Sunday, February 28, 2010

Learn something new...

In general, I consider myself to be rather adept at using a computer, and I'm pretty decent at navigating Blogger.  However, I have been completely shown up by a 13-year old (I guess that would still make me smarter than a 5th, grader, though, haha.)  I was directed by The Deliberate Agrarian to visit The Blog a Graham Donahue.

Being a rather remarkable 13-year-old with a 5-year farm plan and love of the Lord, I was browsing his blog site when I noticed that he managed to have INCORPORATED into his blog and reader a blog that I had previously been unable to add as it wasn't from and had no simple "follow this blog" button at the top.  Apparently, I had not been utilizing my homepage well enough.

If you go to your dashboard, look at the reading list and you will notice two buttons at the bottom "Add" and "Manage." Using the "Add" there is a pop-up box.  Copy and paste the home URL for the blog of your choice, and wonderfully smart google will make it follow in your list!  No more forgetting to check up on my non-Blogger blogs and having weeks (or months) of back blog entries to catch up on! 

Thanks Graham!

(an OLD picture of my little brother from MY high school graduation!)

Sunday Thoughts

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Paige's Highlights

1. Grain Bins.  Dan and I have looked at these in the past.  Some of them seem pretty ghetto, but if you scroll down and follow the links there are some really amazing houses that people have built out of oil grain bins.  They're quite pretty.  Maybe I'll get him to build me one one day, then we can retire in it....hmm... Anyway, they really remind me of Chipotle restaurants with all the corrugated metal!  Mmm, mmm!

(that's one of the pictures from Mother Earth News' to link above to see more!)

2. Chestnuts.  Ok, ok, so my highlights aren't too much to speak of this week, but it's been busy!  Here's another article from Mother Earth News on raising chestnut trees.  It looks interesting--and I'm liking the part about quick yields--as early at their fourth year!  Not too many nut trees can boast that.  As Dan and I are probably going to be starting from scratch on our homestead, things that will produce during our lifetime are important.  Those poky hulls shouldn't be too much of a bother as we're planning on having a lot of land, and we can just run the chickens underneath the branches for the bugs--and protection from the hawks!  Going on the to-plant list!

3 and 4. To be announced! Number 3 is a bigger "project" of learning that I'm researching, so that will be it's own entry, and for #4, I'm waiting on a book to arrive in the mail!  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cleaning up the Kitchen

Granted, I'm not one to necessarily dig into all the hype and craziness of the most recent thing to cause cancer to be linked to disease, but some things just make more sense that others...
 (interesting chart by the CDC, and American Obesity Association)
  • Like eating less processed food.
  • Getting more exercise.
  • Cooking your own food.
Going along with all that, Dan and I have changed our diet to reflect more of the home-made, less-processed, farm-raised food.   So...
  • No HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup).  We can "make" our own honey and maple syrup.  And we don't need all the additional sugar--Grandma didn't make her spaghetti sauce with sugar.
  • No butter flavoring--home-popped is just as good, and we can make all our own with growing popcorn and dairying. Plus there's that whole popcorn lung thing.
  • No shortening/margarine--crazy trans fats, lard and butter are home-grown, and honestly better for you. (Check out the nutritional values, I dare you. :)  )

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

I'm loving this devo that I'm getting from NLT.  Unfortunately, I think that this is very true on many couples' wedding day--so much emphasis on the reception and the flowers, but so little on what it's all about--the vows.
Annotated Vows

Weddings are about vows. The flowers are fragrant, the dresses beautiful, and the tuxes dashing, but the promises take center stage. Yet compared to the high costs of typical weddings, the vows come cheap. The promises a bride and groom exchange cost nothing to say. But they cost everything to keep. They can be said calmly in less than twenty seconds, but they are meant to be lived out for a lifetime. For this reason, I have asked couples during premarital counseling to join me for one session of attention to the vows. I usually take them to the very place where they will say them to each other and then I explain the plan. Since the wedding is not a setting where we can talk at length about the vows, it is crucial that both partners express what they intend the vows to mean and seek to understand their partner’s meaning. Often this is the first time a couple actually thinks about the content of the vows. Sometimes they’re surprised by the promises.  Then we go through the vows, line by line, and I ask the couple to face each other, hold hands, and explain  what they mean by the traditional words. What follows below is an annotated version of the vows with some of the terms couples have employed to expand on their promises.

I take (accept, thoughtfully choose, joyfully receive) you to be my husband/wife (mate, companion, friend, fellow-traveler, lover, delight)  

To have (consider part of me, see as mine, take responsibility for as myself) and to hold (hug, caress, treat tenderly, protect, enfold) from this day forward (I am entering a new part of life that begins today)

For better (good times, make-up times, new days, wonderful discoveries), for worse (disappointments, misunderstandings, arguments, difficulties, unforeseen challenges);

For richer (not only material wealth but richer experiences in life that we seek to share together, growing into an abundance of God’s presence in our marriage), for poorer (times when we have to depend on the Lord for provision, times when we have to adjust expectations);

In sickness (times of sickness, fatigue, and the stresses of life, when patience is required) and in health (we take care of each other and encourage healthy living);

To love (long for you in every way, serve you, practice growing into oneness with you) and to cherish (to offer tender touch, patient care, seeking to understand and meet needs)

Until we are parted by death (we recognize that these promises aren’t for heaven but for here, as we help each other to know the Lord and anticipate eternal life in his presence);

As God is my witness (I acknowledge that God is listening to me and expects me to take these vows as seriously as anything I have ever said), I give you my promise (I want these words to be the most precious things I could ever give you, and I will live them out for you every day).

It’s been a delight to watch couples move toward each other as they have struggled, laughed, and cried their way into understanding the depth and meaning of their “leaving vows” that will allow them to join in the full oneness of marriage. Once in a while, take an evening with your spouse to review your vows.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paige's Highlights

So, be ready for a theme!  Knitting and Crochet!

1. Bernat. Their home webite with LOADS of free patterns, tutorials, and knitting/crochet help!  Seriously, they have dozens of patterns for hats, scarves, sweaters, toys, and house items.  If you're interested in knitting and crocheting for charity (afghans for homeless and battered women's shelters, preemie baby hats, chemo hats, or fund-raising patterns) try
For both, you have to sign up to access patterns and such, giving them your e-mail but beyond that, it's easy as pie and you get GOBS of resources.  Basically, they look like every single one of their "free pattern" hand outs that you see in the yarn section of the store are available for free online.

2. Knit and Crochet Today.  A PBS TV show and a website.  They have lots of free patterns, great ideas, and links to some of the contributors' blogs and websites.  The lead gal, Brett Bara has a blog here on blogger...Check it out at Manhattan Craft Room.

3. Continental Knitting.  I've always knitted "standard" or "English" but have recently discovered "continental" or "German" knitting via Knitandcrochettoday.  Here is a GREAT series of web videos giving instruction on continental knitting by Jeanette White.  The plus side to retraining myself: less wear and tear on your hands (i.e. no arthritis at like 50) and faster knitting! :)

4. Ravelry.  It's a hybrid between knitting project websites and facebook for knitting and crochet.  TONS of patterns--some for free and some to order.  LOADS of ideas, tips, blogs, and news from fellow knitter.  "It's a knit and crochet community!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ummm...Can you make me one?

A title of a running e-mail thread I have with Dan, I figured I'd transfer my "wish-list" here to share with you all.  All home-made gadgets for around the house and farm!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Green Living

A collection of ideas, resources, and websites for reducing, reusing, recycling, and using less chemicals. This is part of my "INFORMATION" pages, collections of interesting websites, links, and such on topics outlined by their title.  Enjoy!  (And tell me of other great ideas you've found!)

  • -- A website with TONS of green ideas, particularly with old-fashioned cleaning.
  • Fireplace starters -- Recycle those paper egg cartons, dryer lint, and left-over wax into sure-"fire" ;) starters. (nice pun, eh?)  Only one egg cup needed per fire! 
  • Self-watering Pots -- A cheap, home-made alternative to the expensive store-bought ones.  Complete video and instructions. Feel free to adapt to your own pots.
  • Thrift Stores -- No link required, find your local one.  You can be sure your money goes to a good cause and occasionally find some great treasures!
  • Bicarb Cleaning Solutions by Actual Organics 
  • Laundry Detergent and Softener by the Duggar family--scroll down for the recipe!  Surprisingly inexpensive!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

A most recent e-mail from a devotional I signed up for.  Very fitting for today. (Also, our one year blogging anniversary!  Read our first entry here.)

Happy Marriages

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Everyone knows that marriages are falling apart. In fact, according to recent statistics, one out of two will end in divorce. That’s why an article in Psychology Today caught my eye. Entitled “Marriages Made to Last,” it reported the results of a survey by Jeanette and Robert Lauer of 300 couples with successful marriages. Here are the top reasons, in order of frequency, that the respondents gave when asked what kept them together. Remarkably, the top seven were identical for men and women.
  1. My spouse is my best friend.
  2. I like my spouse as a person.
  3. Marriage is a long-term commitment.
  4. Marriage is sacred.
  5. We agree on aims and goals.
  6. My spouse has grown more interesting.
  7. I want the relationship to succeed.
Other reasons included “We laugh together,” “We agree on a philosophy of life,” “An enduring marriage is important to social stability,” and others.  I couldn’t help but notice that these reasons are totally consistent with biblical principles and opposite to the message of our culture. Popular songs, books, and shows emphasize superficiality and sexual prowess, but the successful couples spoke about liking the other person and about being friends. Society implies that relationships happen quickly, but these folks said that love takes time--that there must be a long-term commitment. Contemporary views of love are self-centered, expecting the other person to meet my needs, but these couples say that real, lasting love involves work and the desire to make the marriage succeed. Years ago (and today in other cultures) parents would arrange their children’s marriages. In those situations, both bride and groom knew that they would have to learn to love the person they married. Today we have turned it around. Instead of “loving the person we marry,” with our self-centered emphasis, we say we must “marry the person we ‘love.’” And so we look and date and try relationships to find our romantic ideal--the one “just right” for us.I am not suggesting that we return to the days of arranged marriages, but we must return to the truth that they symbolize. Love means commitment . . . it must be learned . . . it is a verb and means action. Check out 1 Corinthians 13 for a vivid description of true love. Let’s take our cue from these successful couples and dedicate ourselves to real love based on commitment and unselfish action.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Paige's Highlights

1. Making your home more efficient.  A large article by Mother Earth News on increasing the efficiency of your home.  Take a look also, at my blog entry under energy efficient building for more ideas.
"It's not easy being green..."

2. Crop rotations.  Early in my gardening career, I poured over my Back to Basics book and would make detailed outlines of my garden.  Partly an out-grown of my type-A personality and mad-organization skills and part a desire to make sure that I had an effective crop rotation plan. Mother Earth News reminded me of this in their article.  Basically, the first few pages are good if you're not familiar with rotation gardening, but the last page is what's most useful for me -- a reminder of the nine main groups of plant families that we commonly cultivate.  Additionally, it's a bit of a reason to plant and utilize more of certain families to even our the square-foot representation of each family in our garden and make our rotations a bit easier.  (Yay for more sunflower seeds!)
  • Onion family: onions, garlic, leeks and shallots
  • Carrot family: carrots, celery, parsley and parsnips
  • Sunflower family: lettuce, sunflowers and a few other leafy greens
  • Cabbage family: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and many other leafy greens, as well as rutabagas and kohlrabi
  • Spinach family: beets and chard
  • Cucumber family: cucumbers, melons, squash and gourds
  • Pea family: peas and beans
  • Grass family: corn, wheat, oats and rye
  • Tomato family: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes

3. Home-grown Flour.  An interesting website on planting, growing, harvesting, and milling your own flour.  Maybe one day I'll give it a shot.... An article on winnowing and threshing wheat--the sheet idea looks pretty fun, to be honest! :) (How to Make Flour)  And wouldn't you know, after I started researching, Mother Earth News came out with an article on it as well! :)  Personally, I still like the winnowing with a sheet idea better.

4. What to plant WHEN?  Mother Earth News has a handy guide for keeping track of what to plant and when in your garden.  Just click on the zone, then click on the month!  Happy Gardening!

 5. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day.  An interesting concept that I'd like to try. There's a book by this name and here's a link their website/blog.  If I could make bread in truly that small amount of time, I'd be in HEAVEN!  I HATE kneading bread!  Here's their "master" recipe!  I'll have to give it a try here soon! :)

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Grandma's Coconut Cream Pie

    An heirloom recipe--and a family tradition for Grandpa's birthday.

    Grandma's Coconut Cream Pie

    Bottom Pie Crust, prepared and baked.

    1 large package COOK vanilla pudding
    1/3 c. shredded coconut
    2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
    1 c. evaporated milk
    3/4 c. water

    2 egg whites
    1/4 c. sugar

    1. In a sauce pan, heat pudding, coconut, egg yolks, evaporated milk and water over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble.  Cook an additional 5 minutes and pour into prepared pie crust.
    2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually beat in the sugar until stiff peaks form.  Spoon over filling and sprinkle with additional coconut to garnish.
    3.  If desired, brown the meringue in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Enjoy.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Granny Square Blanket

    One of the first things I learned to crochet was a granny square. It was my Dad’s forte (Dad crochets and Mom knits). While in high school, one of my mom’s co-workers had me make her a baby blanket that was probably my crowning crocheting achievement. Since then, I’d never really gotten back into it. Well, after finding my stash the other day, I decided to try my hand at a blanket again—in crimson and black to match my living room. It’s coming along nicely…the only problem is that it looks like a huge checker board!  Maybe I should use dinner plates as checker pieces..... ;)

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Sunday Thoughts

     There is therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  – Romans 8:1

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Paige's Highlights

    *** NEWS FLASH ***

    This week, I must entirely diverge from my normal "highlights" entries to bring you some most important news in the world of Dan and Paige.  I have been MASSIVELY busy and have had NO free time for farm researching.  Why?  I'm cramming to get all my assignments and such done before having to leave for Maine again.  Originally, I had planned to write my two H&P's (history and physicals), do all my patient logging, study for my end-of-rotation exam, and take said exam around driving to Maine that weekend (straight shotting the 14 hours again...Red Bull is my friend and somehow I manage to justify the caffiene and jitters by reminding myself that there is no HFCS in it.)

    However, due to a change in plans, I no longer have next weekend to catch up....because....


    This is a WONDERFUL turn of events for Dan and I.  We had decided that God truly was closing doors in Ohio and that we should give Kentucky at least 6 months to provide a job, even if we moved with no hard-and-fast prospects on my end. If we could move with a job lined up, our concerns and qualms would be GREATLY relieved and we could get out of debt faster--and get our dream farm/home faster! :-D 

    Obviously, I haven't been for the interview yet, and it IS only an interview at this point and God might have something else/better in mind for us, so I'm trying to make at least a semblance of an effort at containing my excitement.  But it is still encouraging to have our most solid nibble WHERE we want to live!, I have to drive to Kentucky on Friday (4.5 hours), drive to New York on Saturday (10ish hours), and drive to Maine on Sunday (10ish hours)....and be bright-eyed and busy-tailed Monday morning for seminar.  Thank goodness I got that presentation out of the way!

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Knitting Kitty

    Well, this has certainly been my week for getting geared for some homesteading.  I found my knitting kitty the other day.  Inspired by FarmersAtHeart to get back to some knitting and crocheting, I remembered that I had a lot of random knitting things tucked away from my Grandma.   After rummaging through a couple of boxes at my parents, I found the following.

    That’s 9 sets of knitting needles, 2 different sets of 4 double-point needles, 11 crochet hooks, 5 yarn needles, 7 work-holder needles (I have no idea what they’re called), and 10+ skeins of basic yarn.  I love the box for it—sliding top, with a built-in ruler.  Other than MAYBE some circular needles, there’s not anything more that I’d need in my entire knitting/crochet career except yarn! :-D

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Ms. Rose

    The past few months Dan and I have been collecting canning jars for our personal canning use later on down the road.  We’ve even gone as far as choosing different spaghetti sauce for the fact that it came in a canning-appropriate quart size (in addition to being HFCS free). 
    The other day, I stopped by our local thrift store looking for a Dutch oven.  Instead, I found a few canning jars and proceeded to check out.  While standing in line, the customer in front of me asked me if I were canning or just collecting.  I replied, “well, I guess I’m collecting to can.”  Five minutes later, I had a slip of paper in my hand with her name, address, and phone number, along with an invitation to stop by later that afternoon to pick up a few jars.
    When I arrived, Ms. Rose had two boxes brimming with jars set aside for me—and I could only talk her into taking $10 for what looked to be 40+ jars.  “No, no,” she said, “I’m the seller…I’m happy with $10.  Enjoy them and just think of it as God’s been good to you today.”  He most certainly had.  The generosity of a stranger increased my stock of jars by about 30% for far less than I could hope to buy them for—even at the thrift store!  Thank you Ms. Rose—you definitely made my week. :-D
    Added to the extra jars from my parents, my most recent canning jar census tops out at….
    54 quarts
    96 pints
    11 jelly jars
    2 miscellaneous sized Mason jars.
    163 TOTAL!!
    Now, just to get that garden so I can fill them!