Saturday, January 31, 2009


Sometimes there just aren't words to describe how you feel about something...or someone. These are my maternal grandparents, Noni and Papa. In this photo we were celebrating Noni's 91st birthday with an amazing meal of steak and lobster...her favorite. Papa will be 93 in April. It's hard to put into words how this picture makes me feel. It's hard for me to believe that they are so OLD. It seems like just last week I was spending a week or so of summer at their house drawing pictures with Papa and choosing trim for a hand sewn outfit Noni was going to make for me while I was there. But that was over 30 years ago. 30. Where has the time gone? It's no joke that time flies...we have no idea.
Just recently, Noni has taken to wearing this wig. Personally, I like her real hair. But since she is legally blind, can't lift her arms above her shoulders and lives in a nursing home...the wig makes her feel more put together and pretty. So, a wig, it is. This woman...this is one of the toughest women I know. And I feel honored to be her granddaughter. And yes, I've taken the opportunity to tell her so. She's amazing. Always has been. She's just never known it herself. Her whole life she's spent trying to measure her own eyes. We all know she measures up...and then some. Her difficult childhood prevents her from moving on...she's been stuck, forever. And it makes me sad for her. I've tried to tell her...and to pray for her...and to let her know about Jesus. But she remains mad...stating that there couldn't be a God because if there were, He wouldn't have let her have the childhood she had. I spoke to that one evening...but as far as I know it was dismissed. But, I spoke to it...truth...anyway.
Now, Papa on the other seems like life's been one big picnic. He says that Noni did all of the worrying for the both of them. Yes, this IS a bone of contention between those two! But it's true. Papa knew how to live life...and how to have fun (maybe a little TOO much at times...)and how to not take things too seriously. He's got great stories about childhood ...making shoes and salami and cheese and growing big gardens and making homemade wine from berries...but wishing that his mom would make jam instead! (Apparently, raising 11 kids, wine was much more of a priority for my great grandmother that I never knew! From what I hear she knew how to party!)
Today I am grateful. I woke up feeling gratitude to God for...everything. For family...for shelter...for heat...for water...for power...for my husband...for the opportunity to worship freely...for the opportunity to encourage other women to live their life to the is good. Really, really good. Lord, help me to remember that on the bad days, too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gorgeous storage...

A few months back I bought three of these cool jars, in the largest size, at a local thrift store. I love them! The only thing is that two of the seals are shot so I need to get new ones. I thought this was going to be a lot more difficult than it was, but I found a place online that sells them...not to mention a ton of other cool stuff, too! Aren't they so cool?! And they were thrifted! Even better...


I spent a fun day yesterday with my cousin and her sweet little girl. I took 175 pictures of her! That was our intention...she's quite photogenic, I think. And has a sweet disposition. My lighting choices were off...but I'll learn!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Afternoon confession...

I am watching Oprah. I used to be a die-hard fan, I'd watch her EVERY DAY. I grew in the Lord I grew away from her and her "spiritual" path. It's just not a good fit anymore.
However, I watched yesterday because the obese teens caught my eye. Then today it was Part II so I got interested again. The GOOD thing is that I realized that I'm not doing a bad job in packing my sons lunches. As a matter of fact, I do a pretty darn GOOD job!
AND I got all of the answers right to the "what's healthier" questions.
And now I need to go get the book, "Eat This, Not That."
And now I need to go make an early dinner...Fettucine Alfredo with Broccoli slaw added. I had it leftover from the Egg Rolls I made the other night and don't want it to go to waste!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Things that have made me happy the past few days.

  • Making my own detergent.
  • Working hard, and succeeding, at keeping the food/household budget down.

  • a balance on my Starbuck's gift card!

  • Rain.

  • a rainbow.

  • hugs and kisses from my boys

  • fastening my belt one notch smaller!

  • Homemade muffins made with wheat flour and applesauce.

  • Figuring out how to make homemade sweet and sour sauce! (to go with homemade egg rolls!)

  • Nursing my sick 13 year old back to health (not happy he's sick...happy it didn't require a dr. appt.)

  • Using up the contents of my freezer.
  • Dinner in the crock pot!

Life is good, no?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I did it!

I made my own laundry detergent! I followed this recipe and it was so easy. SO easy. I made it last night and it says to let it sit for 12-24 hours. So I did. And I used it tonight for the first time. I was so excited! My husband was quite intrigued, too. I think he thinks I'm a little "out there" for wanting to do it. But he humored me. And I think he likes the idea that I am trying to be as careful with our money as possible.
I'll let you know how it worked...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Craving creativity...

Lino prints and sketches and tools.
It's a nice rainy weekend...perfect for some creative time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Using it up.

Last week or so I did an inventory of my freezer and vowed to use what I have before buying anything else. I've done pretty good so far! I also wanted to use what was on my pantry shelf. And so far, I've done pretty good with that, too! I did go buy one more can of kidney beans for the chili I made Sunday night to make sure we had enough nephew unexpectedly spent one more night with us and I didn't want to run out of food! But other than that, I've been emptying the shelves. I'm not used to seeing available space in my freezer. It's usually packed to the gills. And admittedly, I don't always know what it's filled with. So this has been a good exercise for me...
On the menu tonight? Frozen raviolis with Ragu sauce (the 25 cent deal I got a few weeks ago!), caesar salad and garlic bread. Last night we had homemade clam chowder. I use the best's so yummy and so easy and so quick! Not to mention frugal since I got the cans of clams at the 99 cent store a while back. 99 cents! That is a bargain for a can of Snow's clams. And I only bought them because they were brand name...I only buy brand names at the discount stores. I made the mistake of buying a can or two of chili sauce at the 99 cent store a year or so ago...some off brand I'd never heard of but I was trying to get over my self and my brand name I bought two cans. They sat on the pantry shelf for quite a while...I never could work up the nerve to open them up and use them. Then one night we're watching the news (actually, my husband was watching and I was sort of kind of listening from the kitchen as usual) and I hear about a chili sauce recall. I peek around the corner just in time to see a picture of the can and the brand name. I ran out to my "pantry" (a shelf in the garage) and would you believe it was the exact same? Yes...they were recalled because they were giving people food poisoning! Thank goodness I never fed it to my family!
I learned a valuable lesson that night...always buy known brands at the discount stores and always check the dates. Always.
Anyway...yeah, clam chowder...brand name...use it up...I get so distracted sometimes!
I figure the meal cost approximately $5 for the four of us, plus there's enough for me to have it for lunch today. There's actually enough for my husband to have some as well but he's not big on leftovers. I made him a nice turkey sandwich instead...because I'm a nice wife. Usually. Most of the time...for the most part.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I searched many, many blogs over the weekend looking for inspiration and new ideas. There are tons of blogs out there...TONS. So many people with so much to say. And so much to share. I bookmarked some new blogs and found some new recipes...which is what I was looking for. But I also found something I wasn't looking for...I realized that many people who have blogs feel like it has to be a place with a topic. A cooking blog or a decorating blog or a spiritual blog or a gardening blog...and ALL posts are ALL about the topic. After all, this is what we're told makes a "successful" blog...right? Having a topic...? Right? That's what I've read anyway.

When I would come across a new blog I'd check the date of the most recent entry. Many of them were only a day or two away...but many were from weeks, even months, back. I know I'm guilty of this with my own blog...not posting for weeks, maybe months, at a time. So why aren't we posting regularly? Why do we disappear for months at a time? Do we not have anything to say? Are we completely silent? I don't think so. Not for me, at least. I always have something to's just not always pretty or helpful or encouraging. Many times it's's's's upsetting. And since it's not "on topic"'s left unspoken.

This made me sad. It's sad to me that we can't just be ourselves and still be considered interesting...and worthy of spending some time with. Personally, I like to read about women who are like myself...a work in progress, imperfection striving for perfection...and no, it isn't pretty every day. No, the house isn't decorated perfectly. No, I didn't cook the healthiest meal every day. No, I didn't refrain from using that credit card or buying that item I didn't really need. But I'm trying. Every day I am working toward becoming a better person. It's the best I can do. It's all I've got to offer.

I have gone back and forth with trying to figure out a "theme" for my that it is "successful". But I can't seem to pinpoint who I am or what I represent or what I want to share with anyone who might happen upon this little corner of the internet. I can't seem to narrow it all down into one tidy little title. Or one catchy sub-title. This is life. And it's not one-dimensional. It's huge and it's crazy and it's hard. It's also beautiful and challenging and gratifying. So...I've decided that this blog, successful or not, will be real. The good, the bad and the ugly...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Not just any ol' day...

Today my youngest turns 11. Wow. 11 years ago today I was in labor...and I do mea IN LABOR. Yikes. Isn't it amazing that women do this more than once? And I'm so glad that I did because my second born is an amazing young man. He's creative and talented and sweet and affectionate and thoughtful and compassionate and feisty...not to mention good with his hands, mechanical and a darn good dancer. I love him. A lot. And Ithank God for entrusting his little self to me.
To celebrate we will go to the movies...his choice. He requested to invite his cousin to come along and then to have a sleep over. We're going to make our own pizzas and then have cake and ice cream...homemade because he likes all things homemade way better than store bought. From jam to muffins to school lunches to birthday cake...he appreciates the goodness of homemade.
Happy Birthday to my sweet second born are a blessing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another step in the right direction.

I have to admit...while I am loving the idea of simplifying my life and being less dependent on "the man", it's not how I've always thought.
I am a recycler and have been for a long time. I like to be frugal and have always shopped sales. At one time only out of by choice. I have been interested in gardening and growing food for the past 15 years or so...and only NOW am I really moving on that interest.
I have always been aware...but not always active. These days...the ideas and the thoughts and the desires are becoming actions. I'm actually moving on a thought or an idea. So many times my thoughts and ideas and brainstorms remained just that...ideas scribbled in my Moleskine. But's been different. Lately...I've actually DONE something I said I wanted to do. It wasn't just a fleeting was an actual move in the right direction.
For instance...I am almost out of laundry detergent. The easy thing would have been to just go to the store and buy more. Buy more chemicals. Add one more plastic jug to the landfill. Pay extra for someone else's labor. Right? That would be the easy thing. But this time I opted to do the right thing...or at least the right thing for ME. This is ALL personal choice here...not a judgment on anyone else who buys their detergent.'s taken me years to get to this point. Years. But, I got here. Step by step I'm getting closer to the life I know I'm supposed to be living. And it feels really, really good. Baby steps are still steps!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dinner (and lunch) for under $5!

I just had to write again. Partly because I'm feeling a bit restless and chatty...and partly because I'm feeling quite smug about the meal I cooked tonight!
Earlier in the week I shared with you that I'd made a meatball recipe. When I made said meatballs I made a double batch to freeze for a future dinner. Well, tonight was the future. I went to Winco today and they had a bag of a dozen Hoagie rolls for $2.48. I decided at that moment that we would have meatball sandwiches for dinner using the extra meatballs. I already had salad fixings as well as some packaged spaghetti sauce that would be perfect! I have to say, I don't normally use packaged sauce...especially Ragu in a microwaveable bag. (Yes, I am a bit snooty when it comes to that. And no I did not microwave it.) HOWEVER, several weeks back I was at the Grocery Outlet and they had these little pouches of sauce on sale for 4/$1. Did you hear me? FOUR FOR A DOLLAR. A mere quarter each! How could I pass that up? So I set my snootiness aside and my desire to save money won...I bought eight of them. So there.
And I'm glad that I did. Dinner was really, really good. Everyone loved youngest son included and he's quite picky. Not only was it was also very frugal. Because I don't count the cost of the beef (it was bartered) the whole meal for a family of four, AS WELL AS LUNCH for my hubby and I tomorrow, cost roughly $3. Maybe $4. Not bad! Actually, quit GOOD!

Two birds with one stone...

I just realized something yesterday as I was taking out the recycling and a small handful of trash: my decisions to use what I have in my kitchen and to bake more items from scratch made more than one impact. Not only are we eating food and snacks that are more pure...and not only am I saving money by only buying what I need...we are also making a smaller impact on the environment.
All of the items that used to go to the landfill on a weekly basis...bread bags, snack containers, meat trays, food wrappers, juice boxes...and then whatever was going to the recycling side of the landfill...cans, bottles, milk jugs, so much less, too!! This week I didn't even put the containers out on the curb! I had one bag of trash and the recycling bin was only about a 1/4 full!
We have cut back on soda...and the soda we are drinking I am saving the cans myself to recycle for money for us, rather than giving it to the city! Same with plastic bottles. I mean, I think it's great that our city has a recycling program. Don't get me wrong. It encourages people to recycle more and throw away less. But, it dawned on me the other day...why would I pay the city to gather my garbage AND give them my recyclables so they can make MORE money? When I can make that money my SELF? I need that money!
I am becoming very aware of the money I've been throwing away. I've been careless. And wasteful. And it needs to stop. Today. Actually, last week! I'm turning over a new leaf. And not just because times are hard. It was a good reason to start the change...but what is change now is going to be a way of life in the future. All of these changes I'm making out of necessity are going to become a way of my life. Baking, canning, saving,'s all staying, regardless of my financial situation. Let's call it a resolution...even though I don't usualy make resolutions! I always thought it was just a way to set myself up for failure...but not this year. 2009 is going to be different...and this time, I'm not failing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What I cooked last night...

Still haven't decided on a color combo...but I will...I will.
I am continuing to feed my family with what I have on hand. Last night it was Sweet and Sour Meatballs. My family really liked it. I thought it was pretty good...but I think it could have been better. Maybe it's the ground beef throwing me off...maybe it would be better with the usual chicken or pork. But it was edible...and tasty...and filling...and I used what I had. Ground beef. (this wasn't on the freezer inventory because it was in a different freezer!) Months back my husband traded one of our friends from church an expensive tool he no longer needed for a half of a side of beef. Our friend raised it himself on his acreage outside of town. This was a good trade....we've been stocked with beef for a long while...and we've still got quite a bit left. Ground beef, steaks, chuck roasts, stew's great. Our friend even threw in an upright freezer because we didn't have one!
I have to admit that I did go and buy a green pepper. I wasn't going to but the recipe just really sounded better WITH one. So I went and bought one...and I was glad I did. It really added to the asian flavor of the dish. And, I didn't say I wasn't going to buy anything...I'm just not going to buy more meat until I'm out of something. I will use up all of my stores before buying more. And I won't buy more pantry items (inventory still not done...ahem) until I'm out of something there. I will buy staples such as rice and flour and pastas and bread, add to what I've got to make good meals. I may have to buy bulk flour and sugar, though, since I am going to be making more muffins for the family. Last night we made blueberry muffins from my Williams-Sonoma Muffins cookbook. They are GOOD. The recipe made 20 muffins. I wrapped 10 for the freezer and left 10 out for snacking. My family is liking this whole muffin thing...I'm glad. I am going to begin adding flax and wheat germ to the mix for added health benefits...I haven't decided if I'm going to tell them or not! I probably will...they need to know they can have healthy food that tastes good, too. My sons call me a "health freak"...which I really am not. I drink soda...and we eat occasional fast food...I crave a Hostess cupcake now and then! But I am learning...and I am trying to eliminate bad foods as much as possible. And I tell my kids about bad foods...and ask them to read labels to me when they want to buy a certain snack at the store (it also has to be on sale! I'm tough to shop with!)...I try to make them aware of the unneeded additives. And by doing this, they think I'm a "health freak". And that's fine. My feelings aren't hurt. They can call me whatever they want...we'll see what they call me when they're grown and they begin to care about what's in their food...and in their children's food. It's my job to teach...and that's what I am trying to do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bear with me...

...I'm trying some new color combos!


California Winter...

For the past two days it's been 70 degrees... In JANUARY. In WINTER. I don't know whether to wear Uggs with a tank top or flip flops and my down vest! I need to move somewhere with REAL seasons...

If mama ain't happy...ain't nobody happy!

Last night the boys and I made homemade Applesauce Muffins. (We combined two recipes and added a crumb cake topping of butter, flour and brown sugar to these as well...what a GOOD idea that was! Yum!) I decided to follow the lead of a fellow frugal mom, Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge . She makes muffins all the time to serve as snacks and she keeps them in the freezer for her family to just grab and go. I loved this idea and wanted to implement it for my family, too! Especially my 13 year old son and my husband...they both leave early and neither one of them are hungry first thing in the morning. So to be able to grab a muffin and run is perfect for them. Not to mention, I can feel good that they aren't starving until lunchtime!
So last night I decided it was time to start...and I invited the boys to come and help me bake muffins. They both jumped at the chance! One was was stirring...then one was singing...the other was dancing...who knew baking would bring about so much happiness? I have to say, when I bake for my family, which is not nearly enough, they really do get very happy. They really DO do things like sing and dance around the kitchen and give me extra affection. You'd think I'd do it all the time just for the fringe benefits alone! I will admit..baking is not my favorite thing to do. I'm not sure why. I just never have been really into it. Cooking? Yes. Love it. Love the process...the results...the smells. But baking? Not so much. I think it's because baking requires such precision. And I'm more of a "wing-it" kind of gal. I like to be able to read a recipe and then turn around and do whatever I want with it...add this, omit that, etc. But with baking, if I start adding and omitting at will, who KNOWS how the end result will turn out?! However, regardless of my opinions about baking, I'm going to do it more. Mainly because it's better for my family. I will know that the ingredients are pure...there are no partially hydrogenated HFCS...just good ol' true ingredients. And I think once I begin to do it more, I'll learn what I can and can't omit and add at will, right? will make them VERY happy. They were STILL happy this morning! And that...will make ME very happy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What's in your freezer?

So times are hard...we can all agree on that. Economy is is are scarce...things aren't looking so good. I am always pretty careful with our money. I shop at grocery outlets, dollar stores and almost always buy items on sale. I admit I make exceptions on occasion...there are certain things I won't mayonnaise, for example. And if I'm out...and it's not on sale when I need it...I place it in my shopping cart and move on. I don't LIKE to pay full price...ever...but I will if I have to. But I'm not wanting to talk about name brand vs. generic...or even brand comparisons. I do want to talk about using what I already have.
So I took an inventory of my freezer last week. Yes I did. And who knew so MUCH could fit in that little freezer?! I am amazed at what I had crammed in there! Some of it I'd forgotten about! Some of it needed to be tossed. (Not much...I'm going to use it ALL, but a few items needed to go...some items I couldn't figure out due to the freezer burn! Yikes). And the rest just needed to be organized. I literally inventoried. I made a list and it is hanging on my fridge. And...I am going to share my list with you. Here goes...
(1) whole chicken
(1) salmon fillet
1/2 bag shrimp
(1) 4 lb. turkey breast (on sale after Thanksgiving!)
(4) smoked ham hocks
(4) chicken half breasts
(2) 1 lb. tubes ground turkey
(3) trout (thanks to Dad)
1 lb. cooked ham
(3) boneless pork chops
1 lb bacon
1 bag ravioli
1 package pitas
(4) roasted green chiles (from the farmer's market)
(2) bags edamame
1/2 bag chopped spinach
1 lb. shredded cheese
1 pack turkey lunchmeat
1 pack salami
2 lbs. butter
(4) packages waffles
(1) roll of dough
(2) packs guacamole (leftover from a party at a friend's...I usually mae my own)
(2) packs peaches in syrup (packaged by me last summer)
sandwich bag of walnuts
sandwich bag of pecans (from our monstrous tree!)
sandwich bag of fresh ginger
(1) bag blueberries
Um...yeah. We are NOT starving, that's for sure. Last night I made club sandwiches and frozen fries for'd have thought my family died and went to heaven! The only sounds at the table were "mmmm's". And I had everything here but the tomato!
I am going to use what I have before I buy anything else. I will only buy what I need to add to the menu...such as fresh veggies, salad stuff, bread and milk, rice and pastas, etc. I've got a pantry shelf in the garage that is overflowing, too. I'll inventory that later today. It's mostly items to turn something else into a dinner...tomatoes, cream soups, stocks, etc. We don't eat a lot of prepared canned foods. I usually make my own soups and chilis and stews. The canned just isn't that good...and it's so full of additives. I can almost taste them. I can definitely taste sweeteners...especially aspartame. That's why I do my best to avoid it. I have the occasional diet soda when visiting friends or whatnot...but I don't choose it. I can also taste aspartame in yogurt. So I don't buy yogurt with fake sugars...I stick with the real thing and just eat it in moderation.
Can you believe all of that was in my freezer? I can't. But I'm glad it was! I came across this cool web site...just plug in your ingredients and it gives you a list of recipes you can make using what you've got. Just what I needed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Can you hear me, now?

From the book of Mark.
27Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible,
but not with God; all things are possible with God."

(Have you ever witnessed a sunset from above the clouds? I have. I borrowed this photo, and while it is beautiful, it does not do justice to what really takes place above the clouds when the sun goes down. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.)

This scripture has been flashed in front of my face for months now. It started in October sometime...not sure exactly when..but I know it was definitely October because it really hit me in November at our women's retreat. I'd see it somewhere...on a bookmark, a magnet, a greeting card...and think, "Yeah, yeah, that's cute. With God all things are possible. Yeah, yeah...nice." and then move on. So for a couple of weeks before retreat it kept popping up...and I kept dismissing it. Then at retreat I was given a gift. It was a pretty paperweight with a really cool graphic...and...the words, "With God all things are possible." I told the gal who gave it to me that I'd been seeing that scripture everywhere lately...laughed and thanked her...and moved on.

When I got home from retreat I put the paperweight on the sideboard here, right next to where I sit and do my morning devotions. And really I put it there because I really didn't have anywhere else to put it! I sat here when I got home from retreat and read sweet notes from some of the ladies and looked at some of the nice gifts I was given, including the there it sat, sort of by default! But eventually it dawned on me...that God was really trying to speak to me. That what He was saying to me wasn't just a cute little "quote" on a bookmark. It was a word from God himself...a answer...encouragment...hope...all wrapped up into one little sentence that I'd tossed around so flippantly. And after weeks and weeks of this scripture flashing in front of me...on the christian morning shows I watch, in devotionals I read, in passages in the bible, in friends calling me and telling me they were thinking of me and then quoting that exact scripture, in emails, in other womens was everywhere. GOD was everywhere...and He was trying to get my attention.

And finally, He got it. It clicked. And I believed Him. I didn't just hear it, I believed it. And there's a difference. I believe that with God, all things ARE possible. ALL things. Not some things. Not a few things. Not certain things. ALL things. If we are in His will and following His lead and doing the things He's got planned for our lives, ALL of those things will be possible with HIM. Thank you, God, for taking such good care of me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Have-to vs. Want-to...

I can't seem to decide what to DO today. Or at least for the part of the day that isn't planned out. I had a meeting this morning for church...planning our women's kick-off brunch. It's in three weeks and sounds like it will be fun. Later this afternoon we're going to the in-laws house for dinner. I am contributing baked beans and I'll put them in around 2. I've got a load of wash going...and the dishwasher loaded and ready to go...and now I'm feeling a bit restless, like I'm forgetting something? I'm not. It just feels that way. I think because there is so much I HAVE to do that all of the little things I WANT to do are rushing around in my head, hollering out to be done, but instead they're being put on the back burner.
One of my WANT to's are making a duvet. I have been wanting a duvet for our bed for...well...several years, really. I am extremely frugal and I really hate to buy anything full price. So I'm constantly scouring the clearance racks and the discount stores for good deals. And as of yet, I haven't found a duvet that I like for a price that I want to pay. Well, the other night I was going through drawers in our room, weeding out old sheets and pillow cases when I came across an old (but in good condition) flat sheet in a pretty floral in colors that will coordinate with our bedding. I had thought to make duvets for the boys' beds a while back using the flat sheets from new sheet sets I got for them. For some reason, neither one of them likes to sleep with a top I figured I could make nice duvets for their comforters out of the flat sheets they won't be using. And if it's good enough for the boys''s got to be good enough for mine, too, right?
Anyway, as I dug deeper into the sheet drawer I found another older flat sheet in a neutral tan that will go perfectly as the other side of my floral duvet. The coordinating fitted sheet got washed with an orange crayon years ago so the flat sheet was just sitting there. Now, I could say that it was just taking up space. OR I could say that it waslaying in waiting to become a beautiful duvet for my bed! I like that one better. Not only will I get a pretty duvet...but it will also be, essentially, free! And I'm recycling and reusing while reducing! Not bad.
Now, if I could just find some time to DO the want-to's. I think I'll drag out the sewing machine tomorrow and just DO it! I hope I remember how to thread it!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Note to self.

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." Navajo proverb.

a whole post about

I often visit The City Chicken (where I got this beautiful photo!) for inspiration and encouragment regarding raising chickens. This past summer at our church fund-raising bazaar my friend brought beautiful brown eggs to sell. Honestly, I'd been a bit grossed out by brown eggs forever. What was I thinking? That they'd be brown inside as well? I'm not sure...I just know that they were different, and brown, and so I closed my mind to them. It wasn't until I began really caring about where my food came from and what was IN it that I began to open my mind to a more natural way of things. That would include the use of brown eggs...or blue or green. I purchased a dozen brown eggs from my friend and my whole world changed! I know it sounds a bit dramatic...but honestly, to know that my eggs came from a few miles down the road from chickens that were loved and cared for and given ample space to roam and BE CHICKENS made all the difference! And to be able to know 100% that the eggs came from healthy, organic chickens made it even better. No antibiotics. No hormones. And they were delicious. Once winter hit "the girls" slowed up their production...and my brown egg supply ran out. I purchased brown eggs at the grocer a time or two...but they are just so expensive! Eventually, our budget didn't allow for the purchase of brown eggs...and I had to resort to my 18 pack of regular old white eggs from Safeway, Buy One, Get One Free deal like I always used to. Yes, the price is right. But it's just not the same when you reach into that egg carton and pull out an egg that came from who knows where from a chicken that probably couldn't even stand up, stretch out or see sunlight. Amazing what a little knowledge can do to your food experience.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Inspiration is everywhere!

Simplify. It's time.
Last year at our annual women's retreat I was given scripture by one of our guest speakers...1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
This didn't "speak" to me at a matter of fact I thought, "What? Me? Be QUIET? I don't think so...she was WAY off the mark."
Regardless,I took the little slip of paper and tucked it into my bible and forgot about it. Until about 6 months later, anyway. By this time it was summer and I had a little garden going. I was sitting on my deck reading my bible when I came across that scripture. Suddenly it made PERFECT sense to me. God was telling me to lead a quiet LIFE, not to be quiet by not speaking. Lead a quiet easy on the easy on others...lead by example...quiet down, simplify, slow up. Mind my own business and work with my hands...of course! Gardening...canning...taking care of my own. It was a message to move toward that more self-sustaining lifestyle I was that we will "not be dependent on anybody".
Yes. It makes perfect sense.
SO, tomorrow we'll be seeing about getting pre-qualified to buy 2.5 acres in the country. It's got a large home, a decent sized shop to run the business out of, a very cool little garden shed/greenhouse and plenty of acres for some small livestock. Should we be able to afford it, this will definitely be the next step in leading a "quiet life".
But didn't I start off shouting about "inspiration"? In researching self sustaining lifestyles and preserving food and raising small farm animals I have run across some amazing (and some quite interesting!) blogs. It wasn't so long ago that everyone raised their own food...even making their own sausages and cheeses and yogurts! We've really only been on this whole "convenience" thing for a short time. Doing it ourselves is not really so far-fetched. And it's better for us on so many levels. Just eliminating all of the additives is reason enough for me. But when you get into it, there's so much more. It's healthier, it's more economical, it's better on the environment...there's a purity about it. While it may seem like more work to me it's seems much more simple. And I'm willing to give it a try.
SO,again, this inspiration I'm talking's in the form of blogs written by women (men, too I'm sure...but mostly women where I'm looking) who are also on the path to simplicity and who are mindful of their spending. The two blogs that are really hitting home with me the past few days are: choosingsimplicity and grocerycartchallenge. At Choosing Simplicity Heather shares with us her journey toward a more self-sustaining life. Not to mention, her love for God is contagious! At Grocery Cart Challenge Gayle documents her efforts to feed a family of six, yes, SIX,on just $60 a week. Wow. She shares her finds, her budget, her recipes (including one for homemade detergent that I'm going to try out once my store bought container runs out) and her thoughts on living a frugal life.
There are other inspirations out there...and I'll share more another time. But for now, these two amazing women are giving me so many great ideas that will fit right into my attempt to "lead a quiet life". What's inspiring YOU right now?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 2009. Wow.

Please excuse me while I disappear for three months! Wow! I began working at the local school district subbing in daycare nurseries for a month and then got a long-term position at the library at my son's elementary school. That was a FUN job. For real. I could have worked there forever....or at least until I was 60-something. But, alas, the librarian returned from her extended leave and the job was no longer mine. It was fun while it lasted.
I have to say...working at the district and trying to get hired for permanent positions opened my mind to some things:
Number One is that I really need to complete that ONE CLASS I need to obtain my AA Degree. One class, people. What have I been waiting for? Whatever it's long overdue and the time is now. Or at least real soon. I'm going to go to our local community college this week to see a counselor, figure out what class I need and then TAKE THE CLASS. It just needs to be done. I know an AA isn't "all that"...but it IS better than nothing. It's also necessary for some of the better paying positions within the district. Not having it made me ineligible for some jobs that I KNOW I could have done.
Number Two eye opener is that I don't know that I'm supposed to even GET a job. I thought it was a good idea. Extra income, medical benefits for the family (we currently buy them ourselves because we're self-employed) and a retirement plan. While it is a great plan...I don't know that it's God's plan. And I just really want to be in His will. And more often than not what feels right is being home and taking care of my family...being at the shop and taking care of the bookkeeping for my husband...being available to help others when necessary. These are the things I'm SURE of.
My husband and I have always dreamed of having acreage. And we are thinking that now is the time to try and make that dream a reality. And if we do have acreage...I'm going to want animals. Chickens in particular. Nothing like fresh eggs. And goats...gotta keep the weeds down. And maybe an alpaca...because they're beautiful and sweet and great "guard dogs". Having acreage will also allow me to finally have that big, beautiful garden I've always dreamed enough to grow plenty to eat and plenty to put by. And I just got an idea today to sell gourmet mushrooms at my local farmer's would be a first and worth a try. Who knows...maybe I could even sell to local restaurants, eventually!
As usual, my mind is racing with the possibilities. And going to work every day really puts a damper on all of that. I mean, I understand that we need to work. I worked since I was 16 years old until my second son was born. I know how to work..and I understand it's importance. I'm not saying I won't work. I'm saying that if I have a choice...and at this point I still do...I would rather work for myself doing something rewarding, creative and pure. Growing food...making art...raising chickens...maybe enough to sell eggs as well as mushrooms...wouldn't that make for a beautiful farmer's market booth? Gorgeous gourmet mushrooms...beautiful green, blue and brown eggs...all displayed in wooden crates and chunky baskets...I could use one of my vintage scales to weigh out the goods...I can see it so clearly!
God's will. Not mine. You lead, I will follow. You open the doors, I'll walk through. I trust You.