able to go after work over to help his Granddad out.
  • And today he and Aaron headed off on their own to go camping. We do have other family members camping up north too and we are joining them tomorrow but still it is weird to have our boys just leave us and go like that. I think it is cool though too - Ken and I can't go early because of our work, Mara has schooling to work on and Megan actually did go early catching a ride with Granddad and Nana but the boys can go have fun all on their own. It was pretty fun watching them get ready for it as they planned all their food to prepare on their own until we get their tomorrow evening. They also took along tarps and all of our tents so that they can get the whole site set up before we arrive. It is looking rather nice to have a son with his own wheels.
This experience is also a good opportunity for Jonathan to learn about budgeting and managing money wisely. He worked and saved up to pay for his own car. He is also the one who pays for his insurance (under our plan so that he saves money but he pays for his part) and for his gas and any repairs that are needed. Ken had him work out a budget before he ever got the car to figure out how he would pay for everything. For us having the kids pay for things like this themselves makes sense as we think it makes them appreciate it a little more and to start realizing what they are going to be facing as adults and to prepare for that.

 Do you have children that drive? Did that change things a lot at your place? I am curious what your take is on having children paying for things like their own car and insurance - do you do it that way or do you prefer to pay for it for them?


Friday, September 8, 2017

Seeking to Simplify - Our Simple Homeschool


Well, another school year has begun! I meant to write this Tuesday which was our first day of school but that didn't end up happening. Septembers always seem to be a very busy time! :-)

I have been having fun continuing to go through things and get rid of excess. On Monday evening (just in time for school to start!) I cleaned out our school cupboard where we keep many of the books we are actively using that year. It was fun to get that organized again.

 Above your can see the mess left over from last year and then stuffing in that happened during the summer.
 So much better now! I was able to get rid of a lot of old papers and found a couple of books to move along as well.

This past week was successful in that I got rid of 25 plus things and went through 5 different areas. Hooray!

I was excited to start school again and though the youngest two denied it I think all the kids were kind of excited to start school too.

We keep our homeschooling pretty simple. I don't do any elaborate lesson planning. We don't buy tons of books at the beginning of our school year (that isn't really in the budget nor do we find the need for it). My kids for the most part are using Math books that I used when I was a child being homeschooled. It is Saxon math and it still works well and they have been used by many children now. For writing they do copywork out of the Bible into a notebook and also write letters and essays when I give them that direction. They are using some English books and Spelling books that we had gotten others years or had been given to us. The younger two are also going through some geography books that were given to us.
 For Bible we prefer to read and memorize straight scripture and we make that a big part of our school day. We do also read other edifying books together from time to time. Music is important to us but we don't use any elaborate program. We just do a lot of playing and singing together.
  We love History and read it thought living books just as much as we can. I read it aloud to them often and they read it on their own as well. Science we learn through various books and generally ones that I read aloud to them. Government/Constitution/Civics is learned together through books and discussions.
Mara is doing online college again this year and I didn't end up getting a picture of her first day. This is her senior year in our homeschool. Time does fly quickly.

How is your school year going? How do you make it simple for you?
I do realize when I write about our ways that others might find that overwhelming but it is what works for us. I do think that homeschooling methods though we can truly learn from each other they are highly personal. We each have our different styles and we need to figure out what is the best fit for us.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Beginning of the Church

  What is the church? It is simply God's people here on earth. His church is made up of all Christians - it does not refer to a specific denomination but rather all people who are true Christians.

  The church is spoken of in the Bible using various figures of speech. Let's look at some of those:

"Kingdom" - Colossians 1:13 "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son," Check out also: Matthew 16:18 & 19, Acts 28:31 and Acts 19:8

"The Flock" - "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28

"The Body of Christ" -Ephesians 1:22 & 23 "And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." See also: 1 Corinthians 12:27, Romans 12:4 & 5, Colossians 1:24

How did this church begin?
To begin with the church/the Kingdom was prophesied about in the book of Daniel. You can look at the whole story in chapter 2. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which Daniel with God's help interpreted. It spoke of quite a few kingdoms that were strong and then destroyed and then it talks about the Church/kingdom in verse 44: "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all thses kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever." If you look at Daniel chapter 2 along with history you can understand this prophesy more fully.

The kingdom/church was spoken of before Jesus died for us on the cross. John the Baptist ("Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of haven is at hand." Matthew 3:1 & 2), Jesus ("From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heave is at hand." Mt. 4:17), The Apostles ("And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mt. 10:7) and the seventy ("and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you." Luke 10:9) all preached that God's Kingdom was coming very soon.

In Mark 9:1 Jesus told the apostles "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power."  Assuredly they have all now died and the kingdom has indeed come. Jesus when he taught the disciples to pray taught them to pray for the kingdom to come.

Here are some scriptural predictions which were given concerning the coming kingdom/church:
"I also say that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:18 & 19
So Peter was going to be instrumental to the beginning of the church.

"Now it will come about that In the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths." Isaiah 2:2-3
This time it wouldn't be just for the Jews - it would be for all nations!

"And that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:47
Again - it was for all nations and here were find another clue - it would start in Jerusalem.

When did this kingdom, the church, actually begin?
You can find this story in Acts chapter 2. There were people from many nations in the city of Jerusalem at the time. The apostles and other followers of Jesus were altogether. The Holy Spirit came upon them. They were all able to talk to all the people assembled there in each of the listeners own language.  Peter then started to preach. He told them all about God's plan and how He had sent Jesus but how godless men (and they were among them) nailed Him to the cross but how He rose again. He proclaimed Jesus as Lord.
"Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:37-42  In verse 47 it talks about the Lord adding to their number (in some versions it says the church) day by day those who were being saved.

What a blessing it is to be a member of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Church and to follow King Jesus! Do you have that blessing in your life?



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Big Fork River Canoe Trip


 Our main adventure this year was to go on a canoe trip on the Bigfork River. It was nice because we didn't have to travel very far for this adventure. Only around an 1 1/2 hours of driving time. Still with being that close to home it was fun to see the difference in the plants in that location and we got to see new and lovely scenery. I actually had been on that stretch of river before - 21 years ago - but that was at a different time of year and the water was higher so that made it different a bit too.

Our first adventure for the trip was to have a rock (we think) fly up just before we got to our starting spot and shatter the back window of our van. Though of course that wasn't ideal we still found many reasons to be thankful in that situation: 1. Nobody was hurt. 2. I am so thankful for the person who designed car windows to break in such a safe way where people and tires don't get hurt by sharp glass particles. Also even though it was completely shattered it still held together for the week (during loading up when we got back it did fall out). 3. That we had tape along. 4. That I had happened to grab what I thought was an emergency blanket and brought it along. It wasn't an emergency blanket but rather this silver tube thing but I had a pair of scissors in the van and we cut it to size and used it to cover the window. 5. Ken's parents to help us out with vehicle moving and covering up the window.

God is truly good! He knew what was going to happen even if we didn't and made sure we were prepared.
 My in-laws drove up with us (in their own car) and then moved our van to the ending spot so that it would be ready for us. We were a little concerned about security with leaving it in a parking lot for days but all was well when we got back.
 Ready to go (my Mother in law is also in the picture but she didn't actually go with us).
 Megan was my partner the first day. We rode in the Bonnie Mae - my canoe that I had with me on this river 21 years ago as well.
 Ken and Aaron were together the first day. Ken used Mara's canoe (the "Abbigail A") for the trip. It is a comfortable and sturdy canoe which also takes more work to make it go fast. Ken likes it though. In the picture above Ken's partner had gotten out on a rock.

Jonathan and Mara were in my parents' aluminum canoe which is Jonathan's favorite canoe so he stayed in that one for the trip. We rotated around to have different combinations of canoeing companions each day.
 The first night we camped at Little American Falls. It is nothing like a mountain waterfall (which my Mountain Man-Ken, who grew up around Mountains- noticed) but it is still pretty.
 There were Bottle Gentian there. A flower we don't often see around our place.
 It rained the first evening. I had brought an extra raincoat along for Megan and it was handy so Mara wore it. :-) Mara cooked steaks over the fire which turned out very good. I made instant potatoes with other dried veggies in it.
 The next morning there was a mist over the water.
 It was really pretty and I couldn't truly capture the look.
 Hot cocoa along with fried apple biscuits and eggs for breakfast.
Throughout the trip we would hit shallow water at time and end up getting stuck on a rock. The result was that generally somebody would get out of the canoe and pull us off. The above picture is showing that. :-)

  We did also get to go through little rapids here and there through out the trip. Because of the time of year the water was lower and going slower so some of the rapids simply caused us to have to slow down a lot, others did speed us up and were pretty fun to maneuver through. Various parts of the trip seemed like an obstacle course and that added a lot of interest.

 Aaron was my partner for most of the second day (He and Jonathan did trade places for a while). That was our longest day going around 24 miles.
 Megan and Mara found a mossy place in the trees to put their tent that night. This was at the Half-way campsite.
 It was next to a patch of wild ginger. We harvested some for tea.
 Ken out in the woods.
 On the third day Megan was with Ken, Mara with me and the boys together.
 Jonathan sometimes took a rather relaxed posture while paddling. Other times he liked to paddle standing up.
 We would generally all get together and hold on to each other to eat our lunch while still floating down stream. Floatilla is the long ago term that was coined for that action.
 Mara made a pasta dish for supper that night at our Johnson Landing campsite. It was pretty yummy!
 Our day of canoeing had been shorter (only 14 miles) and so we had time to get flowers for our table and enjoy the campsite a little more.
 Lovely to have all this family time!
 Family, cups of tea (that night our tea was from wild mint that Mara had collected), chocolate (a gift from a friend) and flowers - What more could you ask for?
 This campground (all of them were free to camp at along our way - what a blessing!) had a big area that seemed perfect for playing croquet or frisbee. We hadn't brought either along but a bucket lid was able to take the place of a frisbee. They played "monkey in the middle" while I washed supper dishes. I don't mind doing most of the dishes while out camping as it gives me opportunities to actually get my hands clean. I spend plenty of the day with pretty dirty feeling hands - washing dishes is nice.
 There was a lot of Sneezeweed along the banks. That is not a flower we have around here so it was fun to see. I think it is rather cute. We also saw a LOT of wild asparagus fern on the banks. I wish we could go back at asparagus season.
 Saturday it rained much of the day.
 Jonathan was very ready to get to our warm and dry home that evening. I guess we all were. However we did have a lot of fun and I am thankful for the sunshine and the rain.

I found some pictures of our trip on this same river 21 years ago. Here are a couple:
 My friend Becky and I and my canoe which we used then and I also used this year. That trip was the first time Becky or I had gone on rapids and it was quite an adventure for us. I believe Becky and I did a lot of the cooking on that trip as well (I know we did on a later one but I am not 100% sure about this one).
Some (but not all) of the canoes on that trip in 1996. It must have been lunch time and we were having a floatilla. :-)

 Have you gone on a canoe trip before? I would love to hear your stories.  Where did you go? What was it like? We are always on the lookout for new places to explore.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Camping - A Lesson in Simplifying



Last week we went on a canoe trip. It wasn't real long (only 4 days and 60 miles) but it was a fun time.  I was thinking about how trips of that nature (Canoe trips, backpacking and bike trips)  where you have to carry with you everything you are going to use for the next few days are good for teaching about simplifying. When you pack for a trip like that you really pause to consider - "Is that item worth the weight it is going to cause me to carry?"

Though we don't actually have to carry all of our belongings everywhere we go it still doesn't hurt to have a little of that mindset. Is this item worth the space it is taking up, the work that I might have to do associated with it, etc. Is it worth the "weight" it adds to your life. Many items truly are! On a camping trip just as in life there are things that are exceedingly useful and totally worth having around and even carrying on your back (Warm clothes and rain gear come to mind as things I have skimped on a little to much in the past). But some things aren't worth their weight. They slow you down and make you tired. In simplifying our homes we want to try to figure out which items are which. :-)

 Life has been pretty busy this summer and I have not managed to keep up with my de-cluttering goals. However I am still making some progress so I am happy about that! I don't think I have reported on my goals since July 12th so, since that time I have....

  • Gotten rid of 129 items.
  • Gone through 6 spaces.
  • Sorted through 5 photo files and deleted unneeded pictures.
  • Lately I have been doing a pretty good job of keeping my inbox empty. Yeah!
I think I am getting back in the swing of things again but we do have another very busy (Homeschool Starting, garden harvesting and preserving, 2 trips, 5 weddings, Homeschool co-op organization and music students starting back up again) month ahead so we shall see.

How are you doing at simplifying in your home?


If you would care to read more about our camping trips here are the links to a few of them...

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