Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pleasing God

 "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
Hebrews 13:15 & 16

 My goal is to please God as I hope it is yours. I love verses like these that tell us right out what makes God happy. He wants us to praise and thank Him. This really isn't hard at all when you start looking around you and realize all there is to thank and praise Him for.

  He also is pleased when we do good and share. Sharing is something we are taught when we are tiny kids but are we still being careful to apply it to our lives? I hope to get better and better at doing good to those around me and sharing what I have. I am very blessed- I have plenty to share, I just need to do it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

You can compost more than you might think

Do you have a compost bin? We have a very simple one made out of old wooden pallets, simple as it is it still does a fine job of making our old yucky scraps into nice fine dirt.

  We have long composted the normal things like apple cores, potato peelings, fall leaves and banana peels but did you know you can also compost:
  • Hair (human or pet- collect it after your haircuts, especially easy if you do it at home, and it is good for your compost.)
  • Used paper napkins or paper towel as long as it isn't greasy.
  • Dryer lint
  • Used toothpicks
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee Grounds and the used filter
  • Stale dry food like noodles, flour, etc.
  • Weeds
  • Toenail Clippings
  • Animal Manure
  • Shredded Paper
  • Used Kleenex
  • Moldy bread
  • Pencil shavings
  • Vacuum bag contents
  • Cardboard
  • Wool scraps
  • Feathers
  • Pine needles
  • Old Bouquets
  • Old Oatmeal
  • Straw
And much more....

If it breaks down and isn't greasy it probably can be composted. A much better alternative to throwing it in the trash- instead it can turn into something useful for your garden.

 Do you have any items to add to this list? Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pinwheel Cookies! {tutorial}

My little brother is getting married soon and since I love weddings, and love to be involved in them I offered to help out in any way that I could. I have also had fun sharing a bunch of ideas with them.(probably to the point that Luke and his fiance cringe when they see me coming- I hope not!)  There are so many fun ideas for weddings anymore that it would be a shame not to use a few of them.

  Luke and MollyBea are planning a fun, bright and colorful outdoor wedding. They are using a few of my ideas and I do get to help out a bit. I am excited to see the finished result when the wedding day arrives. I have been working on projects for that recently but I dont' think I will share those just yet. However I thought I would share an idea that I shared with them that I think they have decided not to use.

  It is pinwheel cookies! MollyBea likes pinwheels so I thought they would make a fun addition to their reception and I even volunteered my older sister to make them for them (grin). I think they are doing something else but maybe you would like to make some fun pinwheel cookies at your house. Just in case you would here is how:

First you need to mix up the dough:
Here is the recipe:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Step 1. Cream butter and sugar together in mixing bowl. Step 2. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Step 3. Stir in flour and baking powder.
Step 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle.
Step 5. Spread on Jam. I used raspberry but you could use any type you desire. You can also use a date filling (which is the way my aunt makes pinwheel cookies and they are delicious!) or chocolate sauce or whatever your heart desires.
Step 6. Decide what sort of pinwheel cookies you want (or if you want to make both styles like I did) You can make round ones or the ones that really look like little pinwheels that you can blow. If you want round ones you roll the dough up (with the jam on it) and wrap it in plastic wrap and but it in the fridge for 3 hours or more. You can also stick it in the freezer to pull out at a later date. If you want to make the other type then you need to cut the dough into squares (around 2 1/2 inches wide).
For the square type you then cut slits as shown above. So it looks like you have 4 triangles in each square.
Then take one corner from each triangle and pull it to the middle. Then they are ready to bake.
For the round type simply take the now cold and hard roll and slice into 1/4 inch rounds.
Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
They make a cute and yummy cookie!

I hope you enjoy them!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Using our gifts

Arranging flowers is a gift I enjoy using to serve others.
  I am really appreciating and feeling inspired by this verse:

"As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10

 God made each and every one of us different. He gave us different personalities and different talents. He wants us to use what we have been given. But I appreciate what is pointed out in this verse- Our gifts should be used to serve others. We could use them for selfish gain but that isn't God's plan- He wants us to serve one another. I hope I can get better and better at doing that- and I hope you do too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Waist packs for hiking

 We love outdoor activities and hiking is one of things we like to do. When we are active we need water and a snack and we need a way to haul them with us. In the past I have used a back pack but I have ended up with to many backaches from doing that so I decided to try waist packs. I bought one that has worked very well!

  Waist packs might not be the trendiest thing to wear but I would rather enjoy activities and not worry about how I/we look. Since Ken and I had waist packs I decided that the kids needed some too. So this weeks project was making some for them. I was able to use things we had one hand and we made some satisfactory waist packs that can each hold two water bottles, an emergency kit and a snack. We are looking forward to trying them out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What happens....

...when you send the boys out to hang up the clothes.
Everything attached together in one clump

They actually do know how to hang clothes on the line, I think they were just feeling a bit creative this time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We've been blueberry picking! {Tips in case you want to go too}

It is blueberry season here now! I love going out in the woods and seeing how many of those yummy and super nutritious berries we can find. This week we were able to go on both Monday and Tuesday. I was so happy we were able to fit those times into our busy schedule. Between both days we were able to pick around 3 gallons of berries. We turned some into jam and ate some and froze quite a bit.

 Here are a few tips of things that work for us when it comes to blueberry picking:

~Where to go.... There are a lot of state forests around here. The ones that have lots of pine trees (or used to have pine trees) are often good locations. We have learned about good spots by asking around and friends telling us. We also just keep our eyes open year round for possible spots.
 ~Be sure to bring plenty of water for thirsty people to drink.
 ~Make it a fun family outing. Our whole family enjoys picking berries or at least going out and having fun in the woods.

~ Be prepared for bugs. Mosquitoes are pretty common, ticks too. Deer flies like to crawl in your hair and bite. If it isn't to hot it helps to wear long sleeves and pants (and to keep ticks out you can pull your socks over your pants) and a hat or kerchief. You might want some bug spray too. I don't like the stuff but I did use it on Monday evening.
 ~To get my younger three to help pick for saving rather than just to put in their mouths I gave them small containers and told them after they filled them and put them in my bucket then they could go play a while and eat whatever they picked. We did several cycles of that during our picking time. Trying to fill a whole bucket was pretty overwhelming for them and they tended to spill them anyway.
 ~We were running short on buckets and so I cut the milk just above which Mara than attached to her waist to put her berries in. She thought it worked pretty well.
 ~Berry picking is a good time to practice counting with little ones. Megan enjoyed picking more while counting the berries too.

~Have fun, bring along identification manuals for the neat flowers and such that you will find while out in the woods, Praise God for his wonderful creation!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dreaming of a home where....

This weekend we went to the arts and crafts fair in town. I love to go to these fairs even though often I don't buy anything. I love just looking at the wonderful artwork (fantastic and realistic drawings and paintings of nature), pottery, baskets, woodwork, handmade beads, candles, scarves, hammocks and so forth. This year I did end up buying 3 things: A wooden chest/bench to keep our mittens and hats in, a pottery bowl (at a much lower price than I generally see them at) and a jar of honey which will hopefully last us until we harvest our own and then hopefully we will never have to buy honey again!

Our purchases
   Walking through that sort of place makes me start dreaming about how I would love to have my home look. I dream about a kitchen with all pottery, glass, wood and metal dishes- hardly any plastic to be found. I dream of having all our wood furniture be solid wood and sturdily made by a craftsman- no press board covered with plasticky veneer. Wood or ceramic tile floors with handmade braided wool rugs and no wall to wall carpeting. Walls with art and pictures created by us or someone we know. Hardly any electronics to be seen but rather shelves lined with books and musical instruments to be played. Our own handmade soap to wash up with in the bathroom. Meals made out of food we raised or got locally and from all natural ingredients. Handmade quilts on every bed. Fresh flowers to decorate.

Oh it is fun to dream....

  And we do accomplish more than dream. Little by little our dreams do become reality as we work on them. We try new things and find out how to do and make things we have never done before. It is fun and it helps us to be able to buy less but have more. But as fun as this sort of dreaming is and as much as I would enjoy having a home like I described above there is something more important that I want to dream about and work towards.

I am dreaming and working towards having a home where Christ is always center and we consider God's will in everything we say and do. Our desire is to please Him. Where we love and honor one another and encourage each other to do better. Where we give our grumpiness over to God and let Him help us be sweet and kind instead. Where we reach out to the world around us and provide hospitality to everybody. That is the home that I really dream of! This is the part of my home that I want to work the very hardest on!

What sort of home do you dream of?

Sunday, July 17, 2011


 This is a passage of scripture that I have enjoyed reading and thinking on lately:

  "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything since He himself gives to all people life and breath and all things: and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us: for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, "For we also are His children." Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold of silver of stone, and image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Acts 17:24-31

I hope it speaks to you too!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Enjoyable and Inspiring Books

I have mentioned before how much we love reading books aloud together. Every day after lunch (unless our schedule is really messed up) the kids and I sit down on the couch and enjoy 1/2 hour to an hour of me (almost always anyway) reading aloud to them. We read some from the Bible, some history and some geography and we read something fun. That something fun is often educational too but it is a story.

 One of our top favorites of the year has been a book I just happened to pick up at our library. It is: The Family Nobody Wanted by (the mother) Helen Doss. This book had us laughing so hard together! It is a true story about a family but the things they did weren't always normal or usual and the way Helen tells about it is truly hilarious much of the time. The just of the story is that Mr and Mrs Doss were unable to have kids but they wanted some (especially Helen). They decided to look into adopting but because of their low income it was hard for them to get them though they were able to adopt one. They wanted more and found out that children of other races especially mixed races were hard for orphanages to place in the 1940s. Anyway over the course of less than 10 years they ended up adopting 12 children. I highly recommend this book and am hoping to buy it for our shelves soon!

  A book that we just finished is called We blazed the Trail by Dorthy Dowling Prichard. It is a quite short story of a trip that Dorothy took with her family when she was a child from MN to Yellowstone National Park in a car before there were hardly any roads. That is interesting but what is really inspiring in this book is the section that tells about her father Micheal Dowling. When he was a boy (14 years old and an orphan) he got stuck out in a snowstorm in MN and end up freezing his legs and hands. They had to cut off both lower legs, one arm and all the fingers from the other hand. He never let that stop him however. He learned how to use what he had. He decided he didn't want to take the welfare that the county offered him he just asked if they could send him to one year of college and then he would take care of himself after that and he did! He ran and owned businesses, became mayor, got married and had a family, Was very influential in getting roads across our country and was quite involved in politics including getting elected as a state representative. It is a very inspiring story! Here is more about this interesting man. And here is a video that was made of him.

We also just finished Founding Fathers, Uncommon Heroes by Steven W. Allen. I had read it to myself earlier and really enjoyed it and we had fun reading it together. It was one of those books that stretched the kids minds and vocabulary which is good!

We just started reading The All-of-a-kind family together. This is a favorite series of mine and Mara's and the others decided it seems pretty fun as well.

I do love books! Do you have any favorite read alouds? I would love to hear of them!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fix it up Friday -Patching Pants

I have some boys that are pretty adept at putting holes in the knees of their pants. Well to be honest I can do it pretty well myself. Anyway that means I have a fair amount of patching to do. A lot of times the jeans are in pretty good shape except for the knee holes. As I like to make things last as long as possible patching is definitely my choice of action to take.

 Normally with patching I would just take a piece of denim, from a sacrifice pair of jeans, that was bigger than the hole and I would stick it in the inside of the leg underneath the hole, pin it in place and then zig zag around the edges of the hole. That worked but it didn't look that great (the pants automatically became everyday pants) and they very easily got a hole again, just above or below the patch.

After the boys got some new pants that came with doubled knees (they looked like they had big square patches already) I decided that I maybe should try patching that way. It is a more durable patch as it covers more of the leg and it also looks nice enough that they can still wear them places other than at home.
 To do it I cut big rectangles from some other old jeans, turned under the edges and then pinned them in place. Next came the time of wrestling them around on my sewing machine, double sewing down each side. They sewing is a challenge but I was quite happy with the finished results! And really... It didn't take that long. The time was certainly worth a pair of decent jeans for my boys.
Jonathan thinks they are as good as new!

I am linking this to Fix it up Friday over at Blessings Overflowing.

Tropical Traditions Dish Liquid {Review and Giveaway}

Dish Liquid - 1 gallon

Not long ago I received a box in the mail with the above 1 whole gallon of Dish Liquid (I tend to call it dish soap but that isn't it's accurate name)! I was quite excited. For one thing it is natural and the more we can get away from chemicals, unnatural fragrances and the like the more I like it, for another thing there is a ton of it- I won't have to buy more for a long time! The question that remained was: "Does it work?"

 I have used it several times and then my sister came and stayed with me and she tried it out too. We were both quite happy with it. It cuts grease, dishes come clean and it keeps its suds longer that the normal stuff that I had before. I like it! I guess this review is short and sweet but when you have a simple product that does it's job what more to say than simply "it works!"?

Here is some more information if you like the details:

 Household Traditions Dish Liquid is free of:

  • Fragrances
  • Dyes
  • Petroleum Solvents
  • Respiratory and Skin irritants

Household Traditions Dish Liquid is an effective and concentrated dish soap developed by and for people with allergies, asthma and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.* Household Traditions Dish Liquid is a coconut-based product—it contains nature’s versatile, renewable harvest. With coconut’s natural moisturizing qualities, washing dishes is even soothing to your hands. Household Traditions Dish Liquid is safe for you but tough on dirty, greasy dishes. It breaks down safely and rapidly making it safer for the environment. It is also low sudsing, making it ideal for camping or other outdoor uses. Household Traditions Dish Liquid is free of fragrances, phosphates, petroleum solvents, chlorine, dyes and other common triggers for respiratory or skin irritations.

I bet you would like this soap too....

If you would like to buy it you can find it at Tropical Traditions. The gallon is on sale right now for $29.50.

One person will also get to win it! To enter to win please leave a comment with your best dish washing tip. (Or maybe the excuse you use most for avoiding dishes.)

For a second entry you can subscribe to Tropical Traditions e-mail newsletter and leave me another comment to say that you did.

This giveaway will end on August 2nd at which time I will draw one name as the winner. Please make sure that you leave a way for me to contact you when you comment or you will not be able to win.

The giveaway is open to those in the US and Canada, though for those in Canada Tropical Traditions is not responsible for customs or duties that Canada may charge if you decide to participate in this Tropical Traditions sponsored blog giveaway.

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, July 13, 2011

Finding food

 This time of year it seems I start focusing a lot on food. The garden is starting to produce, the berries are ripening and their are wild foods to be had. I love finding the blessings that God has all over for us! I find Gardening, Berry Picking and Wild food foraging to be rather addictive so we have spent the last two mornings doing those things. Here are some pictures of our excursions in finding food....

 Radishes from our garden. They are still producing beautifully. We have been eating a lot and having fun sharing some as well. I keep finding out more on how really good they are for you. Today I checked to be sure and yes you can eat the radish greens as well. I think we will try that soon.

Yesterday we went to some state forest and looked for June berries. We didn't find many of them but we did find..
 ~Wild Bergamont. Good for making tea. I picked some to dry. Megan also picked some to put in a vase and it looks beautiful there.
 ~ Wild Strawberries. We picked enough to put in our muffins for breakfast.
 We looked for fish but didn't have anything to catch them with anyway.

Today we took a walk down to the swamp behind our house. I was hoping to find immature cattails that we could cook like corn on the cob and eat. I have read about that but never found them at the right time and tried it yet. I also was hoping to collect some cattail pollen to put in baked goods. I had found a tiny bit the day before but hoped to find more. We weren't successful with finding either of those things but we did pull up some cattails and were able to get the low stem part for eating.

 Here are Mara and Jonathan trying to pull up some stubborn cattails.

 Here are the stem portions after they have been cut off and then had the outer part peeled off. This is the very lowest portion of the cattails stem. We did save the rushes that we cut off and we are going to dry them and hopefully make a basket out of them.
 We ate the cattails for lunch. Some we ate raw (the white sticks in the bowl) and some I cooked in bacon grease along with sliced radishes, garlic tops, purslane (another wild food), basil and salt and pepper. Mara and Jonathan and I really liked the stir fry but Aaron preferred the raw cattail. I didn't get Megan's opinion.

When we were out and about on Tuesday we went to our health food store (which just moved to a new, much bigger and lovely location) and they had really ripe bananas on sale for 49 cents a pound. I bought several bunches and have been having fun baking with them.
Today I made Strawberry banana muffins, Banana Zucchini Bread, Banana Upside Down Cake. Bananas are very yummy!

Our "finding food" yesterday included an evening family bike ride to town and a stop at Dairy Queen. We had some coupons that the kids had been given at the parade and they were "burning a hole" in our wallet. It was a beautiful night for a bike ride and the ice cream was yummy.

Do you like to find food? What have you been eating and enjoying lately?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Herbs and Berries

 This sure is a fun time of year with plants growing like crazy and the rush to stay ahead of the weeding and the picking. Berry picking has started for sure here. Strawberries were first. The last two Saturdays we have made a batch of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. The Strawberries we picked from our garden and we even got some wild ones (my first time using them for jam but it was fun!) from the clearings and ditches around our place. The rhubarb came from a friends house. Mara loves picking berries and is excited that berry picking season has begun. She is also old enough to be a huge help with the cleaning of them.

It is time to collect herbs and get them drying as well. Actually I should have started doing this weeks ago but I didn't so I am doing it now.  I was collecting herbs and trying to figure out where I would hang them (as I didn't feel like pulling out the dehydrator just now) and my sister suggested hanging them above my kitchen sink. I really like the way it looks- old fashioned and back to earth. Ken has enjoyed teasing me about my weeds hanging up.

What I am drying just now are:
 Have you dried any herbs (or otherwise preserved them) this year? I would love to hear what you are doing!

"Better is a dish of herbs where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred." Proverbs 15:17
I linking to Homestead Revival

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm Back...Did you miss me?

It's summer and life is busy! I hadn't intended to do so little blogging but that's what happens when life gets busy. I would guess many of you are pretty busy too!

 Here is some of what has been keeping us on our toes lately:

~2 weeks ago on Saturday the kids and I headed down to my sister Anna's and stayed the night at their house ready to head to Iowa on Sunday.

~After traveling to South Eastern Iowa we stopped to see my Grandma who lives in a nursing home. We surprised her with our visit and she was happy to see us and we loved seeing her. The picture below shows all of us except Anna. (Grandma, Anna's children and my kids and I).

~Next we headed to Sharon Bluff Bible Camp- Junior Week. Of Anna and my kids the 6 oldest were campers (though Aaron and Beatrice were attending a little young) , The youngest 2 children were just tagging along and Anna and I went to camp to help out however we could.
~The kids had a fun week at camp. There were 47 campers ages 7 (supposed to be eight but they allowed several 7 year olds to come) to 12. They were divided into 4 teams. Their day was busy with:
  • Devotions and Prayer.
  • Chapel (morning and evening)
  • 3 Bible Classes
  • Bible Drills
  • Eating yummy meals.
  • Memory verses.
  • Sports
  • Canteen (a fun thing for my kids as it was so unusual for them to buy treats like that. I am glad to have them eating healthier foods again now however!)
  • Swimming
  • Music, Drama and Games.
  • Other special Activities.
  • Sleeping.

Anna and I were fairly busy too. Between us we:
  • Were dorm moms for the girls dorm.
  • Worked in the kitchen.
  • Did laundry
  • Helped with the children
  • Did a little life guarding
  • Anna was camp nurse.
It was really fun to work and visit with the others there. We enjoyed being with old and new friends. I had a lot of fun seeing the different personalities in all the kids there and looking for the ways each of them excelled.
Kitchen workers- I think it is a ton of fun (though hot!) to work in here.
~On Friday  at noon camp was over and we headed north. We spent the night at Anna's (and I was able to throw in a quick wedding flower consultation with a daughter of some friends there) and then headed even further North. We had some slow traffic and so it took longer than we hoped but we made it eventually. It was so nice to be home and see Ken again! I don't like being gone from him so long but sometimes that seems to be what works out.
~On Sunday we went to church and then we went to walk in our town's Independence Day parade (they always have it on the nearest Sunday to the 4th.) Right after I got to the float (for the local Republican party) a friend who was going to be with us fell through the hay wagon and hurt her leg. I ended up taking her to the emergency room while Ken and the kids walked in the parade.
~For the 4th of July we stayed around home for the most part. There was tons of laundry to do, a weedy garden to work on and some bees that I needed to check (I was able to put on the 3rd honey super). We all worked hard much of the day and then that evening we went and saw the fireworks. It was rather stormy too (though the rain stopped here at the time of the fireworks) and we had an awesome display of fireworks in one section of the sky and lightening just across from it.
A patriotic fruit salad.

Strawberries I had fun picking and turning into Jam on the 4th.

~On Tuesday we had company come! My Aunt  and Uncle and two of my cousins with their families and my sister Anna and her family came up to visit. Some stayed at my parents but Anna and family and my cousin Shelly and her kids stayed at our house. We had a lot of fun being together. We spent a lot of the daytime over at my parents.

My Mom and Aunt Merna with their Grandkids
Pam, Shelly, Rowan and Anna enjoying a taco made with bark and other natural ingredients. (by Rowan and friends)

~Last night (Friday) we had everybody over here for Supper. My sisters and all the younger girls (8 of them) came and helped me prepare a "fancy" sit down meal. The girls all dressed up and were servers. We fixed up the tables complete with name tags. We had 33 people here for supper and it went well.

The adults ate inside.
The children (including these lovely servers) enjoyed outdoor dining.
~This morning our guests all left. I had a fairly lazy day though I did pick strawberries and make another batch of jam. We have had a busy two weeks but it has been a fun blessing as well!


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